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Computer scientists develop new software, technology, systems, and solutions to solve technological and software problems across the business, healthcare, research, education, and other sectors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for computer science professionals is expected to grow by an estimated 11% from 2020 to 2030, above the average projected growth of all industries. Furthermore, the median annual salary for computer scientists is $91,250, which is also much higher than the average of all other occupations.
Since many employers look for professionals with a master’s in computer science, this degree is extremely useful for building a profitable career. Read on to learn about the best master’s programs in computer science, the universities that provide them, and other handy info about this degree.
Carnegie Mellon University, School of Computer Science
M. S. in Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University, founded through a merger between two different technological institutes, now has a presence on six continents. The University was ranked #1 in computer science on the US News and World report in 2018, and its computer science master’s degree is one of the best computer science master’s programs. It aims to provide students with an advanced outlook on computer science. Students have the flexibility to choose their preferred courses following consultation with advisors.
- Duration: 3 semesters
- Total units: 108-144
- Tuition: $699 per unit
- Financial aid: Loans, Emergency support
- Acceptance rate: 17.3%
- Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Founded: 1900
Harvard University, John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Master’s in Computational Science and Engineering
Harvard University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, showcasing excellence in learning, research, and teaching. It is a private, Ivy League research university with many graduate and undergraduate programs across a range of disciplines. The program teaches students how to simulate and model complex systems, engage in collaborative software development, and analyze large data sets.
- Duration: 2 semesters minimum
- Total courses: 8
- Tuition: $58,224 per year
- Financial aid: Fellowships, grants, loans, employment opportunities
- Acceptance rate: 5%
- Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Founded: 1636
Cornell University, College of Computing and Information Science
Master of Science in Computer Science
Cornell University is a renowned land grant and private Ivy League research university. Its College of Computing and Information Science is one of the best computer science graduate schools around today. Cornell’s MS program in computer science helps students develop an expert level of knowledge of computer science concepts and practice through advanced coursework, teaching, and research.
The University of Southern California, Viterbi School of Engineering
Master of Science in Computer Science
The University of Southern California is a prestigious private research institution, well-known as a global center for technology, arts, and business. Both its on-campus and online MS programs in computer science provide students with an intensive knowledge of design, application building, and programming for computing systems.
- Duration: 1.5 to 3 years
- Tuition: $2,035 per unit
- Financial aid: Scholarships, assistantships, loans, grants
- Acceptance rate: 16.1%
- Location: Los Angeles, CA, or Online
- Founded: 1880
Stanford University, Stanford School of Engineering
Computer Science MS Degree online
Stanford University is a world-renowned private research university with seven prestigious academic schools across various disciplines with one of the largest campuses in the country. Though its MS program in computer science is designed as a terminal degree, you can opt for a research-intensive version if you’d like to pursue a PhD. The program can be mostly completed online, though some on-campus study may be required.
- Duration: Up to 5 years
- Total units: 45
- Tuition: $1,352 per unit
- Financial aid: Scholarships, loans
- Acceptance rate: 5.2%
- Location: Stanford, California or online
- Founded: 1885
University of Pennsylvania
Master of Science in Engineering in Computer and Information Science
The University of Pennsylvania, commonly known as Penn, is a private Ivy League university that was founded in 1740. The school’s Master of Science in Engineering in Computer and Information Science covers a range of courses including theory of computation, internet and web systems, and computer architecture. This program asks for an undergraduate major in computer science, but the university also offers a Master of Computer and Information Technology which is suitable for students with bachelor’s degrees in other areas.
- Duration: 2 years
- Total units: 24
- Tuition: $37,678
- Financial aid: Federal funding
- Acceptance rate: 11%
- Location: Philadelphia, PA
University of California Berkeley
Master of Science in Computer Science
The University of California Berkeley is one of the top public universities in the country. The prestigious university is known for its strength in computer science. Its Master of Science in Computer Science has a research focus that lays the groundwork for a PhD. As part of the program, students must complete either a thesis or a master’s project. Students interested in applying to the program must have a minimum 3.0 GPA.
- Duration: 2 years
- Total units: 35
- Tuition: $11,442 for California or $26,544 out of state
- Financial aid: Graduate fellowships, grants, student employment.
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Location: Berkeley, CA
University of Washington
Professional Master’s Program (PMP) in Computer Science and Engineering
The University of Washington is a leading research university and one of the oldest state-supported universities on the West Coast. The university’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering offers a PMP in Computer Science and Engineering specifically designed for working professionals. Most of the courses are delivered online with one in-person evening class per week.
Duration: 2.5 years
Total units: 40
Financial aid: Graduate and professional grants
Acceptance rate: 41%
Location: Seattle, Washington and online
Careers for Computer Science Master’s Graduates
Here are the most common roles for graduates of a master’s in computer science, along with the annual median salary for each:
- Computer Scientists ($81,747): Computer scientists develop computer-based solutions to enhance the quality and efficiency of operations in the business, government, and non-profit sectors.
- Information Systems Managers ($85,400): These professionals lead IT departments and oversee the IT team to implement hardware and software solutions and ensure everything runs smoothly.
- Computer Hardware Engineers ($85,837): Computer hardware engineers design and develop computer hardware systems or components.
- Computer Network Architects ($121,687): These IT professionals are responsible for designing, reviewing, and upgrading network capabilities and infrastructure.
- Information Security Analysts ($73,550): Information security analysts conduct research and recommend strategies to address security issues.
- Computer Programmers ($65,264): These professionals write code as well as test, debug, and design programs.
- Computer Support Specialists ($51,257): They diagnose and solve hardware and software issues of computer systems for consumers.
There are many more career options for computer science graduates, including:
- Computer Systems Analysts
- Database Administrators and Architects
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators
- Web Developers and Digital Designers
- Software Developers
- Systems Managers
- Software Engineers
- IT Architects
- Information Researchers
- Video Game Developers
- Data Scientists
Read also: Highest Paying Master’s Degrees
Alternatives to Computer Science Majors
You don’t necessarily need an MS in computer science to pursue a tech career in computer science. Because computer science has a range of branches that specialize in different sub-disciplines, having a master’s in any of these areas can allow you to pursue a career in this field.
Some alternatives to CS majors include:
- Information Technology
- Applied and Computational Mathematical Sciences
- Software Engineering
- Information Systems
- Computer Engineering
- Visual Communications Design
- Data Science
Master’s in Computer Science FAQs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer science professionals enjoy better job prospects and average salaries than most other professions. And a master’s is preferred by standard employers over undergraduate qualification. These factors imply that a master’s in computer science is a worthwhile qualification for your career.
Is a Computer Science Master’s Hard?
A computer science master’s could be challenging if you don’t have a background in the discipline. However, if your undergraduate program was in computer science or a related field, such as mathematics, programming, or data science you won’t find it any more difficult than any other master’s. Even if you lack a background in computer science, you’ll find the program manageable with a little effort.
What GPA Do You Need for a Computer Science Master’s?
Typically, universities look for a minimum GPA of around 2.5 or 3 when considering applications for any master’s program. Having said that, your GPA is only one of many factors they take into account, so you can compensate for a low GPA with an application that is strong in other areas.
Which Master’s Degree is Best for Computer Science?
There is no single answer to this question because the best program for you will depend on your interests and preferences. The programs listed above are some of the best in the country, and each has its strengths. In choosing the right program for you, it’s important to consider factors such as career prospects, cost, flexibility, and whether you want to study online or on-campus.
What is the Best Way to Get into a Master’s Program in Computer Science?
There are no shortcuts to getting into a master’s degree in computer science. The primary qualification is an undergraduate degree in computer science or a related field. You will also need a high score in other tests to be selected.
You must study the prospects well, understand the selection processes of universities, and research the best programs and universities, costs, and other practical considerations. You must also evaluate your career interests and goals. And based on all such considerations, you must plan well to get into one of the best master’s in computer science programs from a reputable university.
Which is Better, an MBA or MSc in Computer Science?
Both an MBA and an MSc can help you build a rewarding career in IT. The choice really comes down to your academic interests and career goals. Generally speaking, an MBA is most useful if you want to explore the business or management side of the industry, while an MSc will equip you for more technical roles.
Can I Get a Computer Science Degree Online?
Yes: many universities offer online master’s degrees in computer science, including the University of Washington, Stanford, and USC. Some of these programs are fully online while others have a minimal on-campus study requirement.
With the modern world revolving around digital technology, there is a huge demand for computer science professionals in almost every field. A master’s in computer science can set you on the path to a rewarding and lucrative career. There is a range of excellent computer science master’s programs across the country, including a number with options to study online.
If you’re preparing your application for the best master’s in computer science programs, check out these helpful posts and guides to help you put your best foot forward!
Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.