The Best Master’s in Computer Science Programs

| TBS Staff

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Graduates with a master's in computer science possess strong analytical, technical, and leadership skills.

They can work in diverse roles, designing products, installing new hardware and software, and protecting networks from cyberattacks, often specializing in areas like game development, robotics, computer security, or software engineering.

Computer science graduates enjoy strong job prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information research scientists earn a median annual salary of $122,840, while computer network architects earn a median salary of $112,690. The BLS also projects strong job growth for both of these careers between 2018-2028.

This guide ranks the best computer science master's degrees in the country. It also covers important information for prospective students, including common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.

Top 10 Master's in Computer Science Programs
#1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
#2 Stanford University Stanford, CA
#3 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
#4 University of California Berkeley Berkeley, CA
#5 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA
#6 Princeton University Princeton, NJ
#7 Columbia University New York, NY
#8 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
#9 Cornell University Ithaca, NY
#10 New York University New York, NY

Featured Online Programs

The Best Master's Programs in Computer Science

Massachusetts Institute of Technology View School Profile Cambridge, MA

As the largest department at MIT, the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) offers the following graduate degrees: master of science, master of engineering, electrical engineer (EE), engineer in computer science (ECS), doctor of philosophy, and doctor of science (SD). Students pursuing the master of engineering must hold an EECS undergraduate degree. Doctoral applicants must hold a master's degree.

The MS comprises 66 units, culminating in a thesis. The EE and ECS degrees comprise 162 units and incorporate four core objectives: engineering ethos, leadership, versatility, and engagement. EE and ECS students must complete a thesis approved by a graduate counselor and EECS. Doctoral candidates must pass a general exam, present an oral defense of their thesis, and complete a minimum of four terms of full-time research in residence at MIT.

EECS offers teaching and research assistantships, as well as the Draper Laboratory Fellowship and the Lincoln Laboratory Research Assistantship. Applicants to EECS graduate programs must submit transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of objectives.

Stanford University View School Profile Stanford, CA

Established in 1965, Stanford's Computer Science Department falls under the School of Engineering. The department offers a master's in computer science with nine specializations: artificial intelligence; biocomputation; computer and network security; human-computer interaction; information management and analytics; real-world computing; software theory; systems; and theoretical computer science.

Students pursuing a master's in computer science must complete 45 units. First-year graduate students must either satisfy prerequisites or complete foundational coursework in topics including logic, probability and statistics, and computer systems. The program also includes a breadth requirement, spanning four critical areas of professional computer science skills, and a depth requirement in the student's specialization.

Stanford also offers a Ph.D. through its Computer Science Department. Candidates can apply for the doctoral program once they meet the master's breadth and depth requirements. Many students apply for financial aid for the Ph.D. in computer science through an assistantship or fellowship, or by conducting research for an affiliate organization. Applicants must submit GRE scores, transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose.

Harvard University View School Profile Cambridge, MA

Founded as the Lawrence Scientific School in 1847, Harvard offers world-class programs through its renamed School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). The school offers 11 graduate degrees, including seven master's degrees and four doctoral degrees, as well as a variety of undergraduate degrees and a business analytics certificate program.

All SEAS programs emphasize cross-departmental and interdisciplinary curricula. Students may pursue a dual bachelor's/master's degree in computer science or a master's in computational science and engineering or data science. Applicants must demonstrate advanced standing through AP placement testing to qualify for the BS/MS degree. Graduates of the dual program can earn both degrees in four years.

SEAS also offers a Ph.D. in computer science. Doctoral candidates must complete 10 semester-long courses, including eight in interdisciplinary subjects, and maintain full-time academic residency for at least two years at Harvard. Additionally, Ph.D. candidates must serve as teaching fellows during at least one semester of their second year, pass qualifying and final oral exams, and complete a dissertation.

Applicants must submit transcripts, a resume, three letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and a statement of purpose.

University of California Berkeley View School Profile Berkeley, CA

Formed in 1973, Berkeley's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences offers undergraduate programs, master's degrees, and Ph.D.s in more than 20 subject areas. Applicants to Berkeley's master's and Ph.D. in computer science programs must have a bachelor's degree; hold a minimum 3.0 GPA; and submit three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and GRE scores.

Students pursuing a master's in computer science can specialize in one of 10 areas, including artificial intelligence, scientific computing, and operating systems and networking. Berkeley supports interdisciplinary and concurrent programs of study, proposals for customized programs, and an exchange program with other schools in the UC system and Stanford.

Berkeley offers many professional development resources for computer science graduate students, including workshops; career planning services; and writing, teaching, and mentorship opportunities. Financial aid options for graduate students include fellowships; loans; scholarships; and paid appointments as student-teachers, tutors, and teaching aides.

Carnegie Mellon University View School Profile Pittsburgh, PA

The School of Computer Science at CMU encompasses seven departments: computational biology, computer science, computer-human interaction, software research, language technologies, machine learning, and robotics. In addition to offering a Ph.D. and master's in computer science on its main campus in Pittsburgh, CMU delivers similar programs through satellite campuses in Silicon Valley and Qatar.

The university offers a fifth-year master's in computer science program for students with a bachelor's in computer science from CMU and a standard master's in computer science for students with a bachelor's degree in a related subject. CMU also offers a Ph.D. in computer science, with an optional specialty track in neural basis of cognition. Ph.D. candidates may choose interdisciplinary programs in pure and applied logic or algorithms, combinatorics, or optimization.

U.S. News and World Report ranked CMU's computer science graduate programs as best in the nation in 2018. CMU also ranked first in artificial intelligence graduate programs and among the top four in programming languages, systems, and theory.

Princeton University View School Profile Princeton, NJ

Backed by the university's esteemed Ivy League reputation, Princeton's Department of Computer Science encompasses more than 10 major research areas, including computational biology, computer architecture, and programming languages.

The Department of Computer Science offers a master's in engineering and a full-time Ph.D. program. Princeton's computer science programs also include a bachelor's in computer science that incorporates master's-level courses that graduates can transfer to the master's program.

The master's program does not require applicants to hold a degree in computer science, though most applicants possess a background in computer science, math, science, or engineering. Doctoral degree candidates with only a bachelor's degree may apply. Other application requirements include transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

Columbia University View School Profile New York, NY

Ranked highly among national programs, the computer science department under Columbia's School of Engineering and Applied Science offers a variety of unique master's and doctoral degrees. Students may choose from 11 research/study areas, including computer engineering, networking, and software systems.

The master of science in computer science comprises 30 points, and students can choose from a standard, specialized, or thesis track. Concentration options include foundations of computer science, computer security, and machine learning. Students without a computer science background may apply to the Align MS in computer science, which combines bridge and traditional computer science coursework. Additionally, Columbia offers a dual MS in journalism and computer science.

Students can also pursue a Ph.D. in computer science at Columbia. Graduates with an MS in computer science from Columbia can seamlessly apply to the Ph.D., but master's degree holders from other disciplines and institutions may also apply. All Ph.D. applicants need prerequisites in core analysis of algorithms. Applicants to all graduate programs in the Department of Computer Science must submit GRE scores, transcripts, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor View School Profile Ann Arbor, MI

Founded in 1957, the University of Michigan's Computer, Science, and Engineering Division (CSE) enrolls nearly 3,000 students and features 16 pioneering female faculty members and professors. Students can choose from a master's or Ph.D. in CSE or a master's in data science.

The master's in CSE comprises 30 credits and an optional thesis. The master's in data science comprises 25 credits and combines computer science, statistics, and domain coursework. Applicants to the master's programs may hold a bachelor's degree in any field. Applicants can apply to the doctoral program with either a bachelor's or master's degree, provided they satisfy prerequisite courses.

U.S. News and World Report ranks CSE's graduate programs in computer science and computer engineering 11th and 7th in the nation, respectively. CSE offers financial aid to qualifying graduate students through fellowships, research and teaching assistantships, and institutional scholarships and external grants. The university also hosts more than 10 student-led clubs and organizations dedicated to computer science.

Applicants must submit GRE scores, letters of recommendation, transcripts, a personal statement and statement of purpose, and a resume.

Cornell University View School Profile Ithaca, NY

Founded in 1965, Cornell's Department of Computer Science was among the first of its kind in the United States. Cornell now houses its computer science, information science, and statistics and data science departments in the Computing and Information Science (CIS) division, serving more than 1,500 students. In addition to its Ithaca campus, the university hosts a Manhattan location for graduate students called Cornell Tech.

CIS offers a master's and Ph.D. in computer science. Master's students must complete at least 34 course credits, including a thesis. The admissions committee prefers master's degree applicants with a bachelor's in computer science but does consider other majors. CIS requires master's students to serve as full-time teaching assistants during all four semesters of the degree.

Among the nation's top-ranked doctoral programs in computer science, the Ph.D. program offers courses in Ithaca and New York City. Applicants must hold a bachelor's or master's degree in computer science or a related field. Along with academic transcripts, applicants must submit a statement of purpose and letters of recommendation. While not required, GRE scores are preferred.

New York University View School Profile New York, NY

Housed in NYU's world-renowned Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the Computer Science Department boasts faculty with honors, including Turing Awards, Humboldt Prizes, and Guggenheim Fellowships. The department encompasses five academic centers and eight research areas, including scientific computing, machine learning, and algorithms and theory.

NYU offers a master's in computer science and an accelerated BA-MS program. Students can also pursue master's degrees in information systems and computing, entrepreneurship, and innovation. The master's degree in computer science requires approximately 12 courses, culminating in a capstone requirement.

Students pursuing the Ph.D. in computer science must satisfy breadth course requirements across three areas: systems, theory (including algorithms), and applications. Students must also serve as teaching assistants for at least one course by the end of their third year. Ph.D. candidates must write and defend a thesis to close the degree. While the computer science subject test is optional, applicants must submit GRE general test scores in addition to transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume.

Yale University View School Profile New Haven, CT

Formed in the 1970s, Yale's Department of Computer Science employs state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to support student research. All Ph.D. students receive laptops operating a version of Linux or Windows, while master's and undergraduate students can access the "Zoo," a 38-workstation system of Linux-operated machines.

Yale offers a master of science and a Ph.D. in computer science. The MS degree best suits students planning to practice professionally immediately after graduation. The Ph.D. program primarily accepts applicants with a bachelor's degree. Master's students can pursue the degree part time; doctoral students must pursue full-time study.

Master's students can pursue a general course of study or select a specialization in bioinformatics or computing and the arts. Students pursuing a specialization culminate the degree with an independent study project. Most Ph.D. candidates complete the degree in four to six terms, with the first three terms comprising major course requirements and the third term transitioning to field research. Applicants must submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and a statement of purpose.

University of Chicago View School Profile Chicago, IL

At a critical juncture in its history, UChicago's Department of Computer Science recently expanded into a new, state-of-the-art facility and is in the process of doubling its graduate programs and faculty.

UChicago remains dedicated to interdisciplinary study across all programs, offering a variety of MS degrees, including a full- or part-time master's in computer science, a joint MBA/master of computer science, and a pre-doctoral MS in computer science. Students enrolled in the MS in computer science may pursue a general track or choose from specializations in data analytics, high-performance computing, information security, mobile computing, or software engineering.

At the end of the joint MBA/MPCS program, students earn both a master's degree in business from UChicago's Booth School and an MS in computer science. The joint program requires two immersion courses in concepts of programming and mathematics for computer science. The pre-doctoral program comprises 12 courses over 15 months, including core, research, and elective courses; two practicums; and an internship. Applicants must submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and a resume.

University of Washington-Seattle View School Profile Seattle, WA

Established in 1967, UW's School of Computer Science and Engineering offers a professional master's degree and Ph.D. in computer science in addition to a dual bachelor's/master's degree in computer science and a Ph.D. in computational molecular biology.

The professional master's in computer science comprises 40 credits. The dual BS/MS in computer science encompasses five years of study and is intended for current computer science and computer engineering majors at UW or alumni who graduated within the last year. The Ph.D. in computer science comprises 90 credits and three sections: research, coursework, and thesis preparation. Students must pass a qualifying evaluation and general exam before researching, writing, and defending their dissertation.

The professional master's degree accepts students in the fall, winter, and spring. Students may apply to the highly competitive Ph.D. program only once per year for acceptance into the following fall term. Applicants must submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume. Applicants to the dual BS/MS program need a minimum 3.0 GPA.

University of California Los Angeles View School Profile Los Angeles, CA

Established in 1968, the Computer Science Department at UCLA offers a variety of graduate and undergraduate programs in computer science and engineering under the auspices of the engineering school. Graduate students may choose from eight specialization subfields, including computer science theory, network systems, and programming languages and systems.

Students can pursue a master's in computer science, a concurrent MBA/MS in computer science, a Ph.D. in computer science, or an online master's in engineering. The MS in computer science includes core, breadth, and elective courses, culminating in a capstone or thesis.

Ph.D. candidates must select a research major in computer science and at least one of two required computer science minors. All Ph.D. candidates must complete at least one quarter of teaching experience, most commonly as a teaching assistant. Ph.D. candidates must write a dissertation, though not all students are required to defend their dissertation through a final oral exam.

Applicants must submit letters of recommendation, transcripts, GRE scores, a resume, and a personal statement. Competitive applicants hold at least a 3.5 GPA.

University of Southern California View School Profile Los Angeles, CA

USC's Department of Computer Science comprises four primary research and study areas: machine learning, artificial intelligence, privacy, and security. U.S. News and World Report ranked USC's online graduate program in computer science first in the nation for the seventh consecutive year in 2019. The computer science department also ranks among the nation's top five producers of alumni hired into Silicon Valley jobs.

USC offers an MS in computer science with eight specializations: computer security, computer networks, software engineering, game development, high-performance computing and simulation, data science, intelligent robotics, and multimedia and creative technologies. USC offers some specializations online.

The university also offers a Ph.D. in computer science and a Progressive Degree Program for students enrolled in a bachelor's degree and looking to earn an MS degree in their fifth year of study. Ph.D. candidates must complete two semesters of a teaching practicum and present a dissertation. Applicants must submit transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

University of Pennsylvania View School Profile Philadelphia, PA

Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science offered its first graduate-level computer course in 1946. In 1965, Penn graduated the first person to earn a doctorate in a recognized computer science graduate program.

Penn's Computer and Information Science Department offers a master of computer and information technology. The department also offers an MSE in computer and information science and an MSE in data science, in addition to a Ph.D. in computer and information science.

Designed for students with little-to-no computer science experience, the master's in computer and information technology requires 10 units that explore the foundations of computer science. Ph.D. candidates must maintain a 3.0 GPA, complete a teaching practicum, and successfully defend a dissertation. They must also pass a written two-part preliminary examination. Applicants must submit GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume.

University of Texas at Austin View School Profile Austin, TX

UT Austin's Department of Computer Science falls under the College of Natural Sciences. The department ranks 10th in the U.S. for graduate computer science programs, according to U.S. News and World Report, and scores high marks for its artificial intelligence, theory, systems, and programming languages degrees. Donors to the department include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

UT Austin's master's in computer science is intended as a terminal degree for students with undergraduate experience in computer science. Master's students can pursue a thesis or non-thesis format. The university began offering an online MS in computer science in 2019. UT Austin also offers a Ph.D. in computer science, open to applicants with a bachelor's or master's degree in computer science.

The master's degree comprises 30 credits. Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program may pursue a master's degree concurrently once they satisfy basic Ph.D. course requirements. Ph.D. candidates must complete UT Austin's diversity program and write, present, and defend their dissertation. Applicants must submit transcripts with a minimum 3.0 GPA in upper-division coursework, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign View School Profile Champaign, IL

Founded in the 1940s, the Computer Science Department at U of I boasts 80 full-time faculty members, 17 degree programs, and more than 90 computer science course options. U of I ranks 5th in the nation on U.S. News and World Report's list of top computer science graduate schools.

U of I offers six graduate programs, including a professional master of computer science (MCS) and an MCS in data science. Students may also pursue an MS with an optional concentration in computational science and engineering, an MS in bioinformatics, a fifth-year master's degree, or a doctoral degree.

Master's students must complete a thesis. The doctoral degree requires 96 credits for candidates with a bachelor's degree and 64 credits for candidates with a qualifying MS degree. Ph.D. candidates must complete a thesis and a teaching assistantship. Ph.D. students may select an optional concentration in computational science and engineering. Applicants must submit transcripts, a resume, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

California Institute of Technology View School Profile Pasadena, CA

Though smaller than other world-renowned institutions, Caltech continues to make a significant impact on technological industry and society. The Computing and Mathematical Sciences Department (CMS) falls under Caltech's Engineering and Applied Science division. Caltech's computer engineering program is among the best in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report.

CMS offers five Ph.D. programs: applied and computational mathematics, computer science, computing and mathematical sciences, control and dynamic systems, and computation and neural systems. Ph.D. candidates must enroll full time and spend a minimum of three years in residence at Caltech to earn the degree.

Caltech designed its doctoral programs in applied and computational mathematics and computer science for students interested in a traditional computer science graduate program, while the other majors incorporate a more interdisciplinary, innovative curriculum. All Ph.D. candidates must write and defend a thesis. Applicants must submit GRE scores, three letters of reference, transcripts, a resume, and a statement of purpose.

Brown University View School Profile Providence, RI

Brown encompasses the world-renowned Center for Computational Molecular Biology, a collaborative Industry Partners Program, and the Artemis Project, a free science and technology camp for women. Established in 1979, Brown Computer Science (Brown CS) began as an interest group under the Division of Applied Mathematics and Engineering.

Brown CS offers a master's and Ph.D. in computer science. Ph.D. candidates automatically qualify to concurrently earn a master's degree. Brown CS also offers an executive master's in cybersecurity, the first of its kind available in an accelerated 16-month format, and the Data Science Initiative -- an interdisciplinary master's spanning the biostatistics, mathematics, computer science, and applied mathematics departments.

Master's in computer science students may choose a thesis, project-based, or coursework-only track. All master's students must complete six basic and advanced courses. Advisors strongly recommend that students without field experience select an optional internship course. Ph.D. candidates must pass a depth exam and complete a dissertation to earn the degree. Doctoral candidates receive financial support for nine months per year for five years of full-time study. Applicants must submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and optional GRE scores.

University of California San Diego View School Profile La Jolla, CA

Focusing on innovation, the Computer Science and Engineering Department (CSE) at UC San Diego boasts esteemed faculty and major contributions to industry and technology. The school is home to multiple fellows of honors, including the Ho-Am Prize for Engineering, the Levchin Prize, and the IEEE W. Wallace McDowell Award.

UC San Diego offers a master of science and a Ph.D. in computer science through CSE. Master's students can choose a thesis, standard comprehensive exam, or interdisciplinary comprehensive exam track. All master's students must complete a series of breadth courses in systems, theory, and applications, as well as depth coursework in their specialization.

Ph.D. candidates must complete 37 units of breadth and elective coursework. Breadth requirements cover 10 topics, including artificial intelligence, robotics, and theoretical computer science. Ph.D. candidates must pass a qualifying exam, complete a teaching assistantship, and defend their dissertation. CSE also offers a five-year combined BS/MS degree in computer science or computer engineering for current UC San Diego undergraduates.

Applicants must submit transcripts, a statement of purpose, GRE scores, a resume, and three letters of recommendation.

Purdue University View School Profile West Lafayette, IN

Established in 1962, Purdue is home to the nation's first Department of Computer Science. The department offers a variety of graduate, undergraduate, professional, and study-abroad learning opportunities, earning the school high marks among U.S. News and World Report's best national computer science programs.

Purdue offers a master's in computer science with a thesis or non-thesis option and an optional ISCP concentration. Thesis students must complete eight courses, culminating in a thesis, while non-thesis students must complete 10 courses to earn the degree. Students may also pursue a professional master's in information security or a Ph.D. in computer science.

The doctoral program requires ethics training, a research orientation, and core and area-specific course requirements, culminating in a thesis and preliminary exam.

Applicants must submit transcripts, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. Students may pursue financial support through teaching assistantships and fellowships specific to graduate study at Purdue.

Duke University View School Profile Durham, NC

Located near North Carolina's Research Triangle Park, Duke's Computer Science Department promotes collaborative learning through interdisciplinary graduate programs. The university provides full financial support for Ph.D. candidates and offers internship opportunities with high-profile industry partners, like Intel, Cisco, and IBM.

Duke offers MS programs in computer science and economics and computation. Within these majors, students can pursue a thesis or non-thesis plan of study. Both options require 30 credits. Most admitted students possess a background in computer science, but it is not required to apply.

The Ph.D. in computer science comprises three major milestones: a research initiation project, preliminary exam, and dissertation. Students must complete core and elective coursework, a teaching assistantship, and a new-student mentoring course. Breadth courses cover topics like operating systems, algorithms, and computational complexity. Applicants must submit GRE scores, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and a statement of purpose.

University of Maryland-College Park View School Profile College Park, MD

Founded in 1973, UMD's Department of Computer Science has awarded more than 600 doctorates through its nationally ranked graduate program. The university hosts faculty and alumni with distinguished awards and honors, including members of the National Academy of Engineering, NSF Career Award recipients, and Sloan Fellows.

Students can pursue a Ph.D. or master's in computer science. The MS program offers a thesis or non-thesis option, each comprising 30 credits in four of seven research areas. The thesis track requires six credit hours of thesis research, culminating in an oral examination in defense of the thesis. Non-thesis students must prepare a scholarly paper under advisor supervision.

Ph.D. candidacy requires six graduate-level courses in core computer science research areas and two electives in non-computer-science disciplines. Doctoral students must propose a thesis within five years of entering the program and defend their dissertation within four years of the proposal. The Department of Computer Science funds 100% of Ph.D. students' financial needs through assistantships and fellowship opportunities.

Applicants must submit GRE scores, letters of recommendation, transcripts, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Most admitted students possess a minimum 3.5 GPA.

Northwestern University View School Profile Evanston, IL

Northwestern's Computer Science Department at the McCormick School of Engineering encompasses innovative research areas like human-computer interaction and robotics. The school emphasizes leading-edge artificial intelligence (AI) programs, with an esteemed MS degree in AI.

Students can pursue an MS or Ph.D. in computer science. The McCormick School of Engineering also offers MS degrees in artificial intelligence, information technology, and robotics. Additionally, the Computer Science Department offers interdepartmental master's and doctoral degrees in areas including computer engineering, computer science and learning sciences, and technology and social behavior.

Ph.D. students can participate in the Crown Family Graduate Internship Program, which offers research and field experience, while pursuing Ph.D. candidacy. Northwestern also supports computer science graduate students through professional development and health and wellness services on campus. Applicants must submit GRE scores, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and transcripts.

Best Graduate Programs

Master's in Computer Science Degree Programs Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Choosing the Right Master's in Computer Science Degree

Prospective computer science students should look for schools with specialized programs and faculty whose work aligns with their research and career goals. For example, students interested in machine learning would benefit from attending Carnegie Mellon, which has a dedicated machine learning department and offers over 40 core and affiliated faculty in the specialty.

Students should also consider practical factors — like location and financial aid opportunities — when researching potential schools. For instance, out-of-state tuition often costs significantly more than in-state tuition. However, many schools offer financial aid opportunities, like teaching assistantships, scholarships, and research fellowships, to offset tuition costs.

What Is an Online Master's in Computer Science Degree?

Computer science master's degrees prepare students to design, manage, and implement technologies based on consumer needs. Graduates may plan computer networks, write computer code, build cybersecurity defenses, or develop software.

Master's in computer science programs prioritize problem-solving and reasoning while teaching technical concepts like programming languages, computer architecture, algorithms, and cryptography. Programs also emphasize cybersecurity measures and laws. Students often complete practical projects as well as group assignments. Learners may need to complete a final project or thesis to graduate.

These programs are best suited to individuals who want to advance or enter professions where they work with technology. Ideal candidates hold prerequisite computer science and math coursework and excel at learning new technologies.

Choosing an Online Program

When choosing a computer science master's program, students should consider factors like available concentrations, degree timelines, and on-campus requirements. Candidates should apply as early as possible, since admission criteria can take months to complete. For example, students may need to register for and take the GRE. Applications may also require personal statements, answers to essay prompts, and recommendation letters.

Prospective students can find more guidance on choosing the right school at the link below.

What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Computer Science Program?

Course requirements for computer science master's degrees vary by program, but most programs include technical coursework in areas like programming languages, algorithms, cryptography, data processing, and network security. The following sections outline common concentrations and courses found in master's in computer science degree programs.

Computer Science Specialities

Data Science

Data science involves gathering, managing, and analyzing information. A master of computer science degree with this specialization trains students to use algorithms and simulations to make inferences about data. Learners study data mining, machine learning, and big data analytics.

Software Engineering

This specialization prepares students to design, build, and maintain user-friendly software to fulfill specific needs. Learners study topics like engineering, software management, and economics. Degree-seekers also learn to test products and conduct research to determine product specifications.


Master of computer science degrees in cybersecurity emphasize information, software, and network security. Students explore topics like data mining, cryptography, and network structures as they relate to network, computer, and mobile security. They may also study digital forensics and ethical hacking.

Master's in Computer Science Curriculum

Advanced Algorithms

This class teaches students how to create and analyze algorithms for different computerized tasks. Students examine topics like paradigms, data structures, cryptocurrencies, artificial intelligence, and memory management.

Machine Learning

This course explores the design and development of computer systems that can adapt to new information without additional programming. Students also explore topics like statistics, optimization, linear algebra, and data mining.

Computer Graphics

Learners in this course study both two- and three-dimensional graphics. Course topics may include modeling, algorithms, projection, and rendering techniques, as well as hardware and software for graphic design. Students may need prerequisite knowledge in programming languages, trigonometry, or calculus to take this class.

Computer Science Professional Organizations

Master's in computer science students and graduates can take advantage of professional organizations. Many organizations offer benefits such as networking, professional development, and continuing education opportunities. They may also offer access to journals, blogs, magazines, and newsletters that examine innovative computer science topics. The following list offers several popular computer science organizations.

IEEE Computer Society

This society hosts global conferences on topics like mobile data management, software, and systems and networks. The organization also publishes magazines and journals that explore computer graphics, cloud computing, and security. Members can access job and internship listings and digital resources related to algorithms and risk management.

Computing Research Association

CRA hosts virtual conferences, symposiums, and workshops for computing professionals. The website also offers a job search engine, a blog, and tools related to computer research policies and advocacy. The association also offers awards for research, service, mentoring, and career accomplishments.

Association for Computing Machinery

This association hosts special interest groups on different areas of information technology. These groups host international events, including workshops and conferences. The association also publishes journals, magazines, and books on computer topics.

Computer Science Careers

Many computer and information technology jobs require at least a bachelor's degree, such as computer network architect, computer programmer, and software developer. Candidates with a master's, however, have a competitive edge in the job market. A master's also qualifies professionals to work as computer and information research scientists.

The following list outlines several popular careers for graduates with a master's degree in computer science.

Computer and Information Research Scientists

Computer and information research scientists create and modify technologies. They may research solutions to problems or explore more efficient ways to complete computerized tasks. These professionals may also publish scholarly works or speak at computer science conferences. They typically need at least a master's degree. Detail-oriented people with strong analytical, communication, and problem-solving skills succeed in this career.

Median Annual Salary


Job Outlook (2018-2028)


Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts protect networks from cybersecurity breaches. They install appropriate software, test networks, and suggest improved defense measures. They also observe computer systems for signs of attacks and help companies build emergency protocols for when breaches occur.

Some organizations only mandate a bachelor's degree for these positions, while others require a master's. Employers may also require field experience or relevant certification. These professionals need strong problem-solving, communication, and analytical skills.

Median Annual Salary


Job Outlook (2018-2028)


Computer Programmers

Computer programmers translate the ideas of engineers and developers into languages computers understand. They also troubleshoot programs and make coding corrections when necessary. They may also perform software developer tasks, like building visual aids that explain the coding process.

These professionals typically need at least a bachelor's degree. Some organizations may prefer applicants with field experience and certifications for particular programming languages or products. Computer programmers need strong communication, analytical, and troubleshooting skills.

Median Annual Salary


Job Outlook (2018-2028)


Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Master's in Computer Science Program?

A computer science master's degree typically takes two years of full-time study to complete.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Computer Science?

Graduates can work as computer systems analysts, network architects, and programmers. They can also work as software developers, web developers, and database administrators.

Do You Need a Bachelor's in Computer Science to Get a Master's in Computer Science?

Some master's in computer science programs will admit students without a bachelor's in computer science, though many require a background in the field.

Is a Master's in Computer Science Difficult?

Master's degrees in computer science explore challenging technical concepts like networking, cryptography, and engineering. This can make the course material challenging for some students.

Is Computer Science a Lot of Math?

Yes, computer science incorporates many math concepts, such as statistics and algorithms. In fact, some programs require advanced math skills for admission.

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