Best Computer Science Schools

Explore the typical characteristics of schools with strong programs in computer science. Read about three schools with nationally ranked computer science programs, and check out what degrees you could pursue at each school. Schools offering Computer Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How to Select a Top School in Computer Science

You'll probably want access to state-of-the-art computer facilities and undergraduate research options. Some computer science programs are offered through a school's engineering department; others may be available through a university's liberal arts and sciences division. Top schools might coordinate special student projects; some receive research funding from federal agencies and private companies.

Three Top Computer Science Schools

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena

Caltech was ranked 11th for its graduate-level computer science program, according to U.S. News & World Report's most recent ranking in 2018. Focus options within the computer science major include VLSI, systems, networks, programming languages, theory or ECE. Interdisciplinary research in areas like human-computer interaction, large-scale scientific computing or quantum mechanical computers is encouraged. You could apply to the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. Prospective graduates are only admitted to the doctoral program; doctoral students earn a master's degree during their course of study.

Research facilities include the Center for Data-Driven Discovery and the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter. Information Science and Technology, an integrated research program, examines information from theoretical, social and biological perspectives. These degrees can be earned:

  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Computer Science
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Computer Science
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science

Cornell University in Ithaca, NY

This Ivy League school's graduate computer science programs were ranked sixth, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2018. Computer science bachelor's programs are available through Cornell's College of Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Many College of Engineering students who complete the undergraduate computer science program enroll in the one-year Master of Engineering program. Relevant research centers include the Information Assurance Institute, the Intelligent Information Systems Institute and the National Science Digital Library.

As a graduate student, you could study computer science through a professional master's program in engineering or a doctoral program in computer science. A computer science and medicine track within the Master of Engineering program is available. The M.S. in Computer Science is only awarded to students pursuing doctoral degrees in other areas, like mathematics or information science. The following degrees are available:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science
  • B.S. in Computer Science
  • M.S. in Computer Science
  • Master of Engineering in Computer Science
  • Ph.D. in Computer Science

University of Illinois (U of I) in Champaign-Urbana

The school's graduate programs in computer science were ranked fifth in U.S. News & World Report's 2018 evaluation. At U of I, computer science bachelor's programs are offered through both the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. A 5-year joint bachelor's and master's option is available. Students with a B.S. in Accountancy can earn a Master of Computer Science (M.C.S.) in one additional year. You could pursue an M.C.S. in combination with a Master of Architecture, a Juris Doctor or a Master of Business Administration. The M.C.S. program is also available online. The Ph.D. in Computer Science can be combined with a Doctor of Medicine through the Medical Scholars Program.

You could explore one of four research focus areas as a master's or doctoral program student, such as parallel computing, trustworthy systems, data sciences and cyber-physical systems. Available research centers include the Microsoft and Intel-sponsored Universal Parallel Computing Research Center, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the Information Trust Institute and the Boeing Trusted Software Center. Degrees include:

  • B.S. in Computer Science
  • B.S. in Math and Computer Science
  • B.S. in Statistics and Computer Science
  • B.S./M.S. in Computer Science
  • M.C.S.
  • M.S. in Computer Science
  • Ph.D. in Computer Science

More Top Schools Offering Computer Science Programs

College/University Institution Type Location Estimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
Carnegie Mellon University 4-year, Private not-for-profit Pittsburgh, PA $44,000
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 4-year, Private not-for-profit Cambridge, MA $52,000
Stanford University 4-year, Private not-for-profit Stanford, CA $51,000
University of California - Berkeley 4-year, Public Berkeley, CA $11,000
University of Washington 4-year, Public Seattle, WA $16,000
Princeton University 4-year, Private not-for-profit Princeton, NJ $49,000
Georgia Institute of Technology 4-year, Public Atlanta, GA $14,000
University of Texas - Austin4-year, Public Austin, TX $12,000
University of Wisconsin - Madison 4-year, Public Madison, WI $11,000
University of California - Los Angeles 4-year, Public Los Angeles, CA $11,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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