2019 Best Online Master's in Computer Science Programs

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The online colleges and universities ranked here stand out for the high median salaries reported by their master's graduates. The majority of these 19 ranked schools reportedly boast median graduate incomes of at least $100,000 per year. $132,700 is reportedly the median salary earned by alumni of the eight different computer science master's degree programs at Columbia University in the City of New York. Ranking #7, Georgia Institute of Technology should be noted for its extremely low tuition of $1,700, coupled with its high median salary of $115,420.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about SR Education Group.

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Rank School Annual Tuition Median Salary
#1 #1 Columbia University in the City of New York Annual Tuition $30,270 Median Salary $132,700
#2 #2 Stanford University Annual Tuition $40,560 Median Salary $127,320
#3 #3 Boston University Annual Tuition $21,120 Median Salary $121,600
#4 #4 Illinois Institute of Technology Annual Tuition $24,480 Median Salary $121,800
#5 #5 DePaul University Annual Tuition $22,100 Median Salary $121,100
#6 #6 University of Colorado Boulder Annual Tuition $25,320 Median Salary $120,900
#7 #7 Georgia Institute of Technology Annual Tuition $1,700 Median Salary $115,420
#8 #8 Purdue University - Main Campus Annual Tuition $19,530 Median Salary $116,800
#9 #9 Arizona State University Annual Tuition $7,500 Median Salary $112,000
#10 #10 Colorado State University-Fort Collins Annual Tuition $12,528 Median Salary $111,200
#11 #11 University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign Annual Tuition $9,600 Median Salary $110,400
#12 #12 Drexel University Annual Tuition $29,095 Median Salary $112,100
#13 #13 Nova Southeastern University Annual Tuition $25,420 Median Salary $110,300
#14 #14 Missouri University of Science and Technology Annual Tuition $19,200 Median Salary $105,700
#15 #15 North Carolina State University Annual Tuition $19,920 Median Salary $104,800
#16 #16 University of Southern California Annual Tuition $37,427 Median Salary $105,000
#17 #17 University of Louisville Annual Tuition $10,710 Median Salary $100,700
#18 #18 University of Minnesota Digital Campus Annual Tuition $22,304 Median Salary $98,300
#19 #19 Auburn University Annual Tuition $16,133 Median Salary $95,700
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  • Annual Tuition: $30,270
  • Median Salary: $132,700
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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Columbia University's prestigious Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences offers an online Master's in Computer Science degree with seven available concentrations. Through the Columbia Video Network (CVN), distance learners access the same classes, professors, and assignments as on-campus students. Because the university's on-campus and online programs are indistinguishable with respect to content, online students receive a diploma that has no mention of online classes and is in this way identical to diplomas received by on-campus students. The program consists of 30 credit hours, requires a minimum entry GPA of 3.3, and has concentrations in Computational Biology, Computer Security, Foundations of Computer Science, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Network Systems, Software Systems, and Vision, Graphics, Interaction and Robotics. Distance learners have access to all of the resources that an Ivy League research university has to offer, including its world-renowned professors, who are leaders in their respective fields. Students may also take advantage of Columbia's career center, which will help connect them with Columbia's extensive and highly accomplished alumni network.

  • Annual Tuition: $40,560
  • Median Salary: $127,320
  • Accreditation: WASC WSCUC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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The online Master's in Computer Science degree at Stanford University combines general and focused classes to help professionals tailor their education to their individual career goals. The degree offers 12 concentrations including artificial intelligence, database systems, and software theory. Students are required to take 21 general units in the areas of mathematical and theoretical foundations, computer systems, and AI and applications. Students are also required to take 21 units of specialized classes and must attend at least one 500-level CS seminar to complete the 45-unit program. Although there is no minimum requirement for GRE scores, admission to Stanford University is very competitive, and students with a score above 90% will have the best chance of being accepted.

  • Annual Tuition: $21,120
  • Median Salary: $121,600
  • Accreditation: NEASC CIHE
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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The online division of Boston University provides a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems with seven concentrations, including computer networks, security, web application development, and database management. Forty credits, which are earned through five core courses, one required course, and four electives, are required for graduation, and the program can usually be completed in 18-24 months. Applicants to the program are required to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Students who graduate from the program will have advanced computer science skills that qualify them for leadership positions in the field.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $24,480
  • Median Salary: $121,800
  • Accreditation: HLC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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The Illinois Institute of Technology s Digital Learning division offers an online Master of Computer Science program for those who want to advance their careers in computer science. The program consists of 30 credit hours, and students may choose from one of 11 specializations, including software engineering, data analytics, finance, and computational intelligence. Students who already have a bachelor's degree in computer science can usually complete the program within two years, whereas other students may need additional time to complete required courses. GRE scores are required for admission to the program.

  • Annual Tuition: $22,100
  • Median Salary: $121,100
  • Accreditation: HLC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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The DePaul University College of Computing and Digital Media provides an online Master of Science in Computer Science that focuses on fundamental concepts and the programmatic application of these concepts. Students can learn about advanced topics such as algorithmic analysis, medical imaging, and data mining. Tuition is $850 per credit hour, and scholarships are available for graduate, continuing education, and military-affiliated students. DePaul s online learning resources include video recordings for select courses, and students learn from the same faculty and are provided the same resources as on-campus students.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $25,320
  • Median Salary: $120,900
  • Accreditation: HLC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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The University of Colorado Boulder provides three online options for a master s degree in computer science: a non-thesis research Master of Science in Computer Science, a professional Master of Science in Computer Science, and Master of Engineering in Computer Science. Students enrolled in these programs will learn about artificial intelligence, database systems, programming languages, and computational biology, among other areas of study. The computer science department provides many additional resources to graduate students, including a travel grant for students who want to attend relevant academic conferences.

  • Annual Tuition: $1,700
  • Median Salary: $115,420
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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Georgia Tech's online Master of Science in Computer Science was developed in collaboration with AT&T, so students enrolled in this program will receive an education that focuses on developing the skills that matter to top employers. The program began in 2014, but it has already attracted 8,000 applicants from more than 109 countries, and over 3,000 of them have enrolled. The size of this Georgia Tech community means that graduates of the program will become part of a worldwide network of accomplished computer scientists. The online program is the same as the on-campus program, and specializations are available in Computational Perception and Robotics, Computing Systems, Interactive Intelligence, and Machine Learning.

  • Annual Tuition: $19,530
  • Median Salary: $116,800
  • Accreditation: HLC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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The Department of Computer Science at Purdue University offers an online Master's of Science in Computer Science, which requires thirty hours of coursework and is available in both a thesis and non-thesis format. Every student enrolled in the program receives an academic advisor who works with the student to create an individualized Plan of Study that is based on the student's interests, availability, course load, and career goals. The Department of Computer Science offers students a number of resources, including a corporate partner program that connects graduates with employers, an extensive online library, and online seminars and recordings. Distance students also have the opportunity to participate in academic research. A bachelor s degree in computer science or engineering is required for admission.

  • Annual Tuition: $7,500
  • Median Salary: $112,000
  • Accreditation: HLC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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Arizona State University offers an online Master of Computer Science through the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. All distance learners pay in-state tuition rates, and more than 70% of students receive financial aid or assistance. The degree consists of 30 credit hours and 10 classes, including three required courses and seven electives. GRE scores are not required for admission to the program, but applicants must have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, and must have achieved a GPA of 3.25 during their final two years at their undergraduate institution. They must also possess some knowledge of basic computer science topics, such as data structures, operating systems, and programming languages.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $12,528
  • Median Salary: $111,200
  • Accreditation: HLC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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Colorado State University offers an online Master of Computer Science. The 35 credits required for graduation can be completed in two years, and 70 percent of the program's alumni have secured job offers by graduation. Online students take the same classes as on-campus students, and classes focus on networking and security, software engineering, and artificial intelligence. Colorado State University s online program offers distance learners a variety of student support resources, such as career services, exam proctoring, a writing center, and an extensive library. Prospective students are expected to have prior knowledge of topics like discrete mathematics, object-oriented programming, and data structures before enrolling in the master's program.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $9,600
  • Median Salary: $110,400
  • Accreditation: HLC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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Through the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, students can earn a Master of Science in Computer Science or Master of Computer Science in Data Science. Students must complete 32 credit hours in order to graduate from the program, which are earned through eight classes: four core classes and four electives. There is no thesis required. The computer science program focuses on four key areas in computer science: machine learning, data visualization, cloud computing, and data mining. Online students have access to the university's academic advising and career services, as well as all library resources.

  • Annual Tuition: $29,095
  • Median Salary: $112,100
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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The College of Computing and Informatics at Drexel University offers an online Master of Science in Computer Science. Students in this program will gain in-depth knowledge of advanced topics like computer graphics, distributed systems, networking, and cognitive modeling. Online students receive 24/7 tech support, career planning services, and full access to library resources. All applicants to the program must have a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, Software Engineering, or Math from a regionally accredited institution, and must have earned a GPA of at least 3.0 in their final two years of coursework. Their application must also include GRE scores, and preferably scores in the 50th percentile or above in all three sections.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $25,420
  • Median Salary: $110,300
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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The College of Engineering and Computing at Nova Southeastern University offers an Master of Science in Computer Science and Engineering. Concentrations are available in Software Engineering, Computer Systems, Data Science, Information Assurance and Cybersecurity, and Real-World Computing. Thirty credit hours are required for completion of the program, and depending on the concentration chosen, students will study compilers, computer architectures, and algorithms. They will also work closely with university faculty members to develop a thesis in their chosen area of study. To help support online students, the university offers a number of resources, including career assistance veteran services. Online students also receive access to library resources.

  • Annual Tuition: $19,200
  • Median Salary: $105,700
  • Accreditation: HLC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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Missouri University of Science and Technology offers an online Master of Science in Computer Science, with specializations available in cybersecurity and data science. Students choosing to focus in cybersecurity will learn about the reliability and survivability of technical infrastructure, whereas those electing to specialize in data science will learn about processes and algorithms applicable to industries like healthcare. Thirty-one credit hours are required for completion of the program, but a thesis is optional. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in a related subject with at least a 3.0 GPA, as well as GRE scores.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $19,920
  • Median Salary: $104,800
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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North Carolina State University offers an online Master of Science in Computer Science. The 31-credit hour degree does not require a thesis or a final examination. Courses are delivered through a video streaming platform, and coursework and grades are delivered and submitted electronically. The online program has the same curriculum and requirements as the on-campus version, and distance learners are able to interact with their instructors and classmates through an online portal. Example courses available online include Compiler Construction, Computational Applied Logic, and Operating Systems Principles. Online students also receive advising services, a virtual orientation, and access to all library resources.

  • Annual Tuition: $37,427
  • Median Salary: $105,000
  • Accreditation: WASC WSCUC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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The University of Southern California's Viterbi School of Engineering offers an online Master of Science in Computer Science with four specializations: Computer Security, Data Science, Scientists and Engineers, and Software Engineering. The degree consists of 28 units, including 12 required courses, 12 electives in computer science, and four additional electives. Students must also earn at least a 3.0 GPA in order to graduate. Online students receive access to the library, as well as support students like career assistance and alumni networking and mentorship opportunities. Applicants to the program must possess an undergraduate degree in engineering, math or hard science from a regionally-accredited university, as well GRE scores.

  • Annual Tuition: $10,710
  • Median Salary: $100,700
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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The University of Louisville offers a Master of Science in Computer Science degree that can be completed 100% online. The 30 credit program takes two years to complete, and additional graduate certificates can be obtained in Data Science (18 additional credit hours) and Cybersecurity (12 additional credit hours). Tuition rates are the same for in-state and out-of-state students, and discounts are available for military and active service members. The University of Louisville has a number of services for online students, including career assessments, disability resources, and technical assistance.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $22,304
  • Median Salary: $98,300
  • Accreditation: HLC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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The University of Minnesota Digital Campus offers a Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) for online learners through the College of Science & Engineering. The 31 credit hour program requires a 3.0 GPA for admission and offers three tracks: a thesis track, a project track, and a coursework-only track. Students enrolled in the MSCS program might take classes such as Introduction to Compilers, Computational Aspects of Matrix Theory, and Animation & Planning in Games. The University of Minnesota also provides a number of resources for distance learners, including access to the library, online workshops and tutorials, and technology assistance.

  • Annual Tuition: $16,133
  • Median Salary: $95,700
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • School Type: Non-Profit
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Auburn University offers an online Master of Science in Computer Science and Software Engineering through its Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. The program has thesis and non-thesis options, and available specializations include computer networks, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more. There are six required courses, as well as several electives. Applicants to the program must have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field from an accredited institution and an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. GRE scores are not required.

Overview of an Online Master's in Computer Science

A master’s degree program helps provide students with the opportunity to learn advanced computer science skills and specialize in one or more areas of study. Some master's programs require students to complete a thesis, which is an extensive paper or project on a topic of their choosing. These programs require at least two years of study to complete 30-45 credits.

Can a non-computer-science graduate earn an MS degree in computer science?

Students hoping to earn a Master of Science in Computer Science don't need an undergraduate degree in computer science or even a related field. Those pursuing a master's degree must have a fundamental understanding of the material, but this knowledge and experience is sometimes gained in the workplace rather than through undergraduate studies. The majority of colleges will accept any bachelor's degree as long as it is from an accredited four-year college. However, it is essential that prospective students have strong quantitative and analytical skills and any undergraduate classes related to computer science will prepare students for the graduate coursework. Even though there aren't prerequisites, in some programs there are opportunities to take 200 or 300-level classes that don't count toward the degree, just to familiarize students with foundational material if it’s been a while since they were in school. If a student does have a bachelor's in computer science or a related field, there is potential for them to opt out of some coursework, advisor approval pending. Occasionally schools offer a joint BS/MS program that allows students to earn both a bachelor's and master's degree concurrently.

What specializations are available?

There are several options for specializations available for those interested in computer science. Some common specializations include software development, operating systems, networking, security, and more. One of the most popular specializations is computer programming: writing code to create steps for a computer to solve a problem. On a graduate level, this also involves advanced analysis of different programming languages and notation schemes. Another option is computer networking, which focuses on the way different computers interact with each other. Classes in this specialization could include network architecture, communication protocols, or network topology. Other specializations include computer graphics and visual analytics. Working in the field of computer graphics covers creating animated films and data visualization for complex data analysis. There are numerous opportunities for specialization in the computer science world. Students interested in furthering their career can identify which specialization is the best fit. Taking a few undergraduate classes can help guide the decision if there is any uncertainty.

What type of classes will I take?

The classes required for a Master of Science in Computer Science will vary depending on the program, but typically average between 30 and 40 credit hours. Graduate courses in computer science will focus more on advanced analysis rather than basic understanding of the subjects. There are usually a few foundation classes that could include computing theory, applied algorithms, or operating systems. The majority of the coursework is in the core computer science classes. These core classes range from topics of programming to software engineering to computer security, and can often allow for flexibility based on a student's interest. There are an exceptionally wide variety of opportunities for concentrations in the computer science field. Most master's degrees also require a professional practicum, internship, or culminating activity at the end of the program.

Careers

Careers available to graduates of a computer science master’s degree are usually advanced technical roles and upper-level supervisory positions. Possible job titles include information technology manager, network architect, information security analyst, systems analyst, computer programmer, software developer, and database administrator. A master's degree can help graduates be more competitive in the job market and qualified for a wider breadth of job opportunities because of their higher-level training and knowledge.

References

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