By CSDH Staff
Now is the perfect time to pursue a master’s degree in computer science. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports jobs in computer science are on the rise. By 2030, we will see an 11% increase.
As a result, more colleges will offer computer science master’s degrees online. This is great news if you want an advanced degree but have limited time and money. Online computer science degrees are more flexible and affordable than traditional on-campus options.
Read on to find out what online masters programs computer science jobs demand and where to find the best degree.
Ranking Methodology for Best Online Master’s in Computer Science Programs
To come up with our ranking of the top 10 best online masters computer science programs, we looked at accredited colleges and universities offering this degree. We reduced our list to 50 programs by focusing only on schools with online degrees. These programs do not require on-campus presence. We narrowed our list further by applying the following points-based system.
10: 1 and lower: 5 points
11:1 to 12:1: 4 points
13:1 to 15:1: 3 points
16:1 to 20:1: 2 points
21:1 and higher: 1 point
Estimated Program Cost (for out-of-state students)
Under $20,000: 5 points
Under $30,000: 4 points
Under $40,000: 3 points
Under $50,000: 2 points
Under $60,000: 1 point
Program Graduation Rate
90% and above: 5 points
75% and above: 4 points
50% and above: 3 points
25% and above: 2 points
24% and below: 1 point
20-Year Net Return on Investment (ROI)
10% and above: 5 points
8%-9%: 4 points
6%-7%: 3 points
4%-5%: 2 points
3% and below: 1 point
Note: In the event of a tie in points, we awarded a higher ranking to the degree program with the lower estimated program cost for out-of-state students. We sourced all tuition numbers from the college or university’s official website. All statistics highlighted below are accurate as of November 2022.
Best Online MS Computer Science Programs
#1. Georgia Institute of Technology
Total Points: 17
Estimated Program Cost: $8,250
Topping our list of the best online masters programs in computer science is Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech’s online master’s degree program consists of 30 credits. Upon graduating, you earn a terminal MSCS degree.
Students have the option to tailor their degree by specializing in one of eleven options. These include:
- Computer graphics
- Machine learning
- Visual analytics
Specialization coursework allows for 4-5 additional classes of the student’s choice. With a specialization, students tailor their degree to make it stand out above competition. This helps when applying for any computer and information science jobs.
Georgia Tech earns points for its 90% graduation rate and much-higher-than-average 10% annual return on investment. It offers the best master’s degree program on our list.
#2. University of Southern California Online
Total Points: 15
Los Angeles, California
Estimated Program Cost: $61,396/year
USC Online offers a Master of Science in Computer Science program. You can earn the degree online by completing 36 credit hours.
What sets the USC master’s program apart is the number of available concentrations. These allow graduate students to tailor their degree toward an area of interest. Popular computer science concentrations include:
- Computer security
- Data science
- Software engineering
But grad students can also explore many different data science concentrations. These include applied data science and cyber security engineering.
USC earns points for its good value and ROI, along with its high graduation rate.
#3. Stanford University
Total Points: 14
Estimated Program Cost: $60,840
Stanford University offers an online M.S. in CS degree program. The program cost is more expensive than others on our list, but Stanford offers other benefits.
For one, Stanford has a 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio. This is one of the lowest ratios compared to other top online computer science masters programs. It also has a graduation rate of 94%.
To graduate with this online master’s degree, students must complete 45 credits. Coursework emphasizes research. Students also have the option of focusing their studies on one of many specialization. These include artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction. Online courses cover topics like:
- Intro to computer networking
- Logic programming
Enrollment for this degree is full- or part-time. Full-time students finish in one to two years. Part-time students can expect to finish in three to five years.
#4. University of Illinois at Springfield
Total Points: 13
Estimated Program Cost: $13,056
Fourth on our list of the best online MS CS degrees is University of Illinois at Springfield. The school offers a master’s degree program in computer science with two graduate certificate options.
In this master’s in computer science program, students must complete 32 credit hours of coursework. This includes seven classes of the student’s choice and a graduate research seminar. Courses cover topics such as:
- Computer programming concepts
- Discrete structures
- Programming languages
Students also have the option of earning a graduate certificate. Certificates allow you to explore a topic on a deeper level. The two certificates offered include information assurance and systems security.
What sets this degree in computer science apart from other programs is the small class sizes. Students experience a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio. This ratio is lower than most graduate online master’s degree programs.
#5. North Carolina State University at Raleigh
Total Points: 13
Raleigh, North Carolina
Estimated Program Cost: $40,140
With a qualifying bachelor’s degree, you can earn a master’s in computer science at NC State University. The school offers an online M.S. in Computer Science.
The degree consists of 31 credits and does not require a thesis or final oral exam. But you must complete all required coursework. Course topics explore different topics in computer science and information technology. You can also take classes in software engineering. Popular course topics include:
- Architecture of Parallel Computers
- Artificial Intelligence
- Computer systems and technology
NC State’s online classes maintain a small, personalized size. The average graduate also enjoys an annual return on investment of about 9%, making the cost per credit valuable. As a result, you find one of the best online CS masters programs at NCSU.
#6. University of Minnesota
Total Points: 12
Estimated Program Cost: $45,415
University of Minnesota offers one of the best online masters in computer science programs. With online access, students can take classes from anywhere in the world
The master’s degree program consists of 31 credits. Popular courses cover topics such as:
- Animation and Planning in Games
- Computational Aspects of Matrix Theory
- Wireless and Sensor Networks
The school earns high marks for its 83% graduation rate and impressive annual return on investment of 9%. The ROI makes the cost per credit a good value. Graduates of the online master’s in computer science program have found jobs at Amazon, Apple, Inc., and IBM.
#7. East Carolina University
Total Points: 11
Greenville, North Carolina
Estimated Program Cost: $33,972
East Carolina University offers one of the best online computer science degree masters programs.
The master of computer science program consists of 30-38 semester hours. Coursework covers different computer science topics that include:
- Algorithms and tools
- Operating systems
- Software engineering tools
Near the end of the program, students complete a thesis or research project in an area of interest. The research project must have a written report that accompanies it.
ECU earns high marks for its small class sizes and respectable graduation rate of 66%. Students who graduate from the online master’s in computer science program find work in information technology and other computer science industries.
#8. DePaul University
Total Points: 11
Estimated Program Cost: $44,980
DePaul University offers one of the best online computer science masters degree programs. To graduate with this degree, you must complete 52 credits of coursework.
The program consists of foundation courses and electives. Foundation courses cover topics such as:
- Data structures
- Discrete structures for computer science
- Intro to programming
But it is in your electives that you can explore different interests. Popular areas of study include artificial intelligence and software engineering.
Toward the end of the program, students can choose between completing a research project or thesis. You can also take part in an internship before graduation.
What sets the school apart from others is the small classes and low student-to-faculty ratio. DePaul also offers an annual return on investment of 8%. This makes the cost per credit valuable.
#9. Drexel University
Total Points: 11
Estimated Program Cost: $60,390
Top-ranked Drexel University offers one of the best online computer science masters programs. It is for students with a bachelor’s degree who want to earn a master of computer science.
The degree consists of 45 credits. You take online courses organized into four 10-week quarters per year. This allows students to complete more classes in less time. The master of computer science courses cover topics like:
- Computer graphics
- Operating systems
- Programming languages
- Software design
Prospective students also complete a series of electives. These classes help you explore your interests and allow you to tailor your degree. Popular electives in computer science include game artificial intelligence and robot laboratory.
#10. Colorado State University Global
Total Points: 8
Fort Collins, Colorado
Estimated Program Cost: $25,025
Rounding out our list of the 10 top online masters programs computer science is Colorado State University Global. You can earn a master of computer science in only two years.
The online master’s degree requires 35 credits of coursework. You take a series of computer science classes that help you develop experience in emerging areas such as:
- AI and machine learning
- Networking and security
- Parallel computing
- Systems software
About 70% of online Master of Science in CS graduates have job offers upon graduation, according to the school’s website. Graduates have received offers from major tech companies such as IBM, Lockheed-Martin, and Raytheon.
Other Schools with Master’s in Computer Science Programs
- Arizona State University
- Boston University
- New Jersey Institute of Technology (Jersey Tech or Jersey Institute of Technology)
Frequently Asked Questions
Read on for answers to frequently asked questions about the best online computer science masters programs.
How long is a master’s in computer science online program?
The average time it takes to earn an online master of science in CS is two years. That’s if you enroll full-time. Part-time programs can take up to four years, sometimes longer. Most computer and information programs have different requirements. Some want students to complete internships, which can add time.
Is computer science a good major?
In terms of job growth and career potential, computer science is a good choice for a major. Job opportunities in this field pay well. There is high demand from major tech companies for people with computer science skills.
What can you do with a degree in computer science?
You can open doors to many industries with an online master’s degree in computer science. Common roles in this field include:
- Computer and information research scientist
- Computer network architect
- Computer systems engineer
- Computer systems manager
Employers need professionals with a CS degree, as job growth will increase over the next ten years. Industries that hire those with computer science skills include education, healthcare, and technology.
But competition is fierce for computer science jobs. To help you stand out above your competition, try earning a specialization in a niche area of computer science. Robotics and artificial intelligence are good choices.
You can also consider earning a graduate degree, such as a master’s in computer science. Some employers view a master’s degree program as two years of work experience. A computer science online graduate degree can help you gain a good per credit return-on-investment.
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