Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Computer Science Degree Programs

By CSDH Staff
March 2021

Computer Science Degree Programs

Now is the perfect time to pursue a master’s degree in computer science. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in computer science are expected to increase a whopping 11% between now and 2029! Plus, more and more universities are offering computer science master’s degrees entirely online. This makes for an ideal situation for those who would like to advance their knowledge and careers, but who might have real concerns about things like cost and time commitment. Online computer science degrees tend to be both flexible and more affordable than the more traditional on-campus option. 

Ranking Methodology
To come up with our ranking of the top 10 best online master’s in computer science degree programs, we began by compiling a list of any and every accredited university offering just such a program. We initially reduced our list of more than 50 programs by focusing only on those online degrees which did not require any on-campus presence. We then used the following points-based system to further narrow down our list to just the top 10 best online master’s in computer science.  

Student-to-Faculty Ratio:
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 

Overall 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, the higher ranking was awarded to the degree program with the lower estimated program cost for out-of-state students. All tuition numbers have been sourced from the college or university’s own, official website. All statistics highlighted below are accurate as of March 2021. 

#1. Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Tech-Top Computer Science Bachelor's DegreesOnline Master of Science in Computer Science

Atlanta, Georgia
Estimated Program Cost: $8,250
Total Points: 17

Topping our list of the best online master’s in computer science is Georgia Institute of Technology! Georgia Tech’s online M.S. in Computer Science consists of 30 credit hours. Students have the option to tailor their degree by specializing in one of four options, including Interactive Intelligence and Computing Systems. Coursework allows for an additional 4-5 classes of the student’s choice. Academically, we give Georgia Tech high marks for its 90% graduation rate and much-higher-than-average 10% annual return on investment. 

#2. Notre Dame de Namur University
Online Master of Science in Computer and Information Science 

Belmont, California
Estimated Program Cost: $29,880
Total Points: 15

Bay Area-based Notre Dame de Namur offers an online M.S. in Computer and Information Science. The degree consists of 36 credit hours, 12 of which are electives of the student’s choice. Potential coursework includes Web Application Development, and Software Design and Architecture, to name but two. A two-part Capstone Software Project is also required before graduation. Notre Dame de Namur offers students an affordable tuition rate, and small class sizes of a 12 to 1 ratio. 

#3. Stanford University
Stanford University-Top Computer Science Bachelor's DegreesOnline Master of Science in Computer Science 

Stanford, California
Estimated Program Cost: $60,840
Total Points: 14

Stanford University offers an online M.S. in Computer Science. Though this top-ranked degree program is a little more expensive than others on our list, we think Stanford’s 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio and graduation rate of 94% more than make up for it. To graduate with this degree, students must complete 45 credits. Coursework emphasizes research. Students also have the option of focusing their studies on one of nine specialization options, including Human-Computer Interaction and Biocomputation. 

#4. University of Illinois at Springfield
Online Master of Science in Computer Science

Springfield, Illinois
Estimated Program Cost: $13,056
Total Points: 13

Fourth on our list of the best online computer science master’s degrees is University of Illinois at Springfield. To graduate from Springfield with this master’s degree, students must complete 32 credit hours of coursework. This includes seven classes of the student’s choice, and a Graduate Research Seminar. Prospective students will appreciate the University of Illinois at Springfield promises small class sizes with a 12 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio.  

#5. North Carolina State University at Raleigh
Online Master of Science in Computer Science 

Raleigh, North Carolina
Estimated Program Cost: $40,140
Total Points: 13

North Carolina State University offers an online M.S. in Computer Science. The degree consists of 31 credits. Some prospective students will be happy to know that this does not include a thesis or final oral exam. Potential coursework includes Architecture of Parallel Computers, and Artificial Intelligence, to name but two. North Carolina State’s online classes maintain their small, personalized size. The average graduate also also enjoys an annual return on investment of about 9%.  

#6. University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota-Top Computer Science Bachelor's DegreesOnline Master of Science in Computer Science 

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Estimated Program Cost: $45,415
Total Points: 12

University of Minnesota offers a M.S. in Computer Science which students can complete entirely online, from anywhere in the world. The degree consists of 31 credits. Potential courses include Wireless and Sensor Networks, and Animation & Planning in Games, to name but two. Academically, we give Minnesota high marks for its 83% graduation rate and impressive annual return on investment of 9%. 

#7. East Carolina University
Master of Science in Computer Science 

Greenville, North Carolina
Estimated Program Cost: $33,972
Total Points: 11

East Carolina University offers an M.S. in Computer Science. Students pursuing this degree online can be assured they are receiving the exact same education as those participating on campus. The degree consists of 30-38 semester hours, depending upon one’s choice of classes. Coursework covers a variety of topics ranging from operating systems to software engineering tools, and everything in between. We also give East Carolina University high marks for its small class sizes and respectable graduation rate of 66%.  

#8. DePaul University
depaul-universityOnline Master of Science in Computer Science 

Chicago, Illinois
Estimated Program Cost: $44,980
Total Points: 11

DePaul University offers an online M.S. in Computer Science. To graduate with this degree, students must complete 52 credits of coursework. This includes foundation courses and electives. Students are also given the choice of completing either a research project or Master Thesis, or participating in an internship, before graduation. DePaul offers its students small classes in which to learn, and an annual return on investment of 8%. 

#9. Drexel University
Online Master of Science in Computer Science 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Estimated Program Cost: $60,390
Total Points: 11

Top-ranked Drexel University offers an online M.S. in Computer Science. The degree consists of 45 credits. Interestingly, Drexel organizes its online classes into four 10-week quarters per year. This allows students to complete more classes in less time. Potential classes include Programming Languages and Developing User Interfaces, to name but two. 

#10. Colorado State University
colorado-state-university-globalOnline Master of Science in Computer Science

Aurora, Colorado
Estimated Program Cost: $25,025
Total Points: 8

Rounding out our list of the 10 best online master’s degrees for computer science is Colorado State University. Colorado’s highly regarded Global Campus offers an M.S. in Computer Science which can be completed entirely online. To complete the degree, students must work through 35 credits of coursework. Required courses include Object-Oriented Design and Introduction to Analysis of Algorithms, to name but two. Typically, it takes students two years to graduate with their master’s degree.

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