University of Pennsylvania


Computer Science Degrees Offered at University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania appears in our ranking of the Top 50 Master’s in Computer Science Degree Programs.

The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) offers computer science degrees through the Department of Computer and Information Science. At the undergraduate level, there are two tracks that result in either the Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) or the Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS). The four available majors for the BSE include Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Digital Media Design which includes communication and design courses, and Networked and Social Systems Engineering which combines economics, sociology, and technology. The BAS program is less math-intensive, requiring only two engineering courses, and offers three different tracks, Computer Science, Computational Biology for students interested in genetics, statistics, and biochemistry, and Computer and Cognitive Science. The latter includes courses in neuroscience, language processing, psychology, sociology, and biology. This program also focuses on philosophical and ethical issues concerning technology.

There are six computer science graduate degrees at Penn with the Master of Computer and Information Technology being the only one offered online using the Coursera platform. This program is geared toward individuals from disciplines other than computer science. Graduation requires 30 credit hours with six required classes like Introduction to Software Development, Computer Systems Programming, and Algorithms and Computation, and these are followed by four electives. While available entirely online, there is an on-campus version as well. The other programs are all geared toward students who have studied computer science at the undergraduate level and all culminate in the Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) degree. The MSE and Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science are customizable programs, specifically for students interested in research and academia.

The Embedded Systems track focuses on cyber-physical systems and includes computer programming and electrical engineering classes. The Computer Graphics and Game Technology program is one of the few programs nationwide that focuses strictly on creating visual effects in video games and other animation. Over a 1-year period, students take nine classes including Computer Graphics, Computer Animation, and 3D Modeling followed by a semester-long final project, either a thesis or game design practicum. The Robotics degree combines a variety of engineering and technical disciplines, and there are many opportunities for students to take seminars and work in the renowned GRASP laboratory. The final specialized program, Data Science, is based in statistics and enrolls students who specialize in a variety of areas including public policy and the pure sciences.

About University of Pennsylvania

As one of the eight Ivy League schools, Penn has a long and prestigious history dating back to 1740. The school is among the five oldest post-secondary institutions and is the oldest to offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Initially located in downtown Philadelphia, the current campus was opened in West Philadelphia in 1870. In the 1960s, the residential facilities were expanded, and this is when the student body transformed from primarily commuters to a growing campus-based population. Penn is a university of firsts with the oldest medical and business schools in the U.S. Also along those lines, the computer science department built the first large-scale digital computer in the world. This tradition of innovation and experimentation permeates into all fields, and all students have the opportunity to take part in campus research.

Today, the university enrolls over 20,000 students and offers degrees in 12 different schools. Penn is ranked the eighth best national university by the U.S. News and World Report, and the graduate computer science programs come in 19th with the Programming Language specialty ranked seventh and the Artificial Intelligence track at 13th.

University of Pennsylvania Accreditation Details

The University of Pennsylvania has been continuously accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) since 1921 with its last review in 2014. The MSCHE is one of the regional bodies responsible for verifying that colleges and universities provide adequate education and are managed appropriately. The standards are broken into seven categories which include Mission and Goals, Support of the Student Experience, and Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement. Both the computer science and computer engineering programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). While the MSCHE evaluates the university as a whole, the ABET is only concerned with certain degree programs. The purpose of this specialized accreditation is to certify that the coursework requirements prepare graduates for work in the field and that the professors are experts in the industry.

University of Pennsylvania Application Requirements

Undergraduate applicants to Penn’s computer science programs can use either the Common Application or the Coalition Application to apply and must include the university-specific essay portion. In addition, students need to send official high school transcripts with the school report, counselor recommendation, and two academic evaluations from teachers. SAT or ACT scores are required, and any completed SAT subject tests are also considered as part of the application. Prior to admissions decisions, some individuals also complete an in-person interview depending on time and geographic availability. For the graduate computer science programs on campus, students can apply through the Penn Engineering Graduate Admissions portal. Applicants are required to have completed a bachelor’s degree and submit unofficial transcripts, GRE scores, a professional resume, personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and the $80 fee. Most of the graduate programs require an undergraduate major in computer science or engineering, but the Master of Computer and Information Technology (MCIT) is specifically designed for students with other backgrounds. This is the only program offered completely online, and applicants need an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 along with the application materials listed above.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Undergraduate tuition for students at the University of Pennsylvania is around $50,000 per year with graduate on-campus tuition at $6529 per course for degrees in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Online courses for the MCIT program are $2500 each. All admitted undergraduate students must complete a FAFSA to determine the estimated family contribution (EFC). The university then covers all costs above the EFC with a variety of grants. While there are some part-time teaching and research jobs offered through the School of Engineering and Applied Science, most master’s level students look toward outside scholarships and federal student loans for financial assistance. The University of Pennsylvania does provide full funding for all computer science Ph.D. students.