2020 Best Online Master's in Computer Science Degrees

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 4/27/2020
2020 Best Online Master's in Computer Science Badge

The 21 online colleges on this list are the best value options for online master's programs in computer science, based on their tuition and alumni-reported salaries. New Jersey Institute of Technology is ranked #1, offering a Master of Science in Computer Science for $19,605 per year. Graduates of the school reported a median salary of $147,700. Columbia University, ranked #2, offers the second-highest alumni reported salary at $132,700.

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

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 $19,605 $147,700
# 2 #2 $31,560 $132,700
# 3 #3 $20,280 $127,320
# 4 #4 $24,780 $126,600
# 5 #5 $2,550 $115,420
# 6 #6 $17,030 $121,100
# 7 #7 $25,200 $121,800
# 8 #8 $26,622 $121,600
# 9 #9 $28,440 $120,900
# 10 #10 $20,220 $116,800
# 11 #11 $10,640 $112,000
# 12 #12 $16,811 $114,400
# 13 #13 $10,720 $110,400
# 14 #14 $12,870 $111,200
# 15 #15 $12,735 $110,300
# 16 #16 $29,969 $112,100
# 17 #17 $19,200 $105,700
# 18 #18 $20,720 $104,800
# 19 #19 $11,460 $100,700
# 20 #20 $29,050 $105,000
# 21 #21 $16,133 $95,700
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Computer Science Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 New Jersey Institute of Technology

  • Annual Tuition: $19,605
  • Median Salary: $147,700
  • Locations: Newark (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Located in Newark, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is comprised of six colleges and schools that collectively offer more than 125 different degree programs. The institution has been in continuous operation since 1881. The school offers an online Master of Science in Applied Science with a track in computer science. A total of 30 credits are required for the degree, and students must complete a master’s project or master’s thesis. A Master of Science in Computer Science is also available as an online program. Students study algorithms, complex computer systems, programming, theory, and more. Three specializations are available with the program: database and database mining, networking, and cybersecurity. Thirty credits are needed to complete the degree.

#2 Columbia University in the City of New York

  • Annual Tuition: $31,560
  • Median Salary: $132,700
  • Locations: New York (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Established in New York in 1754, Columbia University is one of the oldest universities in the U.S. The institution is comprised of eight different schools and institutes. The School of Engineering and Applied Science offers a Master of Science in Computer Science as a general program or with one of eight concentrations: natural language processing; foundations of computer science; machine learning; network systems; software systems; vision, graphics, interaction and robotics; computer security; and computational biology. The degree is available entirely online, and 30 credits are required to finish the program. All coursework must be completed within five years.

#3 Stanford University

  • Annual Tuition: $20,280
  • Median Salary: $127,320
  • Locations: Stanford (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

Located in central California, Stanford University has been serving educational needs for nearly 130 years. The institution offers a Master of Science in Computer Science as a general degree or with one of ten concentrations. These include artificial intelligence, biocomputation, human-computer interaction, mobile and Internet computing, software theory, and theoretical computer science. A total of 45 credits are required for the degree, and it must be completed within five years; most students take three to five years. Units from prior coursework are not transferable. The degree is intended as a terminal degree and does not lead to a Ph.D.

#4 Stevens Institute of Technology

  • Annual Tuition: $24,780
  • Median Salary: $126,600
  • Locations: Hoboken (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Located in Hoboken, New Jersey, Stevens Institute of Technology offers an online Master of Science in Computer Technology as a general degree or with one of 10 concentrations. Students gain an in-depth understanding of operating systems, computer languages, cybersecurity, software engineering, and much more. Concentration options include cloud computing databases, gaming and simulation, mobile systems, software development, and machine learning. Coursework is delivered via SIT’s online learning platform, WebCampus. Some classes may be presented in real-time, where students can listen to live lectures, give presentations, and collaborate with their peers.

#5 Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Annual Tuition: $2,550
  • Median Salary: $115,420
  • Locations: Atlanta (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Established in 1884, Georgia Institute of Technology is a research university comprised of 28 colleges and six schools. More than 15 online degree programs are offered at Georgia Tech, including a Master of Science in Computer Science. Students must declare one specialization, and there are four to choose from: computational perception & robotics, computing systems, interactive intelligence, and machine learning. The 10-course program can be taken 100 percent online. The degree requires a total of 30 credits and can be completed in two to three years, but students can take up to six years. All courses are delivered through the Udacity online platform.

#6 DePaul University

  • Annual Tuition: $17,030
  • Median Salary: $121,100
  • Locations: Chicago (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Master of Science in Computer Science offered through the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University is identical to the campus program. It does not require a background in computer science, making it an option for those who are looking to launch new careers in the field. Coursework is divided into introductory, foundation, and elective courses. Students can focus on software and systems development, theory, data science, database systems, artificial intelligence, software engineering, game and real-time systems, or human-computer interaction. To graduate, students must complete a research project, thesis, or internship as the capstone to their program of study. The curriculum in this online computer science degree program is offered in an asynchronous format, so students can study and complete assignments as it suits their schedule. Classes are offered in the fall, spring, summer, and winter. Prospective students should start their application by filling out an online form. They will then be directed to the DePaul Grad Gateway, where they will be guided through the rest of the application process. Applicants will need to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and other supporting documents.

#7 Illinois Institute of Technology

  • Annual Tuition: $25,200
  • Median Salary: $121,800
  • Locations: Chicago (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Master of Computer Science program at Illinois Institute of Technology teaches advanced skills to help students pursue careers as leaders in the field of computer science. Graduates of the program can explore professional opportunities as network administrators, systems analysts, network architects, software developers, researchers, and database managers. This 30-credit asynchronous online program offers a curriculum focused on programming, systems, and theory. Optional concentrations include Business, Computational Intelligence, Cyber-Physical Systems, Data Analytics, Database Systems, Distributed and Cloud Computing, Information Security and Assurance, Networking and Communications, and Software Engineering. There is no thesis required for graduation. Full-time students can complete the program in one to 1.5 years. Online students have access to campus services like career development, academic advising, and the online academic resource center. To apply to this program, students complete an online application form and submit transcripts. They will then be notified of any other materials required for consideration. These may include test scores or recommendation letters; GRE scores may be waived on a case-by-case basis.

#8 Worcester Polytechnic Institute

  • Annual Tuition: $26,622
  • Median Salary: $121,600
  • Locations: Worcester (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The Master of Science in Computer Science program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute teaches project-based skills for students wanting to enter careers in computer and information technology fields. The curriculum of this 33-credit asynchronous online computer science degree program covers the foundations of computer networks, algorithms, and data management. Students can opt for a general focus in this program, or they can tailor their electives (at least 15 credits) toward a specialty area, such as Cybersecurity. Graduates of the program will learn network security, data management, risk management, and computer forensics and cybersecurity. There is no thesis required to graduate. While this program is best suited for those who already have an academic background in computer science, other STEM majors will be considered. Online students have access to campus services that include academic and career advising and library resources and databases. To apply to the online master’s in computer science program, students must submit an online application with their college transcripts (3.0 GPA or higher is recommended).

#9 University of Colorado Boulder

  • Annual Tuition: $28,440
  • Median Salary: $120,900
  • Locations: Boulder (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Colorado Boulder offers numerous online graduate computer science degree options. The Master of Science in Computer Science and the Professional Master of Science in Computer Science are course-based programs that provide curriculums in computers and technology that do not require the completion of a thesis. The 30-credit asynchronous programs are offered in a general focus format and a subplan format, with concentration areas that include Data Science and Engineering, Human-Centered Computing, Intelligent Systems, Numerical Computation, Robotics, and Software Systems and Cloud Computing. The Dual Master of Engineering in Computer Science/Master of Engineering in Engineering Management is available for students in the MS program, except for those pursuing human-centered computing as their subplan. Enrolled students work with their graduate advisor to create a plan of study during their first year. Students have up to four years to complete the program, though full-time students can complete it in two years. To apply, students must complete an online application (fee applies) and submit their transcripts, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation.

#10 Purdue University - Main Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $20,220
  • Median Salary: $116,800
  • Locations: West Lafayette (IN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Interdisciplinary Master of Science in Engineering degree at Purdue University was created for working professionals who wish to advance as leaders in their field. A 30-credit Computer Science concentration is bundled into this MS program. The asynchronous online coursework focuses on the theories and practices in the engineering and computer science fields. Classes cover topics in bioinformatics and computational biology, computational science and engineering, data mining and management, systems, and graphics. The online program is taught by the same faculty as the on-campus program. Students may complete a research thesis that represents the culmination of their work in the program, though it is not required to graduate. Online students have access to campus resources like library research databases and academic and career advising. Applicants must have a degree from an ABET-accredited undergraduate engineering program. Enrolled students create a study plan with the help of a graduate advisor. To apply to this program, students must complete an online application form and submit a personal statement, college transcripts, a resume, and three letters of recommendation. 

#11 Arizona State University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,640
  • Median Salary: $112,000
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Master of Science in Computer Science at Arizona State University is designed as an interactive program that is rigorous but also flexible in its facilitation. Courses are delivered through Coursera and cover advanced studies in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, big data, and other complex topics in the world of technology and computer science. This 30-credit program consists of ten classes that are 7.5 weeks long. Students can concentrate in Big Data or Cybersecurity. The curriculum is a combination of lectures and real-world projects that prepare them for career opportunities in programming, database administration, software development, web design, and more. Prospective students can apply to start in either the summer or one of two fall sessions. Online students at ASU have access to support services and resources, including library databases, career and academic advising, disability services, military/veteran support, and more. Applicants to this online master’s in computer science degree program should have at least a 3.0 GPA and demonstrate proficiency in programming, data and algorithms, and operating systems; students can take prerequisites at Arizona State as needed. Applicants must submit transcripts, a personal statement, and optional letters of recommendation.

#12 The University of Texas at Austin

  • Annual Tuition: $16,811
  • Median Salary: $114,400
  • Locations: Austin (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Master of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin offers an engaging yet flexible program that enables students to obtain the skills necessary for careers in the technical field. The asynchronous online learning platform helps students to forge personal connections with faculty who are experienced in the field. The 30-credit master’s degree program consists of ten classes (three core and seven electives), which can be completed in 1.5 years at the full-time level and three years at the part-time level. Core classes focus on the applications, systems, and theories of computer science, while elective coursework covers advanced topics in AI, machine learning, and systems design. Graduates may pursue career opportunities in both the public and private sectors. Online students can use campus resources like academic advising and career services. To apply to the online computer science degree program at UT Austin, prospective students should complete an application form through ApplyTexas and submit all relevant college transcripts and a GRE score.

#13 University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign

  • Annual Tuition: $10,720
  • Median Salary: $110,400
  • Locations: Champaign (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Master of Computer Science in Data Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is a flexible asynchronous online program that allows working professionals to advance their education. This 32-credit degree consists of eight four-credit classes and does not require a thesis. Courses cover a range of computer science topics, including databases, human-computer interaction, AI, software engineering, scientific computations, and more. The program can be finished in as little as a year or up to five years, depending on whether the student is enrolled full- or part-time. Students without a computer science or STEM background may apply to this program, but they must complete prerequisites to enroll. Enrolled students have access to a variety of services, including academic and career advising, counseling, online databases, and more. Prospective students should submit applications online. Neither the GRE nor letters of recommendation are required for admission, but strong applicants will have at least a 3.2 GPA. 

#14 Colorado State University-Fort Collins

  • Annual Tuition: $12,870
  • Median Salary: $111,200
  • Locations: Fort Collins (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Master of Computer Science degree at Colorado State University-Fort Collins is ideal for working professionals looking to advance their education and become leaders in the field of technology. Applicants are expected to have completed a relevant undergraduate program and be highly proficient in at least one programming language to be considered. About 70% of students in this program are employed by graduation. The program’s asynchronous online curriculum focuses on areas including networking, security, software engineering, AI and machine learning, database management, and systems. Full-time students can complete this 35-credit online computer science degree in two years. Online students can work with a student success coach for support throughout the program. To apply to CSU-Fort Collins, prospective students must submit an online application with supporting documentation that includes a resume, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and college transcripts. GRE scores, though not required, are recommended.

#15 Nova Southeastern University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,735
  • Median Salary: $110,300
  • Locations: Fort Lauderdale (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The online Master of Science in Computer Science degree at Nova Southeastern University teaches technical skills in computers and technology. The curriculum for this 30-credit asynchronous program focuses on both theory and practice to prepare students for real-world problems. Students take core classes that cover programming languages, algorithms, operating systems, database management, and software engineering. Students can opt for a general focus or concentrate in one of these areas: Artificial Intelligence, Computer Systems, Data Science, Information Assurance and Cybersecurity, Real-World Computing, and Software Engineering. All faculty members hold PhDs and are experienced in their fields. Nova Southeastern’s program is flexible for working professionals. Students at the part-time level can finish within 16–24 months, while full-time students can finish in as little as 12–14 months. Academic and career advisors are available to online students, as are other campus resources like technical support and library databases. Prospective students must complete an online form (nonrefundable fee applies), and submit transcripts (minimum 2.5 GPA is required) and a resume.

#16 Drexel University

  • Annual Tuition: $29,969
  • Median Salary: $112,100
  • Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The Master of Science in Computer Science at Drexel University is an asynchronous online program that allows students to learn the skills needed to explore career opportunities in the technical field. The 45-credit curriculum focuses on the theories and practices of computer science. Students complete rigorous, hands-on core classes in addition to electives in electrical engineering, information science and technology, and other departments in line with personal and career goals. A thesis option is available; students must complete three credits of research before the thesis work, which is done under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Classes are offered in ten-week quarters. Enrolled students confer with a graduate advisor at the start of the program to create a focused plan of study. To apply, prospective students must complete an online application and submit transcripts, a resume, a personal statement, a letter of recommendation (two letters preferred), and GRE scores (higher than 50th percentile for all sections preferred). Online students can access campus resources such as academic and career advising, and military and veterans support services.

#17 Missouri University of Science and Technology

  • Annual Tuition: $19,200
  • Median Salary: $105,700
  • Locations: Rolla (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Master of Science in Computer Science degree at Missouri University of Science and Technology allows students to gain the skills necessary to pursue innovative careers in the field. The 31-credit asynchronous program offers concentrations in Cybersecurity and Data Science and both a thesis and non-thesis option. The program is ideal for students with a background in computer science, including strong math skills, proficiency in coding language, and knowledge of algorithms, computer architecture, database systems, discrete math, software engineering, and operating systems. In addition to completing the core curriculum, students who choose the thesis track must take nine credits of upper-level computer science classes, a one-credit seminar, and six to nine credits of research, as well as complete a thesis defense. Non-thesis students must complete 15 credits of upper-level courses and the seminar. Online students have access to academic and career advising, as well as other campus resources. Prospective students must submit an online application along with their transcripts (minimum 3.0 GPA is preferred), a personal statement, and test scores.

#18 North Carolina State University

  • Annual Tuition: $20,720
  • Median Salary: $104,800
  • Locations: Raleigh (NC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Students wishing to pursue an online master's in computer science degree have two options at North Carolina State University: the Master of Computer Science and the Master of Engineering - Computer Science. The Master of Computer Science program was created for students with a background in computer science. The 31-credit curriculum is course-based only; there is no thesis or oral exam requirement. All classes are taught online through the Engineering School at NCSU. The Master of Engineering degree (30 credits) is available with a concentration in Computer Science. Students in this program complete 21 hours of engineering courses and nine hours of engineering or related courses. At least five computer science courses must be taken in order to earn the concentration. These asynchronous online programs offer the same academic rigor as the on-campus programs. Online students have access to campus services like library databases and academic and career advising. To apply for either program, prospective students must submit an online application form along with their college transcripts (minimum 3.0 GPA) and GRE scores. 

#19 University of Louisville

  • Annual Tuition: $11,460
  • Median Salary: $100,700
  • Locations: Louisville (KY)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The online Master of Science in Computer Science degree at the University of Louisville is ideal for students who wish to pursue careers in technology and computer engineering fields, even if they did not earn an undergraduate degree in computer science. Students can select to complete a thesis or project; they also have the opportunity to choose electives that will lead to certification in data science (18 credits) or cybersecurity (12 credits). Classes are taught fully online in an asynchronous format, though students do have the option to take classes on campus if they desire. Full-time students can finish the online computer science degree in two years. Graduates of the program may seek employment opportunities in a variety of industries and sectors, including manufacturing, government, military, business, and education. To apply to the University of Louisville, applicants should complete an online form and submit college transcripts; there is no GRE requirement for this program. An online enrollment counselor can provide support during the application process. Online students have access to student resources like academic and career advising and technical support.

#20 University of Southern California

  • Annual Tuition: $29,050
  • Median Salary: $105,000
  • Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The online Master of Science in Computer Science- Scientists and Engineers degree at the University of Southern California is available with three different concentrations: Computer Security, Data Science, and Software Engineering. The online master’s in computer science, offered through the Viterbi School of Engineering, is suitable for students with an undergraduate degree in engineering or science, as well as those who have little to no experience in computer science. The asynchronous online curriculum combines both foundational and graduate-level coursework to teach the skills necessary to pursue careers in fields such as aerospace and defense, computer programming, software design, government security, bioinformatics, computer simulation, and information technology. Students can complete the 37-unit program in 1.5 to two years of full-time study or 2.5 to 3.5 years of part-time study. Online students have access to the same faculty and lectures as their on-campus counterparts, delivered through the DEN@Viterbi online educational platform. Prospective students should complete an online application form and submit their transcripts, a personal statement, a resume, letters of recommendation, and GRE scores.

#21 Auburn University

  • Annual Tuition: $16,133
  • Median Salary: $95,700
  • Locations: Auburn (AL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The online Master of Science in Computer Science and Software Engineering degree at Auburn University is designed to enhance the skills and research capabilities of those seeking to excel in the computer science field. Students can opt for a coursework-only program or obtain departmental permission to pursue a three-credit thesis option. The 33-credit asynchronous online computer science program features core classes and electives in areas of specialization that include machine learning, artificial intelligence, computer networks, databases and data science, cybersecurity, and human/computer interaction. A three-credit design project in software engineering is required to earn the degree. This program is suited for students who have already completed an undergraduate degree in computer science or software engineering; students from other STEM-related backgrounds may also apply. Online students have access to academic advisors for support during the program. Prospective students must apply online (a fee is required) and submit college transcripts, a resume, and three letters of recommendation. There is no GRE requirement for the online program, though scores are required for the on-campus program.

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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