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2023 Most Affordable Master's in Computer Science Online

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 7/31/2023
2023 Most Affordable Online Degrees Badge

An affordable online master's degree in computer science seeks to teach advanced knowledge of computer hardware, software, programming languages, networks, and databases. Students can often select a concentration in these or other focus areas to help tailor their studies to their intended careers. Depending on their specialty, graduates might pursue jobs as network architects, database administrators, information security analysts, or many other tech-related roles.

If you're undecided about a master's in computer science degree, you might consider an online master's in cybersecurity instead. Master's degrees in computer engineering or software engineering may also appeal to you, but these programs mainly accept applicants with engineering backgrounds.

View our methodology for details about rankings or learn more about us. You can also check out our overall list of the most affordable online degrees for some inspiration.

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All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank School Locations Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Georgia Southwestern State University Americus (GA) $3,855
# 2 #2 The University of West Florida Pensacola (FL) $4,250
# 3 #3 Fort Hays State University Hays (KS) $4,478
# 4 #4 Fitchburg State University Fitchburg (MA) $4,934
# 5 #5 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta (GA) $4,950
# 6 #6 Columbus State University Columbus (GA) $5,593
# 7 #7 Southeast Missouri State University Cape Girardeau (MO) $5,921
# 8 #8 Jacksonville State University Jacksonville (AL) $6,150
# 9 #9 The University of Texas at Austin Austin (TX) $6,667
# 10 #10 Southern Arkansas University Magnolia (AR) $7,395
Annual Tuition: $3,855
Annual Tuition: $3,855
Annual Tuition: $3,855

Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) is a public institution with a Master of Science in Computer Science degree. This program contains 30 credit hours, which full-time students may complete in two years.

GSW uses two different digital learning platforms, called GeorgiaVIEW and GoVIEW, to host asynchronous online course content. Students log in to one of these to complete courses such as Distributed Web Applications, Data Mining, and Cloud Computing and Security. This degree's curriculum aims to create generalist practitioners who can pursue a variety of possible careers after graduating. Online learners may complete an optional internship in person at an approved location in their community.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Average SATs: 940 -1120
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 604
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 208
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
Annual Tuition: $4,250
Annual Tuition: $4,250
Annual Tuition: $4,250

The University of West Florida (UWF), a public school, offers a Master of Science in Computer Science degree featuring 30 credit hours of coursework. This degree can take about three years to finish with a full-time schedule.

UWF uses Canvas as its learning platform for both synchronous and asynchronous online courses. This master's degree aims to teach skills in parallel computing, networking, data analytics, and artificial intelligence automation. Some required classes include Advanced Algorithms and Database Systems. Enrollees can choose a concentration in software engineering or data analytics to help focus their education. Before graduating, each student must complete either a written thesis or an approved computer science project over two semesters.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
  • Average SATs: 1080 -1260
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,893
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,452
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
Annual Tuition: $4,478
Annual Tuition: $4,478
Annual Tuition: $4,478

Fort Hays State University (FHSU) is a public school offering a Master of Science in Computer Science. This 33-credit-hour program might take two years with a full-time course load.

FHSU uses the Blackboard learning platform to deliver online classes, including some synchronous and some asynchronous courses. This degree has a generalist curriculum design that covers subjects such as programming, database management, and operating systems. Some required classes are Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery, Digital Imaging Processing, and a capstone project course in which students use all the knowledge and skills they've gained.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 4,411
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,453
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
Annual Tuition: $4,934
Annual Tuition: $4,934
Annual Tuition: $4,934

Fitchburg State University (FSU) is a public university that features an online, 33-credit Master of Science in Computer Science degree. Full-time students may finish this program in two years.

FSU's online students use the Blackboard digital learning platform to access coursework. Faculty for this master's degree try to prepare students for the workforce by teaching skills in computer science theory, algorithms, and systems design. The core required courses include Theory of Computation, Object Oriented Analysis and Design, and Advanced Mathematics for Computer Scientists. Although there are no concentrations, enrollees can choose to write a master's thesis using original research on an approved topic.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 91%
  • Average SATs: 990 -1150
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 385
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,402
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: NECHE
Annual Tuition: $4,950
Annual Tuition: $4,950
Annual Tuition: $4,950

The public Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) has an online Master of Science in Computer Science degree. This program features 30 credit hours of coursework and a choice of four concentrations: computational perception and robotics, computing systems, interactive intelligence, and machine learning. Students typically finish this degree in three years but can take up to six.

The institute's online students use Canvas as their learning management platform for mainly asynchronous courses. By requiring a specialization, the curriculum seeks to produce experts in a focused area of computer science. Some of the program's foundational classes include Introduction to Operating Systems, Secure Computer Systems, and Software Development Process.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 69%
  • Average SATs: 1300 -1510
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 474
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 12,827
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Overview of Online Computer Science Master's Degrees

Online master's programs in computer science equip you with both advanced theoretical knowledge and practical skills so that you're prepared to take on leadership roles in this rapidly evolving field. Most programs also allow you to choose an area of specialization, such as data structures, computer systems, software engineering, or artificial intelligence, among others. 

The master's-level coursework in an online computer science degree program is designed to help you develop technical skills like programming, database management, and machine learning. At the same time, you'll be challenged to think creatively as you hone soft skills such as problem-solving, analytical thinking, teamwork, and effective communication. 

Classes often involve innovative projects and assignments that simulate real-world challenges so you can gain practical experience. These projects may include developing a mobile application, creating a cybersecurity strategy for an organization, or designing an efficient database system.

Most computer science master's programs require the completion of 30-33 credit hours. Full-time learners may be able to finish in two to three years, but part-time students may need a bit longer. An internship is often one of the graduation requirements, as is a written thesis or capstone project.

Common Courses

The curriculum for an online computer science master's degree varies widely across schools and changes fairly often as the field evolves. However, some of the core courses that may be found in a master's program include:

Advanced Algorithms

This course delves into the design, analysis, and application of algorithms. Students learn to solve complex computing problems and apply their knowledge to the development of efficient software and systems.

Software Engineering

Students gain an understanding of the entire lifecycle of software development, from initial design and coding to testing and maintenance. The focus is on best practices for producing high-quality, maintainable software.

Database Systems

This course provides an in-depth study of database design and management. Students learn to build and manage databases, ensuring their efficiency, security, and ease of use.

Artificial Intelligence

Here, students learn the fundamentals of AI, exploring concepts such as machine learning, natural language processing, and robotics. They also get to work on designing and implementing intelligent systems.

Computer Networks

Students learn about the design and implementation of computer networks. This includes understanding protocols, network architecture, and security considerations.


This course offers a comprehensive overview of information security principles and techniques. Students learn to design secure systems and understand the methods and tools used to protect digital assets from threats.

Depending on where you are in your educational journey, you may also be interested in our lists of the most affordable associate degrees in computer science, the most affordable bachelor's degrees in computer science, and the best bachelor's degrees in computer science.

Funding an Online Computer Science Degree

One of the most important factors to consider when deciding whether and where to earn a computer science master's degree is funding. So, before applying to any program, you may want to establish your budget and compare it to the approximate cost of earning this degree.

To get an estimate, we turned to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which researched tuition rates for master's programs at schools across the country in the 2020-21 school year. The findings show that the average total annual tuition and fees for graduate programs at public universities is less than half of the average at private institutions — $12,394 and $26,621, respectively. Multiplying these figures by the two or three years it may take to earn a master's gives you some idea of the total cost.

However, our list of the most affordable master's in computer science degrees shown above demonstrates that there is a much wider range of cost-effective options that may allow you to save money. You could cut your tuition costs by thousands if you study remotely because many schools charge lower tuition rates for online students than for traditional, on-campus students. 

Choosing an online program is just one way to reduce the cost of an advanced degree. Other possibilities include earning extra income by working at a full-time or part-time job, relocating to a city or state with a lower cost of living, and seeking support from your employer by using your organization's tuition reimbursement program, if one is available.

Financial Aid

Another way to minimize the cost of earning a master's degree is through financial aid. To apply for aid, you simply have to fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Later, you'll be informed if you qualify for funding with a Student Aid Report (SAR), followed by a financial aid letter from your school.

If you're offered a financial aid package, it may contain different types of aid from the federal and state government and from your school. Of these, the best types are grants and scholarships because they typically don't have to be repaid. 

Your aid package may also include a student loan, which will have to be paid back with a substantial amount of interest. Before accepting a loan, you may want to use our student loan repayment calculator to determine the total interest owed. Also, if you're given a choice in the type of loan, keep in mind that federal student loans often have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment terms than private student loans

What Can You Do With an Online Computer Science Degree?

Graduating with an online computer science degree opens a myriad of career opportunities. One option is to become a computer and information research scientist. These professionals look for ways to improve computer usage and solve problems with both new and existing technology. The median annual wage for this occupation is $131,490, and demand is expected to grow by 21% through 2031.

Master's degree holders are also qualified for high-paying roles as software developers ($109,020), information security analysts ($102,600), and computer and information systems managers ($159,010). Although a master's degree is not necessarily required for these jobs, many employers prefer to hire better-educated, more experienced job candidates for these positions.

Furthering your education beyond a master's degree can provide even more opportunities. For example, a PhD in computer science may lead to positions in academia, advanced research, or high-level roles in industry. Pursuing an advanced degree often provides an advantage in the job market and can potentially lead to higher earnings.

FAQs About Online Computer Science Degrees

How Do I Choose a Master's in Computer Science?

Choosing an online master's in computer science program requires careful consideration of several factors. For instance, you should evaluate the program's curriculum to see if it aligns with your career goals and interests. Some programs may have a stronger focus on certain areas, like AI, data science, or cybersecurity. Other factors include the faculty and their expertise in the field, the program's reputation, cost, student services, and the availability of financial aid.

One other factor that's extremely important is institutional accreditation. Enrollment in an accredited program ensures you're getting a quality education that meets industry standards. You may also want to seek out programs that have been accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

How Long Is a Computer Science Master's Degree?

Typically, a computer science master's degree takes about two years to complete on a full-time basis. However, the duration can vary based on the specific program and the pace at which you complete courses. Some accelerated programs may allow you to finish in as little as 12-18 months, while part-time programs could take three to four years.

What Are the Admission Requirements for Computer Science Degrees?

Admission requirements for a master's in computer science program can vary, but most schools require a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, preferably a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subject. Without a relevant educational background, you may be required to complete quite a few prerequisite courses. These additional courses need to be factored into your budget.

Additionally, schools typically request a copy of your undergraduate transcripts and possibly GRE scores. You may need to show that you maintained a GPA of 3.0 or higher to be accepted. Other common requirements include letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and possibly a resume or CV demonstrating relevant work experience.

Is a Master's Degree in Computer Science Master's Worth the Cost?

Determining whether an online master's degree in computer science is worth it depends upon your personal career goals and priorities. A master's degree is not required for many jobs in this field, but it may make you a more marketable candidate for better-paying leadership roles. Given that many of these positions offer median salaries ranging from $131,490 to $159,010, you are likely to see a healthy return on your investment.

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