A degree in computer science can lead to a promising and profitable career in several different verticals. According to a nationwide survey conducted by Michigan State University, college graduates in the class of 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering can expect an average starting salary of $56,600, which is the second highest starting salary.
In fact, those bachelor’s degrees in Software Design, Computer Programming, and Computer Science are all included in the top seven degrees in regards to starting salaries. Even those with an associate’s degree and master’s degree in Computer Science & Information Technology are included in the top two earning degrees for graduates.
Even more promising is the fact that eventually the median annual wage for computer and information research scientists will be $102,190, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects this sector to increase by 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, which will be faster than average for all occupations.
According to Forbes, the cities with the most amount of computer science jobs are Washington D.C., Seattle Washington, New York, New York, San Francisco, California, Chicago, Illinois, Alexandria, Virginia, Annapolis Junction, Maryland, Herndon, Virginia, Houston, Texas, and Austin, Texas.
Based on rankings from US News, USA Today, and Top Universities, we’ve compiled the top twelve colleges and universities for earning a degree in computer science in the United States. However, because there are many international visitors to SEJ, we’ve also included eight international institutions. These colleges and universities are in no particular order.
In a response to the growing industrialization of the country, William Barton Rogers pushed for an institution to address these scientific and technological advances. In 1865, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology admitted its first students and has since become one of the most renowned educational institutions in the world whose alumni include 80 Nobel Laureates, 56 National Medal of Science winners, 28 National Medal of Technology and Innovation winners, and 43 MacArthur Fellows.
With an emphasis on, ”Teaching and research-with relevance to the practical world as a guiding principle-continue to be its primary purpose. MIT is independent, coeducational, and privately endowed,” it’s no wonder that MIT was named the top global university for computer science by US News, USA Today and Top Universities.
- 2014-2015 Tuition & Fees: $45,016
- Students: 4,528 enrolled
- Bonus Fact: Approximately 90% of students receive some sort of financial aid.
Founded in 1885 by California Governor Leland Stanford and his wife Jane, to honor their son who had passed away of typhoid fever, Stanford University officially opened it’s doors in 1891. Unlike most universities at the time, which were all-male or affiliated with a religious organization, Standard chose to be coeducational and non-denominational.
Nestled conveniently in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford University provides a pristine campus with a respectful 4:1 student to faculty ratio. Since Stanford is “dedicated to finding solutions to big challenges and to preparing students for leadership in a complex world,” you would expect nothing less than the Computer Science program being named one of the best in the world.
- 2014-2015 Tuition & Fees: $44,757
- Students: 7,061 enrolled
- Bonus Fact: Alumni include a wide range of entertainers (Sigourney Weaver), athletes (John Elway) and politicians (former President Herbert Hoover). Other influential alumni include: Sergey Brin and Larry Page (Google), William Hewlett and David Packard (Hewlett-Packard), Konstantin Guericke and Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), and Steve Ballmer (Microsoft).
This institution was founded in 1868 and is situated overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Known commonly as “Cal,” the faculty currently includes 7 Nobel Laureates, 225 members of the Academy of Arts & Sciences, 131 members of the National Academy of Science, 87 members of the National Academy of Engineering, a Poet Laureate Emeritus of the United States, and 141 Guggenheim Fellows.
UC Berkeley has been ranked the top public university in the country by U.S. News & World Report for 17 consecutive years, so it’s only fair that its 14 schools, including its innovative Computer Science, would be recognized as one of the best in the world.
- 2014-2015 Tuition & Fees: $13,844 (in-state); $25,064 (out-of-state)
- Students: 27,126 (Undergraduate); 10,455 (Graduate)
- Bonus Fact: Glenn T. Seaborg and his team at Berkeley discovered plutonium in 1941.
Founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University has become a “global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.” The university features award-winning faculty and has been named one of the “most wired” universities in the country.
Carnegie Mellon’s highly ranked School of Computer Science was selected number one by a poll of job recruiters.
- 2014-2015 Tuition & Fees: $48,786
- Students: 6,306 enrolled
- Bonus Fact: 100% of CMU’s electricity comes from green power sources.
Although it was founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania began to take shape after Benjamin Franklin published essay Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth. In 1751, Penn opened as the “Academy and Charitable School in the Province of Pennsylvania”. Today, Penn is one of the most prominent universities in the country.
Although this may seem like an odd selection for computer science, consider that Penn has a solid 5:1 student to faculty ratio. More importantly, however, “Computer science grads from U Penn also have the highest starting career salary of the top 10 schools at $79,000 per year.”
- 2014-2015 Tuition & Fees: $47,668
- Students: 9,712 enrolled
- Bonus Fact: Penn developed ENIAC, the world’s first electronic, large-scale, general-purpose digital computer.
Educational historian Frederick Rudolph, called Cornell University “the first American university”. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, this private institution is located in New York’s beautiful Finger Lakes region – which means it’s not too far from New York City, either. Cornell is also one of the top ranked colleges in the United States, especially in engineering and English.
As for its computer science program, Cornell features an award-winning faculty with industry leaders. Cornell University was also ranked 10th in computer science programs with the best return on investment.
- 2014-2015 Tuition & Fees: $47,286
- Students: 14,393 enrolled
- Bonus Fact: Notable alumni include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, author E.B. White and Bill Nye, the “Science Guy.”
Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States – it’s also home to a library system which houses the oldest collection in the United States and the largest private collection in the world. In other words, this iconic Ivy League institution doesn’t need much more of an introduction.
While you may not consider Harvard a typical university for obtaining a computer science degree, the fact that the university “is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, and research, and to developing leaders in many disciplines who make a difference globally” makes for a rather sound argument. Harvard graduates can also expect a satisfying mid-salary career of $119,000.
- 2014-2015 Tuition & Fees: $43,938
- Students: 6,722 enrolled
- Bonus Fact: “The name Harvard comes from the college’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard of Charlestown. Upon his death in 1638, he left his library and half his estate to the institution established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.”
Founded in 1955 by Harvey S. Mudd, a successful mining engineer, this campus is located just 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The college is known for educating “engineers, scientists, and mathematicians who become leaders in their fields,” however, it’s also been ranked 15th in the 2015 edition of Best Colleges in National Liberal Arts Colleges.
Not only is computer science the second most popular program at Harvey Mudd, grads will earn $143,000 as their mid-career salary, which is the highest in the country.
- 2014-2015 Tuition & Fees: $48,594
- Students: 807 enrolled
- Bonus Fact: The Gonzo Unicycle Madness, HMC’s unicycling club, organizes an annual 9.6-mile ride, known as “The Foster’s Run.”
Founded in 1746, Princeton happens to be the fourth-oldest college in the United States with an iconic campus that contains ivy-covered walls. As a world-renowned research university, Princeton has earned the top spot in the 2015 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities.
As for computer science program at Princeton, it’s recognized as one of the most advanced in the world. This department is “home to 30 tenure-track and 13 teaching faculty, with strong groups in theory, networks/systems, graphics/vision, programming languages, security/policy, machine learning, and computational biology.”
- 2014-2015 Tuition & Fees: $41,820
- Students: 5,323 enrolled
- Bonus Fact: In 1783, Princeton was the temporary capital of the United States and Nassau Hall, the oldest building on campus, hosted the entire American government.
Since it’s founding in 1883, the University of Texas has become one of the largest and most respected universities in the country. In fact, UT has been named one of the nation’s Best Value Colleges for 2012 by The Princeton Review, was ranked as one of the best colleges in the country by Forbes and one of the most desirable large schools by Newsweek.
The computer science program at UT is constantly ranked as a top-ten computer science department nationally. Furthermore, the department “produces roughly 20% of computer science graduates in Texas and about 18% of all computer science graduates from top-tier universities.”
- 2014-2015 Tuition & Fees: $9,798 (in-state); $34,722 (out-of-state)
- Students: 39,979 enrolled
- Bonus Fact: Its Longhorn Network is the only sports network to feature the college sports of a single university.
The university earned a Top 5 CS Graduate School program in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
- 2014-2015 Tuition & Fees: $15,602 (in-state); $30,228 (out-of-state)
- Students: 32,695 enrolled
- Bonus Fact: U of I is one of the few educational institutions to own an airport, Willard Airport, which was named after former University of Illinois president Arthur Cutts Willard.
Founded in 1861, the University of Washington is one of the oldest public institutions on the West Coast. Located just north of downtown Seattle, UDub stresses “living green” via recycling and energy conservation. Notable alumni include Chris DeWolfe (co-creator of MySpace) and Irv Robbins (co-founder and namesake of the Baskin-Robbins).
The University of Washington’s computer science program was ranked in the country according to U.S. News & World Report.
- 2014-2015 Tuition & Fees: $12,394 (in-state); $33,513 (out-of-state)
- Students: 29,754 enrolled
- Bonus Fact: The Daily of the University of Washington, the student paper, is the second largest daily in Seattle.
As mentioned earlier, we didn’t neglect some of the highly rated computer science programs from international educational institutions. Here are just eight of the numerous options.
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
ETH Zurich, founded one of the world’s leading universities subjects like technology and the natural sciences. It was ranked within the top of global universities for computer science by U.S. News & World Report.
- Founded: 1854
- Enrollment: 17,781 (2012)
- Tuition fee: CHF 580 per semester
Cambridge not only has the honor of being the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world, it’s also the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university. Top Universities ranked it as the fourth best university for computer science.
- Founded: 1209
- Enrollment: 18,899 (2012)
- Tuition fee: £9,000
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh is sixth-oldest university in the English-speaking world, as well as one of Scotland’s ancient universities. It’s also one of the most prominent universities for computer science.
- Founded: 1583
- Enrollment: 33,110 (2014)
- Tuition fee: £9,000
Located in Beijing, Tsinghua University is often called the “MIT of China” because of its specialty in sciences and engineering. U.S. News & World Report ranked it 7th in world for computer science programs.
- Founded: 1911
- Enrollment: 43,112 (2013)Enrollment
- Tuition fee: RMB 10,500 per semester
NUS is the oldest higher learning institute in Singapore. It’s often ranked as one of the best universities in Asia and was ranked as the ninth best computer science program in the world by Top Universities.
- Founded: 1905
- Enrollment: 37,452 (2013)
- Tuition fee: determined by needs of students, you can review current fees here.
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Despite being one of the youngest universities in the region, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has already been included in the top ten schools in the world for computer science.
- Founded: 1991
- Enrollment: 9,881 (2011)
- Tuition fee: 173,700 – 198,200
The University of Melbourne is the second oldest university in Australia and was established in 1853. The QS World University Rankings places Melbourne 31st in the world, and 15th in Computer Science & IT.
- Founded: 1853
- Enrollment: 40,454 (2013)
- Tuition fees: Ranges from $6,152 to $10,266.
Originally established to train engineers and technicians during the growing postwar economy of Canada, the University of Waterloo has since become one of the top twenty schools in the world for computer science.
- Founded: 1956
- Enrollment: 31,577 (2012)
- Tuition fees: $23,600-$28,450
U of T is located in downtown Toronto and is a leading research and teaching faculty in North America. Top Universities included U of T in its top twenty computer science programs.
- Founded: 1827
- Enrollment: 83,012 (2013)
- Tuition fees: $7,985 to $15,000
There was our list of the best computer science programs in the world. Did we get it right? Or did we miss some other colleges or universities that deserve recognition? If so, please share your suggested educational institutions in the comments.
Featured image: “Cu computer science” by Aberlen – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons