2021 Best Computer Science Colleges [Online & Campus]

Attending one of the best computer science colleges may help open the door to rewarding career opportunities in this lucrative field. The computer science sector tends to benefit from higher than average annual earnings and a positive job outlook.

Best Computer Science Colleges

Computer science is an in-demand professional field that can allow you to gain experience in various industries, ranging across areas of private business, government, and the nonprofit sector.

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Choosing the best computer science college for you can depend on a variety of factors. Screening the various programs available can help ensure that you make the best decision for your personal and professional circumstances and goals.

Online Computer Science Degrees

Online Computer Science Degrees

Earning a comp sci bachelor’s degree can help you break into the lucrative and skill-based field of computer and information technology.

It’s important to screen and evaluate the schools you’re interested in attending to ensure that a school and its programming is the best fit possible for your educational goals.

Factors such as course curriculum, academic specialties or concentrations, and online or on-campus program options may all influence whether a particular school and program is the right fit for you.

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While pursuing a degree at one of the top computer science schools, you may have the opportunity to choose from a number of different academic concentrations, such as:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Biocomputation
  • Engineering
  • Graphics and imagery
  • Human-computer relations
  • Systems information
  • Systems theory

The area of concentration that’s right for you will depend on your personal and professional goals. It’s also worth noting that the specific concentrations available can vary from one school to the next.

Depending on your concentration, here are some topics that your courses may cover:

  • Introduction to human-computer interaction
  • User interface design
  • Web applications
  • Data visualization
  • Signal processing and linear systems
  • Digital systems design
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Modeling biomedical systems
  • Principles of computer systems

Depending on the type of program you choose, you may also complete an honors thesis in order to graduate with your computer science degree. In some cases, you may also need to complete an internship. Thesis and internship requirements can also increase the amount of time it takes to earn your degree.

How to Choose a Computer Science Program

Choosing a Computer Science Program

When comparing the best computer science universities, there are a number of factors to consider to ensure that you’re choosing the program that best matches your personal and career goals.

Some main considerations include:

  • The concentrations available to customize your degree
  • The curriculum available within the program
  • Whether or not there is a thesis requirement for graduation
  • Any internship opportunities connected to the program
  • Online and on-campus learning options
  • Part-time and full-time enrollment options

In some cases, the location of schools can play a factor in your decision as well. Attending as an out-of-state student may impact your total education costs.

Computer Science Careers & Salaries

Computer Science Careers & Salaries

Computer science degrees can provide you with a skill set that is in high demand across a variety of industries. These sectors include information services, management, consulting, computer system design, finance, insurance, government, and nonprofit.

You may also find rewarding positions in education, manufacturing, software publishing, or self-employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual earnings for computer and information technology occupations is $91,250.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Computer and Information Systems Managers $151,150
Computer Hardware Engineers $119,560
Computer Network Architects $116,780
Software Developers $110,140
Information Security Analysts $103,590
Database Administrators $98,860
Computer Systems Analysts $93,730
Computer Programmers $89,190
Network and Computer Systems Administrators $84,810
Web Developers and Digital Designers $77,200

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a positive career outlook over the next ten years for a number of career options in the field of computer science and information technology.

These positions include network and computer systems administrator (4% job growth), computer network architect (5%), computer systems analyst (7%), computer and information systems manager (10%), and database administrator (10%).

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Other positions that are also expected to increase include software developer (22%) and information security analyst (31%).

Computer Science Bachelor’s Curriculum

Computer Science Bachelor’s

The best undergraduate computer science schools will require you to complete a variety of coursework to help you develop a strong foundational understanding of key computer science concepts. This may include courses such as:

  • Machine Learning: This course covers basic principles and techniques of machine learning, including deep learning, linear and non-linear regression, clustering, and adaptive control.
  • Computer Organization and Systems: You’ll develop a foundational understanding of computer systems, including how systems are executed on computers, how data is manipulated, and the use of programming languages.
  • Principles of Computer Systems: You’ll learn key techniques involved in the engineering of computer systems, including both hardware and software.
  • Operating Systems Principles: This course covers basic concepts of operating systems, such as concurrency and virtual memory.
  • Design and Analysis of Algorithms: You’ll develop an understanding of various principles of algorithms, including randomization, graphing problems, sort and search functions, and worst-case analysis.
  • Reinforcement Learning: You’ll explore reinforcement learning as it relates to the world of artificial intelligence.
  • Digital Image Processing: You’ll learn how digital images are processed by reviewing important concepts like segmentation, linear image filtering, and image transformation.
  • Decision-Making Under Uncertainty: This course explores the complexity of uncertainty in computer science and how systems can be used as decision-support tools.
  • Deep Multi-Task and Meta-Learning: This course covers how multi-task systems can be used to create greater efficiency.
  • Data Structures: You’ll explore key theories and methods of data structure, such as isometries and amortization.

The specific sequence and structure of coursework can vary depending on the academic concentration you choose to pursue with your degree.

Admissions Requirements for Comp Sci Programs

Admissions Requirements for Comp Sci Programs

In order to enroll in the best CS colleges, you’ll need to meet a number of admission requirements outlined by your school of choice. While specific requirements can vary from one school to the next, common requirements include:

  • High school diploma
  • Transcripts for high school studies and any undergraduate coursework
  • SAT or ACT scores (only some schools require them)

Some schools may have additional admissions criteria, such as the submission of letters of recommendation, a copy of your resume or CV, and a personal essay.

Accreditation

Computer Science Degrees Accreditation

Regional accreditation is a status given to schools with academic offerings and student services that have met a predetermined set of standards.

Completing your computer science degree at a regionally accredited institution can be an important consideration. This status can impact your ability to transfer credits and qualify for master or PhD degree programs down the road.

Attending an accredited program can also influence hiring decisions by potential employers. The US Department of Education’s website offers more information on schools and programs that have been accredited.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Computer Science Degrees Financial Aid

If you’re planning to apply to the best computer science schools, there are also a number of financial aid options that may be available to you if you qualify, including:

  • Federal aid and state aid. If you qualify, financial aid can be available in the form of grants and loans from both federal and state governments.
  • Scholarships. Scholarships are made available by private and public organizations. In some cases, scholarships may be targeted towards certain areas of study.
  • Employer training or professional development programs. If you’re currently employed, you may check with your work to see if they offer tuition assistance or programs for employees furthering their education.
  • Work-study options. This form of financial aid is often offered by government institutions.

For more information on the financial aid options that may be available to you, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Is Computer Science a Good Major?

Yes, computer science is a good major for many undergraduate students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, earning a degree in computer science may allow you to benefit from higher than average annual earnings and a positive job outlook.

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With a computer science major, you may find rewarding work in various industries. Sectors that employ computer science specialists include finance, insurance, software development, nonprofit, government, education, consulting, and information services, among others.

Does It Matter What College You Go to for Computer Science?

best colleges for Computer Science

There is merit to the idea that the college you attend to obtain a computer science degree matters.

When considering the best colleges for computer science ranking, you may want to factor these points into your decision:

  • The graduation rates for computer science and IT students
  • The kind of access you’ll have to graduate programs
  • The accreditation status of your prospective school and program

A good computer science school will typically offer the right blend of coursework, internship opportunities, financial aid, and attendance options that fit with your personal and professional goals.

Is Computer Science Hard?

Computer Science Degree major

Whether or not computer science is a difficult major to pursue will vary from one person to the next. Some indications that it may be a good major for you include your comfort level with technology and your ability to approach and solve complex problems.

When pursuing a computer science degree, your coursework will generally cover topics such as algorithms, artificial intelligence, systems learning, and computer hardware and software technologies.

What Can You Do with a Computer Science Degree?

Computer Science Degree Career options

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, earning a computer science degree may prepare you for a variety of career options.

Common careers in this field include computer and information systems manager, computer hardware engineer, computer network architect, software quality assurance analyst, and software developer.

Other positions include information security analyst, database administrator, computer systems analyst, computer programmer, and network and computer systems administrator. Roles can also be available across a number of different industries, such as private business, government, and nonprofit.

What’s the Difference Between Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering?

Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering

Both computer science and computer engineering work in relation to computers and information technology, but they are two distinct academic and professional areas.

Computer science:

  • Computer science is more focused on the relationship and communication between hardware and software technologies.
  • This stream of study offers a fundamental understanding of how software works with hardware technologies.

Computer engineering:

  • Computer engineering looks at the development of hardware technology.
  • This area of study is comparable to the profession of electrical engineering because they both deal with electrical components and technological devices.

The path that’s right for you will depend on your professional goals and career objectives.

What’s the Difference Between Software Engineering vs. Computer Science?

Software Engineering vs. Computer Science

Software engineering and computer science are also two distinct professional and educational streams that both operate within the space of information technology and computer systems.

  • Software engineering: Software engineering involves the designing and building of software technologies, and it uses principles of engineering in the execution of work.
  • Computer science: Computer science is the relationship between hardware and software technologies.

In some cases, the work of software engineers and computer scientists may overlap or be complementary.

Is a Computer Science Degree Worth It?

Computer Science Degree jobs

Yes, a computer science degree is worth it for many professionals. Common computer science careers include computer programmer, computer and information systems manager, computer hardware engineer, or computer network architect.

A number of positions in the field are predicted to experience positive job growth over the next several years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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These position include computer systems analyst (7% job growth), computer and information systems manager (10%), database administrator (10%), software developer (22%), and information security analyst (31%).

Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Computer Science Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Central Methodist University

Central Methodist University campus

Central Methodist University offers a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Students may choose to study online or on campus. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher, high school transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores.

Central Methodist University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Davenport University

Davenport University campus

Davenport University offers an online Bachelor’s in Computer Science. The program offers 3 specialties for students to choose from: Artificial Intelligence, Computer Theory and Algorithms, and Gaming and Simulation.

To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours. The school offers rolling admission and only requires interested applicants to complete an online application.

Davenport University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

National University

National University campus

National University offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. The program offers online courses that are 4 weeks long.

To graduate, students must complete a minimum of 180 quarter credits. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher and take the ACCUPLACER tests in math and English if they don’t have college level courses in the subjects.

National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University campus

Oregon State University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. To graduate, students must complete 180 quarter credits and a final capstone project. Applicants should have a minimum GPA of 3.0, but students with a lower GPA may still be considered. ACT or SAT scores must be submitted.

Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Regis University

Regis University campus

Regis University offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Each course is 8 weeks long and is offered online and on campus. Up to 66 qualifiying credits may be transferred into the program to help reach the 120 credits required to graduate. Applicants must submit transcripts from all previous schools they’ve attended, a resume, and an essay.

Regis University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University campus

Saint Leo University offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Students must complete 120 credits to graduate, including a capstone project. Internships are available for interested students. Those interested in the degree must submit all official transcripts and have a high school degree or the equivalent.

Saint Leo University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Simmons University

Simmons University campus

Simmons University offers an online Bachelor’s in Computer Science. Students must complete 128 credit hours to graduate and have the option to transfer in up to 96 qualifying credits. A final capstone project in software engineering is also required.

Applicants must submit a college essay, official transcripts, and a letter of recommendation with their application.

Simmons University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

Southern New Hampshire University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. To graduate, students must complete up to 120 credit hours. A concentration may be added to the degree. Applicants must submit transcripts and proof of a high school diploma or GED.

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Illinois – Springfield

University of Illinois Springfield campus

The University of Illinois—Springfield offers a Bachelor’s in Computer Science. The program can be completed online and requires students to complete 120 credit hours. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher and 2 semesters of Java Programming experience and 1 semester of Calculus, Discrete or Finite Math, and Statistics.

UIS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global campus

The University of Maryland Global Campus offers an online Bachelor’s in Computer Science. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours, including 41 general education courses. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher and need to submit official transcripts when completing the online application.

The University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Finding the Best Computer Science Colleges Online

Computer Science Colleges Online

If you’re interested in a career that allows you to work with computers in an intricate manner, then pursuing a comp sci degree at one of the best computer science colleges may be the right path for you.

A comp sci program helps you develop skills related to problem-solving, mathematics, and information technology. Considering a number of different factors—such as course curriculum, internship opportunities, graduation rates, and funding support—can help you decide which school is the best choice for you.

Screening and evaluating the different program options available to you is an important step to ensure you get the best education possible. You can start your educational journey today by comparing the many online computer science degree programs offered by accredited universities.

These may be online bachelors or masters in computer science programs, depending on where you are on your educational journey. Also worth noting is that a growing number of universities even offer online masters in computer science no GRE requirements.

What’s more, if you need to complete your degree program in less time than for a traditional degree, it may be beneficial for you to consider an online accelerated computer science degree offered by a growing number of universities.

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Brenda Pyzik
WRITTEN BY
Brenda Pyzik
Brenda has a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Waterloo, with a minor in legal studies. She obtained a graduate certificate in human resource management from Georgian College. Brenda focuses on employment, business, and training and development.