Online Master’s Programs in Computer Science
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment in the field of computer and information technology is on the rise, growing faster than average compared to other occupations. Also, an advanced degree like information assurance, cybersecurity, and information technology can put computer science professionals on the path to a six-figure salary. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for computer science and information technology employees is approximately $85,000. Those with a master’s degree in the field can expect to earn even more. In this ranking, we explore the 5 top online master’s in computer science programs. For those interested in more general information regarding distance learning visit our ranking of the top online colleges for master’s degrees.
Rating and Ranking Methodology
- Under $30,000—1 point
- Under $25,000—2 points
- Under $20,000—3 points
- Under $15,000—4 points
- Under $10,000—5 points
US News and World Report Recognition as a Top Online School for Master’s Information Technology/Engineering Programs
- Top 5—5 points
- Top 10— 4 points
- Top 25 —3 points
- Top 50 —2 points
- Top 75 —1 point
• Format Customizations (e.g. Hybrid/Online, Full-time/Part-Time, Accelerated, Degree Completion, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option
• Content Customizations (e.g. Minors, Concentrations, Specializations, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option (5-point cap)
• 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that “wowed” us
Top Master’s in Computer Science Degree Programs
Ranking the 5 Best Online Master’s in Computer Science Degree Programs
To rank the following online master’s in computer science degrees, we collected data from College Navigator, U.S. News & World Report, and each program’s website. We then used this information to apply the rating and ranking methodology above. In cases of a tie, tuition for the program was considered, and the more affordable offering was awarded the higher ranking.
Our choice for the best of the best online MS degrees in computer science, the program offered by Purdue University is a non-thesis program designed to accommodate students with a wide range of career goals. Flexibility is a priority. Students can choose courses from 13 different subject areas such as machine learning, data mining, software engineering, and databases, and both thesis and non-thesis options are available. Purdue’s online master’s in computer science students are also able to adjust their pace to fit their busy schedules and take time off of their studies if they need to.
North Carolina State University offers one of the very best online master’s in computer science degrees in the nation. This is intended to be a terminal professional degree program for those already working in the field full-time. The curriculum covers both theory and systems. Courses offered include Graph Theory, Compiler Construction, Artificial Intelligence, and Computer Networks. There is no thesis or comprehensive final exam. Students are never required to visit campus but are free to take a more hybrid approach to the program and take some online master’s in computer science courses on campus if they are able.
Taking a solid spot in our top 10 best master’s in computer science online ranking, Missouri University of Science and Technology’s degree program includes two concentration options: software engineering and critical infrastructure protection. Both tracks require 31 credit hours. Students interested in the thesis option must take six of these credits in research. There are no required visits to campus, and most course materials are delivered in an asynchronous format. However, some instructors do require live participation for occasional synchronous activities. Students have six years to complete this online master’s in computer science degree program, but it is more common for it to be completed in three or four years of part-time study.
The University of Michigan – Flint’s online master’s in computer science offering is an online MS in Computer Science and Information Systems designed to be flexible in regard to format and content. Students can take courses either completely online or in a hybrid format. There are separate tracks for computer science and information systems, and a dual degree option is available to students interested in earning both an MS in information systems and an MBA with an information systems concentration. Both a thesis and a non-thesis track are available for enrolled online master’s in computer science degree students.
Colorado State University’s option is one of the best online MS degrees in computer science for working professionals. Courses are available in subjects such as database systems, artificial intelligence and machine learning, software engineering, and parallel computing. Coursework is delivered completely online and primarily asynchronously. Students interact with professors and classmates through online office hours, email, and discussion boards. Full-time students who take courses in the summer can earn their degree in only two years, but online master’s in computer science degree students who need a more relaxed pace are free to take more time.