Best Online Master’s in Computer Science Programs of 2022

Jobs for computer and information scientists are projected to grow from 2020 to 2030. A master's in computer science provides advanced technical skills needed to propel your career. Review this page to help you choose the right program.

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Published on February 2, 2022 · Updated on June 15, 2022

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This guide provides an overview of the best online master's programs in computer science in the nation, including information on degree requirements, tuition costs, admission requirements, program concentrations, and delivery formats.

These computer science programs are suitable for working professionals seeking to specialize further and advance their careers, as well as for individuals who plan to pursue a doctorate. Prospective students can use this resource and check out our sponsored master's in computer science programs to find an option that matches their academic and career goals.

Obtaining a master's in computer science prepares students for careers as software developers, information security analysts, computer and information research scientists, and other similar computing positions. The demand for many of these jobs continues to grow, which offers job security and competitive salaries.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information research scientists made a median annual salary of $126,830 in May 2020; these positions also have a projected job growth rate of 22% from 2020-2030 — much higher than the national average for all jobs.

Top 5 Online Graduate Schools for Computer Science

Accredited University Rank Quick School Facts Tuition Cost (Per Credit Hour)

#1. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California


Program Accreditation: NA

  • Program Offered: Master's in Computer Science
  • Credits to Graduate: 28 units
  • Admissions Rate: 11%
  • Graduate Rate: 92%
  • Online Enrollment: 17%
  • In State: $2,199
  • Out-of-State: $2,199

#2. Stanford University

Stanford, California


Program Accreditation: NA

  • Program Offered: Master's in Computer Science
  • Credits to Graduate: 45 Credits
  • Admissions Rate: 4%
  • Graduate Rate: 94%
  • Online Enrollment: 5%
  • In State: $1,352
  • Out-of-State: $1,352

#3. Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee


Program Accreditation: NA

  • Program Offered: Master's in Computer Science
  • Credits to Graduate: 30 Credits
  • Admissions Rate: 9%
  • Graduate Rate: 93%
  • Online Enrollment: 8%
  • In State: $2,150
  • Out-of-State: $2,150

#4. Tufts University

Medford, Massachusetts


Program Accreditation: NA

  • Program Offered: Master's in Computer Science
  • Credits to Graduate: 33 Credits
  • Admissions Rate: 15%
  • Graduate Rate: 94%
  • Online Enrollment: 3%
  • In State: $2,150
  • Out-of-State: $2,150

#5. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, Georgia


Program Accreditation: NA

  • Program Offered: Master's in Computer Science
  • Credits to Graduate: 30 Credits
  • Admissions Rate: 21%
  • Graduate Rate: 90%
  • Online Enrollment: 49%
  • In State: $180
  • Out-of-State: $180

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Computer Science Program?

Master's programs in computer science typically require 30-50 credits of coursework, along with a thesis, research project, or comprehensive exam. These programs cover topics such as computer and network security, information management and analytics, real-world computing, software systems, machine learning, and natural language processing.

Students often choose concentrations, which include elective courses. In addition, some programs may offer students the choice of completing a thesis track or a non-thesis track.

Most programs provide students with a solid foundation in computing and programming skills, preparing them for advanced computing professions or research careers. Learners who wish to obtain a doctorate after earning their master's should complete a thesis to gain research and academic writing experience. Alternatively, students who plan to enter the job market upon graduation might opt for a non-thesis track.

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Popular Online Computer Science Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Computer Science Program?

Design and Analysis of Algorithms

This survey course delves into many different types of algorithms, covering topics like data structures, dynamic programming, and divide and conquer.

Computational Applied Logic

This course covers a variety of mathematical logic topics. Students use logical and mathematical concepts to solve problems related to artificial intelligence and computer science.

Operating Systems Principles

This survey course explores the design of operating systems. Learners might study deadlock, distributed systems, and process coordination.

Computer Networks

In this course, degree-seekers receive a broad introduction to computer networks. Covered topics may include local area and wide area networking, flow control mechanisms, and network security.

Principles of Computer Graphics

In this course, students gain foundational mathematical knowledge in computer graphics. Covered topics may include OpenGL, perspective, lighting, and texture mapping.

What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Computer Science Program?

In most cases, admission requirements for on-campus and online master's in computer science programs generally do not differ.

In addition to the requirements listed below, schools may ask certain students to complete a phone or Zoom interview. Most schools also require students to have a bachelor's degree in a related field like math, information, or computer science; however, if you have programming experience, you do not always need to meet that requirement.

Application

All schools require prospective students to complete an application form. Students sometimes have to submit unofficial or official transcripts along with this form.

You may be able to save time and money by filling out the Common App or Coalition App. These application systems allow you to submit your application to multiple member schools at once. Check with your prospective schools to see if they participate in these systems.

Test Scores

Some online master's in computer science programs require applicants to submit GRE scores. Score thresholds vary widely by school, but you can earn your best scores with the proper GRE prep resources. If the program you're applying to intersects with business in some way, you may need to submit GMAT scores.

While some schools still place a lot of value on standardized test scores, more and more schools have become test-optional in recent years.

Letters of Recommendation

Most graduate programs require applicants to submit 2-3 letters of recommendation. For computer science programs, these letters can come from undergraduate professors. If you have professional programming experience, you might also ask your supervisor to write a recommendation.

Be sure to ask your recommenders several months in advance so that they have plenty of time to do a good job on your letter.

Resume and Work Experience

Some master's in computer science programs expect applicants to have a year or more of programming experience. Asynchronous online programs that primarily serve working professionals often maintain this requirement.

Whether or not they require experience, most programs ask for a resume as part of the application. Try to keep your resume to one page and make sure to include all relevant work experience.

Essays

While computer science programs sometimes prefer a portfolio of projects over essays, some schools may still ask you to submit a personal statement as a grad school application essay. Make sure to familiarize yourself with each program's required format and length. Not sticking within the essay parameters can sometimes lead to the admissions department docking you points.

Official Transcripts

All programs require you to submit official transcripts from all previous schools you have attended. Many programs require a minimum 3.0 cumulative undergraduate GPA for admission. Some programs also accept students who earned a 3.0 during their final 60 undergraduate credits.

Some online master's in computer science programs accept transfer credits; however, since these programs usually require 30-50 credits of coursework, they usually do not accept more than 9-10 transfer credits.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Computer Science Degree?

Career Outlook

Earning a master's degree in computer science is among the best career moves that you can make these days. For example, between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 22% job growth for computer and information research scientists, who earned a median annual salary of $126,830 in May 2020. You may qualify for these positions if you hold a master's degree in a related field like computer science.

While the job market can be competitive, a master's degree can help you stand out. Many computer science professionals hold a bachelor's degree or other professional certifications. Some professionals learn their skills through coding bootcamps.

As such, a master's in computer science demonstrates a greater commitment and sets you apart from the crowd. Furthermore, this degree can help you qualify for most manager-level information technology professionals.

See where a master's in computer science can take you. Learn more about computer science careers.

Career Paths

Computer and Information Research Scientist

Computer and information research scientists generally must hold a master's degree in computer science or a closely related subject. You may be able to work for the federal government in these positions with a bachelor's degree. They develop uses for computer technology by performing research studies.

Median Annual Salary: $126,830

Software Developer

Software developers create computer programs and applications. They can work as freelancers or in house for software and information technology companies. Having the right skills and experience is often most important for landing a software development job, but some companies prefer to hire developers with master's degrees.

Median Annual Salary: $110,140

Network Administrator

Network administrators manage and troubleshoot all network activities for companies. While administrators usually need a bachelor's degree, a master's degree may prepare you for additional career advancement once you earn the position.

Median Annual Salary: $84,810

Computer and Information Systems Manager

Computer and information systems managers take charge of all computer-related activities for their organizations. While a bachelor's degree and work experience are minimum qualifications for these positions, many managers hold master's degrees. Some employers also like to hire technology professionals with some business education or experience for these jobs.

Median Annual Salary: $151,150

Web Developer

Web developers design and perform maintenance on websites. Educational requirements vary for these positions, as skills are often more important than formal degrees in the eyes of employers. Nevertheless, a master's degree in computer science can provide you with a broad skill set as a web developer.

Median Annual Salary: $77,200

Computer Science Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Software Engineering Careers Information Systems Careers Web Development Careers

Continuing Education

Most students do not pursue additional degrees after earning their master's in computer science. To excel in their field, many computer science professionals complete professional development to continue mastering new technologies.

However, if you aspire to become a professor or a researcher, you will likely need to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Computer Science Program?

Cost

The true cost of master's in computer science programs can vary. To find the most affordable computer science programs, look for nearby public universities that offer in-state tuition. You can also sometimes pay in-state tuition no matter where you live if you enroll in online programs.

Program Format

If you enroll in an online program, consider whether you want to attend live online courses (synchronous delivery) or complete assignments around your own schedule (asynchronous delivery). Furthermore, consider whether you want to enroll part time, full time, or on an accelerated schedule.

Location

While you might think that part of the appeal of distance learning is that you don't have to choose a program close to you, there are several benefits for enrolling at a local university. For example, if your chosen program has on-campus requirements, you can save on travel and lodging costs if you attend school close to home.

Accreditation

The third-party accreditation process verifies the quality of a school's programs. The most important stamp of approval is regional accreditation. Without regional accreditation, you can't receive federal financial aid and you may not be able to find jobs after graduation. Programmatic accreditation is less prevalent in computer science.

Student Support

Student support is particularly important in online learning, which requires plenty of discipline. For each program you are considering, check to see if they offer services like tutoring, internship placements, alumni networking opportunities, career services, and mentorships and advising.

2022 Best Accredited Online Master's in Computer Science Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1 Online College in California

University of Southern California

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,199
Out of State | $2,199

Credits to Graduate
28 units

Program Information
Program Accreditation | NA 

USC's master's in computer science (CS) program covers computer systems design and application. Students can complete the degree entirely online in 2-3 years. Enrollees can supplement a required course on analysis of algorithms with electives. The online program requires no fieldwork or internships. 

Students can pursue one of three online concentrations. Options include data science, computer security, and software engineering. Enrollees can complete an optional thesis. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in computer science or prerequisite CS coursework.

#2 Online College in California

Stanford University

School Information
Location Stanford, California
Admission Rate 4%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,352
Out of State | $1,352

Credits to Graduate
45

Program Information
Program Accreditation | NA 

Stanford offers a terminal master's in computer science that does not lead to a Ph.D. Part-time students can finish the degree in 3-5 years. The program runs mostly online. However, some learners must complete in-person components depending on their focus.

The master's in computer science requires foundation, breadth, and depth coursework. Learners choose from nine specializations, including artificial intelligence and software theory. Enrollees pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and strong analytical and quantitative skills.

#3 Online College in Tennessee

Vanderbilt University

School Information
Location Nashville, Tennessee
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 93%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,150
Out of State | $2,150

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | NA 

Tennessee-based Vanderbilt offers an accelerated master's in computer science. Students attend live weekly classes and can complete the degree in 12 months. The curriculum covers a breadth of technical areas such as intelligent systems and cybersecurity. Enrollees apply learned technical concepts in their independent projects.

Students develop a portfolio showcasing their research and projects. The master's in computer science also offers a standard track enrollees can complete in 20 months. Admission requires a bachelor's in computing or a related field. Applicants also need strong programming experience.

#4 Online College in Massachusetts

Tufts University

School Information
Location Medford, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 15%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,697
Out of State | $1,697

Credits to Graduate
33

Program Information
Program Accreditation | NA

Degree-seekers with programming experience can enroll in Tufts' online master's in computer science program. Students learn how to address research problems and develop computer-science solutions. The 33-credit curriculum includes coursework in machine learning and software engineering.

The master's in computer science supplements online lectures with self-paced modules. Students complete a capstone project that demonstrates their design, implementation, and testing skills. Admission requires a bachelor's in a STEM field and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

#5 Online College in Georgia

Georgia Institute of Technology

School Information
Location Atlanta, Georgia
Admission Rate 21%
Graduation Rate 90%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $180
Out of State | $180

Credits to Graduate
30 credits

Program Information
Program Accreditation | NA

Students can earn Georgia Tech's master's in computer science (OMS CS) through the "massive online" platform. The school partners with Udacity and AT&T to bring the OMS CS to computing professionals around the globe. Enrollees complete 30 credits entirely online. 

The OMS CS offers four specializations, including machine learning and computing systems. Students can earn this online master's in computer science for about $7,000. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA.

#6 Online College in Massachusetts

Boston University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 19%
Graduation Rate 88%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $505-$940
Out of State | $505-$940

Credits to Graduate
40

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Project Management Institute Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs  | Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education

BU's master's in computer information systems offers completion and specialization flexibility. The program enrolls learners from a variety of academic backgrounds. Students can complete the 40-credit online degree in 18-24 months. 

Students can customize their degree with one of seven concentrations. The options include two nationally accredited concentrations: project management and health informatics. Enrollees can use elective credits to pursue other training. Admission requires a bachelor's degree. Some applicants must complete prerequisite coursework.

#7 Online College in Illinois

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

School Information
Location Champaign, Illinois
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 85%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $670
Out of State | $670

Credits to Graduate
32

Program Information
Program Accreditation | NA 

Illinois partners with Coursera to deliver the master of computer science on the massive open online course platform. The coursework-only degree requires 32 credits. Working students can complete the program online in 1-5 years. Learners supplement lectures with assignments, projects, and exams.

Degree-seekers with a bachelor's degree in any major can apply to the master's in computer science. Applicants need prerequisite coursework or experience in areas such as object-oriented programming and linear algebra. Admission requires a minimum 3.2 GPA.

#8 Online College in North Carolina

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

School Information
Location Raleigh, North Carolina
Admission Rate 45%
Graduation Rate 82%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $505
Out of State | $1,505

Credits to Graduate
31

Program Information
Program Accreditation | NA 

Working professionals can pursue a coursework-only master of computer science (MCS) at NC State. Students attend streamed lectures and complete online coursework. All enrollees complete a CS graduate orientation course. Learners take theory and systems courses. They receive training in areas such as software engineering and algorithm design. 

The online master's in computer science program requires proctored exams. Students living in the United States and military personnel serving overseas may apply. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in computer science or prerequisite coursework. Applicants submit GRE scores.

#9 Online College in California

Northcentral University

School Information
Location La Jolla, California
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $930
Out of State | $930

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | NA 

Founded in 1996, NCU specializes in programs for working professionals. NCU's master's in computer science blends theoretical learning and hands-on expertise. Students can complete the online master's in computer science in 16 months. The 30-credit program explores concepts such as business intelligence and computational science.

Enrollees build portfolios highlighting their skills. They learn from practicing industry experts. 

Students pay the same tuition regardless of where they live. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and school transcripts.

#10 Online College in District of Columbia

George Washington University

School Information
Location Washington, District of Columbia
Admission Rate 41%
Graduation Rate 82%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,995
Out of State | $1,995

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | NA 

Students without a computer science background can enroll in GW's computer science programs. The master's in computer science offers 10 set courses for online students. Coursework covers concepts such as big data, computer architecture, and artificial intelligence. Students can complete an optional thesis.

Learners without a computer science background can complete a five-course Gateway certificate program. Gateway students who perform well receive guaranteed program admission. Applicants need a bachelor's degree.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Computer Science Programs

Is a master's in computer science worth it?

For most people, yes. Earning a graduate degree in computer science can lead to six-figure salaries in jobs with massive growth potential.

For example, a master's in computer science can lead to a job as a computer and information research scientist. According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $126,830 in May 2020. The BLS also p

What can I do with a master's in computer science?

With a master's in computer science, you can pursue most positions related to computers and information technology. You can pursue careers like computer and information research scientist, web developer, computer and information systems manager, and network administrator. You can also find work as a software developer.

Keep in mind that to excel in these jobs, you must commit to continuous professional development. You may wish to earn professional certifications to stay on top of the latest developments in a constantly changing field.

Are computer science majors in high demand?

Yes. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects high growth rates for most computer and information technology occupations, including computer and information research scientist (22%), software developer (22%), and computer and information systems manager (11%).

A master's degree is often the highest level of education that computer science professionals attain, as a Ph.D. generally leads to careers in academia and research. This degree prepares you for many different careers in the field.

How much money can I make with a master's in computer science?

You can generally expect high earnings with a master's degree in computer science. Most computer science professionals earn median annual salaries between $77,200 (web developer) and $151,150 (computer and information systems manager), according to the BLS. Most computer and information technology occupations pay salaries that fall somewhere in the middle of that range.

Keep in mind that no degree can guarantee you a job. Furthermore, salary potential depends on several factors beyond education, including experience, employer, title, and location.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in computer science?

The highest-paying job for master's degree-holders in computer science is likely computer and information systems manager. According to BLS data from May 2020, these professionals, who supervise all computer-related activities for an organization, earn a median annual salary of $151,150. Keep in mind that these positions require several years of experience, and some companies prefer to hire managers with a business education or background.


Computer and information research scientists are also very well-paid. According to the BLS, these scientists make a median annual salary of $126,830.

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