The 10 Best Colleges for Computer Science

Whenever we hear the word “college,” what comes to mind? Is it money? Employment prospects? Or majoring in something relatively challenging? 

If you’re a high school senior, or a potential applicant for a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a graduate programs in the subject, you may be fascinated by the wonders of modern day artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Or on the other hand, you perhaps want to choose a major with good employment and potential earning prospects that many computer science graduates find when they work as software developers or information technology engineers.

Either way, if you find that the tech world is your calling, a computer science degree may be the right choice for you. 

But hold your horses–or perhaps, Pythons (does anyone recognize that programming language?). A computer science degree requires a lot of commitment, practice, and patience. So before you apply, ensure you are well prepared and understand what you’re getting yourself into. 

Information in this post was correct at the time of writing.

Best Colleges for Computer Science

10 Best Colleges for Computer Science

 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

Of course, whenever we mention tech, we can never forget about MIT. The school consistently ranks top 10 worldwide, especially in the field of computer science. In 2023, QS World University rankings listed MIT as number one for the Computer Science and Information Systems category. 

As a computer science student, you’ll not only have access to world-renown resources, but you’ll also study from a place with a long history of computer-related innovation. In the 1960s, MIT researchers were one of the first ones to develop an operating system which allowed multiple users to access a mainframe computer. 

Moreover, you also have the option to choose between three streams: Computer Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Artificial Intelligence and Decision Making. Throughout these three streams, you’ll take different courses geared towards your specialty. And if you feel that the engineering streams are more suitable, you’ll be glad to hear that you’ll learn the basics of engineering too. 

If you’re considering MIT, make a note that tuition can be up to $60k a year. However, since computer science programs are usually more expensive than other programs, the tuition can be comparable to other private institutions as well. 

Stanford University 

What if you’re looking to do your undergrad in California, near Silicon Valley? Stanford University may then be a good choice. As a student, you’ll get to sit in a classroom with professors who continuously produce cutting-edge research in the field of computer science. 

Their Bachelor’s of Science degree covers over 10 tracks; some unique specialties include computational biology, artificial intelligence, and information systems. But what if you’re interested in the artistic aspect? Fear not, Stanford also has a visual computing track available where you can learn about the importance of using virtual reality and digital imaging for entertainment. 

If you feel that you want to try different courses from other tracks, the university tends to be flexible on that as well. You can design your own track and ensure that your studies cater towards your interests and goals. 

But similar to other private universities, Stanford tends to be on the more expensive side. Tuition alone is up to $40-$50k a year. 

best colleges for computer science

Carnegie Mellon University 

Situated in Pittsburg, Carnegie Mellon has one of the best known CS programs around the country. They even have their own specialized school for computer science, with multiple majors and programs all catered towards your own interests. 

Moreover, students also have the opportunity to see how computer science can impact other fields. This means that the curriculum is not as science-heavy as expected, but allows some form of intersectionality. Students can choose a major in computer science and the arts, or in music and technology. 

And for those with multiple interests within the tech field, the CS department allows you to double major as long as you earn the required credits. You can also add a minor in game design, just if you aim to develop video games, as well. 

But all of these amazing courses do come at a cost. As a private university, Carnegie Mellon’s tuition is currently around $62k. 

University of California, Berkeley 

Right in the province of Silicon Valley, UC Berkeley has a variety of academic programs for computer science majors. You can either choose to enter the engineering stream, or the Arts and Science stream. 

If you’re more interested in studying cognitive science, the college recommends for you to take the art and science stream, where you’ll take other humanities-based courses as you would for a bachelor of arts degree. 

Within the engineering department of CS, there are multiple research areas, including artificial intelligence, security, graphics and human-computer interaction. Previously, research collaborations have occurred between the school and various governmental agencies, universities, and private companies. 

Another advantage is that UC Berkeley is a public institution, which means that tuition tends to be more affordable. Residents pay around USD $6k – $10k of tuition, and non-residents pay around $26.4k.  

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 

Ranked #5 on US News, UIUC’s reputation does not disappoint. The school continues to make history within the world of computer science from proving theorems to demonstrating flip-phones. In fact, YouTube was created by two UIUC alumni. 

So what if you’re interested in contributing to some innovation in the tech world? Well, academically, UIUC encourages you to do so.

This can be seen in their study options, where they allow students to choose from around 12-18 combinations. Other than CS and Mathematics, you can choose to combine CS and advertising, or CS and astronomy. 

To make matters more interesting, UIUC also approaches their curriculum with an intersectional lens. There are equity and justice lectures, which are monthly conversations about different challenges and issues of equity within the tech industry. 

And what about tuition? Good news – UIUC tends to be more affordable compared to other institutions – at least for in-state students. In-state students pay around $17k – $22k USD of tuition, and non residents pay around $54-$62k. 

Georgia Institute of Technology 

Georgia Tech is not only ranked as #8 in US News for Computer Science, but it’s also known to be a very well-rounded institution. Future students can choose between three degrees: Computer Science, Computational Media, and Computer Engineering. 

But other than academics, Georgia Tech is known for its vibrant community, resources, and student engagement. Students can participate in undergraduate research, join an exchange program, or start their own company. 

And for those who are passionate about social justice, Georgia Tech offers the Impact program, which allows students to explore social issues and work towards community engagement. 

Although CS can be stressful, Georgia Tech has implemented many initiatives to mitigate the feelings of frustration for students. Some employees would bring dogs twice a month to the College of Computing, which is a form of pet therapy for students.

There are also workshops on self-care and mental health. And if a student is in need of counseling services, the college has an in-house counsellor on the first floor of the Computing building. 

For tuition, Georgia Tech costs USD $28.6k for Georgia residents, and USD $50k for non-residents. 

best colleges for computer science

California Institute of Technology 

CalTech tends to be one of the most innovative institutions within the science field. They’re a science-focused school, and CS programs are within the Computing and Mathematical Sciences department. This means that the CS programs tend to be more focused on mathematical theory. 

For undergraduates, students can choose between three different majors: Applied and Computational Mathematics, Computer Science, and Information and Data Science. Despite the differences in names, these programs all cover the basic application of applied science mathematics theories.

But even though the curriculum may sound math-heavy, fear not, there are other aspects as well. Throughout the four-year program, the school also prepares graduates to analyze research, start their own company, or work in the tech industry.  

However, the experience does come at a cost. Since Caltech is a private institution, tuition is around USD $61k. 

University of Maryland, College Park 

Known to be one of the best computer science schools in the United States, a student can develop skills in the fundamentals of programming and computer science theory. During their senior year, students are encouraged to take an independent studies class, which allows them to pursue fields of study outside of the Computer Science program. 

And if you’re more of a creative person, the University also offers a program tailored towards your skills. The Immersive Media Design (IMD) program allows students to learn more about augmented reality, virtual reality, and develop audio programs. 

But other than academics, the University of Maryland continues to pride itself not jus tin the excellent faculty members but also in the robust student experience. 

When you complete your first two years, you’ll have the chance to apply for research projects, study abroad, complete internships, or start your own company. There is also community support available: Peer Advisors, which are upper year students, often assist lower year students to meet their goals and support them in navigating the campus. 

The best news is that UMD tends to be on the less costly side in terms of tuition. Total tuition for resident students is around USD $7.3k, and for non-resident students, tuition is approximately USD $22k. 

Schools outside of the United States

If you’re looking to study abroad in the next four years, you may be glad to hear that many schools outside of the United States also have well-known computer science programs. 

Here are a select few programs: 

University of Toronto (UofT), Canada. 

There are many people who compete for a spot in UofT’s Computer Science program. The program is offered across three campuses: St. George (their downtown Toronto campus), Scarborough, and Mississauga. Once you’re enrolled in the school, you’ll need to maintain a certain GPA in your courses, in order to permanently secure your spot in the program. 

But once you’re in, you’ll be glad to hear that there are plenty of opportunities. You’ll be able to learn from award-winning faculty, and join the Technology Leadership Initiative, which is a program that prepares undergraduate students for leadership roles. 

Students who are enrolled in the program can also specialize in a focus area. Some of these can be computer systems, game design, and web and internet technologies. 

However, tuition is often similar to the private schools in the United States at UofT for international students regardless of the program. At UofT, tuition is now around $60k. 

University of Waterloo

Other than the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo is also a school known for their computer science and engineering programs. 

Students enrolled in computer science can choose between the co-op or the regular option. The co-op option allows students to complete some work terms, while studying in school. Throughout the work term, many students secure jobs such as an IT Assistant, Web Developer, Programmer, or a Technical Systems Analyst. 

If you’re more interested in the entrepreneurship option, UWaterloo offers the Velocity program. In this program, you can discuss your own business ideas and see how you can implement them. You’ll also have plenty of support and guidance throughout your own start-up journey. 

For international students, UWaterloo stated that full-time tuition, plus ancillary fees, can be around $67k. 

best colleges for computer science

4 Ways You Can Prepare For a Computer Science Program: 

Purchase a compatible laptop 

Since you’re interested in a computer science program, you perhaps figured what your coursework will mainly cover–coding and programming concepts. But before you start writing code, you need to download the software. And most of these softwares can take a toll on a laptop. 

Computer science students need the right equipment! Therefore, it’s best to purchase a laptop with enough RAM and processing power to run certain software. Having a laptop with a long battery life is a bonus because you may be working on those assignments for hours. 

If you don’t have a compatible laptop currently, see if your school offers a laptop loan program. You can research by checking your university’s website, or even making a trip to the library.

Usually, these programs allow students to borrow laptops for free, but they do have to be returned by a certain time period. So ensure you know these policies in order to better plan your assignments. 

Brush up on math skills 

Many of my friends who studied computer science say that they were surprised by the amount of math courses throughout their program. 

Now, you may be wondering, “Oh, I’m learning how to program…so why should I learn how to be a mathematician now?” 

Well, the basics of computer programming rely heavily on math. A lot of concepts such as object-oriented programming, “if” and “and” statements, and inductive proof are all basically a replica of calculus and discrete mathematics. 

Learning these mathematical concepts at first can be confusing; many concepts are abstract and require critical thinking. So before stepping into the program, ensure you brush up on your calculus and data management skills. Then, you’ll feel more confident throughout the math-heavy courses. 

Learn basic programming

Since you’re studying computer science, you may as well learn some basic programming concepts from the simplest languages. Even learning JavaScript can make a difference before you enter your first semester. These languages will allow you to understand the importance of syntax. 

If you’ve taken programming classes, you may get a head start when the professor introduces new concepts. You can then review what you learned easily, and build upon existing knowledge. 

Start creating a portfolio 

Even though you may have not started your undergraduate studies-as of yet, you can start building your professional portfolio where you outline some of your most proudest personal projects. These projects allow you to not only showcase, but develop your skills. 

Once you start to network around your university, a portfolio can come in handy whether you want to study software engineering or want to focus. on data structures or even information science. You never know who may ask for it. And plus, you already have a leg up from that future dream internship in a few years. 

When you feel that you’re all set to go, and have purchased the required equipment or upgraded your skills, you may be wondering which school you should choose. Luckily, there are plenty of options for computer science majors. But many colleges consistently rank high within the United States and worldwide. 

Here are some of the best universities for a bachelor of science or master’s degree in computer science.

In Summary: Best Colleges for Computer Science

Since computer science is a growing field, many colleges tend to have their own specialties. Schools such as CalTech specialize in theory, whereas UC Berkeley tends to specialize more so in engineering techniques. 

When choosing the best college for computer science, it is best to outline your own interests. If you’re more interested in the artistic aspects, perhaps select a college where you can apply your creative skills. 

And if you want some work experience, perhaps a college with a co-op or internship program may be a great option. 

Throughout your studies in computer science, see where your passions take you. Plenty of the top universities have resources for you to build your own start-up or encourage you to apply your classroom work to the real world. By taking advantage of these opportunities, you’ll have a better than average college experience. 

The field of computer science is ever changing, especially in a tech-dominated world. But however, all of these colleges will allow you to learn about the changing demands and needs.

So wherever you go, remember to continue to follow your heart. And perhaps you’ll be the founder of the next social network, or the next researcher to win a prestigious prize. Good luck!

Other College Posts You Might Like:

About the Author


Candice is currently attending school for social service work. One of her passions is helping others through my writing. In her downtime, you’ll find her listening to music, watching random YouTube videos, and writing about career goals and resumes. She hopes to start freelancing for writing and obtain a leadership position in a public services sector.