Online Master’s in Computer Science Programs 2021

A master's degree in computer science can lead to exciting and new career opportunities. Here, we list the top programs available.

November 8, 2021

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Master’s in Computer Science Programs 2021

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The computer science (CS) discipline studies computational systems and machines. Computer science professionals design and implement technological solutions to improve public or private life. A bachelor's in computer science meets the minimum degree requirements for many computer and information technology occupations, but a computer science master's degree prepares students for leadership roles in the field.

A computer science master's degree can qualify graduates for roles such as computer and information research scientist. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals make a median annual salary of $126,830. The BLS also projects jobs for these professionals to grow 15% between 2019-2029.

This guide ranks the best online master's in computer science programs. It also covers other important information for prospective students, such as common courses and scholarship opportunities for computer science master's students.

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What To Know Before You Apply

true Q. What kinds of jobs can you get with a computer science master's degree?

Graduates with a master's in computer science degree can pursue roles like computer and information research scientist, postsecondary teacher, and computer and information systems manager.

true Q. How long does it take to get a master's in computer science?

Computer science master's programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete, but some programs offer accelerated timelines.

true Q. Does computer science pay well?

The BLS reports that computer and information technology professionals make a median annual salary of $88,240. Master's degree graduates often earn even higher salaries.

true Q. Are computer science majors in demand?

The BLS projects jobs for computer and information technology professionals to grow 11% between 2019-2029.

Why Get a Degree in Computer Science?

Computer science master's degrees often lead to careers with high salaries and excellent job growth projections. Master's programs often feature concentrations in areas such as artificial intelligence, data visualization, computer graphics, and information security. These concentrations prepare students for specialized roles in the field.

Online master's in computer science programs often give students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Additionally, many schools offer tuition discounts to online students.

How Much Does a Computer Science Degree Cost?

The cost of a master's in computer science degree varies by factors like school, delivery format, and location. For instance, according to College Board, in-state tuition at public institutions averages about $10,560 annually, while private universities charge an average tuition rate of $37,650 annually.

Pursuing a master's in computer science online can help save students money. For example, online students often save on many of the expenses that on-campus students incur, such as housing and commuting costs. Plus, many schools offer tuition discounts to online students. Online learning also gives students the flexibility to continue working while pursuing their degree.

Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.

How Much Do Computer Science Majors Make?

Computer science degrees often lead to high-paying jobs in growing fields, such as computer and software engineering, information technology, and network architecture. Computer and information technology professionals make a median annual salary of $88,240, while computer and information research scientists earn a median annual salary of $126,830. Other lucrative roles for CS graduates include computer programmer, software developer, database administrator, and information security analyst.

Some master's in computer science graduates use their degree to qualify for doctoral programs. Graduates with a doctoral degree in computer science may work as computer science professors, who earn a median annual salary of $80,790.

Courses in Computer Science

Computer science master's programs often require 30-60 credits. Learners typically take core courses on topics like computer programming, statistics, software development, and mathematical modeling.

Many master's in computer science programs allow students to specialize their degree through concentrations. Common concentrations include cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, computer networking, and machine learning. Most programs also incorporate a capstone thesis or project, and some programs require an internship.

Courses vary by program, but the following list outlines several courses commonly found in master's in computer science programs.

Certifications and Licensure for Computer Science

Computer science master's degrees exceed the minimum degree requirements for many computer and information systems careers. However, some employers may prefer or require additional professional credentials. The following list outlines three relevant credentials for computer science master's graduates.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers administers this exam-based certification to candidates with at least two years of software development experience. Applicants must complete two modules and pass an exam that covers software design, development, and testing. Offered by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, this certification serves experienced information systems (IS) managers. Candidates need at least five years of IS management experience and passing scores on the certification exam. The Project Management Institute grants this globally recognized certification. Candidates need at least 4,500 hours of project leadership experience and 35 hours of project management education. Candidates must also pass the PMP exam within one year of completing PMI's PMP program.

Scholarships for Computer Science

Many schools, nonprofit organizations, companies, and private donors offer scholarships that can help CS students pay for school. Unlike loans, scholarships do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. The following list outlines several scholarship opportunities for computer science master's students.

Scholarships for Computer Science
Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply

CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service

$25,000-$34,000 annual stipends, $6,000 professional allowance, and full tuition and fees remission. Recipients can renew this award for up to three years. The federal government offers this cybersecurity award to students pursuing related degrees at participating universities. Each university stipulates its own application requirements. Recipients must participate in 10-week summer internships and fulfill governmental employment contracts upon graduation.

Out to Innovate Scholarships

$3,000-$8,000 STEM and STEM-teaching majors who identify as LGBTQ+ and participate in related organizations or programs may apply for various Out to Innovate scholarship opportunities. Eligible candidates need a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Upsilon Pi Epsilon Scholarship

$1,000-$3,000 This scholarship goes to members of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) who participate in ACM student chapters. Only full-time students qualify. Applicants must submit personal statements, professional goal outlines, official transcripts, and recommendations from advisors.

Online Master’s in Computer Science Programs 2021

  1. Colorado Technical University-Colorado Springs
    Location

    Colorado Springs, CO

    Colorado Technical University offers industry-relevant programs for in-demand fields such as engineering and computer science. The school's 48-credit MS in computer science (CS) develops technical proficiency in areas such as computer networking, systems engineering methods, and the design and analysis of algorithms.

    Participants can pursue one of three concentrations: data science, cybersecurity engineering, or software engineering. Each concentration explores principles, processes, and best practices in the subject area. Graduates leave the master's in computer science program with fine-tuned analytical, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

    CTU offers mobile-friendly classes for students on the go. Each course lasts 5.5 weeks, and enrollees can choose from nine start dates. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in computer engineering or computer science. Prospective students without this background must pass two foundation courses.

  2. University of Colorado Boulder
    Location

    Boulder, CO

    CU Boulder offers an online professional master's in computer science that provides a general track and eight specializations.

    All students complete 30 credits on topics such as data mining, network systems, and the design and analysis of algorithms. Students opting for a specialization complete 4-5 classes in areas such as robotics, intelligent systems, and data science and engineering.

    Students can use elective credits to complete an internship with an academic component. This course-based degree requires no thesis or independent study research. Students can transfer up to nine credits toward the master's in computer science. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  3. Southern Methodist University
    Location

    Dallas, TX

    Located near Dallas, SMU offers several fully online computer science and IT programs. The 30-credit online MS in computer science offers an artificial intelligence (AI) specialization. The program trains computer scientists who can develop and implement AI and machine learning solutions.

    Participants begin the program with general CS coursework that includes computer architecture and algorithm engineering. The specialization focuses on artificial intelligence and machine learning in Python. Students also take specialization depth electives on topics such as data mining and machine learning and neural networks. A notable elective course teaches enrollees how to develop mobile applications for sensing and learning.

    All students in the online master's in computer science pay the same flat rate tuition rate regardless of residency. Active-duty military personnel receive a tuition discount. Admission requires a bachelor's in computer science or a related field and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  4. University of Massachusetts-Amherst
    Location

    Amherst, MA

    Situated in Westerrn Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley, UMass Amherst offers online degrees from various colleges in the UMass system. The school's fully online MS in computer science offers a four-semester curriculum from UMass Dartmouth. Three core courses examine algorithms and complexity, theoretical computer science, and advanced computer systems. Students use 15-18 credits to pursue specialized electives.

    Participants culminate the master's in computer science with a project or thesis. The MS program features limited class sizes that promote individualized learning. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency.

    Students without a BS in computer science or computer engineering must complete an online preparatory program that consists of four foundation CS courses. All applicants must submit GRE scores and transcripts.

  5. Illinois Institute of Technology
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    A private college located in Chicago's growing tech hub, Illinois Institute of Technology administers several computer science programs. The 32-credit MS in computer science (MSCS) prepares students for research and development careers. Enrollees can choose from coursework-only, thesis, and project tracks.

    Students interested in specializations such as data analytics or computational intelligence may want to consider the school's 30-credit master of computer science (MAS). The MAS program offers 10 specializations not available in the MSCS.

    All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency. Admission to either computer science master's degree requires a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and GRE scores. Students without a CS background may need to complete prerequisite undergraduate coursework.

  6. University of Idaho
    Location

    Moscow, ID

    The University of Idaho administers fully online and hybrid MS in computer science programs. The 30-credit curriculum offers thesis and nonthesis options. Students take core courses such as computational biology, network security, and survivable systems and networks.

    Participants supplement core classes with coursework in a specialization such as cybersecurity, data science, or artificial intelligence and machine learning. Hybrid learners complete some courses on the Moscow, Idaho Falls, or Coeur d'Alene campuses.

    Students benefit from small class sizes and mentorship opportunities. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. Applicants without a CS background may need to take additional credits.

  7. City University of Seattle
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    City U offers an online MS in computer science. Degree-seekers can complete the MS in two years using an entirely online or hybrid format. Learners take 39-59 credits, depending on their educational background. Students without related experience may need to complete preparatory CS coursework.

    The curriculum core courses explore subjects such as software engineering, cloud computing, and secure systems and programs. Participants supplement core classes with two depth courses focused on full stack development. Students can use six elective credits to take classes on topics such as data mining and cybersecurity. Enrollees can also use credits to pursue an optional internship.

    Degree-seekers culminate the master's in computer science with a capstone project that highlights their skills. All enrollees pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field.

  8. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, CA

    Stanford is one of the nation's most elite colleges. Stanford Online offers an MS in computer science that students can pursue on a part-time basis. Degree-seekers can complete the degree entirely online depending on their focus area and available courses. Students design a 45-unit plan of study that matches their areas of interest.

    All enrollees complete five foundation courses in areas such as algorithmic analysis and logic, automata, and complexity. Learners with a CS background may receive waivers for all or part of this requirement. Enrollees also complete three breadth courses in areas such as applications and computer systems. The depth component requires 21 units in one of nine specializations, including systems, software theory, and human-computer interaction. Students can also petition to design their own specialization.

    Part-time students typically complete the master's in computer science in 3-5 years. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, strong quantitative and analytical skills, and GRE scores.

  9. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    The University of Southern California is a leading research college located in Los Angeles. The school's online MS in computer science focuses on the design and application of computing systems. Students complete 28-32 units on topics such as security systems, advanced operating systems, and computer systems architecture.

    Students can choose from nine specializations. However, students interested in a fully online master's in computer science can only pursue specializations in data science, computer security, or software engineering. Students can optionally culminate the degree with a thesis. Admission requires a bachelor's in computer science or a related field.

  10. Boston University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    BU offers a unique MS in computer information systems that prepares students for IT leadership roles. Students do not need a bachelor's in computer science to enroll. Participants gain managerial and technical expertise in information systems.

    The 40-credit program includes core courses on topics such as IT strategy and management, information structures with Java, and database design and implementation for business. Students can use electives to pursue specializations in areas such as data analytics and IT project management.

    All students gain practical experience through hands-on projects and case studies. Admission to the master's in computer science program requires school transcripts and prerequisite coursework for some applicants.

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