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Computer Science Master’s Degrees: Best Programs, Jobs, and Salaries

Savanna Bruce - March 15, 2022


For senior computer science careers, a master’s degree is the best way to earn the position you want. You can develop hands-on experience and expert skills for this industry. Having a master’s degree also demonstrates you have the professional competence needed for computer science careers.

There are programs for both on-campus and online degrees to earn a graduate education in computer science. Read below to learn more about the best Master’s Degrees in Computer Science, the schools that offer them, and the top career opportunities for graduate students.

So you’re thinking about pursuing a master’s degree in computer science, but you aren’t quite sure where to start? First of all, this likely means you have recently completed an undergraduate degree, so congratulations! That is quite the accomplishment and it is great that you are already looking into what to do next.

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To help with your search for the best computer science master’s programs, we have compiled a list of the top 10 schools in the world below, as well as more information on master’s degrees in computer science.

What Is Computer Science?

Computer science is the practice of computing and algorithmic processes. Studying computer science exposes you to many different tech topics like software systems, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Computer science experts understand the workings of computer hardware and software.

Computer science jobs include scientific computing, cloud computing, and computational biology. The variety of choices make a Master’s Degree in Computer Science an ideal degree plan. Computer science theory is broad and technical, and your knowledge can work under many types of graduate courses.

Chances are, you are already familiar with computer science. But, in case you’re not, here is a simple explanation: computer science is the study of computers and their systems. To go a bit more in-depth, computer science deals a lot with computer software and various software systems, rather than just the physical computer.

In this field, people deal with the design and development of software. This results in a wide variety of studies, with some of the most common being artificial intelligence, database systems and human-computer interactions.

Even if you are interested in only one niche of computer science, learning the rest of the skills taught in computer science courses can be valuable when applying for jobs in the future. For example, it is awesome if you have learned artificial intelligence, but even better if you have learned artificial intelligence and software engineering.

What Is a Computer Science Master’s Degree?

A computer science master’s degree is a two-year degree for computer science professionals. Rather than learning foundational courses, you’ll study computing and application design. After your graduate degree, you can design and build complex computing systems using a programming language.

Professionals studying a computer science master’s degree learn advanced theory, computer architecture, and industry technologies. This degree is one of the most advanced you can attain in computer science, which means it is a great way to access the best tech jobs in 2021 .

Why a Master’s Degree in Computer Science?

Going for a master’s degree can seem pretty daunting, especially if you haven’t even finished an undergraduate degree. Many may wonder if choosing to go for a master’s degree is really worth all of the time it will take to earn. While it may take some extra time, there are really a lot of reasons a master’s degree may be a better option than sticking with an undergrad degree.

A bachelor’s degree in the world of computer science is viewed as a way for beginners to get a foot in the field and experiment with different jobs, figuring out what they really want to do.  Then, after deciding what specialization they want to pursue, these professionals go back to school for a master’s degree, allowing them to gain specific knowledge and the necessary documentation to secure a spot in higher job positions.

With a bachelor’s degree, you can definitely find jobs working in computer science, but you can find even more jobs, and often higher-paying jobs, with a master’s degree. A Master’s Degree in Computer Science gives you more authority when meeting with potential employers.

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Computer Science Master’s Degree Requirements

The admission requirements for a Master’s Degree in Computer Science is a bachelor’s degree or extensive years of industry experience. You can expect strict degree requirements for this graduate program, and many schools require a bachelor’s degree qualification above a specific percentage.

Typically, you need a 3.0 GPA and a bachelor’s degree qualification along with work experience. You should also include additional requirements like letters of recommendation and official transcripts. The application process might be long, but it’s worth it to get an advanced degree. Just make sure you meet your application deadline.

How Much Does a Computer Science Master’s Degree Cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual tuition for graduate programs was $18,416 in 2017. For non-profit private schools, this tuition shoots up to $26,551, and for-profit private schools cost $14,784 per year. Tuition can vary depending on which school you choose, so do your research wisely.

Computer Science Master’s Degree Financing Options: How to Pay for Your Computer Science Degree

To finance a Master’s Degree in Computer Science, you can opt for private loans, scholarships, deferred tuition, federal loans, and GI Bill benefits. It’s important to understand that the exact financing solutions available will vary between schools, and you should always check your preferred school’s website to see what options you have.

Best Computer Science Master’s Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Boston University Master of Science in Computer Science NECHE
Carnegie Mellon University Master of Science in Computer Science MSCHE
The College of Saint Rose Master of Science in Computer Science MSCHE
Cornell University Master of Science in Computer Science MSCHE
Drexel University Master of Science in Computer Science MSCHE
Georgia Institute of Technology Master of Science in Computer Science SACSCOC
Nova Southeastern University Master of Science in Computer Science SACSCOC
The University of Alabama at Birmingham Master of Science in Computer Science SACSCOC
University of California, Berkeley Master of Science in Computer Science WASC
University of Washington Bothell Master of Science in Computer Science & Software Engineering NASC

Best Colleges for Computer Science: Top Computer Science Master’s Degree Programs

If you’d like to learn about application development, database design, and systems design in person, there are tons of computer science master’s programs available. These programs can help you gain hands-on experience, and you can enjoy on-campus activities and networking events as well.

Master of Science in Computer Science | Boston University

Studying at Boston University, you’ll cover advanced coursework and learn software development , data management, network security, and databases. If you don’t have programming experience, there are foundational courses in C++ and Java available. Students can join athletics, explore the arts, and participate in fitness and wellness programs.

Master of Science in Computer Science | Carnegie Mellon University

If you earned a computer science bachelor’s degree at Carnegie Mellon University, this is the next step for you. You’ll start by working on a hands-on project and continue working on and evolving it throughout your classes. Carnegie Mellon University offers scholarships and fellowships among other financial aid resources.

Master of Science in Computer Science | The College of Saint Rose

Helping students become experts in the computer science field, this program allows you to change your learning format weekly. You can also tailor the program to your schedule and enjoy small class sizes of 14 students per cohort. You can take advantage of resources like career support, counseling, student resources, and leadership opportunities.

Master of Science in Computer Science | Cornell University

This highly selective program covers advanced coursework while working in a research environment. Students can become teaching assistants and receive a stipend along with full tuition. Cornell University hosts many events to establish professional networks, and this university has an impressive research board.

Master of Science in Computer Science | Drexel University

Drexel University allows students to customize their master’s program around their schedule and career goals. For students who don’t meet the entry requirements, there is foundational coursework available. On-campus learners can access career support, research resources, and learning guidance.

Master of Science in Computer Science | Georgia Institute of Technology

The Georgia Institute of Technology grants students the choice to complete one of three options to earn their master’s degree. You can select a program option, a thesis option, or a course option, and each has the same credit hours. Students will find events, career support, tutoring, and advising in every program.

Master of Science in Computer Science | Nova Southeastern University

For this master’s degree program, you can choose one of six concentrations to study. These concentrations include artificial intelligence, software engineering, data science, real-world computing, computer systems, and information assurance and cyber security. Each one is an ideal choice if you want to get a job in tech.

Master of Science in Computer Science | The University of Alabama at Birmingham

Non-thesis and thesis options are available for this degree program, and you’ll cover 30 credit hours. There are many prerequisite courses for prospective students who don’t fulfill the requirements, such as programming, software engineering, data structures, and algorithms. You can become a cyber security engineer , software developer, or data scientist.

Master of Science in Computer Science | University of California, Berkeley

UC Berkeley is a huge advocate for diversity and inclusion, allowing people of all ethnicities and backgrounds to gain their master’s degree in a comfortable place. You’ll receive dedicated guidance like mentoring, leadership, management, and career support. This is one of the best schools in the country to get a master’s degree.

Master of Science in Computer Science & Software Engineering | University of Washington Bothell

If you’re looking for an in-person master’s degree focusing on software engineering and computer science, look no further. You can study part-time or full-time while solving real-world computing problems. Students will find career support services, counseling, and disability services on campus.

Best Online Computer Science Master’s Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Arizona State University Master of Computer Science HLC
City University of Seattle Master of Science in Computer Science NCCU
Colorado State University Master of Computer Science HLC
Dakota State University Master of Science in Computer Science HLC
Franklin University Master of Science in Computer Science HLC
Kansas State University Master’s Degree in Computer Science HLC
Stevens Institute of Technology Master of Science in Computer Science MSCHE
The University of Texas at Austin Master of Science in Computer Science SACSCOC
University of Southern California Master of Science in Computer Science WASC
University of Illinois Master of Computer Science HLC

Best Colleges for Computer Science: Top Online Computer Science Master’s Degree Programs

Online programs for a computer science master’s degree may be better to study from any location. You can become a computer science professional through remote learning because these degrees provide the same skills. If you need a more flexible and affordable degree, take a look at our top online picks below.

Master of Computer Science | Arizona State University

Over 30 credit hours, students will learn data mining , data visualization, artificial intelligence, and software security. You can also choose to study a computer science master’s degree with a concentration in big data or cyber security. Remote learners can access online tutoring, student services, and study abroad opportunities.

Master of Science in Computer Science | City University of Seattle

After graduating from the Master of Science in Computer Science at the City University of Seattle, students will be able to implement C++ programming, use tools for software validation, and design systems architecture. The total credit hours are between 39 and 50, and there are preparation courses available.

Master of Computer Science | Colorado State University

The Master of Computer Science degree program at Colorado State University contains core courses that cover parallel computing, systems software, database software, and network security. Students can complete this program at their desired pace, and it typically takes around two years to do so. There are tutoring services and tuition resources available.

Master of Science in Computer Science | Dakota State University

In this degree program, students must complete five core courses and five elective courses. This program applies a special focus on cyber security, so after studying you’ll know everything about networks, network security, and cyber defense. You can complete this program at your desired pace, but unfortunately, there aren’t many remote student resources.

Master of Science in Computer Science | Franklin University

Within 20 months, students will complete a capstone course and learn data structures and database management. You can choose one of three focus areas, such as cyber security, software systems, and data analytics. If you want your degree to cover data science topics, this one is a great choice for you.

Master’s Degree in Computer Science | Kansas State University

This Master’s Degree in Computer Science consists of 30 to 33 credit hours and covers a wide range of skills and techniques. You’ll study operating systems, programming, information security, and software design. Kansas State University provides online student support like career and testing resources.

Master of Science in Computer Science | Stevens Institute of Technology

At the Stevens Institute of Technology, distance learners work alongside industry leaders and choose from ten focus areas. Some of these focus areas include mobile systems, secure systems, software development, and gaming. This school makes online degree learning just as valuable as in-person learning by providing the same experienced professors.

Master of Science in Computer Science | The University of Texas at Austin

Students have between one and a half to three years to complete the Master of Science in Computer Science at UT Austin, and it covers ten courses. Core courses include scientific programming, quantum computing, and machine learning.

Master of Science in Computer Science | University of Southern California

Once you finish this master’s degree program, you’ll have a deeper understanding of computer science and computer engineering techniques. There are many concentrations for this degree, but some require on-campus attendance. If you want to try a hybrid program, you might want to start looking at the University of Southern California.

Master of Computer Science | University of Illinois

To complete this master’s degree program, prospective students must complete four courses, which include three courses of advanced coursework and an elective. Some of the fundamental concepts you’ll cover include database systems, data mining, parallel programming, and software engineering.

What’s the Average Computer Science Master’s Degree Salary?

According to PayScale, people with a computer science master’s degree earn an annual salary of $105,000. Many in-demand fields within computer science offer higher salaries, but this master’s salary is much higher than the average tech job. A master’s degree is one of the best ways to earn more money in the field.

Top Computer Science Master’s Degree Jobs and Salaries: Overview

Computer Science Master’s Degree Jobs Average Salary
Data Science Manager $138,043
Enterprise Architect $135,162
AI Engineer $130,000
Computer and Information Research Scientist $126,830
Software Architect $125,932
Data Architect $121,570
Machine Learning Engineer $113,358
Database Administrator $98,860
DevOps Engineer $96,736
Statistician $93,290

Best Computer Science Master’s Degree Jobs Explained

Data Science Manager

  • Average Salary: $138,043
  • Job Outlook: 22%*
  • Number of Jobs: 33,000
  • Highest-Paying States: CA, VA, WA

Data science managers oversee data science teams and ensure they accurately handle data. You’ll also coordinate data engineering teams and help teams make optimal conclusions from data. If you have extensive experience in the field, a data science management position is a great option.

Enterprise Architect

  • Average Salary: $135,162
  • Job Outlook: 5%
  • Number of Jobs: 165,200
  • Highest-Paying States: MA, CA, VA

Working as an enterprise architect, you’ll apply techniques to secure systems and ensure a business’s network infrastructure works as intended. You must have a broad understanding of cyber security and network systems for this career, and it’s incredibly rewarding if you have the right knowledge.

AI Engineer

  • Average Salary: $130,000
  • Job Outlook: 22%*
  • Number of Jobs: 33,000
  • Highest-Paying States: CA, VA, WA

AI engineers work in the machine learning department of companies. These professionals program and train complex algorithms so they imitate the human brain. You must have knowledge in deep learning, programming, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data science to fulfill these tasks.

Computer and Information Research Scientist

  • Average Salary: $126,830
  • Job Outlook: 22%*
  • Number of Jobs: 33,000
  • Highest-Paying States: CA, MA, NJ

Computer and information research scientists work with database design, algorithm design, data science, and similar concepts. Experts in this field must develop improved methods for computing processes and systems. This is one of the best career options because of its high salary.

Software Architect

  • Average Salary: $125,932
  • Job Outlook: 22% **
  • Number of Jobs: 1,847,900
  • Highest-Paying States: CA, TX, CN

Software architects lead software design projects and oversee all development teams. You’ll record and document every component of an application or software product and find software solutions. You’ll also create software as part of a team, depending on the structure of the software department.

Data Architect

  • Average Salary: $121,570
  • Job Outlook: 8% ***
  • Number of Jobs: 168,000
  • Highest-Paying States: CA, MA, VA

When you become a data architect , you’ll work alongside database administrators and analysts to secure data. Your duties will include identifying database solutions, developing design reports, and creating data visualizations. This is one of the highest-level data science jobs because it involves high-performance computing.

Machine Learning Engineer

  • Average Salary: $113,358
  • Job Outlook: 22%*
  • Number of Jobs: 33,000
  • Highest-Paying States: CA, VA, WA

In technical fields like machine learning engineering, you’ll develop machine learning systems and perform experiments. You must be an expert in machine learning and related techniques for this profession, and a previous engineering degree is also helpful. You should also have extensive knowledge of artificial intelligence.

Database Administrator

  • Average Salary: $98,860
  • Job Outlook: 8%***
  • Number of Jobs: 168,000
  • Highest-Paying States: TX, UT, IL

Database administrators work with data architects to design database systems and secure data. If you want to break into this field, you must know database management, data analysis, and network security. This is another top data science career for previous graduates in computer science.

DevOps Engineer

  • Average Salary: $96,736
  • Job Outlook: 22%**
  • Number of Jobs: 1,847,900
  • Highest-Paying States: CA, TX, CN

Working as a DevOps engineer, you’ll configure development tools and processes and test code. These engineers must have superb communication and interpersonal skills as they must understand business requirements. This job is a balanced combination of software development and lifecycle management.

Statistician

  • Average Salary: $93,290
  • Job Outlook: 33%
  • Number of Jobs: 44,800
  • Highest-Paying States: MA, RI, HI

A statistician works with mathematical concepts to solve complex problems. Probability, sampling, and data analysis are essential skills for statisticians. Additional admission requirements might include recommendation letters and additional coursework to prove your math skills.

*These statistics are grouped under BLS information on computer and information research scientists.
**These statistics are grouped under BLS information on software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers.
***These statistics are grouped under BLS information on database administrators and architects.

Computer Science Bootcamp vs Computer Science Master’s Degree: Which Is Better?

In many ways, computer science bootcamps are better. They allow you to complete your training much quicker and without spending as much money. However, a master’s degree paves the way to be able to pursue a PhD program, and employers take formal degrees more seriously than bootcamps.

Benefits of a Computer Science Master’s Degree

  • Work in a senior role. After earning a Master’s Degree in Computer Science, you can take on many leadership positions. This is ideal for progress in your career.
  • Earn a high salary. Master’s degree graduates have the professional competence needed to earn a generous salary. Your annual salary will be way above average for computer science professions.
  • Gain industry-expert certifications. Studying for a master’s degree prepares you to earn various certifications. You can get certifications in software programs, communication networks, and advanced algorithms.
  • Join world-renowned companies. A master’s degree proves you have professional experience and skills. In turn, working for companies like Google and Microsoft will be much easier.
  • Start working on a PhD. Once you’re done with your master’s degree, you can work toward a PhD. Your doctoral degree will invite countless career opportunities, specifically in teaching and academia.

Benefits of a Computer Science Bootcamp

  • Study on your own time. Computer science bootcamps allow for more flexible studying compared to degree programs. Many programs allow you to study part time or accelerate your learning.
  • Learn quickly. Unlike degree programs, bootcamps allow you to gain career-ready skills within months. If you don’t want to study for years, this could work for you.
  • Save money. Since bootcamp programs aren’t as lengthy as degree programs, your tuition costs will be much cheaper.
  • Network among peers. A strong professional network is vital for anybody who wants to become recognized in the computer science industry. Bootcamp programs make this possible through workshops and events.
  • Get in easily. Getting into a computer science bootcamp is easier than a master’s degree. For a master’s degree, you must have an undergraduate degree and years of experience. However, for a bootcamp, you just need foundational skills.

Should You Get a Master’s Degree in Computer Science?

A man at a desk in a dark room is working on a computer. Computer Science Master's Degrees
A Master’s Degree in Computer Science opens many doors to various industries.

Yes, you should get a Master’s Degree in Computer Science if you want to boost your annual salary and apply for senior tech jobs. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you can still gain a master’s degree with extensive experience. For an expert and broad understanding of computer science, a master’s degree is the best option.

A computer science master’s degree provides you with career freedom and the opportunity for career advancement. There are so many different jobs you can choose from, and with all of them paying great salaries, it makes sense to work toward a master’s degree in the field.

As shown, there are plenty of amazing computer science master’s programs all over the world to choose from. With each one varying from the others, you are sure to find the perfect match for your needs. The above top 10 colleges would look stunning on any resume and being able to say you graduated from one would give you a headstart over other interviewees while searching for a job.

One of the biggest things to consider when choosing which program you would like to complete is if you plan to pursue a Ph.D. Many of these top colleges only allow those pursuing a Ph.D. to apply for their master’s programs, and while the program may be one of the best in the world, if you aren’t planning to do a Ph.D., it may not be the best program for you.

If you are still trying to choose what is right for you, master’s degree or not, that’s OK. Deciding to pursue your master’s degree is a tough decision to make, but it can definitely be worth it, especially if you are pursuing the field of computer science.

Computer Science Master’s Degree FAQ


Is a Master’s Degree in Computer Science hard?

A Master’s Degree in Computer Science isn’t hard, as these degrees are for professionals with extensive experience or with a bachelor’s degree. If you already have the experience you need, a master’s degree shouldn’t be too difficult.


Is a Master’s Degree in Computer Science worth it?

Yes, a computer science master’s degree is worth it. Professionals with a master’s degree land senior jobs much quicker and earn high salaries. This degree also helps you reach the top of the field by demonstrating industry-renowned practices.


Do you need a Master’s Degree in Computer Science?

While you don’t need this degree to land jobs, it’s a great addition to your resume. These degrees are easier to obtain once you have a computer science bachelor’s degree or you have years of industry experience. You can earn a master’s degree online and in person.


How long is a Master’s Degree in Computer Science?

A Master’s Degree in Computer Science takes two years to complete. Some schools offer flexible study options, which allow you to take your time or rush your degree. You also have the choice of virtual or in-person learning.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Savanna Bruce

About the author: As a writer at Career Karma, Savanna covers a wide array of topics in education, careers, and technology. Before joining the Career Karma team in June 2020, Savanna found success as a freelance writer and bookseller. A native of Omaha, Nebraska, she graduated with a bachelor's of Multidisciplinary Studies from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Savanna is currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing to further enhance her career. Specifically, she aims to use her degree to start nonprofit animal welfare organizations in developing countries.

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