Best Colleges for Computer Science in the US (Ranked for 2021)
Attracted by the prospect of a varied and lucrative career, more and more students are selecting to study Computer Science at both undergraduate degree level and graduate school.
In the digital age of today, most industries are hugely reliant on data, software and IT. Computer science impacts all aspects of life — from scientific research to banking, communications, transport, medical equipment, and even household appliances.
With the reach of technology set to increase exponentially throughout the coming decades, the demand for graduates who are skilled within fields such as Computer Science is very likely to continue its growth. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, there will be a 13% increase in Computer Science jobs by 2026.
What is Computer Science?
Computer Science is, at its core, the study of computation and information and brings together disciplines that include Mathematics, Engineering, Sciences, Psychology and Linguistics.
It includes both the study of theoretical algorithms and the practical problems involved in implementing them through computer hardware and software. The study of Computer Science has many different branches, including software engineering, programming, artificial intelligence, data science, cyber security and computer graphics.
Studying Computer Science in the US
According to QS World University rankings, four out of the five best schools for computer science in the world are located in the United States. Ranked number one and two in the world are MIT and Stanford University, respectively. Coming in at the number three and five slots in the study are Carnegie Mellon and UC Berkeley.
Degree programs at US computer science schools are highly valued by employers all around the world.
Students who complete their Computer Science degree in the US have the added benefit of studying in a thriving industry within one of the world's biggest economies. This means high rates of job placement, increased funding and the wide availability of specialized expertise.
As is a global hub for IT companies — Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook to name a few — big industry names and experts can offer input on latest trends in Computer Science. Sending their experts to teach at universities also means that these companies are excellently placed to recognise the most promising interns to join them.
The best Computer Science schools in the US
There are many different organizations which publish annual rankings by subject areas, including US News and World Report and Quacquarelli Symonds (QS World University rankings).
All are slightly different, but the 10 universities below have been selected as they tend to feature regularly in rankings of top Computer Science schools in the US.
Of course, when it comes to selecting which college to complete a Computer Science degree at, there are many factors aside from rankings to consider. At Kings our dedicated Progression Advisors are experts in helping establish the best transfer schools for your needs and goals, putting you on the best possible path for success.
Table of Contents
School #1: MIT
MIT has ranked no.1 in the QS World Rankings for Computer Science & Information Systems studies consistently over recent years, and their computer science program is recognized globally. It is ranked joint #1 with Carnegie Mellon in the US News and World Report 2021 rankings for Computer Science. It is also ranked #1 for Systems, #1 for Theory and also #1 Programming Language. It is ranked #2 for Artificial Intelligence.
World-renowned for both rigor and innovation, the electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) is one of the largest undergraduate program at MIT. The intensive, hands-on coursework and flexible curriculum gives students a holistic view of the field, an understanding of how to solve problems, and excellent preparation for success in a wide range of industries.
Taught by world class faculty, EECS students explore subjects critical to advancement in today’s high-tech society — from mathematical computer theory to circuit design and electronics, control and communication theory, artificial intelligence, and robotics.
Also known as Course 6, EECS is the largest department at MIT with 1500 undergraduates, 900 graduate students, and more than 130 faculty members. The department offers an M.Eng. program and a world-renowned doctoral program.
MIT graduates of this degree include Robert Metcalfe, co-inventor of Ethernet, and Drew Houston, co founder of Dropbox.
Its tuition and fees are $53,818.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology admissions is highly selective, with an acceptance rate of 7% and an early acceptance rate of 7.4%
School #2: Stanford University
Stanford University's ranking in the 2021 edition of US News and World Report’s Best Colleges is National Universities, #6. It is ranked #2 in the US News and World Report 2021 rankings for Computer Science. It is also ranked #2 for both Mobile/web applications and Programming Languages. It ranks #3 for Artificial Intelligence and #4 for Data Analytics/Science, Biocomputing/Bioinformatics/Biotechnology and Theory, #5 for Computer Systems, #6 for Cyber Security and #8 for Software Engineering.
Stanford’s Computer Science program allows its students to study areas such as programming, AI, biocomputation, computer engineering, graphics, and systems. Additionally, the latter half of the degree and honours program allows students to focus on flexible programs or personal projects.
Stanford Computer Science graduates are well-known for their entrepreneurship and the Silicone Valley companies they help create, and alumni include co-founder of WhatsApp, Brian Acton.
Palo Alto, California
Its tuition and fees are $56,169.
Stanford University admissions is highly selective, with an acceptance rate of 4%
School #3: Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon is a university that is known for its programs in science and technology. It is ranked joint #1 with MIT in the US News and World Report 2021 rankings for Computer Science. It is also ranked #1 for Artificial Intelligence, #2 for Systems and for Programming Language and #4 for Theory.
At the undergraduate level, Carnegie Mellon introduced the first bachelor's degree in artificial intelligence in the US, and it has also recently added a bachelor's program in human-computer interaction.
According to the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science website, a survey by editors of The Wall Street Journal ranked its undergraduate Computer science program best in the United States among corporate recruiters.
Its tuition and fees are $58,924.
Carnegie Mellon has an acceptance rate of 15%
School #4: Caltech
Caltech, which focuses on science and engineering, is located in Pasadena, California, approximately 11 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Its location in California, the state with by far the largest IT industry in the country, means that students often get the chance to gain precious hands-on experience through placements and internships within world-class tech companies.
Caltech ranked #5 in the US News and World Report 2021 rankings for Computer Science. It is also ranked #9 for Software Engineering and #10 for Artificial Intelligence.
Companies such as Intel, Hotmail and Compaq were founded by Caltech alumni.
Its tuition and fees are $56,862.
Caltech admissions is highly selective, with an acceptance rate of 6%.
School #5: UC Berkeley
University of California—Berkeley ranked #2 in the US News and World Report 2021 rankings for Computer Science. Within that it ranked #1 for both Data Analytics/Science and Computer Systems, #2 for Software Engineering and Theory, #3 for Cybersecurity, #4 for Biocomputing/Bioinformatics/Biotechnology, Artificial Intelligence, and Mobile/Web Applications, and #5 for Programming Languages.
It currently offers two avenues through which students can study computer science at the undergrad level — through both an arts and engineering stream (Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science Or Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science). The programs seek to teach students the fundamentals of computer science that will serve them in a range of careers or future studies, such as software engineering, data analytics, web development, animation and entrepreneurship. The modern and practical method of study allows students to learn algorithms, programming, computer design, databases, AI and language processing.
Its in-state tuition and fees are $14,226; out-of-state tuition and fees are $43,980.
University of California--Berkeley admissions is most selective with an acceptance rate of 17%.
School #6: Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech as it’s also known, ranked #5 in the US News and World Report 2021 rankings for Computer Science. Within that it ranked #1 for Cybersecurity, #2 for Software Engineering and Theory, #8 for Computer Systems and Data Analytics/science, #9 for Artificial Intelligence, and #10 for Theory.
The Georgia Tech College of Computing offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, which expands on the fundamentals of programming and computational theory, and a Bachelor of Science in Computational Media, which positions students to create and engage with digital media for entertainment, education and business.
Its in-state tuition and fees are $12,682; out-of-state tuition and fees are $33,794.
Georgia Institute of Technology has an acceptance rate of 21% and an early acceptance rate of 19.9%
School #7: University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign
The University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign comprises 15 colleges and schools. Its School of Information Sciences, College of Engineering are among the best in the country.
The university was ranked #5 in the US News and World Report 2021 rankings for Computer Science. Within that it ranked #2 for Software Engineering, #3 for Computer Systems, #4 for both Programming Languages and Mobile/web applications, #5 for Cybersecurity, #6 for both Theory and Artificial Intelligence and #7 for both Biocomputing/Bioinformatics/Biotechnology and Data Analytics/Science.
The University of Illinois is located in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign in east-central Illinois, just a few hours from Chicago.
Its in-state tuition and fees are $16,862; out-of-state tuition and fees are $34,312.
University of Illinois--Urbana-Champaign has an acceptance rate of 59%.
School #8: Cornell University
Ivy League university Cornell ranked #5 in the US News and World Report 2021 rankings for Computer Science. Within that it ranked #6 for Cybersecurity, Programming Languages and Theory, #8 for Data Analytics/science, and #11 for both Computer Systems and Software Engineering.
Cornell's Computer Science department is one of the first of its kind, founded in 1965. Today, it is part of Computing and Information Science (CIS), a two-campus department—in Ithaca and New York City—with a full-time faculty of 62 members. Of these, 13 sit at the Cornell Tech graduate campus in New York City.
CIS operates out of several buildings on Cornell's Ithaca campus: it is centered in Bill and Melinda Gates Hall.
Cornell Computer Science faculty have been granted a wide array of awards and honors over the years, and include 2 Turing Award winners.
Ithaca, New York
Its tuition and fees are $59,316.
Cornell University has an acceptance rate of 11%.
School #9: Princeton University
Princeton University is part of America’s Ivy League and in 2021 was ranked #1 in the US News and World Report Best Colleges ‘National Universities’ category. It is ranked #5 for Computer Science in the same rankings and within that ranked #5 for Theory, #10 for Artificial Intelligence, #12 for Data Analytics/science and Programming Languages, #13 for Computer Systems and #14 for Cybersecurity.
Greats of the Computing world Alan Turing, Alonzo Church and John von Neumann were all among its residents.
Beyond a small core set of courses, students are free to design their own program within a framework that insures in-depth exposure to algorithms and theoretical computer science, computer system design, and applications. Another important aspect of the curriculum is independent work, with each student undertaking at least one design or research project advised by a member of the faculty.
Princeton, New Jersey
Its tuition and fees are $53,890.
Princeton University has an acceptance rate of 6% and an early acceptance rate of 13.9%.
School #10: University of Washington
University of Washington is ranked #5 for Computer Science in the US News and World Report 2021. Within that, it is ranked #4 for Mobile/Web Applications (tie), #5 for Data Analytics/science Theory, #8 for both Artificial Intelligence and Computer Systems, #10 for Programming Languages, #12 for Cybersecurity and #14 for Theory.
The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering offers two Bachelors degrees: a Computer Science degree offered through the College of Arts & Sciences, and a Computer Engineering degree offered through the College of Engineering. There is a Data Science Specialization for those students majoring in Computer Science who are interested in developing a foundation in this area.
A large number of undergraduates participate in one or more internships in Seattle's thriving IT sector sector. According to its website, The Allen School is among the top suppliers of students in the US to leading high-tech firms such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. They are also the leading supplier to many regional companies — because Washington State has a robust and thriving computing industry, it is estimated that around 90% of graduates remain in the state.
Seattle, Washington State
Its in-state tuition and fees are $12,092; out-of-state tuition and fees are $39,461.
University of Washington has an acceptance rate of 52%.
The above have been selected as 10 of the top Computer Science schools, however the following institutions are also recognized for the high quality of their programs:
- Columbia University
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Maryland
- University of Southern California (USC)
- University of Texas at Austin
- University of Michigan
- University of Wisconsin - Madison
- Purdue University
- North Carolina State University
- New York University
Study Computer Science at a Top University With Kings
With Kings Premium Universities programs in the US, international students complete the first two years of their degree at one of our partner universities (located in Boston, New York, California, and Wisconsin), before generally transferring to complete their degree at another top ranked university. These settings provide the optimum place for international students to start their US university degree, offering small classes, and the opportunity to study — and live — alongside American students their own age from Day One.
The extensive support and preparation that we offer also ensures that the vast majority of our students transfer to complete their degree at one of the Top 50 or Top 100 universities in the United States.
While our students choose to major in a whole host of subject areas, Computer Science remains popular. Some of the Top 50 universities to have accepted Kings students to study a Computer Science related major include: Rice University (#16), University of Michigan - Ann Arbor (#24), University of Rochester (#34), Boston College (#35), University of Wisconsin -Madison (#42), Boston University (#42) and Northeastern University (#49).
Meet some of the many students who have successfully progressed to top 50 universities to major in Computer Science, and hear what they have to say about their experiences both with Kings, and at university in the United States.
"I currently go to Boston University, I major in Computer Science and minor in Economics. The reason I chose Computer Science is that I took one class when I was a freshman where we had to programme and I realised that I like this field and I wanted to try it. That’s what I’m doing now and I’m very happy with my major because it’s about the technology and the changing world. I want to be a software engineer.
I wish someone had given me this advice – do way more outside your classes and if you’re a technical major start working on your resume when you’re a freshman. ”
Ekaterina won a place to study at prestigious Boston University, to major in Computer Science.
"The US University system is very different from what we have in the Ukraine. When I had some kind of issue or problem I came to Kings staff on campus and they told me what to do, who to talk to at the University."
Davyd decided to major in Computer Science. He did his first year with us and is now at Rice University (#14).
"I chose Madison because the University is in the Top 50 for Computer Science. You get an advantage in the job market if you are in the Top 50 universities in the US. My goal is to get a job as a Data Engineer. I feel that my dream is coming true."
Chanwoong studied on the GO: Madison program in Wisconsin.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. What college has the best computer science program?
All universities referenced above are recognized for the high quality of their Computer Science programs specifically. When it comes to choosing which school to apply for, there are many factors to consider alongside rankings, including any particular expertise in a certain specialization, and of course the university itself.
Q2. Does it matter what school you go to for computer science?
Academic success goes hand-in-hand with a happy overall student experience, which involves making sure your university of choice is a good fit for your lifestyle preferences, your needs and of course, your aspirations.
Of course, completing your Computer Science at one of the most recognized universities is likely to help you post graduation, but as ever, aspects like work placements and internships, and any specific specializations that you may have mastered will also be factors when it comes to getting a job.
It's also worth remembering that with so many job opportunities within this field, the competition for employment in general may not be as tough as it would be within other professional areas.
Q3. Does GPA matter for computer science majors?
Whilst some companies - those that are highly sought after for employment especially - use grade point averages to narrow down the candidates selected for interview, personal projects and achievements are also important factors when it comes to recruitment. So, whilst undeniably important, GPA alone will not guarantee you a great job post graduation.
Q4. How can you study at a top computer science school as an international student?
With Kings Guaranteed Outcome programs, international students are able to begin their degree at one of our partner universities, where they spend the first two or three years in an ideal setting for acclimatizing to US university life.
During their time with us, they benefit from on-campus support, both academic and personal, ensuring they make the best possible progress.
Personalized progression advising also means they receive extensive help to identify the best transfer universities for their goals, and to build the best possible student profile, ensuring they can be successful in applying to top 50 or 100 universities to complete their Computer Science degree.
We hope that this article has helped you understand more about the best schools for Computer Science in the US, and how Kings Guaranteed Outcome programs can help you get there.
If you would like receive more detailed information about the Kings and our programs, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.