Wednesday, June 12, 2024

25 Best Computer Science Colleges to Get You Tech Success

_Code_ you be the next tech titan?

Training in the best computer science schools makes it possible to create anything from motion-sensing video games to a robot medical assistant. ✨

Inventing such highly valued and well-loved tech — along with the promise of a huge paycheck — is why the demand for computer science graduates is projected to increase by 15 percent from 2021 to 2031. 

If you’re curious to know which computer science program can put you on the right track toward your dream tech job, check out the best computer science colleges in the US! 

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Did you know that spreadsheets and blockchain were birthed with the help of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)? 😎

The Massachusetts-based college is a bustling research hub for students aspiring to start innovative work in computer science. 

A major like Course 6-14 is a training ground where students can enjoy computer science with the added flair of data science and economics. 

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program is also one of MIT’s offerings that allow students to directly collaborate with faculty on projects like operating solar cell simulators using AI. ☀️

📍 Location: Cambridge, MA
💰 Cost of Attendance: $79,850 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 7 percent

2. Stanford University 

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley lies Stanford University, the top computer science college choice for students who want to blend tech and business. 💱

Two computer science students discussing their project for Stanford's app development class
Stanford’s computer science students learn how to develop apps for Apple tech. Photo: sodawhiskey/Freepik

The practical application of computer science concepts sits at the core of Stanford’s program, with classes like App Development and Startup Engineering to set you up for internships (or permanent positions 😉) at partner companies. 

READ MORE: College Student Internships: The Complete 101 Guide

The Stanford signature CURIS program also opens paid undergraduate research opportunities that match you to a mentor and a project of your interest you can do during the summer. 📋

📍 Location: Stanford, CA
💰 Cost of Attendance: $82,162 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 5 percent

3.  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Whether you’re interested in statistics, animal science, or advertising, UIUC’s computer science program gives you free rein to explore various interests

With 20 undergraduate CS degrees available, there’s sure to be one for your particular interest. Since data science is fast becoming a profitable career for many CS majors, UIUC takes it up a notch by blending it with other majors. 🤝

Existing partnerships with big guns like Google and Microsoft led to a collaboration named Speech Accessibility Project which works on inclusive voice recognition tech.

Interested in similar projects? There are loads of different research opportunities that are likely to match your interest and schedule. 📅

📍 Location: Champaign, IL
💰 Cost of Attendance: $35,210 to $40,474 (per year in-state), $54,046 to $61,872 (per year out-of-state)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 63 percent 

4. Carnegie Mellon University 

Carnegie Mellon (CMU) isn’t a stranger to a quality computer science program that keeps up-to-date with the latest tech.

CMU is a computer science pioneer after being one of the first to offer Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Interaction as undergraduate degrees in the US. 🤯

Carnegie Mellon University college student sitting near the Claire and John Bertucci Nanotechnology Laboratory against a gloomy sky
Carnegie Mellon computer science students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, like a nanotechnology lab or space dedicated to AI software development. Photo: Carnegie Mellon University

This Pennsylvania-based university encourages using tech for the social good, so students can join in on AI research projects through its dedicated Responsible AI initiative.

Not sure what you want to study yet? Shop for ideas in CMU’s research portal or see what your peers are up to in the yearly Meeting of the Minds. 🏆

📍 Location: Pittsburgh, PA
💰 Cost of Attendance: $70,443 to $83,697 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 17 percent

5. California Institute of Technology 

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is known as a STEM powerhouse in sunny California, earning the nickname “MIT of the West.” ☀️

Students are exposed to top-tier science extracurriculars like the CMS EE Partners Program where they interact with partnered companies (like Activision and Northrop Grumman) to provide workshops, mentorships, or sponsorships. The chance to do projects with faculty mentors can also be done through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships.

Despite being a small college, Caltech founded and manages NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the center for space explorations. How cool is that? 🌌

📍 Location: Pasadena, CA
💰 Cost of Attendance: $83,598 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 7 percent

6. Princeton University 

The famed father of computer science, Alan Turing, walked the halls of this Ivy League, proving that its undergraduate computer science program is a heavy hitter. 💻

Students eyeing a specialization in machine learning greatly benefit from the nearby Google AI Lab with two Princeton professors at the helm

Princeton University student studying in the library along with four other students
Extensive learning opportunities are open to Princeton computer science students, with research areas ranging from computational biology to vision/graphics. Photo: Princeton University, Office of Communications

Whether you choose an AB to pursue an academic career or a BSE for engineering-heavy training, you must complete your Independent Work which could be anywhere from a research publication or design project that shows your skills in action to future employers. 💯

📍 Location: Princeton, NJ
💰 Cost of Attendance: $79,540 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 6 percent

7. Northwestern University 

Northwestern University offers more than just a beautiful campus beside Lake Michigan — its computer science program is also a solid choice for aspiring computer scientists. 💻

To bulk up your CS knowledge, you’ll be completing core courses, one breadth course (like Software Development and Programming Languages), and six technical electives.

Exploring multiple interests is possible with over 20 project course offerings and tons of research opportunities that can come in handy once you start working in nearby Chicago’s bustling tech sector. ✨

Despite the academic focus, CS majors can unwind by joining student organizations like the Tabletop Club for games and parties. 🎉

📍 Location: Evanston, IL
💰 Cost of Attendance: $68,364 to $87,804 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 9 percent

8. Purdue University 

No prior coding or computing experience? No problem! Purdue makes computer science beginner-friendly. 😀

Purdue eases newbie-level programmers into their CS major via the Bridge Program held during the summer. 

Four Purdue University students laughing while studying computer science outdoors
Purdue’s two-week Bridge Program helps newbies in the computer science program meet new friends that can make learning fun. Photo: Purdue University

Once you’ve got the basics and core courses down pat, a peer mentor will guide you in choosing a track or two of specialized topics from nine options ranging from Computational Science and Engineering to Systems Software. 🖥️

📍 Location: West Lafayette, IN
💰 Cost of Attendance: $22,812 (per year in-state), $41,614 (per year out-of-state)
📈 Acceptance rate: 67 percent

9. Duke University 

Duke is brimming with research opportunities in CS+, Code+, Data+, or Bass Connections, an interdisciplinary program giving you experience working with external communities and contributing to heavyweight publications, exhibits, or projects. 🌐

Choosing a BS focus gives you three options for your concentration: Software Systems, Data Science, and AI and Machine Learning — all of which lead to high-paying careers.

Otherwise, mix and match your varied interests with a BA focus, interdepartmental major, or a simultaneous Bachelor’s and Master’s degree through the MS in CS 4+1 Program. 😊

📍 Location: Durham, NC
💰 Cost of Attendance: $84,517 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 8 percent

10. Columbia University 

Imagine walking into class and seeing Bjarne Stroustrup, the inventor of C++ (aka one of the most useful programming languages), as your professor. 🤩

In Columbia’s computer science program, you get a front-row seat in the classes of Stroustrup and other brilliant minds working with Microsoft and IBM.

Three computer science college students coding on their laptops in the classroom
Columbia’s computer science students are at the forefront of the latest updates with professors who double as inventors of popular programming languages. Photo: pressmaster/Freepik

Take the intelligent systems track if you want to dabble in AI or train to become a well-paid software engineer with the software systems track

Columbia also offers other specializations that can expand your knowledge beyond CS — preparing you for good jobs in the Big Apple and beyond. 🗽

📍 Location: New York, NY
💰 Cost of Attendance:  $86,097 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 7 percent

11. University of California-Berkeley 

Those who dream of tech jobs in San Francisco and Silicon Valley should fight for a spot at UC Berkeley. 💯

The college’s computer science program has around 20 research areas and a great number of research hubs, meaning students get hands-on learning and training for research and tech entrepreneurship. 🤝

With this university’s great location and wide topics for students to explore, it’s no wonder that it’s home to a famous computer science alumnus: Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak

📍 Location: Berkeley, CA
💰 Cost of Attendance: $31,124 to $43,794 (per year in-state), add $31,026 to total cost (per year out-of-state)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 17 percent

12. Dartmouth College 

Turn your tech-related ideas into virtual reality at Dartmouth. ✨ Its computer science program includes foundational courses to get the basics right and from there, you can choose which path to take — whether it’s digital arts, engineering, or even robotics. 🤖

Three computer science students walking around Dartmouth campus and bike parking area during springtime
The beautiful Dartmouth campus can be a relaxing enviroment where you can unwind after your computer science classes. Photo: Eli Burakian ’00/Dartmouth

Dartmouth is jampacked with awesome computer science courses, such as Deep Learning (a machine learning model), Augmented and Virtual Reality Development (interactive apps and tools), and Robotics Perception Systems (robots). 

📍 Location: Hanover, NH
💰 Cost of Attendance: $83,349 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 9 percent

13. University of Washington 

Did you know that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen donated a whopping $40 million to the University of Washington’s (UW) computer science and engineering program? 🤯

With that kind of support, look out for UW’s program teaching you how to design software systems and applications guided by collaborative advanced courses like computer security and privacy and data science

Students diving deep into cloud computing can also enjoy the Future of Cloud Infrastructure Center, a partnership between UW and the big guns in tech like Microsoft, Google, Alibaba, Cisco, and VMWare. ☁️

📍 Location: Seattle, WA
💰 Cost of Attendance: $21,440 to $36,848 (per year in-state), $49,938 to $65,346 (per year out-of-state)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 56 percent

14. Cornell University 

Access to big-time tech companies can be the missing piece for some computer science programs, but Cornell is filled to the brim with such opportunities. 😉

Students can participate in an annual showcase where winning tech inventions earn cash and valuable exposure.

Four computer science students smiling during a Hackathon event at Cornell
Students can look forward to the hackathon events at Cornell where students from different courses gather to solve problems, meet new people, and gain cash prizes. Photo: dotshock/Freepik

But that’s not all — aspiring technopreneurs also have time to shine through a 3 Day Startup event where students can meet with potential investors. 🤝

📍 Location: Ithaca, NY
💰 Cost of Attendance: $53,896 to $62,798 (per year in-state), $74,394 to $83,296 (per year out-of-state)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 11 percent

15. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor houses a computer science college that goes all the way back to the 1950s and counts Google’s co-founder Larry Page as one of its alumni.

Marks of excellence are still seen today in student-professor project collaborations tackling subjects from AI to Warehouse-Scale & Parallel Systems. 🧑‍💻

Want to apply your lessons to solving current issues? Join the Multidisciplinary Design Program where you can explore projects like tools for diagnosing cancer, vehicle innovations with Subaru, and inclusive video games. 🎮

📍 Location: Ann Arbor, MI
💰 Cost of Attendance: $33,555 (per year in-state), $72,153 (per year out-of-state)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 26 percent

16. William Marsh Rice University 

Hardcore science enthusiasts will love Rice University because it’s a prestigious private school ranking high in engineering and technology. 🧑‍💻 

A female college athlete getting her warmup stretch assessed using a digital sports analytics device used in one of the most advanced computer science colleges in the country
Rice University encourages interdisciplinary collaborations like the computer science program but with a major in sports analytics. Photo: syda-productions/Freepik

Those who want a shot at working for Google should join the Research Experience for Undergraduates. It’s a paid summer internship where you work on computer systems or data science projects along with a mentor and a PhD student to make new algorithms and architecture. 😄 

Plus, there are internships and job placement assistance at the Center for Career Development to guide every step of your after-college career.

📍 Location: Houston, TX
💰 Cost of Attendance: $74,110 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 11 percent

17. Brown University 

Brown is a great contender for students interested in computer science as the school builds a stronger understanding of the subject while exploring unique topics through its open curriculum practice. 👨‍💻

Even with absolutely no coding knowledge and no prior courses taken related to computer science, Brown has got you covered with its introductory course where you learn programming through hands-on lessons and a final project. ⌨️

Aside from an AB and BS degree in CS alone, you can also mix it up with math, applied math, or computational biology. 

📍 Location: Providence, RI
💰 Cost of Attendance: $87,648 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 8 percent

18. University of Virginia 

The university is well-known for its stellar business programs, but did you know that it’s also an impressive computer science school? 

Female college student practicing her cybersecurity lessons with a male coursemate standing in the background
Computer science majors could take a lesson or two on cybersecurity to prepare them for one of the most profitable career paths after graduation. Photo: dcstudio/Freepik

UVA offers a ten-course Cybersecurity Focal Path which includes a creatively-named class called the Defense Against the Dark Arts about malware and exploits (perfect for Potterheads). 👀

Cash and competitive edge are up for grabs when you participate in the college’s JUMP Undergraduate Research Initiative, too! 📑

📍 Location: Charlottesville, VA
💰 Cost of Attendance: $48,096 (per year in-state), $85,930 to $87,210 (per year out-of-state)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 23 percent

19. University of Pennsylvania 

Since the 1946 invention of the first general-purpose electronic computer ENIAC at UPenn, the Ivy League university’s strengths lie in its computer science program

Aside from the popular AI offerings, this computer science college also boasts of its Human-Centered Computing research program perfect for students who like to mix technology with other disciplines. 💻

There’s also a wide range of concentrations to choose from, such as computer vision, artificial intelligence, software foundations, data science, cognitive science, and even computational biology.

Get your tuition’s worth by gathering knowledge and inspiration from Penn’s various laboratories and institutes, giving you state-of-the-art tech education. 🏛️ 

📍 Location: Philadelphia, PA 
💰 Cost of Attendance:  $70,558 to $85,738 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 9 percent

20. University of Southern California 

Contrary to popular opinion, computer science majors don’t end up working in just tech companies. Entertainment industries need your expertise too. 🎞️

That’s why if you’re a tech geek with a love for video games or films, taking up a CS major at Hollywood’s neighboring University of Southern California (USC) is a top choice

Company recruiter visiting a computer science college talking to two students during the industry fair
USC gives its students access to tech industry players through events like the Industry Affiliate Program. Photo: ekachai-s/Freepik

Students eyeing to create the next Grand Theft Auto should take up a Computer Science Games degree to learn how CS concepts play together with video game development. 🎮

On the other hand, the growing film industry could also benefit from someone trained in Computer Science and Business Administration for identifying which movies to fund all the way to streaming a movie with maximum audience impact (just like how Netflix uses Python).  

📍 Location: Los Angeles, CA
💰 Cost of Attendance: $75,576 to $85,648 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 16 percent

21. University of Chicago 

Despite what Hollywood tells you, tech geeks aren’t always extreme introverts hunched over computers. At UChicago, you can enjoy a vibrant social life through weekly Hack Nights and student-led events, like Uncommon Hacks. 🎉

UChicago added more to the usual AB or BS degrees in computer science when it began to offer data science as a major in 2021. Plus, it has a dedicated collaborative hub for its CS department. 🤝

To beef up your CS knowledge while getting paid, you can join research programs like the Student Summer Research Fellowship and Data Science Institute Summer Lab.

📍 Location: Chicago, IL
💰 Cost of Attendance: $72,108 to $85,536 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 7 percent

22. University of Texas – Austin 

Producing big players in the field of computer science starts with robust research practice and funding — all of which you can find at UT Austin. 🏫

Students listen to a business investor during a startup event in one of the best computer science colleges in the US
Computer science students can be inspired to bring their ideas to life with UT Austin’s Longhorn Startup, a lecture-based course where successful entrepreneurs share their stories. Photo: pressfoto/Freepik

Choose a concentration after mastering your core courses from either an AB or BS track. 

TIP: This Texan university prepares you for high-impact and high-paying jobs in data science or tech security when you take concentrations like Big Data and Cybersecurity.

If you’re planning to be a tech entrepreneur, join the Longhorn Startup to pitch your ideas and get course credit, major funding, or mentorships from tech companies! 💪

📍 Location: Austin, TX
💰 Cost of Attendance: $20,518 to $32,346 (per year in-state), $57,420 to $65,268 (per year out-of-state)
📈 Acceptance rate: 32 percent

23. Harvard University 

The oldest Ivy League has a lot to offer students looking to take up computer science

For one, Harvard’s Introduction to Computer Science course tackles how CS concepts are applied to real life in a way that even non-CS majors can appreciate, thanks to the fun teaching style of its lecturer David Malan. 🧑‍🏫

Entrepreneurial students can take advantage of the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard to learn the ropes of building a successful startup.

Students who can handle the heat can mix their CS major with other interests like mathematics and linguistics. Those with Advanced Standing eligibility based on AP tests can take it one step further by taking bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the same time! 🔥

📍 Location: Cambridge, MA
💰 Cost of Attendance: $80,263 to $84,413 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 5 percent

24. Yale University 

The thing about the intimate class setting at Yale is that computer science students have it easier when choosing research internships to upgrade their skills.

Five Yale students applying computer science lessons in their engineering projects at the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design
Computer science students at Yale work with facilities fostering hands-on learning and application, like the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design. Photo: Michael Marsland/Yale University

A BS degree is best if you want a solid CS career path, but a BA degree is perfect for aspiring tech lawyers. 🧑‍⚖️ 

If you want to ride on the growing popularity of a high-paying data science career, watch out for seminars and workshops from Yale’s Institute for Foundations of Data Science.

Joint majors are also popular option. 👯 Mix CS with economics (useful for academia or finance) or combine CS with psychology (aligned with AI and cognitive science). 

📍 Location: New Haven, CT
💰 Cost of Attendance: $87,705 per year
📈 Acceptance Rate: 7 percent

25. Georgia Institute of Technology 

What makes a computer science degree at Georgia Tech unique is that you have a say on what courses to take. 

How is it possible? 🤔 This public research university offers threads to its students which are specialization areas you learn alongside your foundational CS courses.

Students can choose two threads out of eight options, like combining Information  Internetworks with Media for creating a powerhouse database for Fortune 500 companies right after college. 💯 

📍 Location: Atlanta, GA
💰 Cost of Attendance: $28,536 (per year in-state), $49,648 (per year out-of-state) 
📈 Acceptance Rate: 21 percent

All of these computer science colleges have their own strengths, so it’s up to you to choose the best based on your preferred college culture, financial means, and career trajectory. 

Writing a successful college application and knowing how to pay for tuition can help you prepare for challenging, but rewarding, times ahead.

It’s time to program yourself for tech success. Good luck! 🦾

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