Professionals armed with a master’s degree in computer science are poised for career advancement in a growing industry with diverse opportunities. Graduates can find employment in many niche markets including: mobile application development, big data analytics, healthcare IT, video game design and software architecture and development.
Employers seek computer science experts skilled in a number of areas, including: artificial intelligence, algorithm development, data mining and security. And from software development to security analysis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts this field will continue to grow at a rate upwards of 20% for most job sectors.
With a high demand for qualified and skilled computer science professionals, taking education to the next level is a wise move for those in this industry. And while bachelor’s degree holders will have a solid foundation in computer science, they simply won’t have the same in-depth knowledge or specialized skills a candidate with a master’s degree possesses. An online master’s provides an affordable and flexible graduate option that also allows professionals to continue working while pursuing their degrees.
General and specialized studies offer a broad range of opportunities. To help narrow your search, we provide the following top 25 online master’s in computer science programs.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
Stanford, CA 94305
Stanford's online master's computer science requires completion of at least 45 units. These consist of general requirements, seminars and an area of specialization. General courses cover mathematical and theoretical foundations, computer systems and artificial intelligence and applications. Students take at least one 500-level seminar which exposes students to research. Twenty-one units are fulfilled in one of the ten specialization areas; students have ten options, including: Artificial Intelligence, Computer and Network Security, Real-World Computing or Software Theory.
Completion of the program typically takes three years, though students must graduate within five years of starting the program. All courses are offered online and are accessed through Stanford's OpenEd learning platform, Lagunita, or through newly-implemented Canvas LMS.
Columbia University in the City of New York
|New York||West 116 St and Broadway|
New York, NY 10027
During their first semester, students of the online master's in computer science program choose one of eight areas of concentration for their degree, including: Foundations of Computer Science, Computer Security, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. Students may also create a personalized track by selecting coursework based on specific requirements and approval by an advisor.
Master's candidates complete a minimum of 30 credits of coursework, including a core breadth requirement that requires students to take one class from each group: systems, theory and artificial intelligence and applications. Core curriculum emphasizes theoretical computer science and mathematics and experimental computer technology. In-depth courses available include studies of artificial intelligence, computer architecture, databases, computer communications and computer-aided digital design. All coursework is accessed asynchronously through the Canvas learning platform.
Johns Hopkins University
|Baltimore||525 North Wolfe Street|
Baltimore, MD 21205
Students enrolled in the online master's degree in computer science program have several options for their course of study. Online learners can choose the Telecommunications and Networking concentration or one of ten focus tracks, including: Bioinformatics, Cybersecurity, Data Science and Cloud Computing, Human-Computer Interaction and Visualization and Theory.
Georgia Institute of Technology
|Atlanta||225 North Ave|
Atlanta, GA 30332-0530
Georgia Institute of Technology is proud to offer the first accredited Master of Science in Computer Science students can earn entirely through Massive Open Online Course delivery format. Students access online resources through the BuzzPort online learning portal, but their CS classes are presented on the Udacity MOOC platform. Admission to the program requires a bachelor's degree in computer science or related field and a minimum GPA of 3.0
Students may choose to follow one of four specialization tracks: Computational Perception & Robotics, Computing Systems, Interactive Intelligence or Machine Learning. For degree completion, students take core courses plus 15 to 18 hours of their chosen concentration courses. Sample foundation courses include: Advanced Operating Systems, Computer Networks and Machine Learning.
|Boston||One Silber Way|
Boston, MA 02215
The Master of Science in Computer Information Systems degree can be completed online in less than two years. All coursework is completed accessed through the Blackboard learning management system.
Students are required to complete 10 courses, six core and four elective, for a total of 40 credit hours. Electives are chosen to follow one of seven available concentration areas, including: Database Management & Business Intelligence, Health Informatics, IT Project Management and Web Application Development. Elective options include database security, data mining, enterprise architecture and ecommerce. Graduates of the online master's in computer science program leave with a broad base of knowledge from core coursework and an in-depth concentration specialty.
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
|Raleigh||2101 Hillsborough Street|
Raleigh, NC 27695-7001
The online master's computer science program requires the fulfillment of 31 credit hours, which consist of nine credits in core coursework, a one-credit orientation and 21 credits of computer science electives. Core curriculum covers theory and systems, while electives offer a broad base of knowledge for computer science graduates.
The asynchronous components of online classes are accessed through Moodle. On-campus lectures are recorded and later uploaded to the course site. These videos can be accessed at any time, though online learners must adhere to due dates and deadlines. Through Blackboard Collaborate, students have an opportunity to hold live discussions with their classmates and instructors.
Illinois Institute of Technology
|Chicago||3300 S Federal St|
Chicago, IL 60616
All coursework for the online master's in computer science at IIT is accessed through the Blackboard learning platform. Students in pursuit of a graduate-level computer science degree have two options: the Master of Science in Computer Science or the Master of Computer Science. The MSCS gives graduates the skills they need to continue to a PhD program or conduct research in computer science. The program requires 32 credit hours of coursework, and master's candidates have the option of culminating their degree with a master's thesis or project, or through coursework alone.
The MCS gives graduates the option of taking three specialization tracks online: Networking and Communications, Database Systems or Software Engineering. This degree, including a specialization, requires 30-33 credit hours to qualify for graduation; students have the option of completing a master's project in order to earn their degrees. Those who are not accepted into the MSCS program are considered for the MCS.
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
|Minneapolis||100 Church Street SE|
Minneapolis, MN 55455-0213
Students can choose between a Master of Computer Science and a Master of Science in Computer Science degree. The MCS is a professional degree that is earned through the completion coursework; candidates are not required to complete a master's project. The MSCS includes research components necessary to most PhD programs. Both degrees require 31 credits of coursework; topics and research areas of the faculty include algorithms, databases and data mining, networking and computer security.
Online courses for the online computer science master's degree are hosted on and accessed through the Moodle learning management system. Some courses may require synchronous events such as presentations and exams; local proctors will be coordinated for exams, making travel to campus unnecessary.
|Boston||360 Huntington Ave|
Boston, MA 02115-5005
Students pursuing an online Master of Science in Computer Science at Northeastern can choose from a variety of options to focus their studies. Available concentrations include artificial intelligence, graphics, programming languages, database management, theory and security. Core curriculum emphasizes computing and application domains. All courses are offered online and accessed through Blackboard.
Admission to the online master's computer science program requires knowledge or coursework in a computer language, data structures, computer organization, calculus and discrete mathematics. For those without a computer science background, the school offers an ALIGN program that tailors studies to help students gain the skills and knowledge needed to pursue a master's degree in computer science.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
|Champaign||601 E John Street|
Champaign, IL 61820-5711
The online computer science master's program is a professional degree that does not require students to write a thesis. Instead, master's candidates complete 32 credit hours of coursework. The program was designed for working professionals to advance in their fields. Students have five years to fulfill graduation requirements, but they may graduate in three semesters by taking a full-time courseload.
Online classes are hosted on one of two learning management systems: Illinois Compass 2g or Moodle. Students new to online learning can familiarize themselves with the learning platforms through guides, videos and tutorials. Online learners have access to a number of tools, including Collaborate, Elluminate and Wimba Voice, to help them through their programs.
|Chicago||1 E Jackson Blvd|
Chicago, IL 60604
Students of the Master of Science in Computer Science choose one of seven areas to add a concentration to their degrees; topics include: Software Engineering, Multimedia and Artificial Intelligence. Students also have the option to complete a capstone course, write an master's thesis, participate in an internship or develop a research project as part of their studies. Available research areas include: artificial intelligence, data mining, technology education, and algorithmic analysis.
Completion of the program requires the fulfillment of 52 credit hours, including six introductory courses that act as prerequisites for the rest of the program. These requirements may be waived if students took equivalent courses as an undergraduate, have professional experience in the area or they pass a Graduate Assessment Exam. Online classes are accessed through the Desire2Learn portal.
|Syracuse||900 South Crouse Ave.|
Syracuse, NY 13244
Graduates of the master's in computer science program have a solid knowledge base in security and assurance, computer architecture, advanced programming and artificial intelligence. Curriculum emphasizes analytical, critical thinking and mathematical skills and focuses on new system designs and the latest technology. All coursework is delivered online, and can be accessed either live or recorded through Blackboard.
The Master of Science in Computer Science requires 30 credit hours for completion. The curriculum consists of 12 credits from core courses and 18 credits from electives. Up to six credits may be transferred from previous graduate studies. The degree can be earned in as little as 20 months.
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Newark, NJ 07102
The online Master of Science in Computer Science from NJIT can be earned in less than two years. Students complete coursework online through Moodle. Classes are delivered in an asynchronous format, allowing students to complete work on their own schedule. Curriculum emphasizes theoretical computing concepts, knowledge application, the development of skills in programming, computing systems and algorithms.
Students can choose from three specialty tracks for their studies: Databases and Data Mining, Networking and Generalist. All tracks require 30 credits for completion; these consist of 12 credits in core courses, 9 credits in the chosen specialty and 9 credits of additional electives. The Generalist track allows students to complete the 12 credits in core courses and choose 18 credits in electives.
University of Illinois at Springfield
|Springfield||One University Plaza|
Springfield, IL 62703-5407
The online Master of Science in Computer Science curriculum provides a solid foundation in software knowledge and applications. Prospective students should have an undergraduate degree in a field related to computer sciences that allowed them to complete program prerequisites, including: Computer Programming Concepts, Computer Organization and Programming Languages.
All courses are offered online through Blackboard. Completion of the degree requires 32 credit hours that consist of: four 500-level courses, three 400-level or 500-level courses and a graduate research seminar. Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA for successful completion of the degree.
University of South Florida
|Tampa||4202 East Fowler Ave|
Tampa, FL 33620-9951
USF offers online learners thesis and non-thesis options for earning their online computer science master's degree. Both tracks require 30 credits for completion. For the thesis option, students complete nine credit hours of core courses, 15 credits of electives and six credits of thesis. Those choosing the non-thesis track complete nine credit hours of core courses and 21 credits of electives.
Polytechnic Institute of New York University
( ) -
The computer engineering master's program is a professional degree that gives graduates the skills to work with systems design, computer architecture, hardware and software integration and testing. Students gain experience in fields such as embedded systems design, computer architecture and computer networks. All coursework is accessed online through NYU Classes, powered by Sakai.
Completion of the degree requires 30 credits. A six-credit thesis option is available, which replaces an advanced project and one other elective course. The thesis can be completed in the electrical and computer engineering department or computer science department. For graduation, students must also maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.
|West Lafayette||Hovde Hall of Administration|
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2040
The computer science master's degree offers students the option of a thesis or non-thesis track. Completion of the program requires 10 three-credit courses or eight courses and a thesis. The degree is typically earned in three or four semesters. All courses are accessed online through the Blackboard learning management system.
Along with taking courses in areas such as algorithms, data mining and software engineering, all students must fulfill an ethics and communication requirement. During the fall semester of their first year, students participate in a research seminar that culminates in the responsible conduct of research test. Through the program, while taking their classes or working on their thesis, students' communication skills are assessed by their instructors or thesis committee.
Nova Southeastern University
|Fort Lauderdale||3301 College Ave|
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314-7796
The Master of Science in Computer Science degree program includes six concentration options, including: Database, Security and Real-World Computing. Completion of the degree consists of 36 credits made up of four core courses, three or more courses in the chosen concentration and the rest in electives. Core curriculum covers software engineering, programming languages, operating systems and algorithms. Students who wish to complete a thesis replace two elective courses with thesis credits.
The program is designed for students with undergraduate studies in the areas of computer science, engineering, physics or mathematics. Those without one of backgrounds may be required to take additional courses. All coursework is completed online over the Blackboard learning management system.
Rochester Institute of Technology
|Rochester||1 Lomb Memorial Dr|
Rochester, NY 14623-5603
The Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction prepares students to address human, technological and organizational concerns while designing and implementing software applications. Curriculum integrates technical concerns of computing with ideas from psychology, sociology and other fields to make technology more user-friendly.
The degree consists of 30 credit hours in courses that include research methods, usability testing and information and interaction design. Students and instructors interact with each other and online class materials through the myCourses learning management system. Online learners have access to academic resources, including a writing lab, tutoring and proctoring services.
|Milwaukee||1250 W Wisconsin Avenue|
Milwaukee, WI 53233
Marquette University offers a unique program for students desiring to pursue a master's in computer science. The Integrated Practicum curriculum path allows students to work part-time at job assignments while completing their degrees. This dual-path option creates a more affordable path and builds skills in the field and in the classroom. Participating employers hire students part-time while they continue to pursue their studies full-time.
All courses are accessed online through the Desire2Learn portal. The curriculum covers topics that include: information security, software quality assurance and software project management. Through the Integrated Practicum, emphasis is placed on the development of best business practices and learning the latest technology. Students may specialize in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense or Big Data and Data Analytics.
Iowa State University
|Ames||3410 Beardshear Hall|
Ames, IA 50011-2030
The human-computer interaction master's program requires a total of 30 course credits; nine credits earned in core courses that include: Computational Perception, Design and Ethics and The cognitive Psychology of Human Computer Interaction. Master's candidates must also complete a capstone course and project; students are required to present their capstone results in person.
Curriculum is closely tied to research and virtual reality applications. With much of the required credit hours coming from electives, students have freedom to customize their studies. Coursework is completed online through ELO Collaborative Technology Services, which uses recorded lectures, live chat-rooms and streaming media technology to present class materials and interaction.
University of Hawaii at Manoa
|Honolulu||2500 Campus Road, Hawaii Hall|
Honolulu, HI 96822-2217
The Master of Science in Computer Science program at University of Hawaii at Manoa is a 31-credit program that can be completed in less than three years part-time. All courses may not be available online every semester. Due to these limitations, UHM recommends students pursuing online studies be able to attend some on-campus courses. For online coursework, students access classes through their MyUH portal.
Curriculum focuses on developing skills for designing, implementing and evaluating software technology. Delivery of coursework relies heavily on collaboration and apprenticeship with other students and faculty members. Students must complete a thesis project as part of their studies.
University of Houston - Victoria
|Victoria||3007 N. Ben Wilson|
Victoria, TX 77901
Students pursuing their master's in computer science online at UH Victoria have a wide range of options for areas of focus. Electives are available in digital gaming and simulation, robotics, artificial intelligence and systems engineering; the majority of graduation requirements comes from elective courses. An additional twelve credits are acquired through core courses including network and design and computer architecture. Students also have the option of completing a 6-credit thesis.
Curriculum of the program focuses on the theoretical and engineering aspects of computer science. All classes are offered online and are accessed through the Blackboard learning management system. The Student Success Center provides students with services to help them through their educations, including tutoring and a writing center.
|Romeoville||One University Parkway|
Romeoville, IL 60446-2200
Students in the MS in Data Science with Computer Science Concentration program design and develop computing systems and learn how to manage big data. Curriculum emphasizes software writing, creation of large-scale data storage systems and building large-scale data platforms for a variety of environments. Graduates are equipped with the skills to design front-end systems, write algorithms and decipher large quantities of data.
All coursework is completed online and is accessed through the Blackboard learning management system. Completion of the concentration involves four core courses, three elective courses and a capstone experience. The computer science electives include: Semantic Web, Distributed Computing Systems, Pervasive Application Development and Concepts of Statistics. Prerequisites are a bachelor's degree, minimum GPA of 3.0 and a minimum of 24 credit hours earned in the MS-DS program.
|Poughkeepsie||3399 North Rd|
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Graduate students in the Master of Science in Information Systems program have two degree tracks to choose from: Information Systems Management (ISM) or Information Technology Management (ITM) . Both tracks require the completion of 18 credits in core MSIS classes; these six classes include: Systems & Information Concepts in Organizations, Data Communications and Systems Design. The ISM track combines foundational business courses with technological knowledge; graduates are instilled with the base knowledge needed to become chief information officers. The ITM track is for students who are interested in problem solving and working with businesses and organizations to resolve computer-based issues.
Online courses are hosted on the school's learning platform iLearn; classes were developed using the Sakai online class open-source code. Online learners can click through a sample online course to familiarize themselves with the learning platform, or they can participate in an online training orientation.
A master’s degree in computer science demonstrates to employers a high-level of knowledge, perseverance and ability. At this level, professionals are well-trained in their craft and posses in-depth understanding of the theory and applications necessary to produce high-quality work in a number of computer languages. With the proper education, candidates holding a master’s in comp sci. are considered highly hireable in a nearly countless number of sectors, be they in healthcare, education, the corporate sector or with an ambitious startup, to name only a few.
The following is a sample of potential career destinations for those with an online Master of Computer Science degree. Shown are median salaries and predicted job growth for 2012-2022.
- Software Developer
2012 Median Pay: $93,350
Job Outlook: 23%
- Computer Programmer
2012 Median Pay: $74,280
Job Outlook: 8%
- Security Analyst
2012 Median Pay: $86,170
Job Outlook: 37%
- Web Developer
2012 Median Pay: $62,500
Job Outlook: 20%
- Computer Information and Systems Manager
2012 Median Pay: $120,950
Job Outlook: 15%
Keys To Online Success
Embrace the technology. No degree could be more appropriate to obtain online than one in computer science. Coursework is completed using the very technology students are learning to develop. Even if your specialization seems far removed from any tools used for your studies, soak up as much as possible. Utilize any tools available. Learn from them. Improve upon them. Don’t miss the unique opportunity to apply the very methods you are using for learning to further the career for which they prepare you.
Go deep. Online programs typically allow flexibility in studies due to scheduling, affordability and a wide-range of electives. Through careful selection of coursework, students can gain a broad knowledge-base and in-depth skill in a specialized area. Depending on career goals, both can be profitable. A wide foundation will make you well-equipped for many projects and jobs, and a deep understanding of one facet of the industry can place you in high demand for that sector.
Stay trendy. Don’t grow stagnant after completing your master’s degree. This industry is fast-paced and extremely dynamic. Never stop training on new technology and developments. Even if your current employer does not require you to employ certain languages or areas of expertise while working, you should make a concerted effort in your own time to keep your skills sharp.
Network. Especially if you plan to do any freelance work, connections are essential. Join professional networking, user or meet-up groups. Use LinkedIn to meet your fellow professionals. Find out who’s excelling and make a connection online or have coffee. Future opportunities for projects, employment or finding potential employees for your own company hinge on these connections.