Best Online Master’s Degrees in Computer Science 2022

| Liz Simmons Modified on June 23, 2022

Best Online Master’s Degrees in Computer Science 2022
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Computer science master's programs teach advanced industry concepts like machine learning and cybersecurity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a job growth rate of 13% for tech occupations from 2020-2030, much faster than the projected growth of 8% for all occupations.

The best online master's in computer science programs prepare degree-seekers for senior-level careers with high salary potential. A master's degree can help graduates gain the qualifications and skills necessary for managerial positions. To accommodate their current jobs, learners can pursue a master's degree in computer science online.

What to Expect From an Online Master's in Computer Science Program

Online master's in computer science programs are similar to on-campus programs in many ways. They often entail the same staff, course content, and learning goals. Assignments, exams, and projects are also the same with either program type.

However, degree-seekers should expect to see some differences between online and on-campus formats. These may include cost, scheduling, and content delivery.

How Is an Online Master's in Computer Science Different From an On-Campus Program?

Both online and on-campus master's in computer science programs can provide positive outcomes for students. However, several elements may vary between the two formats. The following table highlights key differences to consider when searching for the right program.

Comparing Online and On-Campus Master's in Computer Science Degrees
Online Program On-Campus Program
Cost May charge lower tuition than on-campus programs but may include online-specific fees that on-campus students don't pay Often higher tuition than online programs and may require lab, resource, or other on-campus fees not required for online students
Course Load May offer accelerated options that allow students to complete courses more quickly Due to on-campus scheduling restraints, may not offer an accelerated track
Scheduling Online programs may begin more frequently through the year and offer more scheduling options Start dates tend to follow the typical school year; class schedules could be more limited
Time to Graduate Accelerated options could allow students to graduate within 12-18 months Accelerated options may be limited; many master's programs require about three years of study
Content Delivery Online instruction, either via live video or text-based discussions; may include self-paced lessons and assignments Face-to-face teaching combined with labs, hands-on computer work, and group projects

Online degree-seekers may benefit from lower costs, accelerated program options, and flexible scheduling. Motivated learners can also complete online coursework at their own pace.

However, on-campus programs usually allow more interaction with peers and instructors. Online students may not gain as many opportunities for group work and hands-on experiences as on-campus learners.

How Is an Online Master's in Computer Science Different From a Bootcamp?

Computer science bootcamps help students learn industry concepts quickly. Generally, bootcamps take much less time than master's degree programs, lasting no more than a few months. These intensive programs also include flexible scheduling options and affordable pricing.

However, a bootcamp's curriculum covers less ground than a master's degree. Bootcamps often emphasize entry-level content. A master's degree teaches advanced concepts for high-level computer science careers.

Top Online Computer Science Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Delivery Formats for Online Computer Science Degrees

Online computer science degrees include 100% online degrees and hybrid degrees. Fully online programs provide instruction through digital methods like video meetings and online learning platforms. In contrast, a hybrid model requires at least some in-person classes. Students who live far from their school may find a 100% online degree more convenient.

Learners should also consider whether asynchronous or synchronous learning meets their needs best. With no set meeting times, asynchronous classes allow students to complete coursework at their own pace. Synchronous online courses require students to meet for class, usually over live video. Self-motivated learners who need scheduling flexibility may prefer an asynchronous model.

Accreditation for Online Computer Science Degrees

Our ranking includes only accredited schools with computer science programs. Regionally accredited schools must meet high educational standards based on accrediting agency guidelines. Regional accreditation denotes a school's commitment to academic excellence, faculty experience, and positive student outcomes.

In contrast, national accrediting bodies typically endorse vocational, technical, and religious programs. Their guidelines are not as rigorous as those of regional accrediting bodies.

Computer science degree-seekers should also consider programs with ABET accreditation. This programmatic accreditation recognizes exemplary computer science programs.

How Much Will an Online Master's in Computer Science Cost?

Tuition and fees for the average master's degree cost $19,790 as of the 2019-20 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Several factors can influence program cost, including school reputation and public or private status. Many schools charge different tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students. Online tuition may differ from on-campus rates.

On-campus program costs are comparable to online master's degrees in computer science, typically falling between $700 and $1,100 per credit. In-person learners may need to pay technology fees to use classroom equipment and resources. Online students often avoid these fees.

Tuition and fees for the average master's degree cost $19,790 as of the 2019-20 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Degree-seekers can offset educational expenses using financial aid options like scholarships, grants, and loans. Scholarship and grant programs provide funding that does not require repayment. Learners must pay back loans, but they can usually defer payments while pursuing their computer science degree.

Why Get Your Master's in Computer Science Online?

The best online master's in computer science degrees offer in-depth curricula and hands-on skill-building opportunities. They also let learners study at their own pace while working.

Although online programs include several benefits for computer science degree-seekers, they may not be the best option for everyone. Students who thrive on social interaction with instructors and peers could find online courses isolating. Other learners may struggle to maintain motivation and focus outside of a traditional classroom.

Degree-seekers considering an online master's degree should weigh the following pros and cons:

Pros and Cons

Online programs follow the same curricula as on-campus programs Online degrees may cost less than some on-campus degrees Asynchronous classes allow students to work and study on a flexible schedule Online programs lack the personal element of on-campus learning Students may not receive the same hands-on computer lab and project opportunities as on-campus learners Some concepts can prove challenging to learn with less instructor guidance

Learn more about computer science careers

Selecting Your Online Computer Science Program

Some computer science programs offer several concentrations for learners interested in specific careers. Others provide general computer science curricula. Likewise, some programs foster a competitive culture, while others are more relaxed.

Other points to consider when selecting an online master's degree in computer science include:

  • School and program accreditation
  • Tuition rates and financial aid availability
  • Program length and format
  • Student-to-faculty ratio
  • Staff credentials
  • Peer-to-peer learning opportunities
  • Program outcomes
  • Career services
  • Alumni network

Common App can help streamline the application process. This tool organizes applicants' information, allowing them to apply to many institutions at once. Prospective students can also use Common App to research financial aid opportunities.

Top Five Program Rankings

Explore our ranked list of the best online computer science master's degrees. Learn about how we choose the top schools by reading about our ranking methodology, linked below.

#1 Online College in California

University of Southern California

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

A private research university in Los Angeles, California, USC serves more than 49,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Learners received over $464 million in financial aid from the university for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. 

Master of Science in Computer Science

The USC Viterbi School of Engineering offers one of the best online master's in computer science programs. Students can also pursue the degree in person. The curriculum focuses on the programming, design, and application of computing systems. Full-time learners can graduate in 1.5-2 years and part-timers in 2.5-3 years. 

The MS in computer science program includes classes like software architecture, information retrieval and web search engines, analysis of algorithms, and applied cryptography. Concentrations include data science, computer security, and software engineering. Graduates can pursue roles in computer programming, consulting, and software design. 

Applying to USC

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree in computer science from a regionally accredited institution and a significant background in computing. To apply, each candidate must submit transcripts, a resume/CV, and a personal statement. Letters of recommendation are optional.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: WSCUC
  • Tuition: $2,309/unit 
  • Program Length: 1.5-2 years full time
  • Delivery Format: 100% online or on-campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 26%
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#2 Online College in Georgia

Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus

School Information
Location Atlanta, Georgia
Admission Rate 21%
Graduation Rate 90%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

This public research university founded in 1885 in Atlanta provides in-person and online learning opportunities to almost 40,000 students from 149 countries. The school aims to improve lives using technology and science.

Online Master of Science in Computer Science

Enrollees can pursue one of the best online master's in computer science from a collaborative program between Georgia Tech, AT&T, and Udacity. The degree is the first accredited MS in computer science available entirely through massive open online courses. Georgia Tech's affordable program also costs less than a typical computer science MS. 

The 30-credit curriculum includes courses in secure computer systems, applied cryptography, and the software development process. Students from all over the world enroll in the program, forming professional networks and friendships that can lead to potential job opportunities after graduation. The flexible degree allows students to maintain full-time employment while studying.

Applying to Georgia Tech

A preferred applicant holds a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field and a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA. Each prospective enrollee submits transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and answers to supplemental questions.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • Tuition: $180/credit
  • Program Length: About 3 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 24%
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#3 Online College in California

Stanford University

School Information
Location Stanford, California
Admission Rate 4%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The California-based Stanford opened in 1891, enrolls over 16,000 students, and counted 20 Nobel laureates among the campus community as of May 2022. The school boasts a very low five-to-one student-to-faculty ratio that enables small class sizes. 

Master of Science in Computer Science

Stanford School of Engineering's computer science MS ranks among the best online computer science master's degrees. Applicants can come from any undergraduate background but must exhibit strong analytical and quantitative skills. 

The 45-credit program requires classes like probability, design and analysis of algorithms, principles of computer systems, and computer organization and systems. Enrollees can choose from nine specializations, including artificial intelligence, biocomputation, computer and network security, and human-computer interaction.

Computer science majors can apply to participate in the honors cooperative program, a part-time option for full-time working professionals. MS students do not receive financial support from the computer science department.

Applying to Stanford

Admission requirements include a $125 fee, a statement of purpose, three recommendation letters, and a resume. Applicants also must submit transcripts and answers to supplemental questions. The program does not require GRE scores.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: WSCUC
  • Tuition: $1,352/unit
  • Delivery Format: Online or hybrid
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 8%
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#4 Online College in Massachusetts

Tufts University

School Information
Location Medford, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 15%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Tufts, a private research university in Medford, Massachusetts, has won 59 New England Small College Athletic Conference championships. The school counts more than 300 student organizations and 41 performance and arts groups on campus.

Online Master of Science in Computer Science

Students can find one of the best online master's in computer science programs at the Tufts Department of Computer Science. The interdisciplinary curriculum features hands-on opportunities for enrollees to develop applications and software systems. Learners can hone their skills in algorithms, programming languages, software engineering, and database systems.

The 33-credit MS in computer science requires 10 courses, including a two-semester capstone project. Classes explore machine learning, operating systems, and computation theory. Students can graduate in less than two years and pursue roles as software developers, data scientists, and test engineers. 

Women comprise more than 30% of tenure-track and teaching faculty in the computer science program.

Applying to Tufts

The program evaluates candidates holistically with a preference for individuals who possess strong analytical and math skills and a spirit of innovation. Each applicant needs a strong GPA with upper-level coursework in statistics, math, or data science. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: NECHE
  • Tuition: $1,697/credit
  • Program Length: Less than 2 years 
  • Delivery Format: 100% online
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 21%
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#5 Online College in Illinois

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

School Information
Location Champaign, Illinois
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 85%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Founded in 1867, Champaign, Illinois' U of I welcomes more than 51,000 students from over 100 countries. The school boasts 29 Pulitzer Prize winners among its alumni and faculty. 

Online Master of Computer Science

U of I's Department of Computer Science offers one of the best online master's in computer science through a partnership with Coursera. The program uses a massive open online course platform that provides an affordable and flexible learning environment. Students can graduate in as little as one year.

The 32-credit curriculum includes coursework in artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, databases, and software engineering. Online students do not qualify for research or teaching assistantships.

Applying to U of I

Each applicant needs a bachelor's degree with a recommended minimum 3.2 GPA. The program does not require a computer science undergraduate degree, but candidates must demonstrate relevant experience or complete prerequisites in classes like statistics, data structures, and object-oriented programming. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: HLC
  • Tuition: $670/credit
  • Program Length: 1 year
  • Delivery Format: 100% online
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 35%
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Questions About Online Computer Science Programs

How long does it take to get a master's degree in computer science online?

Most master's degree programs in computer science comprise 30-36 credits. Full-time students can usually complete their degree in 2-3 years. Master's degrees may cap completion time at 5-6 years.

Is computer science hard?

Computer science can prove challenging for some students. Self-motivated learners with a solid understanding of math, analysis, and computers may excel in the field. An undergraduate degree in computer science provides a strong foundation for master's degree concepts.

How much is an online degree in computer science?

On average, master's degrees cost $19,790 in tuition and fees as of the 2019-20 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Online students may avoid some fees, plus additional expenses for housing and transportation.

Is a computer science degree worth it?

Computer science degrees can lead to many lucrative and in-demand careers. According to the BLS, computer and information research scientists earned a median annual salary of $131,490 as of 2021.

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