Computer programmers with a few years of programming work experience under their belt who are interested in taking their career to the net level may consider returning to graduate school. Additional schooling isn’t typically required for professionals in the computer science field, but for those who wish to get into design, testing, planning, or management might want to consider getting a master’s degree. Master in Computer Science (MCS) programs take on average two years to receive but some of the top ranked schools are offering part-time evening programs for people who wish to continue working full time while studying. Professionals who wish to get the most from their master’s degree should attend a program with a reputation for turning out the best future employees. Here’s what to look for in a MCS program.
Graduate school is the best time for professionals to tailor their skills for a niche in the computer science field. Specializations include AI, software theory, security, systems, mobile and internet computing, real world computer, information management and analytics, and more. All of these “focuses” are in high demand with tech companies and other organizations around the world.
Computer science is quickly becoming a source for innovative research. The top ranked MCS programs have faculty and doctoral students working on research that will change how businesses and the public use computer science technologies around the world. Graduate students are often invited to assist with this research as a way to boost their resume, learn skills, and possibly discover a new passion in their field.
Not all professionals will want to take a two year hiatus from the full time job to go back to school. Fortunately, even top ranked schools offer part-time and distance learning programs which can be completed alongside a day job. Also, for professionals who have been working for ten years or more there are executive programs which may be more appropriate.
Computer programmers earn a salary in a range from $30,251-$82,533. However, the big tech companies are known to pay considerably more, especially for experienced professionals. Programmers who work in management, design, and in large cities with a reputation for technology can expect to make six figures.
The Top Computer Science Graduate Degree Schools for the 2013-2014 School Year
Below is a ranking of the top Master in Computer Science programs in the country. This list was compiled based on data from student, faculty, and dean surveys. These surveys assessed satisfaction,
rigor of programs, and reputation. Computer science professionals and students around the country were surveyed for the most accurate results possible.
University of Nebraska Lincoln offers Master’s and Ph.D. programs in Computer Science. Students can choose to specialize in Bioinformatics, Computer Engineering and a combination Computer Science/Computer Engineering concentration. Many students get paid while they learn by obtaining teaching and research assistantships, giving them free tuition and health insurance. Alumni of the program have gone on to work at Microsoft, Google and NASA.
Georgia State University offers graduate degrees in Computer Science to its students. The department was created in 1999, and has made great strides since. Current research projects include algorithms, graphics and visualization and bioinformatics. Five faculty members currently hold awards from the National Science Foundation, and the program ranks high in the Southeast according to the National Research Council.
University of California Santa Barbara is home to five Nobel Laureates, and offers students graduate degree opportunities in Computer Science. Known for its excellent computer science facilities, the school provides students with individual workstations at the NSF Computing Center. Graduates of the program go on to careers in government and industry, working for such organizations as NASA and the CIA.
University of Pittsburgh offers graduate degrees in Computer Science to its students. Offering Master’s and Doctoral degrees, the university emphasizes research projects for its students and faculty. Individual and group research projects are done on a variety of topics including computer security, artificial intelligence, computer graphics, software engineering and many other areas.
University of Rochester offers graduate level degrees in Computer Science to its students. The programs can be completed on a full or part-time basis, and a total of 30 credit hours is needed for completion. Many engineers and scientists choose the part-time element of this program, working on an advanced degree with a specialty in data analytics.
Washington State University offers graduate degrees in Computer Science that are regarded as some of the best in the country. U.S. News and World Report rank them in the top one-third of all programs offered throughout the United States, and many graduates have gone on to positions as CEO’s, Research Directors and founders of high-tech companies throughout the world.
Stony Brook University offers both Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Computer Science. Software development and applications are emphasized, with all students being required to work on a large-scale development project involving hardware or software analysis and design. Faculty are well-known for award-winning presentations at major computer science conferences around the world, and many have individual or group papers published in leading academic journals.
Rutgers University offers Master’s and Ph.D. programs in Computer Science. Ranked as the 28th best Computer Science graduate program in the country by U.S. News and World Report, its graduates are in high demand by leading companies and institutions. Located near both New York and Philadelphia, the school is involved in many innovative research projects led by award-winning faculty.
Stanford University, perhaps the leading research institution in the United States, offers students graduate degree programs in Computer Science considered by many to be the best. The school leads the world in computer science research and education, with many of its graduates going on to be leaders in the academic and corporate worlds. Innovative and futuristic research projects like Voice-Based Social Media and ImageNet have made Stanford the world leader in computerized technological advances.
Carnegie Mellon University offers graduate degrees in Computer Science. The university is known for its award-winning faculty and students, with many participating in and winning computer science competitions. The school’s work in robotics technology has made it a world leader in designing and creating robotics systems for use in industry, health care and many other areas.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers graduate degrees in Computer Science. The first college in the United States to establish an independent Computer Science department, the school prides itself on fostering an atmosphere of cooperation between faculty and students. At UNC, students are seen as colleagues to faculty rather than just students. Individualized attention is a given, as are opportunities for students to work with faculty on research projects.
Brown University, one of the esteemed Ivy League schools, offers students graduate degrees in Computer Science. Students in the program are allowed great flexibility in designing their own curriculum based upon their interests. Each student is assigned a desktop computer and a desk in the departmental office, and have access to six research labs including the Internet lab and Artificial Intelligence lab.
University of San Francisco was the first college in the country to offer a Computer Science degree. Offering graduate degrees in Computer Science, the school’s proximity to Silicon Valley makes it a very attractive destination for students seeking careers in high-tech. With small classes and extensive research opportunities available with faculty, the university provides students chances to develop a broad background in software development and other areas of Computer Science.
University of the District of Columbia, in the heart of the nation’s capitol, offers graduate degrees in Computer Science. The program places a strong emphasis on software design, research and entrepreneurial thinking, and encourages students to pursue their dreams no matter how big they may be. Graduates of the program have great success in securing employment, with over 85% of graduates accepting job offers within one semester after graduation.
University of Akron offers a Master of Science degree in Computer Science. Students need to complete 30 credit hours to graduate, and most students are able to complete the program in two years. The program is well-known for accommodating non-traditional students, offering classes on evenings and weekends to help those working professionals who are seeking additional education.
Duke University offers graduate degrees in Computer Science that are some of the best in the United States. Students in the program spend much of their time involved in research projects, particularly ones that involve the use of computers in medical technology. Examples of research projects currently being conducted include DNA-based computing, robotics, computerized vision technology and DNA nanoscience.
Air Force Institute of Technology’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management offers graduate degrees in Computer Science. The emphasis within the school is on developing computerized technology able to be used for defense purposes, both in field operations and in control centers. Many students also conduct research in the Center for Space Research and Assurance, helping to develop missile defense systems and other defense technologies.
Western Michigan University, a top 100 national research university, offers graduate degrees in Computer Science. The key component to the department is research, with faculty and students working together to find answers to compelling technological issues. Graduates of the program often go on to become researchers at major universities and companies throughout the world, taking the skills learned at WMU to help develop mutually beneficial relationships between businesses and universities.
University of Maryland offers a graduate program in Computer Science that’s ranked within the top ten nationwide, and in the top ten among public universities. A big selling point for the program is that most full-time students receive financial aid in the form of grants, fellowships and assistantships. Projects students are involved with include human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, computer vision and software development.
University of Missouri offers a graduate degree program in Computer Science that’s one of the fastest-growing in the country. With an emphasis on cyber-security, artificial intelligence, software development and more the school provides students with endless opportunities. Major research projects at the university are funded by government and corporate groups including Microsoft, Department of Energy, National Health Institute and Department of Defense.
Naval Postgraduate School offers graduate degrees in Computer Science. The degrees are considered to meet some of the highest possible academic standards, and are designed to address the most pressing defense and national security issues of the United States.
Boise State University offers graduate degrees in Computer Science. The department’s focus is on research, with the school being Idaho’s major research institution. The school is known for its Computer Science graduates being able to obtain employment very soon after graduation. Most students have multiple offers before graduating, and because Boise is home to hundreds of software companies students have a built-in recruitment network. Companies hiring Boise graduates include Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Keynetics and many others.
University of Chicago offers graduate degrees in Computer Science that have been at the forefront of education for many years. The school, always innovative in its thinking, offers programs for both full and part-time students. Full-time students can complete a degree in as little as nine months, while part-time students can finish in as few as 15 months. Graduates find employment with such firms as Google and IBM, sometimes taking classes with students already working for these companies.
University of Louisiana offers graduate programs in Computer Science and Engineering that provide students with endless opportunities for research. Students are given access to several research labs on campus, and maintain close working relationships with other research facilities in the area including the NASA Regional Application Center and the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise, better known as LITE.
Prairie View A&M University offers a Master of Science degree in Computer Science for interested students. The degree focuses on providing a combination of classroom work and research projects. Students conduct both independent and group projects in various areas of computer science including artificial intelligence, robotics and computer applications systems.
Wright State University offers graduate degrees in Computer Science that provide students with many opportunities both before and after graduation. The school recently broke ground on a neuroscience-engineering building that is expected to provide state-of-the-art technology to students conducting research in medical and other fields.
Illinois Institute of Technology offers students a Master of Science degree in Computer Science. The program requires 32 credit hours to complete, and is designed for working professionals as well as full-time students. Students can complete the degree through a combination of internet and live on-demand interactive television, allowing them to earn a degree without ever having to set foot on campus.
University of West Georgia, named by the Princeton Review as a Best Southeastern College, offers students graduate degrees in Computer Science. The programs can be completed online in as little as 24 months, requiring 36 credit hours for graduation. Students take a variety of classes and participate in two project experiences designed to give them practical experience in web technologies and software design.
Lehman College offers graduate degrees in Computer Science. A total of 36 credit hours is needed to graduate, and students are given opportunities to participate in research projects and internships to give them practical experience in the field. Working with faculty and other students, research projects are completed on such topics as programming languages, systems development and artificial intelligence.
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania offers a Master’s degree in Computer Science. Students from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds are enrolled in the program, making it one of the fastest-growing programs at the school. Students take a total of 30 credit hours and study a variety of topics including computer architecture and algorithms.
Loyola University Chicago offers students a Master of Science degree in Computer Science with options in Information Technology and Software Technology. The programs emphasize algorithms, which the department considers to be the key to success in all other sciences. Students participate in research projects involving algorithms as well as internships with corporations and organizations.
Loyola University Maryland, ranked as the second-best regional college in the Northern United States, offers students graduate degrees in Computer Science. A number of students and faculty are inducted into the UPE, the national computer science honor society. Students also get numerous opportunities to participate in research projects and internships, letting them gain experience in developing projects and translating that experience into the workplace.
New Jersey Institute of Technology offers Master’s and Ph.D. programs in Computer Science. Within the programs are various concentrations in such areas as Bioinformatics, Cyber Security, Software Engineering and more. Bioinformatics is a fast-growing field within computer science, combining biology with computer science to conduct biotechnological research.
Oakland University offers graduate degrees in Computer Science that can be completed on a part-time basis by working professionals. Both the Master’s and Ph.D. programs can be started on a part-time basis, but those pursuing a Doctoral degree will need to make a full-time commitment later in the program when they begin their dissertation research.
Indiana State University offers graduate degrees in Computer Science that lead students into exciting areas of research and employment. Through a combination of research projects and internships, students have chances to explore many areas of computer science including artificial intelligence, robotics and bioinformatics. Internships with many leading companies are available in the local area, letting students gain job experience and network with potential employers.
Johns Hopkins University offers graduate degrees in Computer Science that are among the most academically challenging in the country. Many classes, as well as a specialization in Bioinformatics, are offered completely online. Most programs are set up for part-time studies, enabling those who work during the day opportunities to take classes in the evenings or online.
Emory University, a leading research institution, offers students graduate degrees in Computer Science. Offering Master’s and Ph.D. programs, the department lets students concentrate in such areas as Biostatistics, Computational Science and Informatics. Students in all programs are required to complete a project option in the form of a report or documented software, any of which will be made publicly available.
San Jose State University, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, offers students a Master of Science degree in Computer Science. Because most of the department’s students are from local high-tech companies, the degree programs are available in the evenings and weekends to accommodate work and family responsibilities.
University of Wyoming offers graduate degrees in Computer Science that are taught by experienced and award-winning faculty. The school’s Computer Science department offers students exciting research projects, individualized attention and the latest in technology to give them the necessary skills to enter the workforce or pursue advanced research studies.
University of New Mexico is the flagship institution of the state, and offers students advanced degrees in Computer Science that prepare them for the challenges of the new century. Using classes in web technology, systems applications, software design and more students are able to take their talents to the next level. Projects involving programming languages and robotics let students learn how to provide solutions to today’s problems.
Roosevelt University offers a Master of Science degree in Computer Science that’s ranked high on many lists of the best programs in the country. Known for its Career Services Center, the school is very good at helping Computer Science graduates find employment shortly after graduation through career fairs, networking and cooperative education.
Webster University offers graduate degrees in Computer Science for its students. Using small classes and individual attention, students gain the necessary skills to make them attractive to employers. Webster uses state-of-the-art technology and ever-changing curriculums adapted to today’s business climate to provide students with the most up-to-date training available at any school.
Citadel Military College of South Carolina, ranked as the top public university in the South offering up to a Master’s degree, provides students a world-class education from a military perspective. Offering a Master of Science in Computer Science, the school offers students the chance to study such topics as information systems policies, ethics in information systems technology and foundations of software engineering.
Ohio University offers graduate programs in Computer Science taught by award-winning faculty. A total of 23 Pulitzer Prizes have been awarded to faculty and alumni, and its graduate programs are consistently ranked in the top 30 nationally. Students in the Computer Science program have opportunities to work on research projects like the NanoBio Technology Initiative and Structure of the Universe project, allowing them the chance to contribute to major scientific studies.