Navigating the Maze: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Computer Science Schools

September 19, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Navigating the Maze: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Computer Science Schools

Computer science has become the cornerstone of innovation and progress in a world increasingly driven by technology. As you stand on the precipice of your academic journey, you’re likely grappling with many choices, each promising a different path to success.

But among these choices, one stands out as particularly crucial: selecting the right institution for your computer science education. In this article, we’ll delve into the myriad factors that should influence your decision, from accreditation and curriculum to faculty expertise and extracurricular opportunities.

We’ll also explore the weight of a school’s reputation, the richness of its course offerings, and the vibrancy of its student life. By the end of this comprehensive guide, you’ll understand what the best computer science schools offer and be well-informed.

Why is choosing the right computer science school a life-altering decision?

Choosing the right computer science school cannot be overstated. It’s not just about the next four years; it’s about setting the trajectory for the rest of your professional life.

These institutions don’t just teach you how to code; they teach you how to think, solve complex problems, and adapt to an ever-changing technological landscape.

The faculty you’ll learn from, the peers you’ll collaborate with, and the alum network you’ll join are all integral parts of your educational experience.

Each of these elements contributes to your personal and professional growth, shaping you into a well-rounded individual capable of tackling the challenges of the real world.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Degree In Computer Science?

How long does it take to get a degree in computer science? Typically, roughly 60 credits are needed for students to graduate with an associate’s degree in the subject.

They can do this online, at a college or university nearby, at a community college or technical school, or both. While students who choose part-time enrollment can finish their degree in as little as two and a half years and as long as five to six years, those who enroll full-time can complete a program in as little as two years.

Computer science BS programs typically emphasize a practical, scientific approach to the subject and demand that students complete more credits related to their major.

On the other hand, BA programs often call for fewer credits that are specifically related to the computer science major. Students can anticipate obtaining a broader education in computer science while earning credits in a wide range of liberal arts disciplines, such as the humanities, English, social sciences, and foreign languages.

Unidentified person typing in a desk.

Institutions provide students with various enrollment alternatives to meet their needs, including on-campus, online, and hybrid programs that help them enter the industry more rapidly.

For most programs in the best computer science schools and other institutions with CS degrees, full-time study lasts four years, whereas part-time study takes five to six years to get a bachelor’s degree. Accelerated programs in the field typically last two years and work on a faster track to degree completion.

What Do You Need For A Computer Science Degree?

Suppose you wonder, “What do you need for a computer science degree?” depending on the university. In that case, different requirements may apply in the best computer science schools or other institutions in the US.

Applicants to computer science bachelor’s degree programs in the US must show proof of their high school diploma (or equivalent), an acceptable GPA, and English language ability (for non-native English speakers). The university you intend to attend may have additional prerequisites.

Typing in a desk using a laptop.

A four-year bachelor’s degree in computer science is required for students who want to enroll in a master’s program in computer science in the United States (or related fields). Universities will require non-native speakers to provide TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores as evidence of their English language competency. Additionally, GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) scores and letters of recommendation must be submitted by applicants.

Application Method

You must check with the universities you intend to apply to before applying. These institutions choose students based on their academic performance, test results (TOEFL, SAT, or ACT), and GRE scores (if you apply to graduate schools). At least 18 months before your studies, you should start the application procedure for studying computer science in the United States.

Young woman talking to someone while looking at a laptop.

Your preferred university’s admissions office will provide details on its academic programs and application materials.

On occasion, application forms are also accessible online. You should be aware that you must pay an application cost ranging from $35 to $100.

You will often need to provide the following application materials:

  • Academic records from high school and university.
  • Test results (SAT, ACT, GRE).
  • Evidence of English language ability (TOEFL or IELTS).
  • A letter of motivation or a statement of intent.
  • Curriculum vitae or a resume
  • A referral letter
  • A sample of writing
  • Evidence of payment of the application fee

Typical Coursework for Computer Science Majors

Calculus is necessary for computer science majors, and linear algebra and statistics are other pertinent math topics. Algorithm design, computer architecture, and abstract data types are some subjects covered in introductory computer science courses.

After establishing a solid foundation in their field, students can advance to more challenging courses covering data visualization, neural networks, and cryptography.

Students may pursue either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in computer science at several institutions, preferably in the best computer science schools in the US.

Young woman using a laptop while sitting.

The BA has fewer prerequisite requirements and can be more appropriate for individuals pursuing a different career after graduation.

In many degree programs, students can combine computer science with other fields like architecture, electrical engineering, or molecular biology. Students interested in research can look for opportunities to engage with professors, create their projects, and investigate pertinent coursework.

What Schools Have the Best Computer Science Programs In the US?

Since we already discussed the requirements for a Computer Science degree, let’s find out what schools have the best computer science programs in the US.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)

US News and World Report,, and QS’s Top University Ranking all agreed that MIT’s computer science program is the best in the world. Being the top among the best computer science schools is also not surprising.

Students arrive at MIT under the umbrella of computer science but soon will find themselves engaged in a vast and intriguing cornucopia of study areas.

MIT is a location where the bright and interested can apply their understanding of computer science to a wide range of ground-breaking research initiatives, whether they involve artificial intelligence and healthcare, instructional technology, encryption, or something else. MIT is the most popular location for computer science professors nationwide, where they often earn their degrees.

One can find MIT grads at academic institutions and organizations changing the world.

About 173 MIT computer science graduates were employed by Google, 36 by Microsoft, and 23 by Facebook in the most recent few years. The giant tech corporations worldwide frequently send hiring representatives to MIT. As a result, it merits the title of the nation’s most innovative computer science school.

Stanford College (Stanford, CA)

Few places could be more ideal for a computer science major than the lovely city of Palo Alto, California. Stanford is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, and as a result, many Stanford graduates not only started these top CS firms but also have the option to work for them.

All of these companies—Netflix, Google, WhatsApp, and YouTube—were founded by Stanford alums. Stanford may be the only university in the world around which the whole field of computer science revolves.

Stanford’s ground-breaking CURIS program, a collection of research internships that students can enroll in for the summer, the academic year, or both, allows students to do research.

Students from this program will probably continue to influence the future of computer science and the world because Stanford undergraduates are conducting such high-quality research.

Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)

Like Carnegie Mellon, few colleges have maintained a top 5 ranking for the best computer science schools. This curriculum is extensive, esteemed, and cutting-edge, with nine undergraduate majors.

By choosing an “additional major,” students can set themselves apart from their peers and delve further into their areas of interest. Students may choose to major in this subject after completing the requirements for their initial major.

Although Carnegie Mellon lists multiple specializations and excels in all branches of computer science, it is incredibly excellent in artificial intelligence. It is uncommon to find a ranking in this field that does not name Carnegie Mellon’s artificial intelligence program as the nation’s best AI program.

California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA)

CalTech has one of the nation’s most competitive admissions requirements for any technical university. This is true for a good reason—CalTech has rigorous academic standards and intelligent brains. This stringent admissions procedure results in a small class size of exceptionally bright undergraduates.

According to CalTech, there are typically 235–240 undergraduate students in each class. This somewhat small class was chosen from a group of about 8,000 applicants. Due to this, the computer science major will probably consist of a small group of carefully picked undergraduates with a severe aptitude for the subject.

The curriculum at CalTech places a lot of emphasis on giving students opportunities to interact with the greater field of computer science. This is demonstrated by their CMS-EE program, a unique outreach initiative that entices industry pioneers to stop by CalTech.

Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)

The only program at the university that allows students to choose between earning an AB or a BSE in computer science is the one at Princeton.

The computer science department at Princeton wants every student to take at least one computer science course, and this flexibility and accessibility are vital components of that goal.

Princeton’s vital computer science research is enormous, with three pages of research projects listed on its website. It is safe to claim that practically every Princeton computer science professor with whom a student may take a course is actively working to advance our knowledge of the field.

Additionally, Princeton students frequently comment on how interesting and instructive the CS program’s classes are. This shouldn’t be shocking, considering that Princeton was rated third in the country for the caliber of its undergraduate instruction.

Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)

US News and World Report recognized the Georgia Institute of Technology as the 10th best public university overall and the 4th most innovative university in the nation. The computer science program is where this innovation is most evident. For instance, Georgia Tech computer science students select a “thread” rather than concentrations.

These several strands represent a crucial tenet of computer science. Devices, information networks, intelligence, theory, and other topics have threads. Depending on what they plan to produce, each student will need to determine which line is ideal for them.

Devices? Structures and systems? Otherwise? Students can produce precisely what they aimed to make when they initially set out to get a computer science degree thanks to this cutting-edge teaching methodology, transforming the face of computer science education.

Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)

Most computer science academics in the country obtained their degrees from Harvard after MIT. As a result, Harvard is at the forefront of both commercial and academic research into the art of computer science.

The first year of the computer science program at Harvard is dedicated to exploration. Students will be free to explore the complete range of computer science topics before selecting a specialization, except for courses that prepare them mathematically.

The opportunity to cross-register for classes at the adjacent Massachusetts Institute of Technology is relevant to this investigation. As a result, Harvard provides its students with not just one but two of the most significant computer science programs in the world.

Following exploration, students can select from various concentrations, including Harvard’s distinctive Mind, Brain, and Behavior program, which examines cognition and neuroscience from the computing perspective.

Yale University (New Haven, CT)

The general math department was the original home of the Yale Computer Science program. It was started by Alan Perlis, the first Turing Award winner in history, who also served as the CS chair. Since then, many ground-breaking computer scientists have graced their faculty pages, and Yale has become one of the best computer science schools.

Yale currently has 6 Association for Computing Machinery fellows, a privilege exclusively granted to the top 1% of ACM members. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that there is a massive demand for Yale graduates with a computer science degree. Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon were all among the top 10 firms last year that sought out Yale computer science graduates.

All of these opportunities are strengthened by Yale’s dedication to promoting academic exploration, which enables students to experiment with various coursework in many departments without negatively impacting their progress toward completing their major.

Duke University (Durham, NC)

At Duke University, there is a robust infrastructure for conducting research. These take the shape of 10-week summer internship programs dubbed CS+, Code+, and Data+.

The Bass Connections program is among Duke’s Department of Computer Science’s unique programs. This program allows students to participate in research projects, classes, and summer programs to address societal challenges in an interdisciplinary team of graduate and undergraduate students. As a result, Duke CS students have several opportunities to experience the use of their work in the real world.

Because Duke consistently ranks in the top 9 in the world finals of the International Collegiate Programming Contest, creative minds are guaranteed to surround CS students at Duke.

Columbia University (New York, NY)

Columbia University, located in the center of New York City, provides a fantastic computer science curriculum. Few cities have a breadth of amenities as broad as NYC.

The computer science department at Columbia University has an apparent concentration on research, which the university argues sets it apart from other best computer science schools.

At Columbia, most computer science undergrads will work with professors on research projects in their junior and senior years, which is unusual for many CS departments.

The opportunity to undertake this research at Columbia is especially beneficial because Columbia professors collaborate with companies like Bell Labs, IBM, Lucent, and Microsoft. Bjarne Stroustrup, the man behind C++, has recently been a professor at Columbia. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do research with such scholars is available.

What Kind Of Jobs Do You Get With A Computer Science Degree?

What kind of jobs do you get with a computer science degree? Computer science is a broad, ever-expanding discipline with various sub-disciplines and applications that touch almost every sector.

Computer science is the study of computer technology, primarily focusing on software systems, though there is considerable emphasis on hardware.

Students working on something while in the classroom.

The full range of sub-disciplines included in the field, including networking, data systems, game development, telecommunications, artificial intelligence, robotics, simulation and modeling, statistics, cryptography, computational physics, and chemistry, are not adequately covered by that definition; the majority of which are full-fledged specialized disciplines in and of themselves.

As you might expect, computer science plays a significant role in every sector, business, and activity as the world becomes more dependent on technology.

Since there are so many different job specialization options within the discipline, there is a massive demand for computer science students. As a result, undergraduate computer science degrees are available practically anywhere in the US, with more stringent specialization occurring at the graduate level.

This guarantees that international students studying computer science in the US can tailor their college experience to meet their specific wants and needs, with programs offered at the best locations, the best prices, and more.

If studying computer science piqued your interest, you should consider attending one of the best computer science schools in the US. If you still have difficulty assessing your options, AdmissionSight is one call away. You may reach out for an initial consultation to discuss with AdmissionSight experts your college admissions strategies and how to start your application.


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