Finding the best undergraduate computer science colleges to meet your financial, educational, and professional goals is not easy. So we’re here to help. We selected the following Top 10 Bachelor in Computer Science Degree Programs to ensure your time pursuing a top computer science program is aligned with your professional and personal aspirations.
To begin our selection process, we chose only schools highly regarded by authorities on careers, education, and government. Then we considered how each degree ranked in terms of quality of academics, reputation, cost, time investment, and retention rates. Then we incorporated how each school was accredited by regional and national accrediting bodies. We also deferred to rankings from establishments like the U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, and others. Finally, we referred to the National Center for Education Statistics for the most recent data on enrollment, tuition, mission, values, and other details regarding each institution. Then we focused on the big issues all students must face: financial aid, internship and work experience opportunities, and availability of specializations/concentrations. That brought us the best computer science programs in the US.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Undergraduate Computer Science Schools
We did all of this to ensure only the best computer science schools in the world made our list for the following top 10 schools for computer science:
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Historic Cambridge, Massachusetts is home to one of the world’s most highly regarded campuses: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
This private, 168-acre campus was established in 1861 with the mission to advance knowledge and serve national and global communities in science, technology, and other areas of education. MIT’s School of Engineering is ranked the Best Global University in the World according to the QS World University Rankings and the Academic Ranking of World Universities. Additionally, the U.S. World and News Report’s #1 Rated Best Undergraduate Engineering Program in Computer Science because it stands out for both theory and practice.
The Bachelor in Computer Science program provides fundamental and advanced knowledge of computer systems, programming, discrete mathematics, artificial intelligence, and computer science to give students a secure understanding of computer science concepts and technology. This program not only covers the essential background knowledge of computer science but also includes the MIT General Institute Requirements that instill broad education in social, physical, and natural sciences as well as art and humanities.
Students at MIT learn how to engage and apply computer science concepts and General Institute Requirement theories within hands-on experiences and activities within integrated environments and undergraduate projects.
Additionally, students may specialize in training upon completion of general studies to refine their skills, education, and experience as they advance to higher degrees. This and all programs offered by MIT’s School of Engineering are accredited by the Accreditation Board For Engineering and Technology.
Tuition: $46,704 per year
2. Harvard University
Harvard University is of the most well-known, prestigious Ivy League colleges in the northeast located in historic Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since 1636, its 5,076-acre campus has been influencing the world’s greatest minds of all time with its dedication to truth, culture, research, academics, and knowledge. The University’s library is not only the oldest within the U.S., but the largest private collection in the entire world.
Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences confers bachelor degree programs in computer science based not only on history but the leading the frontier of the field not only developing but also using innovative technology and tools. The computer science programs at Harvard cover more than just the basics like theory, graphics, programming, software, artificial intelligence, parallel and distributed networks but also the study of information itself.
Students acquire refined methodical thinking and problem skills while testing their research and applying their knowledge from interrelated fields like biology, medicine, business, electrical engineering, chemistry, and physics. All computer science (and other programs) at Harvard require students to participate in hands-on, “immersive” experiences based upon their area of interest.
Students may also elect to specialize studies in computer science as a secondary field if pursuing a degree within a different major. As the leading worldwide #1 ranked institution by The World Reputation Rankings, The University Ranking By Academic Report, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities, as well as the #2 National School by the U.S. News and World Report and Princeton Review’s “Dream College”, Harvard is our top choice for more than just computer science.
Tuition: $45,278 per year
3. California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is better known as Caltech for one reason: a 125-year tradition of leading the frontier of science, engineering, and technology. Located in Pasadena, California on a 124-acre campus, Caltech is a private, doctorate-granting, research university known best for its mission to expand knowledge and improve society for all. As Students must have strong academics to even be considered for the rigorous programs within its Computing + Mathematical Sciences program.
Caltech not only offers computer science as a major but also a minor. Both options require students to understand the complex interworkings of the field with courses including programming principles, distributed systems, networking, graphics, robotics, machine learning, databases, and algorithms. Students may participate in the Meeting of the Minds event, SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships) program, and a capstone project to gain research opportunities and real-world, hands-on experiences.
All programs available at Caltech are accredited by the American Association of Universities ensuring excellence in both its research and education programs. Listed as Payscale’s #1 Best Value Private College, the Princeton Review’s first choice among Colleges That Pay You Back Without Aid, the U.S. News and World Report’s #7 Best Global Universities, and Times Higher Education’s #2 Engineering and Technology subject ranking, Caltech is often the first choice for many as they complete undergraduate studies in computer science.
Tuition: $45,309 per year
4. Stanford University
Officially known as Leland Stanford Junior University, the 8,1880 acre private and most prestigious Stanford University in California is one of the leading research facilities worldwide. For 125 years, Stanford has offered degrees based upon its longstanding history as pioneers committed to excellence, freedom, and research.
With a dedication to “qualify students for personal success and direct usefulness in life and promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization,” Stanford’s interdisciplinary approach, scholarship, and entrepreneurship continue to educate tomorrow’s leaders. As Forbes’ #1 choice in America’s Best Colleges, MONEY’s Best Value #1 Best College, US News, and World Report’s #4th Best National College, Princeton Review’s #1 “Dream” College and the Times Higher Education’s #3 ranked Best Reputation Ranking out of 1,700 other schools in the world, Stanford is one of the best places to get an undergraduate degree in Computer Science. After all, US News and World Report has included this school as its #2 choice among its Best Undergraduate Engineering in Computer Science Programs list.
Students within Stanford’s computer science programs have the unique opportunity to learn within both general and specialized studies combining engineering, science, math, medicine, and the humanities. Students can conform their degree to suit not only their interests but also their aspirations by completing 2-4 electives in addition to their computer science track.
Tuition: $46,320 per year
5. Princeton University
Founded in 1746, Princeton University is the fourth oldest college within the U.S. located on a 600-acre campus in the heart of Princeton, New Jersey just miles from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New York City. As a private Ivy League institution, its mission to pair major research with liberal arts within a student-centered intellectual environment is unique, flexible, and focused. With a dynamic computational thinking emphasis, the computer science bachelor degree programs at Princeton give students access to a well-rounded, interdisciplinary education based on independent study and lectures. Student-initiated seminars provide a display of theoretical knowledge while gaining hands-on experience. Courses cover general foundations like functional programming, algorithms and data structure, operating systems, computer architecture and organization, and theory of computation as well as advanced topics like distributed systems, artificial intelligence, advanced computer graphics, information security, advanced computer networks, automated reasoning about software, and advanced algorithm design.
Listed as #1 in Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges ranking, #1 National University and #1 Best Undergraduate Teaching by the U.S. News and World Report, #5 in Academic Ranking of World Universities, and Kiplinger’s #3 choice out of the 100 Best Values in Private Colleges, Princeton is highly lauded among the best universities in the world.
Tuition: $43,450 per year
6. University of California, Berkeley
Since 1868, the University of California, Berkeley has been awarding degrees from its 1, 232-acre campus in Berkeley, California. As the oldest of ten campuses making up the University of California higher education system, its founding mission to “contribute even more than California’s gold to the glory and happiness of advancing generations” holds true today. As a world-class research facility, Cal (as the University of California, Berkeley is commonly named) instills educational democracy, leadership, and choice to all of its students by encouraging them to create their academic and personal paths.
The unique atmosphere at Cal Berkely allows for undergrads to participate in research even as soon as freshman year through the Big Ideas Initiative and Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program. All students may declare double or even triple majors. Those seeking a bachelor degree in computer science have two options either to complete their studies through the competitive College of Engineering and Computer Sciences for their engineering specific Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science or gain a solid sciences and arts foundation through the College of Letters and Science for their Bachelor of Arts Degree in Computer Science. Computer science programs within both degree options at Cal include courses like the theory of computation, operating systems, compilers, architecture and logic design of computers, programming languages, artificial intelligence, databases, scientific computation. All courses are geared toward giving students the skills needed to qualify as expert leaders and researchers in the technical industry. Cal is emerging as a world leader among universities. As 13th on Times Higher Education World University Academic Rankings and 6th for the Times Higher Education World University Reputation Ranking, as well as 3rd in Best Global University Rankings and #1 as Best Public School by the U.S. News and World Report, Berkeley is a great choice for tomorrow’s computer science professionals.
Tuition: $13,432 in-state, $38,140 out-of-state
7. Columbia University
Columbia University was founded in 1754 as one of the oldest private institutions of higher learning. Columbia’s proven legacy as the fifth oldest university within the U.S. instills social responsibility, entrepreneurship, leadership, and innovation to all of its students.
The founding mission to provide a liberal arts-based interdisciplinary education with solid fundamentals in art, science, music, literature, history, and philosophy is still true today. The small Morningside Heights Manhattan-based campus is just 36 acres but houses three undergraduate schools, the Butler Library, several housing and learning facilities, and historic landmarks.
All degree programs at Columbia require internships, civic engagement, and broadly integrated curriculums. The undergraduate Bachelor Degree Programs in Computer Science available through the FU Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences blends theoretical as well applied development of core concepts with upper-level specialized knowledge. General courses include programming languages, mathematics, operating systems, and computer architecture while upper-level courses include computational complexity, analysis of algorithms, combinatorial methods, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, mathematical models for computation, programming environments, and optimization. Computer science majors may pursue a second major in addition to their studies. In comparison to other universities both nationally and worldwide, Columbia ranks in 4th place on the U.S. News and World Report’s Best National universities, 8th globally by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, and 15th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
Tuition: $51,008 per year
8. Carnegie Mellon University
When Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Technical Schools on a 148-acre campus within Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he had one mission: to instill in others “to put their heart in [their] work.”. Since 1900, the school quickly grew to become one of the “New Ivies” of the 21st century due to its commitment to global research, award-wining faculty, and innovation.
Carnegie Mellon was one of the very first institutions to establish a department of technology now known as the School of Computer Science. The University offers a diverse number of interdisciplinary approach degree options to its undergraduate computer science majors including its Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology Network (IDEATE) program Students may blend computer science and the arts, computational biology, and music and technology or pursue the additional option of double majoring depending upon where individual interests lie. Courses for the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree option require students to minor within a second subject ensuring a well-rounded educational background guaranteed to meet the changing and challenging demands of a career in technology.
Listed as #10 on the Times Higher Education Worldwide University Rankings, the #11 Most Innovative University by the U.S. News and World Report, and #5 in the QS World University Rankings, Carnegie Mellon is a member of the elite Association of American Universities, the World Economic Forum Global Universities Leaders Forum, and Accreditation Board For Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Tuition: $50,410 per year
9. Cornell University
Cornell University was founded in Ithaca, New York by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White in 1865. Its mission was to teach a range of disciplines where “any person can find instruction in any study.” And that it does. From its private Ivy League, 745-acre campus roots sprung seven undergraduate colleges, seven graduate colleges, a cooperative extension throughout every county within New York State, the 4,300 acre Cornell Plantations, a pair of satellite medical campuses, and much, much more. Cornell is a land, sea, sun, and space grant institution. Considered by many as “the first American university,” Cornell blends a world-class faculty, vigorous academics, scholarship, and public service in all of its courses and programs.
The Computer Science degree available at Cornell features core courses in programming languages, algorithms, logic, data structure, and systems with electives in advanced fields like scientific computing, cryptography, computer graphics, networks, databases, and artificial intelligence. Additionally, Cornell computer science students must choose a vector or “streamlined” group of four courses to augment knowledge within computer science or a different minor. Vector choices include Renaissance, Artificial Intelligence: Human-Language Technologies Track, Artificial Intelligence: Machine Learning Track, Computational Science and Engineering, Graphics, Network Science, Programming Languages, Software Engineering, Systems/Databases: Operating Systems Track, Systems/Databases: Security and Trustworthy Systems Track, Systems/Databases: Data-Intensive Computing Track, or Theory. Recognized as 13th in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, 21st by the U.S. World and News Report’s Best Global Universities, and 10th for Best Engineering Programs in Computer Science, Cornell is highly regarded nationally and worldwide. All programs at Cornell are accredited by the Middles States Commission on Higher Education with the additional program-specific accreditation by ABET.
Tuition: $49,116 per year
10. Georgia Institute of Technology
Within the heart of Atlanta, Georgia is the 400-acre urban campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Since its founding in 1886, this public school has grown from its 84 student humble beginnings as a trade school to the six colleges, an internationally acclaimed institution it is today. Its top-rated College of Computing confers the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science or the Bachelor of Science in Computational Media with the option of specializing studies within 8 options or “Threads.” Courses explore foundational knowledge based on generalist concepts of computational theory as well as specialized Threads within theory, devices, info internetworks, intelligence, media, modeling and simulation, people and systems, and architecture.
Ranked as the #7th Top Public University and #6 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs in Computer Science by the U.S. News and World Report and among the top 50 Global Universities by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Georgia Technical Institute is rapidly emerging as a world-class technological leader in public education.
Tuition: $12,204 in-state, $32,396 out-of-state
Why Get a Bachelor’s in Computer Science?
Now that you’ve seen the top computer science undergraduate schools, where do you go? Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, creating the need for trained professionals of all educational backgrounds and skill levels. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts a faster than average growth of 13 % from 2020 until 2030 in computer and information technology.
This means that students interested in pursuing a degree in the field of computer science have the opportunity to earn higher than average salaries once they gain employment. Completing a bachelor degree in computer science from one of the top undergraduate computer science schools is often the best first step to getting there. Even if you can’t get into the best school for computer science, there’s a lot you can do.
You can learn about information systems, cybersecurity, data science, web development, software development, and other in-demand skills at a state university just as well as you can at Duke University or Yale University. Some other great public schools include the University of California, San Diego, the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the University of Washington. If you want to go international, try Hong Kong or the United Kingdom.