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Best Computer Science Schools in the United States

Interested in studying Computer Science, but not sure where? Keep reading to learn about some of the U.S.'s top CS programs—by Simplify!

Michael Yan
Published: (Updated: ) - 6 min read

Photo by Clément Hélardot / Unsplash

Computer Science is quickly becoming one of the most popular college degrees earned by college students in the U.S., and for good reason—since it prepares students for such a diverse set of career paths, Indeed estimates the average first-year salary of computer science majors to be over $106k out of school. Whether you want to be a software engineer, a mobile application developer, or work in academia, the first step of your career is earning your degree—here are some of the universities with the best computer science programs.

T-1.   Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Often regarded as the best in the world due to its academic rigor and world-famous professors, MIT's Computer Science program has produced a plethora of engineers who have gone on to define the way we interact with technology today (Founders of Dropbox, Akamai, Instabase, etc.).

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT boasts an acceptance rate of 7%, with more than 11,000 students currently enrolled. The program's curriculum emphasizes hands-on experience in handling analytical issues and modeling techniques, and often combines C.S. courses with those from other departments (Economics, Biology, etc.). This ensures that MIT students are prepared for various jobs, ranging from video game design to quantitative finance.

MIT's website describes their CS program as follows:

Computer science at MIT deals with the theory and practice of algorithms, from idealized mathematical procedures to the computer systems deployed by major tech companies to answer billions of user requests per day.
Primary subareas of this field include: theory, which uses rigorous math to test algorithms’ applicability to certain problems; systems, which develops the underlying hardware and software upon which applications can be implemented; and human-computer interaction, which studies how to make computer systems more effectively meet the needs of real people. The products of all three subareas are applied across science, engineering, medicine, and the social sciences.

In essence, computer science drives interdisciplinary collaboration both across MIT and beyond, helping users address the critical societal problems of our era, including opportunity access, climate change, disease, inequality and polarization.

With an MIT degree, there's practically no tech company you can't break into!

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Wondering how you can get involved with MIT's C.S. program in high school? Check out LaunchX and RSI—two of MIT's flagship, high-school targeted programs!

T-1.   Carnegie Mellon University

The SCS (School of Computer Science) at Carnegie Mellon University is well-known—in fact, it ranks #1 in Pennsylvania and is among the country's top 5% undergrad colleges offering Computer Science degrees. With a 22% acceptance rate, the entry conditions are rather competitive, and more so for its Computer Science program.

Carnegie Mellon's undergraduate major in computer science combines a solid core of computer science courses with the ability to gain substantial depth in another area through a required minor in a second subject. The curriculum also gives you numerous choices for science and humanities courses.

Computing is a discipline with strong links to many fields, and CMU's program gives you unparalleled flexibility to pursue these fields. The mathematics and probability components ensures that you'll have the formal tools to remain current as technologies and systems change, but at the same time you'll gain insight into the practical issues of building and maintaining systems by participating in intensive project-oriented courses.

Unlike other universities, where research rarely occurs at the undergraduate level, CMU CS students often have part-time or summer jobs — or receive independent study credit — working on research while pursuing their bachelor's degree. If you're interested in a research/graduate school career, we offer an intensive course of research, equivalent to four classroom courses, culminating in the preparation of a senior research honors thesis.

CMU's prestige is reflected in employment data—C.S. grads at CMU earn a median income of $138,900, which is more than the average salary for all recipients of a Bachelor's degree in this field of study ($68,600).

T-1.   Stanford University

Stanford University is among the most reputable universities in the United States and is located in the suburbs of Stanford, California. Established in 1965, the Computer Science Department at Stanford is regarded as one of the best undergraduate programs in the world.

At Stanford, the mission of the undergraduate program in Computer Science is to develop students' breadth of knowledge across the subject areas of computer science, including their ability to apply the defining processes of computer science theory, abstraction, design, and implementation to solve problems in the discipline.

After learning the essential programming techniques and the mathematical foundations of computer science, students take courses in areas such as programming techniques, automata and complexity theory, systems programming, computer architecture, analysis of algorithms, artificial intelligence, and applications.

Much like MIT's curriculum, Stanford's CS program prepares students for careers outside traditional engineering roles, with many working in government, law, and the corporate sector, or pursuing graduate study.

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Stanford offers a variety of programs for high school students. Check them out here!

T-1.   University of California Berkeley

Like MIT, the University of California-Berkley provides a Computer Science program called Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). There are few names that can rival Berkley in instructional research or computer science programs.

Established in 1968, this institution is one of the oldest research facilities. Its computer science program is well-known as it has produced notable industry names like Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple.

Berkeley emphasizes the science of computer science, which means much more than just computer programming. It includes the theory of computation, the design and analysis of algorithms, the architecture and logic design of computers, programming languages, compilers, operating systems, scientific computation, computer graphics, databases, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing. Our goal is to prepare students both for a possible research career and long-term technical leadership in industry. We must therefore look beyond today's technology and give students the primary ideas and the learning skills that will prepare them to teach themselves about tomorrow's technology.

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The most current data shows that approximately 897 students graduated with a Computer Science degree from U.C. Berkeley and are likely to earn a median salary of $80,000. 

5.   Georgia Institute of Technology

Upon examining the C.S. department's website at GT, you'll find the following:

Computer science is the base for countless industries and disciplines. Today’s employers need graduates with both a solid foundation in the principles of computer science and specialized computing skills and backgrounds — individuals with a generalist’s knowledge, but an expert’s eye for innovation and problem-solving.  

It only makes sense that computer science education reflects this reality. The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) program at the Georgia Tech College of Computing prepares students to leave school with the tools needed to become innovators and global leaders in computing.

Even more exciting is the Threads that Georgia Tech's C.S. degrees offer.

Traditionally, computer science students traverse two years of skill and knowledge development before they apply what they are learning to their own goals and career trajectory. With Threads, the revolutionary CS curriculum developed by the College of Computing, students combine regular computer science instruction with classes related to particular areas of application.

Thanks to the opportunities presented by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities in Computing (UROC) program, students can connect to potential employers through job fairs. The spring research forums also allow students to showcase their research and earn cash prizes.

It is worth noting that statistics show the average starting salary of a Computer Science graduate from Georgia Tech is $101,000!

6.   California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech)

Based in Pasadena, California, the California Institute of Technology, better known as Cal Tech, is a reputed private institution with a renowned Computing + Mathematical Sciences (CMS) Department. The institute offers a Computer Science degree, regarded as among the best in the U.S. In fact, CalTech now holds the 6th position in the U.S. for top institutions offering computer science by Forbes.

According to their website, the undergraduate option in applied and computational mathematics within the Computing & Mathematical Sciences department seeks to address the interests of those students who want to combine their basic studies in mathematics with considerable involvement in applications.

This program is designed to give students a thorough training in fundamental computational and applied mathematics and to develop their research ability in a specific application field. The fields of application include a wide range of areas such as fluid mechanics, materials science, and mathematical biology, engineering applications, image processing, and mathematical finance.

The training essential for future careers in applied mathematics in academia, national laboratories, or in industry is provided, especially when combined with graduate work, by successful completion of the requirements for an undergraduate degree in applied and computational mathematics.

Conclusion

As technology continues to advance rapidly, the demand for trained professionals in the field of computer science rises. In fact, reports show that the industry is expected to grow 13% between 2020 and 2030. This means that those pursuing an undergrad degree in computer science are set to earn more than the average salary of $8,600.

The colleges listed above have a proven track record of providing hands-on and intuitive computer science programs to prepare their students for successful computer science careers and internship opportunities in academia and research, and so, if you're looking to study CS in school, consider the list above!

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Looking for entry-level coding internships? Check out some of our lists here!