Best Online Masters in Computer Science Degrees for 2023

Master’s Degree in Computer Science Career Options & Salary

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These days, it seems as though computer technology runs our lives. There are few aspects of daily life not affected by tech or that don't include some online interaction that needs computer security, and it is those with proficiency in computer science (CS) who increase technological innovation with artificial intelligence neural networks and machine learning and keep current systems up and running with solid cyber security and secure systems for companies and governments. While good computer science careers are available for bachelor’s degree holders looking to become computer science professionals, computer science graduate degrees open up an even stronger career path in occupations expected to grow exponentially, such as that of an information systems manager, project management and other management positions. Still, prospective students must consider what they want to accomplish with their master's computer science program before becoming computer science majors at this level, whether they plan to do so through online master's degree programs.

An online or traditional master’s in computer science is generally targeted toward prospective students already employed in this field. Though those seeking entrance into the technology industry may still find their applications accepted for graduate courses and graduate degrees if they meet the prerequisites or are able to take some necessary classes to earn those qualifications. In the latter case, you should make sure to contact the schools in which you are interested and ask for a list of all prerequisites so that you can make sure they are met or find out how to meet them. Core courses will not cover foundational coursework, but will, rather, expand on those prerequisites (such as data science, image processing, basic cyber security, etc.) and teach computer science graduate students about project management issues and higher-level coursework such as neural networks (pattern recognition and cognitive processing), machine learning, and more advanced ways to secure systems connected online against intrusion. Master's in computer science programs may also be completed through online degrees and online programs.



  • When it comes to completing a master’s in computer science program, there is no question that the pros outweigh the cons. In many situations, an employer may reimburse an employee for their tuition, or pay for it outright, making pursuing such graduate degrees a wise choice no matter the associated costs. And these costs can be lowered if you attend a local school or attend an online program.
  • Perhaps the biggest positive to earning graduate degrees is the higher salary degree holders command. This is especially true for computer science professionals. Not only does someone with an advanced degree generally earn more than a person without one, as stated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but this level of degree allows an individual to earn more certifications as well, and only takes two years to complete. This expands their job opportunities by allowing them to specialize or branch out their skill set, enhance their professional network, and provide greater professional experience and hands-on experience. A master’s degree usually offers specialization in a particular area, such as artificial intelligence and cognitive processing, rather than more general technology education. Another advantage is that, while the student is studying, they can apply what they are learning right away on the job.


  • The primary cons to earning a master’s computer science degree, rather than just a bachelor’s degree in computer science, revolve around the length of time it takes to earn this degree. If an employer is not paying for your tuition, there is also the question of cost. Even computer science online degrees will take up to two years to complete, and online master's in computer science education costs are similar to those for traditional education. In computer science, talented employees can learn on the job, and some may feel that gaining a master’s degree isn’t going to make a huge difference compared to their bachelor's degree. However, additional online master's education can assist employees in better handling more sophisticated, challenging aspects of computing.

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What are the Best Online Master of Science in Computer Science Programs?


Stanford University

  • Tuition
  • Net Price: $20,023
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 95%
  • Total Enrollment: 15,953
  • Undergrad Students: 6,366
  • Graduate Students: 9,587
  • Diplomas Awarded: 306
  • Grads Salary: $109,800
  • Student-to-faculty: 4:1
  • Stanford University

Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Tuition
  • Net Price: $17,410
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 91%
  • Total Enrollment: 39,771
  • Undergrad Students: 16,561
  • Graduate Students: 23,210
  • Diplomas Awarded: 1,818
  • Grads Salary: $88,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 19:1
  • Georgia Institute of Technology

Columbia University in the City of New York

  • Tuition
  • Net Price: $22,126
  • Retention Rate: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 96%
  • Total Enrollment: 30,135
  • Undergrad Students: 8,148
  • Graduate Students: 21,987
  • Diplomas Awarded: 779
  • Grads Salary: $86,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 6:1
  • Columbia University in the City of New York

Johns Hopkins University

  • Tuition
  • Net Price: $25,241
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 94%
  • Total Enrollment: 28,890
  • Undergrad Students: 6,331
  • Graduate Students: 22,559
  • Diplomas Awarded: 319
  • Grads Salary: $88,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 6:1
  • Johns Hopkins University

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Tuition
  • Net Price: $13,517
  • Retention Rate: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 86%
  • Total Enrollment: 52,679
  • Undergrad Students: 33,683
  • Graduate Students: 18,996
  • Diplomas Awarded: 384
  • Grads Salary: $78,700
  • Student-to-faculty: 20:1
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Vanderbilt University

  • Tuition
  • Net Price: $25,804
  • Retention Rate: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 93%
  • Total Enrollment: 13,537
  • Undergrad Students: 7,057
  • Graduate Students: 6,480
  • Diplomas Awarded: 27
  • Grads Salary: $83,700
  • Student-to-faculty: 8:1
  • Vanderbilt University

The University of Texas at Austin

  • Tuition
  • Net Price: $16,892
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Total Enrollment: 50,476
  • Undergrad Students: 40,048
  • Graduate Students: 10,428
  • Diplomas Awarded: 82
  • Grads Salary: $78,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • The University of Texas at Austin

Purdue University

  • Tuition
  • Net Price: $12,294
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • Total Enrollment: 46,655
  • Undergrad Students: 35,706
  • Graduate Students: 10,949
  • Diplomas Awarded: 58
  • Grads Salary: $77,300
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Purdue University

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

  • Tuition
  • Net Price: $14,600
  • Retention Rate: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Total Enrollment: 36,042
  • Undergrad Students: 26,150
  • Graduate Students: 9,892
  • Diplomas Awarded: 281
  • Grads Salary: $75,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • North Carolina State University at Raleigh

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

  • Tuition
  • Net Price: $17,729
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Total Enrollment: 52,017
  • Undergrad Students: 36,061
  • Graduate Students: 15,956
  • Diplomas Awarded: 68
  • Grads Salary: $75,300
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
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Overview of a Master's in Computer Science

What Computer Science Master’s Degrees are Available?

A computer science master’s degree may vary by a particular focus, or by the university. The majority of these degrees are Master of Science degrees. Available computer science degree programs include:

  • Master of Science (MS) in Computer Science:
    Any type of MS degree involves graduate level study in computer science. Most MS degrees require submission of a thesis by the student prior to graduation, but there are non-thesis degrees available in the computer sciences as well. The most popular concentration is in programming.
  • Master of Science (MS) in Information Technology:
    Rather than focus on programming, those pursuing this degree are more concerned with end user needs. The primary role is information processing, which involves problem solving and dealing with how IT works in various fields. An IT concentration is business-oriented and includes database and security management. Being a more general degree, these are often available through online learning or with online components.
  • Master of Software Development:
    This degree is focused on the development of new software. Even in a rapidly growing industry, software development stands out as one of the professions most in demand. By 2026, the number of workers needed in software development is expected to grow by 24%. Even so, there are far fewer MS degrees in software development offered than in other computing endeavors. Along with software development in particular, students earning this degree are prepared to enter development team management.

Admission Requirements to Enter a Masters Program

A bachelor’s degree in CS from an accredited college or university is required to enter a master’s computer science degree program. For the most part, that means a bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering. Those with a degree in a related field, such as mathematics or data science, may apply for graduate work in the computer sciences but must also have appropriate experience. Decisions are made on an individual basis and the specific criteria may vary by the institution. However, it's important for students wanting to earn their computer science degree online to note that online students admission requires the same things as traditional admission to a program.

Schools also usually require a copy of all transcripts (including online courses taken), Graduate Record Exam (GRE) results, a resume or curriculum vitae, professional references, and perhaps a personal statement outlining the student’s career goals and objectives. Applicants should have a strong working knowledge of procedural and non-procedural programming languages, as well as experience in computer architecture, operating systems, data structures, and other computer science components.

How long does it take to earn a Master’s Degree in Computer Science?

You should expect to spend at least two years earnings a master’s degree in computer science if enrolled in a full-time program. If attending school part-time, it may take between three and five years to earn the degree.

You might find an accelerated computer science degree program, or a program offering a combination bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer science. Some accelerated programs allow completion of a degree within one year to 18 months, attending school in summer as well as spring and fall semesters. Students might complete a combined degree program within five years.

Potential Careers in Computer Science with a Master's Degree

Once the student completes their degree, their potential career path expands into senior roles in the many of the following jobs, to name just a few:

  • Computer and Information Research Scientists:
    Often working in science, medicine, or business, computer scientists in these fields generate and design different ways to use new and existing technology. The average pay for a computer and information research scientist is $114,200.
  • Computer Network Architect:
    This job involves designing and constructing data communication networks. These networks range from connections within the same office to implementing a cloud infrastructure serving an array of clients. The average pay for a computer network architect is $121,300.
  • Computer Systems Analyst:
    This role involves studying an organization’s present computer system and designing systems for more efficient operations. Such new system development includes choosing the right hardware and software. System analysts oversee the installation and testing of these systems and the training of systems users. The average annual salary for a systems analyst is $68,500.
  • Information Technology Manager:
    An IT project manager coordinates and plans a business’ computer activities. Responsibilities include computer system implementation for meeting organizational IT goals. The IT manager leads the team consisting of system analysts, software developers, and programmers. The average pay for an IT manager is $87,800 annually.
  • Database Administrator:
    This role involves the use of specialized software for data storage and organization. It is up to database administrators to ensure all data is safe from unauthorized use. They also must make sure the data is available for those needing access to it. Database administrators tasks include database design, regular maintenance, troubleshooting, and monitoring and optimizing database use. The average salary for a database administrator is $73,500 a year.

Salary by Occupation

Occupations Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Computer Network Architects $82,500 $110,200 $131,900
Computer Programmers $55,800 $70,300 $85,900
Computer Systems Analysts $56,100 $71,200 $85,300
Data Engineer $77,100 $103,900 $114,500
Data Architect $68,700 $108,900 $131,300
Information Security Analyst $59,800 $82,000 $101,700
Security Engineer $71,600 $100,600 $116,000
Information Systems Analysts $57,100 $70,800 $80,100
Game Designer $61,300 $76,700 $98,600
Web designer $50,500 $66,900 $77,200
Data Scientist, IT $74,300 $98,500 $142,400
Mobile Applications Developer $60,700 $87,600 $107,900
Systems Administrator $51,400 $63,900 $75,200

Options to Advance

A master’s degree allows pursuit of certifications, and those certified in specialties are much in demand. Many employers will pay for or reimburse an employee for the cost of certification preparation and examination as well.

After obtaining a master’s degree in computer science, many people decide to go on and obtain their PhD. Those with such a degree can reach the top of their fields or go into academia or research. The desire to work with cutting edge technology and the next generation of computers is another motivating factor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What topic areas are available?

Computer science in an umbrella major or subject that can contain a variety of specializations and allow graduates access to a huge variety of positions and options for employment. Just some of the specialty areas of these graduate programs include computer systems design, computer engineering, software engineering, AI, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, computer network architects, software development, website development, machine learning, and more.

Will I need to take a GMAT or GRE for admission to this program?

While a GMAT is highly unlikely to be needed for this type of degree (it’s more commonly needed for business degrees), you might need to complete the GRE for access to a graduate program of this type. However, many colleges are dropping their requirements for these standardized tests all together, so there is a chance you won’t need to take either.

How much time per week can I expect to spend on my schoolwork?

This depends on several things, such as your computer science skills. Are you taking an accelerated course? Are you taking your master's degree program full-time or part-time? Is there a maximum amount of time allowed for you to complete the whole program? If you are taking an accelerated program, you may have to complete as much as double the amount of work every week compared to the hours needed just to attend computer science classes full-time. This could be as high as 15-20 hours per week. However, if you attend full-time on a normal-length course, you will need less time. And if you attend part-time, this will cut back on needed hours for the computer science master's programs even further.

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