Resources & Program Info for Computer Science Students
An online master's program can help propel an individual's career in computer science or can serve as a bridge for those who have been working in another field and want to try something new. Even though many computer science jobs do not require formal training to start, a master's degree may be necessary for those who choose to pursue a promotion, raise or management position in the computer science industry. Find programs, see what the online master's degree in computer science timeline looks like and learn more about possible career paths below.
Top 10 Best Online Master's in Computer Science
|#1||Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA|
|#2||Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY|
|#3||DePaul University Chicago, IL|
|#4||Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, IL|
|#5||University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA|
|#6||George Mason University Fairfax, VA|
|#7||New York University New York City, NY|
|#8||New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark, NJ|
|#9||Northeastern University Boston, MA|
|#10||Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette, IN|
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Top Online Programs
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2017: Top Online Master's in Computer Science
A great way to begin your search for an online computer science master’s degree is by checking out the following rankings. While there are many ways to rank a school, this list is based on practical, real-world factors, such as student-to-faculty ratios, tuition cost, opportunities for financial aid and program offerings.
Search for Online Master's in Computer Science Programs
Aspiring students can sort through a comprehensive list of schools offering online master's in computer science degrees by using the search tool below. Filter by your individual needs that matter most, such as school size, cost and location, to help find a program for you.
The Online Computer Science Master's Degree Timeline
A master's in computer science degree consists of around 40 credits and will usually take two years to complete; accelerated programs, however, may take less time. Earning an online master's degree in computer science begins with gathering the necessary elements for the application process. See what a full-time, two-year timeline looks like below as well as some tips on how to complete the application process.
The steps for admission into computer science online master’s degree programs may vary, but there are several consistent factors. The application process is where a student highlights previous academic success and qualifications, so it is important to a well-thought-out application package. The steps below give an overview of what applicants should expect during the application process.
- Bachelor’s DegreeIn order to be accepted into an online master’s program in computer science, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree. Few schools will require a bachelor’s degree in a certain area, but will require incoming students to have the necessary training and background to understand the high-level computer science instruction they will receive in a master’s degree program. This can be proven through official transcripts from the undergraduate institution.
- Computer Programming Experience and Related Coursework Assuming the student doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology or similar area, they will need to gain proficiency in computer science subjects. It is necessary for students to have this foundational background in order to pursue a master’s level degree. These courses can be taken before admission; those who have not completed them might be able to fulfil the required courses in their first year of the master’s program.
- The GRE Some schools see GRE scores as being optional, but many will require it. The GRE is one of the elements of the application that will require careful planning by the applicant since the test can only be taken on certain dates, and the process of sending scores to the institution can take several weeks.
- Undergraduate GPA A prospective student’s undergraduate GPA is a very important component of an application. Many schools offering a master’s in computer science have a relatively high minimum GPA for applicants, such as 3.2 on a 4.0 scale. Please review your desired program’s GPA requirements for specification.
- Statement of Purpose The statement of purpose provides an opportunity for students to share why they want to get an online master’s degree in computer science and what their professional goals are. This is an opportunity to be more than just a name on an application form; this is where aspiring students can truly shine and capture the attention of the admissions panel.
- Letters of Recommendation Prospective students should start by choosing a recommender who knows the applicant’s skills and is willing to vouch for those skills; this might be a former professor, a current colleague, a supervisor or someone else who has in-depth knowledge of the computer science field. In addition, it is important to ask for these letters early in the process, thus allowing the recommender plenty of time before the application deadline.
Year 1 Milestones
Some online computer science programs will require students to take introductory courses before enrolling. Other programs will incorporate these classes into the first year curriculum. These classes will usually cover topics like networks, operating systems, software architecture and databases.
Core course are typically a short list of courses required for all students to take, regardless of background or academic preferences. These classes will vary depending upon the program, but can cover subjects like project management, advanced database systems and computer algorithms.
Specialized courses will vary depending on the student’s chosen concentration, but might include topics like artificial intelligence, parallel processing, data analytics and health informatics. Students will likely be required to select a specialization or concentration during their master’s degree program.
Depending on the student’s prior academic training and the particular program they are enrolled in, the first year typically focuses on core courses. The major learning objectives students may expect to complete during their first year are listed below.
Year 2 Milestones
Computer science offerings vary by program, but may include such subjects as security, data analytics, computer networks, systems and control engineering, artificial intelligence and pervasive computing. Students will usually take several courses in their concentration as well as a few chosen electives that can help them further tailor their education.
For some students, core courses are often completed during their first year, especially if they enroll with transfer credits that apply toward their master’s degree. However, many students will take the last few core courses during their second year.
Thesis or Capstone Project
Many master’s programs in computer science require their students to complete either a thesis or a capstone project. Though work on this might be touched upon during the first year, the serious work usually will begin during the second year. The thesis and capstone project provide an excellent opportunity for students to gain research and writing skills as well as explore new areas of computer science.
The second year is where most students will complete their degree. During this year, students can expect to focus on the classes of their choosing, as well as any other program requirements, such as a thesis or capstone project.
Besides taking the necessary number of credits in the specifics courses, most programs have other requirements for students to meet before they graduate. Here is what students can expect to do before receiving their degree:
Most schools will expect their students to maintain a required minimum GPA of around 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Sometimes the minimum GPA required per course can vary depending on whether the course is a core course, an advanced course or an elective.
- The Thesis Option For programs that require a thesis, students will need to find a topic, design and conduct the research, and then write the paper for a presentation of their findings. Students can expect to receive several academic credits that count toward their graduate credit total.
- The Capstone Project Option Students who have enrolled in programs that require a capstone project typically implement what they have learned in a research and/or real world project. The capstone project will often represent a culmination of all the student has learned in their online computer science master’s program.
After Your Degree: What to do with a Master's in Computer Science
A master's degree in computer science is flexible in that it can typically prepare graduates for both technical and conceptual roles. On the technical side, it can provides practical knowledge that prepares students for hands-on work in the computer science field. On the conceptual side, it can provide advanced and specialized knowledge and training for graduates seeking management and leadership careers. A few career statistics of the possible jobs for graduates are listed below.
BROWSE MASTER'S IN COMPUTER SCIENCE CAREERS
Computer Systems Analyst
Generally, computer systems analysts are consultants for organizations with computer systems. More specifically, computer systems analysts review an organization's information systems and provide recommendations to help the organization's information systems operate more efficiently.
Mean Annual Wage $85,800
Growth Potential 21%
Senior Software Developer
Senior software developers help create software and oversee development. Depending on the particular job, software developers may focus on design, creation, implementation or testing software. Senior software developers take a more management-oriented role and oversee software development to ensure it is coming along as scheduled and according to specifications.
Mean Annual Wage $100,690
Growth Potential 17%
Database administrators work with information systems with a particular focus on information and data management. Common job tasks include protecting customer and company data, organizing data into databases for more security and ease of access, maintaining databases, and implementing and testing databases.
Mean Annual Wage $81,710
Growth Potential 11%
Core Principles and Skills Learned in an Online Computer Science Program
Master's in Computer Science
- Specialized Knowledge in a Computer Science Concentration
As a result of the open nature of the computer science master's degree curriculum, students may have the option of taking specialized and unique courses. They may choose to do this out of a natural desire to learn more or because focusing in a particular area improves their professional growth. Depending on the program, students may specialize in areas such as networking, big data, security and database management.
- Advanced Computer Science Knowledge
For those who are already in the computer science field, a master's degree can be a stepping stone toward advancement in the industry. A comprehensive master's curriculum can enhance the knowledge an individual already has or can offer an entirely new slant on a field that may allow them to broaden their employment horizons.
- Leadership and Management Skills
In addition to gaining specialized knowledge in a particular subfield of computer science, many master's degree students will gain valuable skills to take on leadership roles within the field. For example, students may learn how to predict the cost of software development, ensure product quality and properly make risk assessments regarding the feasibility of project completion.
- Familiarity with Emerging New Technologies
Universities are bastions of research, meaning some of the newest advancements in computer science originate from universities that heavily foster research from both students and faculty. Therefore, students may have the opportunity to witness cutting-edge technology and theories. This first-to-know advantage can provide students with another way to get ahead in their professional careers.
PHDs in Computer Science
Bachelor's in Computer Science
ACM's mission is to foster collaboration among all participants in the computing discipline. Through local chapters, the ACM works to enhance the professional and educational aspects of computing.
AITP is one of the most prominent professional organizations for those in the information technology professional and academic industry. AITP is dedicated to improving information technology's place in society and how it is taught.
IEEE is a leading computer-based organization focused on promoting all aspects of computer science and technology. It is comprised of members across various disciplines, including educators, engineers, researchers and students.
UPE is an international honor society dedicated to recognizing academic success among students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.