The 5 Best Online Master's in Computer Science Programs

There are many online universities that offer online master’s in computer science degrees. However, selecting the best program can be tricky, mostly because what is best for you will depend largely on your professional goals and the factors you value in an online master’s program. Most of the top programs offer flexibility when it comes to choosing your courses, enabling you to build a strong foundation while improving skills in the areas that interest you. Certain schools require you to complete a thesis before graduating, while others may be more focused on projects or exams. The five schools listed below offer some of the best online master’s in computer science programs available.

Columbia University has eight different online master’s in computer science programs, each focused on a different area of specialization. You can choose from network systems, computational biology, and machine learning, among others. If there isn’t a path that appeals to you, Columbia University allows you to design your own. There are a few required courses you take regardless, and your advisor must approve your program, but aside from that, you pretty much focus on the courses you find most applicable to your interests. This should make it easy to design a computer science degree program that is perfectly aligned with your career goals. As a student in any of the computer science programs, you’ll learn about experimental technologies and mathematics. This knowledge will be very helpful when it comes to developing your professional skills and advancing in the workplace.

The University of Southern California offers several different master’s degrees in computer science to their online students, including a general computer science degree that gives you a good grounding in all the fundamentals of the subject. In order to graduate, you’ll need to earn at least 27 credit hours, and just nine of those are required courses, so there should be plenty of opportunities for elective courses covering topics you’re interested in. The University of Southern California also has an online master’s degree program designed specifically for working professionals. This version of the program is cohort-based and can be completed in a single year. Unlike most cohort-based programs, though, the University of Southern California’s is pretty flexible, allowing you to begin in the fall, spring, or summer semesters. In addition to all this, there is also the option to specialize in multimedia and creative technologies, if you’re interested in graphics or networking.

The University of Bridgeport also offers an online master’s in computer science degree that is great for helping you to advance in your career and prepare for doctoral-level study. In order to gain admission into this program, you have to be able to demonstrate a strong background in mathematics and basic computer science. Once you’re accepted, you’ll design your course schedule with an academic advisor. This allows you to focus on the areas of computer science that interest you most and are aligned with your career goals. Regardless of what other courses you select, you will be required to take a few courses in database design, algorithms, and C++, among others. You will also be able to choose whether or not you’d like to complete a thesis in order to earn your online master’s in computer science degree. If you choose not to go that route, you will have to pass a comprehensive examination instead.

North Carolina State University offers an online master’s in computer science program that doesn’t require you to complete a comprehensive examination or a thesis in order to earn your degree. Instead, just 31 credit hours are required to graduate, and you may take up to nine credit hours in a single semester, if you choose. Academic advisors will help you to choose a focus for your studies that will help you improve the skills you’re most interested in. Certain areas of specialization are more flexible than others, but many offer you a wide range of electives to choose from. One thing to note about this program is that it is only open to residents of the United States, so if you’re an interested international student, you will want to look at other programs. If you happen to be a resident of North Carolina, you really can’t do much better than North Carolina State University because their in-state tuition rates are some of the lowest you’ll find, coming in around $350 per credit.

Johns Hopkins University finishes off the list of the best online master’s in computer science. The program has several different tracks that you can choose from, so it should be easy to find one that matches your interests. Some of these options include big data and cloud computing, database systems and knowledge management, and data communications and networking. No thesis is required for the completion of this program. Johns Hopkins University’s computer science program puts an emphasis on helping working professionals develop skills that will enable them to solve problems they might encounter out in the workforce. Tuition for the program is a little on the high end, but if that’s not a problem for you, you can expect to receive an excellent education from faculty with a lot of real-world experience in computer science.