MS in Computer Science in the USA: Rankings, Requirements, Job Opportunities

by rishika.saluja

A master’s in Computer Science degree plays a vital role in preparing a student to enter the job market right after the completion of the course. This 4-semester program is suitable for those who want to take their introductory course at bachelor’s level forward and cover broad range of topics in Computer Science at in-depth level. In this, they have to complete around 30-40 credits before graduating.

Why Study Computer Science in the US?

In the list of “Highest Paid Majors Among College Class of 2010” released by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a computer science degree in the US holds 4 of the top 10 positions. According to US News and World Report, 7 of the top 10 Computer Science schools are from the US. Not just this, job opportunities in the US, salary and heterogeneity of the applicants, all make Masters in Computer Science from the US a lucrative study market.

Types of Masters in Computer Science 

  1. On-Campus
  2. Online
  3. Pathway programs

Most of the universities require their students to be present during this course and for that they offer On-campus programs.

Below is the list of top specializations you can choose from to study MS in Computer Science in the US.

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computational Biology
  • Robotics
  • Cloud Computing
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Engineering
  • Data Science and Analytics
  • Networking
  • Security and Privacy
  • Cyber Security
  • Computer Architecture, etc.

It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive, every university has its own set of specializations which it offers. So always check the university website to make sure it has the course specialization for which you want to apply.

World Universities Rankings

Below is the comparison of the 2018 rankings given by two institutions – US News and Work Report Rankings and the Times Higher Education for the Computer Science subject. Looking at the table we may understand, that Stanford University has been placed by both the agencies at no. 1 whereas, universities like University of Illinois, Cornell University, University of Washington have quite erratic rankings based on the different parameters used. Despite that, these rankings convey a significant idea of the top universities you can study in the US for this subject.

University NameUS News RankingTHE Rankings
Stanford University, Stanford, CA11
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg, PA16
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA12
University of California – Berkeley, Berkeley, CA16
University of Illinois – Urbane – Champaign, Urbane, IL521
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY615
University of Washington, Seattle, WA617
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA88
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ812
University of Texas – Austin, Austin, TX1026

Let’s also look at some universities which have also been a preferred choice of many students since a long time:

  • Columbia University, with 13th rank by US News and 19th rank by the Times Higher Education.

Admission Requirements

  1. Transcripts

A scanned copy of the undergraduate degree and other college - level work has to be submitted while applying for MS Computer Science. These transcripts prove the academic excellence of the applicants in the past and give an idea to the university about your past educational prowess.

  1. Letters of Recommendation

Most of the universities ask their applicants to send three letters of recommendation. These letters mention your capabilities to study the course along with highlighting your exploratory skills. LORs have to be written and signed by your professor, or your ex-employer, showcasing your potential for this Masters in Accounting program.

  1. Essay

The essay sent by the applicant should reflect how attaining this degree will play a major role in their future career – goals.

  1. Test scores – GRE and IELTS or TOEFL

All the candidates who apply must have also given GRE general test. This test is an academic entrance test for applying to a foreign university. All the non-native English speakers are also required to take either of these 2 tests – TOEFL or IELTS. Both of these are English Language proficiency exams

What to choose – 2-year MS in Computer Science or 1-year MS in Computer Science?

Some universities also offer 1-year MS in Computer Science in lieu of the traditional 2-year one. The biggest question students have while applying – is 1-year MS in CS from the US worth applying against the traditional 2-year Masters in CS?

The answer lies in your future career goals. So, let’s compare.

The 2-year MS in CS from the US is a research-oriented degree, for which the student applies only when they want to do a PhD after this. It is a highly specialized degree with academic goals. Mostly the students who undertake 2-year program also do PhD after it. They are somewhat looking forward to academic future than taking up employment right after the completion of the program.  

The 1-year MS in Computer Science, on the other hand, is a terminal degree, opted by those who want to enter the professional sector and are not looking forward to research studies in the future. So, under this, the student is required to do a project instead on the thesis.

A few top universities that offer 1-year MS in Computer Science are:

  1. Harvard University
  2. Carnegie Mellon University
  3. Stanford University
  4. Cornell University
  5. Rice University
  6. University of George Washington
  7. University of Texas, etc.
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