In fields such as computer science, a bachelor's degree may not be enough. And for some students, a campus-based higher education may not be practical. To address both challenges, colleges and universities across the country have added online master's programs in computer science, computer engineering, database administration and other fast-growing, tech-related majors. These advanced credentials provide a flexible option for tech-savvy students looking for a successful career in a top industry.
Luckily, some institutions have gone above and beyond their peers by making sure their online master's programs are affordable, accessible, and have the same quality as their campus-based counterparts. They also offer student support and technological resources that many others don't. The following colleges belong in this esteemed group, earning their place as one of the Best Online Master's Degrees in Computer Science.
To learn more about the rankings criteria and scoring, please visit our methodology page.
West Virginia University offers a Master of Science in Software Engineering (MSSE) online. The 33-credit master's program typically takes two years to complete. The initial portion of the master's program consists of a 15-credit Software Engineering Certificate, the first 12 credits of which can be taken by non-degree students either as a stand-alone certificate program or a pre-requisite to transferring into the master's degree program. The final 18 credit hours are taken as part of the MSSE program.
Recent graduates may apply with a bachelor's degree in a related computer science, a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 and 3.0 in their major, and a GRE score at least in the 70-80 percentile for the quantitative part of the exam. Working IT professionals with a bachelor's in any subject may be accepted initially as non-degree students and begin by taking core courses toward earning a certificate, provided they have an overall GPA of 2.75 and at least a year of software industry employment history. Acceptance into the MSSE program hinges on maintaining a B grade in each of the first four approved courses of the certificate program. Students must also complete a minimum of three years software-related work experience by the time they finish their core courses.
Classes are taught synchronously via the web one night a week but can be accessed at a later date.
University of Massachusetts (UMASS) – Lowell has a nmaster's degree program in information technology that can be completed fully online. A 10-course program consisting of 30-credits, it covers the principles of computer science and information technology, along with technical training in various operating systems, including Mac, Windows and Linux/Unix. The Master of Science program is intended for students with experience and coursework in a field related to computer science, such as systems administration, wireless network security or data recovery. Required courses in the program include topics in systems infrastructures, network infrastructures and software management.
Online courses at UMASS can be accessed at any time and do not require students to log in at specific times. Delivered through the Blackboard learning management platform, courses include online discussions with instructors and students, and learning materials may be delivered through a variety of mediums, including podcasts, audio lectures chat rooms and video.
Applicants to the graduate program must have a bachelor's degree and prerequisite coursework in pre-calculus, discrete mathematics and statistics. Applicants should also be proficient in the C programming language and have experience with or prerequisite coursework in data structures. The program is not currently available to residents of Arkansas and Kansas.
The University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa offers a fully online master's degree program in computer science. Composed of 31 credits, the online master's in computer science can be completed in three terms and includes core courses in operating systems, data security, high performance computing and algorithm analysis, with a primary focus on innovative software technology. Toward the end of the program, students can elect to complete a thesis or a capstone project. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to continue in the program.
Admission into this advanced online computer science program requires significant knowledge and academic preparation in the subject area. For example, applicants must be proficient in an object-programming language and have three semesters of undergraduate programming courses. The computer science program devotes a significant amount of time to the use of JAVA, and UH notes that applicants with experience in that language are best prepared for the program. Additionally, applicants must have completed upper level courses in calculus, computer science and data structures. A 3.0 undergraduate GPA and adequate GRE scores are required for admission into this highly competitive program.
The University of Louisville offers three online programs in the computer science field. Offered through the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, the online master's degree program in computer science requires completion of 30 credits. It is also available in a blended format, which allows students to complete some classes on campus. The core curriculum is split into the areas of foundations, software and analytics, with courses including computer networks, algorithms, software engineering, numerical analysis and data mining. The program culminates in either a graduate thesis or project.
Two online graduate certificate programs are also available, and both are offered completely online. For the 18-credit graduate certificate in data mining, students take core courses in databases, data mining and data mining with linear models, plus an additional three courses in areas such as web mining, artificial intelligence and data warehousing. The certificate program in network and information security consists of only four courses, with two required courses in cryptology and information security.
Applicants to the master's degree program must hold a 2.75 cumulative undergraduate GPA and score 1000 on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE. Certificate program applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in a related field.
Texas Tech University offers a host of online degrees and certificate programs, including three online computer science master's programs: technical communication, software engineering and systems and engineering management. Texas Tech also has several graduate certificates, including cybersecurity for critical infrastructure.
Texas Tech began delivering eLearning programs in 1966 when five professors traveled to Borger-Pampa and Midland-Odessa to teach engineering classes. In 1967, the "WIN" (Western Information Network) system was launched, with classes delivered via closed-circuit television. Today classes are delivered online and students can access class resources via Blackboard, Texas Tech's online course management system. Here students view lectures, download reading and supplemental resources, submit assignments and participate in discussion groups. Students communicate with instructors and fellow students via email and online chat programs.
Most classes are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to access materials and complete assignments on their own time. Occasionally, instructors may require synchronous meetings. Some hybrid classes and programs are also available for students who wish to also have face-to-face classes and meeting times. Online students have access to Texas Tech's students resources, including eRaider, TechMail, Raiderlink, computer labs, free trainings, library resources and more.
Through the Digital Campus initiative, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities provides two different online master's degrees in computer science.
One program targets individuals interested in research, while the other is designed for candidates not pursuing research. Participants in both programs satisfy breadth requirements in three main subject areas:
The online Master of Science in Computer Science offers broad-ranging research options, and students may also examine the use of information technology in disciplines outside their field. In addition to core subjects such as database systems management and software engineering, curriculum covers theoretical and applied areas of computer science.
In contrast, the online Master's of Computer Science degree program is intended for non-research purposes. Students complete 31 credits, including six credits from a related field or minor, and two advanced graduate-level courses in areas of their choice. The MCS program requires a GPA of at least 3.0.
These online offerings are available through video streaming and podcasts.
Exams and quizzes follow the schedule of the on-campus version of a course, and off-campus students take proctored exams at an approved location. On-site attendance is generally not necessary, although there may be exceptions -- for example, a class in VLSI Design requires software available only on the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus.
Students who attend Georgia Tech can expect a wide variety of degree programs in technology and computer science. The College of Computing offers several degree programs related to computer science, including degrees in analytics, bioengineering, computational science and engineering, human-computer interaction, information security and computer science.
Each master's degree program offers various options for completion. For instance, the computer science master's degree has the course option, which requires 36 credit hours but no final project or thesis hours. The project option requires 27 credit hours plus the completion of a graduate project that is suitable for 9 credit hours. The thesis option requires 24 credit hours of work and a thesis that fulfills 12 credit hours.
In addition, students can choose from a wide variety of specializations within the degree program:
Students can also find numerous degree programs in other departments that fall under the umbrella of computer science, such as bioengineering, statistics, mathematics and the like.
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) offers an online master's program in information technology for distance learners. Students can choose from thesis, project, or coursework options that have different class and capstone requirements. The program allows students to explore multiple research areas, including:
A&T offers courses that center on teaching sound theoretical concepts, along with hands-on experience that students can use in future employment. Graduates can expect career opportunities as a database and network administrator, IT consultant, system analyst, and project manager.
The school delivers its master's program fully online through the Blackboard Learning Management system with no on-campus requirements. However, many students in the program choose to take on assistantships at the university in exchange for tuition assistance and stipends. A&T's online class platform supports many instructional tools such as video and audio lectures, chat and forum capabilities, email, and exchange of course materials including readings and assessments.
The program has three start dates in the fall, spring, and summer. Students can enroll in up to nine credit hours per semester for a full-time course load. Academic advisors are available for online students to assist in choosing coursework and ensuring on-time graduation.
Southern Polytechnic has been in the online learning arena since 1997, when it offered its first online master's degree. Now students can earn master's degrees in several computer science-related fields, including information design and communication, information technology, information and instructional design, software engineering, quality assurance and systems engineering.
SPSU also offers several graduate and post-graduate certificates for those who hold a bachelor's or master's degree and would like to enter the computer science filed or become experts in their technology-driven field. Certificates available include:
Online programs at SPSU follow the same calendar as traditional on-campus classes. Courses are entirely online, except for some proctored exams. Classes are delivered via an online course management system, allowing students to access course materials virtually—from anywhere with an Internet connection.
CSU is located in Georgia but offers online courses in computer science to anywhere in the world through a partnership with the Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus. Those who are pursuing a master's degree can find three distinct tracks at Columbus State University: Information assurance, modeling and simulation, and software development. Students can also choose to design their own program that does not include a particular concentration. The National Security Agency recognizes Columbus State University as a Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.
Online courses follow the same schedule as on-campus courses, with start and end dates the same as that of a traditional semester. Students can choose to attend full-time or part-time. However, all degree requirements must be completed within seven years of first enrollment. Though the work for the classes can be done entirely online, students are responsible for finding a proctor that can oversee their online tests and examinations. These proctors can be public officials, such as librarians, as well as other approved possibilities.
The University of Idaho offers three online graduate degree programs in computer science. Offered through the College of Engineering and the Engineering Outreach off-campus program, online computer science programs include a Master of Science in Computer Science, Master of Engineering in Computer Engineering and Master of Science in Computer Engineering. In the computer science program, students take 30-credits of coursework and select a thesis or non-thesis option. Additionally students are expected to meet a breadth requirement in a computer science discipline, such as software engineering, computer security or artificial intelligence.
The master's degree programs in computer engineering focus on applied research, design and production and computer simulation studies. All students must enroll in the Electrical Engineering Research Colloquium and complete a final research project.
Courses in Engineering Outreach are recorded by University of Idaho faculty on campus and delivered online. Known as "live courses", they are available for viewing about two hours after lectures are recorded. "Pre-encoded courses" are also pre-recorded lectures from faculty, but they are lectures from previous semesters. Final examinations cannot be taken online but must be taken at an approved proctored site.Applicants are required to hold a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and to submit GRE scores.
Students pursuing a computer science degree from Jacksonville State University will find two concentrations offered online. The Master of Science in computer systems and software design with a general concentration prepares students to enter the workforce in business, industry, government, teaching and more. The Master of Science in computer systems and software design with an emphasis on information security and assurance prepares students to work in the field of cyber security and quality assurance.
Each fully-online degree program requires 30 hours of study. Applicants must have at least the bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, as well as three to five years of experience in the workforce. Students who do not meet the educational requirements might be eligible to take online courses that bring them up to the level of consideration for admission.
JSU is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus, and uses the familiar Blackboard learning system. The courses are designed and taught by teachers who are well-versed in delivering distance learning through common elements such as video conferencing, discussion boards, email, and student portals.
National University's School of Engineering and Computing offers three computer science master's degrees that can be completed online:
The programs are available 100% online, with no on-campus time required. They are asynchronous, allowing students to complete coursework and participate on their own schedule, with no specific times to log in or join live lectures. Several interactive tools facilitate online learning, including email, video and audio lectures, and online presentations.
North Carolina State University (NC State) has three online degree programs in computer science at the master's level:
Each program is 30 or 31 credits and consists of ten courses.
Distance courses are taught online with the Moodle and WolfWare Classic learning management systems. These platforms support the use of several instructional tools that vary from class to class, including video lectures and email or forum communications. Blackboard Collaborate and WebAssign are also used in some NC State online courses. Assessments may also be conducted online, or may take place as a proctored exam at a location convenient for the student.
All online courses at the university are taught by NC State faculty. Distance students have access to several student services, including application and enrollment support, testing services for proctored exams in local or remote locations, and technical support from the Computing Help Desk.
Students who attend KSI can complete their master's degree in computer science in as little as one to two years. The computer science degree is available to those who have completed their undergraduate education in computer or information sciences; those who lack the proper courses can take them online in order to be considered for the MS degree.
Designed specifically for working professionals who face time constraints, the master's degree in computer and information sciences is available with several concentrations:
Most degree programs end with an intensive research project and a final examination.
Students can expect courses that are authored by the instructors themselves, and tailored for those who want to learn through online means. Online learning platforms, including live chat, email, discussion boards and other collaborative tools are essential for degree success. Students can find technical support through the web, over the phone, or even in person, depending upon their specific needs. Faculty keep normal business hours and are available via telephone for immediate issues, or via email at all hours.
Florida State University employs the Florida Virtual Campus to help students find the right degree program through online education.
Those interested in pursuing a master's degree with computer science elements can find many options in the graduate programs offered by FSU. The management information systems degree is designed for those who have been working in the field for at least three years, and can be completed in about two years of study. The information technology degree is offered in a synchronous learning format, with online classes that meet one evening per week. Though students can complete the program within two years, they must complete it within seven in order to receive their degree.
The library and information studies program allows students to choose from three concentrations –information needs and services, youth information needs and services, or information architecture and technology – or design their own individualized program. Courses meet online weekly, and the entire program can be completed within the usual two-year time frame for a master's degree at FSU.
All courses follow a semester schedule, with start dates that coincide with those of traditional classroom courses. FSU uses the Blackboard learning system, including discussion boards, chat rooms, streaming videos, and many other learning tools that make the online learning process easier.
The University of Florida (UF) is home to a variety of online programs related to computer science. Offered through the College of Engineering, online bachelor's, master's and certificate programs in computer science include a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Master of Science degree programs in computer engineering and electrical and computer engineering. The bachelor's degree program consists of 120 credits of coursework, with required courses including computer organization, programming fundamentals, software engineering and operating systems. The program is science intensive and requires students to take significant coursework in calculus, geometry and physics.
The online graduate programs in computer science are offered through EDGE, UF's highly interactive distance learning program. Online courses through EDGE are delivered live, with College of Engineering faculty members recording lectures and instruction in studio classrooms. The master's degree programs consist of ten courses that can be completed in 24 months. Core requirements in the computer-engineering program include computer architecture, programming languages, computer networks and advanced data structures.
UF's online graduate certificate program in scientific computing comprises three courses, and credits earned in the certificate program may be applied to UF's master's degree programs. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in engineering, physical science or a related area of study.
Located in Troy, Alabama, Troy University offers both thesis-based and non-thesis online graduate programs in computer science. Thesis options require students to complete and defend a thesis, while non-thesis students must pass a comprehensive exam and successfully write a research paper. The online computer science master's degrees offer concentrations in computer network and security, artificial intelligence and software development. In addition to the online program, traditional on-campus classes are also available at several satellite campuses.
Students use the Blackboard online course management system to navigate courses. They access all learning modules, course lectures, discussion threads and assignments on Blackboard and also use the system to submit assignments. Courses run on nine-week terms rather than the traditions 16 and while students can access course materials at any time of the day or night, there are specific deadlines for assignments, discussions and assessments. Instructors incorporate service learning, project-based learning and experiential learning into assessments, in addition to traditional tests.
Troy's online students have access to all the traditional student services, including the WEBCAT online public access catalog, academic advising, career placement, online tutoring and more.
The University of West Georgia offers an online master's degree in applied computer science. The curriculum focuses on the following areas:
In addition, participants are responsible for two projects in order to build collaborative skills and apply what they have learned. The projects are graded on a pass/fail basis and require an exit interview.
This professional program accepts applications from individuals with undergraduate degrees in any field. Along with transcripts, applicants will need to submit three letters with professional references, a detailed resume, and a letter describing their reasons for seeking the degree.
The online Master of Science degree program is structured so that students typically take 6 credit hours each semester. The program is designed to last two years. To graduate, candidates need 36 credits, all of which must be earned from the University of West Georgia.
This master's program in applied computer science is delivered fully online with a blend of asynchronous and synchronous technologies. Each course has a page on Moodle, allowing students to submit work, take quizzes, and join in discussions. UWG students also use email and the Blackboard instant messaging tool to communicate with peers and faculty.
University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth offers a fully online master's degree program in computer science. The online Master of Science in Computer Science program has a primary focus on software development, and students work in teams on scale projects to develop proficiency in application software and computer systems development. The program includes 30 credits of coursework and concludes with a master project that students develop with the help of a faculty member. Courses include software systems design, database design, mobile robotics, data mining and neural computing.
Distance programs at UMASS are reading and writing intensive and delivered through Blackboard Learn, an online learning management platform. Online students take the same courses as on-campus students. They also have access to the same resources as on-campus UMASS students, including the university's online library database.
For admission into the graduate program in computer science, students must submit a personal statement and GRE scores. Additionally, students should be proficient with a number of programming languages and systems within the field of computer science. For example, applicants should be competent in a programming language such as Java or C+ and have knowledge of software engineering, computer architecture, operating systems and algorithm analysis.
Lawrence Technological University (LTU) offers an online master's program in information technology for IT professionals who need a flexible schedule for their degree program.
The program centers on how information technology can aid businesses, including the use of software, networking, and other solutions to improve company operations. Coursework covers topics such as application programming, project management, and global leadership development.
This master's degree is self-paced, so students can complete the program part-time or full-time, choosing the number of classes to take each semester. When taken full-time, the program can be completed in two years.
Students in the program can also focus in one of three areas to specialize coursework in their areas of interest:
Students seeking the computer science master's degree can find it through Mason Online, the distance learning portal for George Mason University. Master's degree programs through the Volgenau School of Engineering include systems engineering and applied information technology with an emphasis on cyber security. Each master's degree program requires 30 credit hours of study.
Graduate certificates are also available through the School of Engineering and the College of Science, including:
Most courses in the systems engineering degree program are delivered synchronously, using the Blackboard Collaborative or teleconferencing software to allow the class to meet at a time determined by the professor. In some cases, the conferences are archived so students that missed a class can catch up.
Most courses in the applied information technology degree program are asynchronous, allowing students to study at a time that is most convenient for them. Discussion with a student advisor prior to each semester can help students understand what to expect on the road to their degree.
Some courses in these master's degree programs might require a face-to-face meeting, such as orientation, period tests, final examinations or laboratory requirements.
The University of Memphis offers an online master's degree in applied computer science for students interested in furthering their education in the technology field. This is an interdisciplinary degree program that requires students to have a strong background in computer science and information technology.
Within this program, students learn to conceive, develop, evaluate and test state-of-the-art applications in a specific area to solve real-world problems. Students develop a capstone project that integrates all of their skills and knowledge. The program is available fully online, allowing students the flexibility of taking classes from anywhere with an Internet connection.
Most classes through UMOnline are asynchronous, meaning students can "attend" classes at a time convenient to them. Some classes require a synchronous component where students must be online at a specific time and day. Courses are delivered through eCourseware, UM's online course management system. This is where students access all course materials, streaming videos, discussion threads and supplemental readings.
Out-of-state students who only take online classes qualify for a special eRate tuition.
Students who want to pursue a computer science degree can find a range of master's programs at California State University Fullerton. The university offers an online master's degree program in information technology, with courses such as programming concepts, business data communications, information resource management and electronic commerce, as well as systems analysis, design and development.
Students who opt for the online master's program in IT can expect 20 months of study through approximately 10 accelerated courses, spending between 12 and 16 hours per week on studies. Students attend an online “boot-up camp” at the beginning of the program to familiarize themselves with the faculty, program expectations, technology of online learning and more. A year-end review is conducted halfway through the program to help ensure the ongoing authenticity of each student's work. Examinations must be completed on campus; however, students who have a difficult time getting to the university might be able to take supervised tests in another location.
California State University Fullerton offers services for all online students, as well as admissions counselors who can guide applicants through the admissions process for an online degree. Prerequisites for the distance learning graduate program in information technology include GRE or GMAT scores, a self-assessment essay, and an interview by phone or in person.
Online degrees offered through the University of Wisconsin eCampus include a master's program in electrical and computer engineering. This program permits self-directed study as instruction takes place via pre-recorded lectures, which can be delivered on the web or on DVD/CD. Regular communication with faculty is encouraged for off-campus students. Proctored tests can be administered at a student's work place. Interested individuals can take a test drive by viewing examples of video lectures.
Applicants need to submit evidence of a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, and either a bachelor's degree in a related major or experience working in the field.
Students in this distance learning master's degree program need to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA in graduate-level courses. The master's degree requires between 24 and 30 credit hours, depending on the chosen pathway:
This online program, offered through UW-Madison, emphasizes power electronics and is affiliated with the Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium. The curriculum covers recent technological advances in areas such as electric machines and power systems, with a required seminar in electrical and computer engineering. Additional course options include advanced automation and robotics or the theory and control of synchronous machines.
Embry-Riddle is well-known for aeronautics and aerospace programs, but it also has a variety of online offerings in many fields related to computer science. One of the unique offerings of ERAU is the 4+1 program, which allows students to earn their bachelor's and master's degrees in as little as five years. Under the technical management degree program, students can opt for concentrations in information security and assurance or management information systems.
The degree in information security and assurance has three concentrations: protecting business intelligence, information systems security, and information assurance in a global context. The degree in management information systems has five concentrations: global information systems, business intelligence, information assurance, information systems governance, and project management. Each master's degree program requires 36 credit hours to complete.
Students who aren't sure about online learning can try it out before enrollment by taking one of the many massive open online courses offered by Embry-Riddle.
Robert Morris University has several online master's degree programs in the computer science field, two of which have ranked in the U.S. News & World Report's top online graduate computer information technology programs list.
Students interested in online security can choose from online master's degrees in internet information systems and internet security assurance. Graduates from RMU's master's in competitive intelligence systems utilize data warehousing, data mining and geographic information systems to help their organization plan strategically through market research, product design and distribution. RMU also offers an online master's in engineering management with a technological component, which teaches students how to organize and direct technical projects within the field.
The same instructors who teach traditional on-campus programs at RMU also teach the online courses. Online curriculum designers work with professors to design courses that are streamlined and interactive. Online students have access to a variety of off-campus locations and other facilities. Each student works with an online student representative to help with registration, scheduling and any online learning issues.
Online classes are delivered through an online class management system, where students access course materials such as lecture materials and additional resources. Students communicate with instructors and fellow students online via chat rooms and email.
Known for an innovative spirit, Carnegie Mellon University offers a variety of courses in computer science that can be taken completely online. The R. John Heinz III College is home to the information technology master's degree, designed for working professionals seeking distance learning options.
Students can also obtain related certificates, including the CIO Executive Education and Certification Program, a 6-month distance learning program for Internet security professionals. The School of Computer Science has programs for online learners, including certificates in software engineering and software management. The Executive and Professional Education Program at the Institute for Software Research offers in-depth courses in enterprise architecture, global software engineering and systems engineering. Training and development courses are available through the Software Engineering Institute, including those in network security, risk assessment and insider threat, software architecture, software product lines, measurement and analysis, incident handling and more.
Carnegie Mellon has been offering distance education for over 20 years and uses asynchronous electronic delivery systems including the Blackboard learning platform as well as video recorded lectures available through streaming or on DVD. Exams may be offered online or may require administration by a proctor. Currently, students who are residents of Alabama, Arkansas and Minnesota are not eligible for fully online courses through Carnegie Mellon.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute, or Virginia Tech as it is commonly called, offers a master's degree program online in Information Technology through its Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). The Masters in Information Technology online program allows working IT professionals to complete a master's degree in approximately 30 to 36 months. The program's ten courses require the purchase of some software, textbooks and printed course materials, but courses and class participation are conducted completely online via the Scholar portal. Courses have scheduled online meeting times and completion deadlines. GRE and GMAT scores are not required for admission; however, knowledge of Java programming and two semesters of calculus are prerequisites for the program.
Virginia Tech offers an online Master of Science (M.S.) or Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Computer Engineering through the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP), which includes four other Virginia universities. The M.S. requires a thesis; the M.Eng. culminates in a project and report. Working engineers can earn their master's degrees in three to five years. A bachelor's degree in engineering with a minimum 3.0 GPA is required for admission to the program. While Virginia Tech is the “home base” school, students can take up to 50 percent of their courses through any of the other CGEP schools. Courses are administered via WebEx.
Mercer University has two online master's degrees for information technology professionals:
Both degrees follow the same program, which guides students in learning how to solve complex problems and how to communicate these solutions and other technical details to coworkers and clients. Subject matter covered in courses includes: completing a software development or maintenance project from initial design to final use; successfully using Refactoring ad Design Patterns; programming in languages including Java, C++, and C#; applying agile software development processes; and creating or improving functionality in software architecture, testing, and security.
These programs are fully online, requiring no in-person presence. Online classes at Mercer are taught by the same faculty as on-campus classes, and include the same level of instruction, course material, and difficulty. Classes use several online learning platforms, such as Blackboard, Moodle, WebEx, blogs, wikis, and more. Through these platforms, students can communicate with professors and classmates, view course materials, and submit assignments electronically. Some courses may use additional technologies such as voice and video chats, video lectures, and forums and chat rooms.
Online students at Mercer have several support services available to them. This includes academic advising, library services, academic support services from the Academic Resource Center, personal counseling services, career services, disability services, and bookstore/textbook services.
ASU has a tradition of offering online degrees, including those focused on technology. Computer science is one of the booming fields of study at the university for bachelor's and master's degrees as well as certificates. Here are some of ASU's online master's degrees related to computer science and information technology:
An online master's degree in electrical engineering offers a range of specializations and requires a comprehensive exam rather than a thesis. Other online options include a dual master's degree in business administration and engineering. The College of Letters and Sciences offers an online master's in global technology and development that analyzes the effects of technology on society, politics and the economy. Students might also find degree programs and courses that incorporate elements of computer science, such as technical communication or technological entrepreneurship and management.
ASU considers itself a pioneer in the world of online learning. One of the first universities to offer the use Google's Apps for Education, the university is committed to exploring different options for delivering content to students. Courses are taught in a 7.5 week accelerated format. Students have access to a variety of services, including the eight libraries maintained by ASU and a range of user tutorials for distance learners.
Lewis University offers two online master's degree programs in information technology: Master of Science in Information Security and Master of Science in Data Science.
Students in the Information Security program study the ten domains required for the Certified Information Systems Security Professional exam. The 35-credit program allows students to choose from two concentrations:
The Data Science program guides students in using mathematical theory and computer science concepts to create systems that allow people to analyze and interpret data. Courses in the 35-credit program include concepts of statistics, encryption and authentication systems data modeling, and large-scale data storage systems. For information technology professionals, the program offers a concentration of data science for computer scientists.
The school's online programs are designed for working professionals who wish to earn their degree while maintaining their career. Distance students at Lewis University are assigned a personal Student Services Coordinator. This advisor assists students throughout their program with registration, course choices, scheduling, graduation, and more.
Rochester Institute of Technology provides its online students with two master's degrees and two advanced certificates in computer and information sciences as well as four master's degrees and one advanced certificate in engineering and engineering and technology. Numerous other courses and technology-related programs are also on tap for tech-savvy students.
Students can learn more about the evolution of computers and how to utilize networks in a business environment with RIT's master's programs in human-computer interaction or networking and system administration. For those interested in the engineering side of technology, online master's degrees are available in facility management, manufacturing leadership, microelectronics manufacturing engineering and product development. RIT's advanced certification options, which include network planning and design, user experience design and development and lean six sigma, allow students to earn higher credentials quickly and to later apply those credit hours to a master's degree.
Online students have access to required class materials, reading activities, discussion boards and students services any time during the day or night and programs begin throughout the year. Students may be eligible for RIT's Credit by Competency program, earning credit for non-academic experiences. A virtual concierge provides student support, including assisting with forming study groups, academic support and help accessing the library's resources.
Loyola University Chicago offers a Master of Science in Information Technology that is delivered online for working professionals and nontraditional students who require a flexible schedule.
The program guides students in all aspects of information systems, including developing, implementing, and managing information systems for a variety of organizations. Topics covered in required courses include current and emerging technologies, systems engineering concepts, and net-centric computing.
All classes are held online; however the program requires some on-campus time at its completion with an on-site capstone immersion. Courses are taught by faculty members who have been specially training in creating and delivering online instruction. Loyola’s online classes use the Sakai online learning management system.
Loyola offers several support services for online students to help them achieve success in their studies. This includes technical support for IT problems in accessing and completing coursework, as well as student services for academic needs such as advising and tutoring.
The school also provides online tools to prepare students for distance learning, including a technology check to evaluate if a personal computer has the right hardware and software requirements, a “Ready for Online” module that guides students in a self-assessment of learning style, a module on netiquette and online behavior, and a module to introduce the various components of Sakai.
Since 1980, George Washington University has offered the Master of Science in Information Systems Technology, and it is now one of the longest-running programs of its kind. The program requires 24 credit hours for graduation, and those hours cover pertinent issues of information systems technology, including:
Online courses are taught by the same faculty who deliver the traditional classroom courses. Class sizes are typically smaller than that of the on-campus experience, providing students with more opportunity for one-on-one discussions and assistance. Students can communicate through discussion boards, real-time video seminars, customized assignments and collaborative projects.
Those who choose to attend the program full-time can expect to graduate in 18-24 months. Those who are part-time will take a bit longer, from 24-30 months. Students have the option of attending an in-person orientation at the start of the program, and they are required to attend a Capstone residency at the end of the program. Students who want to learn more can attend online information sessions offered on a regular basis by the university.
Working professionals can take advantage of accelerated online programs through Brandeis University. Master's degree programs relating to computer science include information security, information technology management and software engineering. The information security program features two tracks, technical and managerial. Students in information technology management can choose from five concentrations: managing health information, securing IT assets, software design and development, virtual management and enterprise technology management.
Other online graduate degree programs that rely heavily on elements of computer science include bioinformatics, health and medical informatics, project and program management, and strategic analytics. The university's commitment to distance learning is also reflected through the master's degree program in online instructional design and technology, which delivers course work over the web in addition to an in-person practicum.
These master's programs offer small classes, asynchronous learning and personal support through student services. Professors have weekly office hours, during which students can get one-on-one help, and the integrated LATTE learning platform enables student participation – in fact, 30 percent of the grade is made up of participation in discussion boards, chat rooms and the like.
Students who want to try out online learning before committing to a degree program can choose from certain courses without making the move for admission. When students do choose to enroll, rolling admissions allow accepted applicants to begin at a date that is convenient for them.
Students in the computer science online program at Hofstra University can expect a strong curriculum that begins with foundation courses such as operating systems, programming languages and algorithms. Students can choose between web engineering and network and security for their concentration, or they can create their own through targeted independent study courses. The program ends with a comprehensive project or a master's thesis.
Students work with the same professors that teach the on-campus program. The degree requires 30 credit hours, all of which can be taken entirely online. This program has high completion and retention rates, perhaps a result of the top-notch delivery systems that make it easy to log onto the virtual classroom. Students will use discussion forums, email, and live chat to keep in touch with professors and peers. Those who are already working in the field will find practical classroom assignments that can be applied to their day-to-day work.
Those who need help with their online studies can find support through Hofstra University. Expect assistance through course instructors, program managers, student services, peer groups, and technical help-desk support for those issues that concern delivery or logins to the virtual classroom.
Missouri University of Science and Technology offers many online graduate degrees related to information technology:
Computer Engineering: This 30-credit program teaches students how to solve problems on all levels of computer engineering. Courses cover several areas of study, including design of digital systems, embedded computer system, network-centric intelligence, computer architecture, and computational intelligence. Students can choose from both thesis and non-thesis options.
Computer Science: The Computer Science program is 31 credits, and offers both a thesis and non-thesis track. Students can choose from a focus in critical infrastructure protection or software engineering.
Information Science and Technology: This program addresses the creation and application of information systems in a variety of businesses and corporations, encompassing complex technology and the increasing use of information. There are only four required courses in this 30 credit program, allowing students to customize their studies to their areas of interest.
Systems Engineering: The Systems Engineering program offers two degrees: a 30-credit non-thesis degree and a 36-credit thesis degree with a research component. Students learn about the theory and application of systems engineering and management, and can specialize in information technology fields including computational intelligence and modeling and simulation.
Courses are typically delivered through live streaming video, with archives available for review throughout the semester. The school uses the Blackboard and WebEx learning management systems.
The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) offers online master's degrees in computer science, business and information systems, and information systems.
Computer Science: The Master of Science in Computer Science program leads to a wide variety of careers: web programming, database programming, data or business analysis, software development or testing, research, administration, management, or systems development. Students are expected to enter the program with good programming skills and must complete a placement course prior to admittance.
Business and Information Systems: This Master of Science program focuses on applying computing and information systems in a variety of public and private organizations. It covers topics including databases, application development tools, web design, software use, management, and business operations.
Information Systems: This Master of Science degree program focuses on both the technological and human sides of information systems. Students interested in obtaining this degree pursue careers in a variety of IT fields including software engineering and information and communication technologies. Both thesis and non-thesis tracks are available.
NJIT's programs are fully online, with no mandatory on-campus time. Both synchronous and asynchronous courses are available. Synchronous courses require students to log on at a specific day and time to participate in live courses through video and audio streaming and web chats. Asynchronous classes consist of coursework and assignments that can be completed at any time. Students may view pre-recorded lectures, read course materials, and contribute to online discussions, with due dates for assignments and participation throughout the semester.
The University of Washington hosts a high-tech community with events at the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering on topics such as programming language wars. To meet the needs of technology professionals, the university offers a blended master's degree program in computer science and engineering that can potentially be completed in two and a half years. This hybrid degree program requires attendance at the Seattle campus for certain classes, typically held once a week in the evenings.
The Professional Master's Program (PMP) requires 40 credits including on-campus core courses and 8 colloquium credits. Colloquia can be attended in person or accessed remotely -- on UWTV or on the Internet, either live or on-demand. In past colloquia, industry experts have discussed areas such as Linux kernel development and the Twitter streaming aggregator.
For non-credit independent study, videos are available from previously offered PMP courses such as:
These recorded lectures are accessible to everyone, free of charge and without registration at the university. Interested students can also view Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs created by UW faculty on subjects including computational neuroscience and machine learning. For further independent learning, videos from prior computer science capstone courses explore projects in robotics and digital system design.
In addition to its many satellite and international programs, Syracuse University offers three online master's programs through the school's College of Engineering and Computer Science. Students may earn a master of science in computer engineering, electrical engineering or computer science completely online.
These online master's programs do not require any on-campus visits; however, SU does encourage students to attend events such as career fairs, recruiting opportunities and graduation ceremonies. Student services and support resources are also available for all online students.
Online students at Syracuse receive course content in a flexible, asynchronous format. Most class sessions and lectures are webcast live, so students can "attend" the live class session if it fits with their scheduling needs, or view the lecture later. Students access video lectures, reading and learning activities, progress checkpoints and discussion opportunities online. Online student group spaces are available and most instructors offer online office hours at least one evening per week, in addition to daytime hours.
This booming university in the heart of Chicago has numerous online offerings for those who live anywhere in the world. The college offers several master's degrees in computer science, including:
Students who intend to attend DePaul University through online courses must first apply for the traditional program, then sign up for online classes in order to complete the work. Online courses follow the same start dates and assignment deadlines as the traditional courses, and lectures are posted within two hours of their presentation at the on-campus classroom.
Post-master's certificate programs are available in project management and governance, risk management and compliance. Other certificate programs are offered through the Institute for Professional Development, including cloud computing, Java web development, data science and much more.
Though all studies can be completed online, examinations must be taken in the presence of a proctor. Students living near Chicago will be expected to take tests on campus. Those who live further away can find a proctor through their local library or college.
NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering's Office of Online Learning (NYU-ePoly) offers online master's degree programs in computer engineering, cybersecurity, and cybersecurity – management track.
The computer engineering degree focuses on telecommunications, computer networks, microelectronics, and other forward-looking technologies that students will use in industry and government careers. Students will learn about a variety of fields, including computer networks, VLSI design and testing, embedded systems design, and computer architecture.
The cybersecurity master's program guides students to become skilled information security professionals, learning how to protect computer networks and electronic infrastructures from attack. Students work with professionals from the school's Information Systems and Internet Security Laboratory to learn technologies including computer and network security, digital forensics, cryptography, and biometrics.
The cybersecurity degree also has a management track for professionals with strong technical backgrounds. This program prepares students to manage computer security within IT organizations, with career options such as IT security manager, IT risk manager, and chief information security officer.
Classes are asynchronous, allowing students to log on at any time during the week to review course materials, participate in online discussions, and complete assignments. NYU-ePoly students have access to many student services, including: online student orientation; online exams and texting; NYU libraries; online tutoring; career services; disability resources; and military veteran services.
In most cases, earning an online master’s in computer science affords the student the opportunity to focus on a specialization. Core requirements vary widely depending on the area of focus, and most programs involve real-world application and problem solving.
Core requirements of a graduate degree in computer science include foundations, software development, programming and networking. Students delve further into the background acquired in an undergraduate degree and expand on the algorithms, programming and operating systems structure needed to solve everyday challenges in practical settings. They master programming language – or a heighten focus on a specific language — and explore artificial intelligence techniques in real case studies and research. The following illustrates common coursework on an online master’s degree in computer science (or a related discipline). Please note that courses vary by subject, so these only provide an example.
|Advanced Operating Systems||Discussions include operating systems structuring, multithreading and synchronization, and parallel and distributed computing systems.|
|Computer Networks||Courses such as this are typically project-based and explore topics in the IP layer and above.|
|Software Development Process||Students discover product development, quality control techniques, and maintenance.|
|Machine Learning||Students learn algorithms and approaches to artificial intelligence in the context of larger systems.|
|Java Programming||This class involves extensive coding and programming.|
|Computer Vision||The goal in this class is to develop methods that enable a computer or machine to analyze images and videos.|
|High Performance Computer Architecture||This class focuses on quantitative analysis of techniques that define current-day high-performance microprocessors.|
|Software Architecture and Design||Students design and implement software in a real-world setting.|
|Computability and Algorithms||Students explore a range of computing concepts and apply a variety of problems to them, allowing students to become with specific programming language.|
|Knowledge-based AI||Courses like this one teach relevant AI techniques, spotlight case studies from application domains, illustrate principles of system development, and more.|
|Machine Learning||In this class, students learn algorithms for machine learning and data mining.|
Violet earned an online bachelor’s degree in computer science from a major university. Knowing that computer technology was a great job market to be in, she wanted to learn more about programming and networking. Though Violet was able to find a job right out of college, she developed a passion for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Because that field is so specialized, she knew she needed to find a master’s degree with an AI specialization in order to move into that field. She took the time to find the right university with the concentration she wanted, and was even able to complete most of her classes online.
No two students are the same. When it comes to finding a program, some prioritize cost, others quality, others still the flexibility that online learning provides. Yet no matter what lands atop the list, all online CS programs, especially at the master’s level, should have the following elements. These ensure that students work toward a degree that can translate into a successful career.
Professors with real-world experience: Many professors know their stuff, both theoretical and practical. They have years of education and experience teaching the material and serving as academic and professional mentors. In a field such as computer science, however, real-world knowledge and skill matter. And professors who have worked in the private sector and applied their know-how in business settings can make a tremendous difference.
Online but hands-on: Online master’s degrees in computer science, information technology and similar fields keep much of the academic coursework on the web. This includes activities like the creation and submission of network plans or, naturally, the development and testing of web-based software applications. However, some CS disciplines require hands-on training. Anything hardware-related, for example, means working with servers, boards and other materials. Online programs should be mostly online, but give students plenty of opportunity to receive any tactile education they need to succeed.
Accreditation: It can be difficult to gauge the quality of an online master’s program in computer science, especially when they’re relatively new. One place to start, however, is with accreditation. Make sure the college and its CS programs have the proper accreditation, ideally regional. Also, some computer science departments may have additional accreditation from the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Student support: Having a variety of services at your disposal makes a difference. Academic and career counselors can help students forge an educational plan early, and job placement specialists can help them find professional opportunities after graduation. In addition to these critical functions, online programs should have near-24/7 access to digital libraries, tech support and other resources.
Diversity of delivery: Online programs aren’t one-size-fits-all. Some students want or need complete time and place flexibility, while others want to learn online yet also have a pseudo-classroom feel. Therefore, many colleges offer both self-paced (asynchronous) and real-time (synchronous) online options.
Online learning at the master’s level presents a number of challenges not experienced when earning an associate’s or bachelor’s. The subject matter goes deeper, the collaboration becomes more critical and the planning more refined. Therefore, some online graduate programs either require or strongly recommend a campus visit at the beginning of a semester or school year. This allows students to establish stronger relationships with professors and peers that they can build upon later in the program via chat, phone, Skype and other remote communication technology.
Kevin Reeves worked for a local university’s information technology (IT) department. He had received his bachelor’s degree in IT from the university and transitioned immediately into an entry-level job there. After two years of working but not receiving promotion, he decided to enroll in the school’s online master’s program. Not only did his college/employer cover most of his tuition, but the online format allowed him to study nights and weekends while keeping his day job. Although Kevin hasn’t graduated yet, he’s convinced that an advanced degree in a tech field will open doors once he’s done, either at the university or elsewhere.
According to Forbes, a master’s degree in computer science is one of the top degrees for job marketability and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the market to increase by 27 percent from 2012 – 2022. A study recently showed that those with master’s degree earned, on average, 38 percent more than those with only a bachelor’s degree in the same field in 2012. Included in the table below are some of the most popular computer science careers and the entry-level salary at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels.
|Career||Entry-Level Salary with B.S.||Entry-Level Salary with M.S.|
|Computer and Information Research Science||$57,220||$78,964|
|Computer (Hardware) Engineering||$63,970||$88,279|
|Computer Systems Analyst||$49,950||$68,931|
|SCHOOL NAME||CITY, STATE||STUDENT POPULATION||SCHOOL TYPE||TUITION||PROGRAM TYPE||PROGRAMS|
|University of Phoenix-Online Campus||Phoenix, AZ||307,871||Private, 4-year||$9,216||Campus||View Programs|
|Arizona State University||Tempe, AZ||72,254||Public, 4-year||$9,208||Campus||View Programs|
|University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL||58,465||Public, 4-year||$4,426||Campus||View Programs|
|Ohio State University-Main Campus||Columbus, OH||56,867||Public, 4-year||$9,168||Campus||View Programs|
|Kaplan University-Davenport Campus||Davenport, IA||56,606||Private, 4-year||$13,365||Campus||View Programs|
|University of Minnesota-Twin Cities||Minneapolis, MN||52,557||Public, 4-year||$12,060||Both||View Programs|
Master’s - ONLINE
|The University of Texas at Austin||Austin, TX||51,112||Public, 4-year||$9,790||Campus||View Programs|
|American Public University System||Charles Town, WV||50,838||Private, 4-year||$6,000||Campus||View Programs|
|Texas A & M University-College Station||College Station, TX||50,230||Public, 4-year||$5,297||Campus||View Programs|