Top 25 Ranked Computer Science Programs with the Best Return on Investment (ROI) 2014

best-computer-scienceStudents looking to maximize their earnings in the field of computer science should be concerned not only with attending a university highly regarded for its academic programs, but also should try to find computer science degrees with the best return on investment (ROI).

Computer science is one of the highest paying professions in the world. The average pay for software developers is over $90,000 per year, and the average pay for computer and information research scientists is over $100,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because of these lucrative average salaires, the return on investment of a computer science degree is generally substantial, but some computer science programs stand out from the rest.

Ranking Methodology

This ranking list is designed to showcase the top ranked computer science programs, and consists of the 25 most highly ranked programs in the United States according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities. The list is then ranked from highest to lowest average 30 year net ROI according to Payscale’s Colleges Worth Your Investment ranking list. The purpose of the list is to highlight the top computer science programs in the United States and rank them according to their greatest future earning potential in order to allow students to make informed decisions about which higher education options afford them the greatest earnings opportunities. Because respected research is an important component of any high quality computer science program, this article will highlight notable research taking place at each university as well.

Ranking the Best Computer Science Programs based on ROI

 

#25. Ohio State University-Columbus: Columbus, Ohio

College of Engineering, Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Ohio-State-University-Columbus-College-of-Engineering-Department-of-Computer-Science-and-Engineering

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Ohio State University is a massive research university, and conducts some of the most cutting edge computer science research in the world. The school features a wide range of undergraduate research opportunities and the computer science programs are designed to give students the skills they will need to be successful in this competitive field.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #31

30 Year Average Net ROI: $635,000

#24. University of Massachusetts-Amherst: Amherst, Massachusetts

School of Computer Science

University-of-Massachusetts-School-of-Computer-Science

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The University of Massachusetts is one of the best public schools in the United States and is ranked among the top computer science universities in the world. The school conducts top level computer science research, has a strong 30 year net ROI, and features one of the highest acceptance rates on this list. The research is driven by research groups. Following are some examples of the kind of research groups one can expect to find at UMass Amherst: Advanced Computer Networking Research Group, Autonomous Learning Laboratory, and the Biologically Inspired Neural & Dynamical Systems Laboratory.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #31

30 Year Average Net ROI: $701,500

#23. Purdue University-West Lafayette: West Lafayette, Indiana

Department of Computer Science

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One of the top ranked public universities for computer science programs, Purdue University is one of the most accessible schools on this list with an acceptance rate of 68%. Between the quality of its programs and the school’s accessibility, Purdue is a great choice for many future computer science undergraduates. Purdue is a major research university that engages in some of the most cutting edge research in the field of computer science.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #19

30 Year Average Net ROI: $859,700

#22. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-New Brunswick: New Brunswick, New Jersey

School of Arts and Sciences, Computer Science Department

Rutgers-The-State-University-of-New-Jersey-New-Brunswick-computer-science-programs

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Rutgers is a public university and highly regarded for its offerings in science, mathematics, and technology. The university conducts high level research through research groups. Research at Rutgers includes areas like Theory of Computation and Mathematical Methods, Computer Systems, and Computer Security.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #20

30 Year Average Net ROI: $886,500

#21. University of California-Los Angeles: Los Angeles, California

Department of Computer Science

University-of-California-Los-Angeles-Computer-Science-Programs

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UCLA is ranked among the top ten computer science programs in the world at the undergraduate level by the Academic Ranking of World Universities. The school features many notable alumni, among them are Allen Adham, co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, Josephine Cheng, a Vice President of IBM, and Michael Pazzani, Vice President of Research and Graduate and Professional Education at Rutgers. Many other former students of the computer science program at UCLA have gone on to do great things in the field.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #9

30 Year Average Net ROI: $890,700

#20. University of California-Davis: Davis, California

College of Engineering, Department of Computer Science

University-of-California-Davis-Computer-Science-Programs

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U.C. Davis is part of California’s highly respected public university system. The school features several of the top computer science research groups and labs in the world. Here are a few examples of the cutting edge research initiatives at U.C. Davis: Computer Graphics and Visualization Research Group, Institute of Data Analysis and Visualization, Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Research Group. These organizations all operate with the goal of turning theory into reality, and ushering in the next wave of technological innovation.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #29

30 Year Average Net ROI: $897,300

#19. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor: Ann Arbor, Michigan

College of Engineering, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

University-of-Michigan-Ann-Arbor-Computer-Science-Programs

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The University of Michigan’s faculty boasts numerous awards in the field of computer science. The school is one of the most highly regarded public universities in the United States and the world. Following are some examples of ongoing research happening at the University of Michigan right now: quantum design automation, quantum science and devices, and interactive systems.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #16

30 Year Average Net ROI: $901,400

#18. University of Washington: Seattle, Washington

Computer Science & Engineering

University-of-Washington-Computer-Science-Programs

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The University of Washington features an award winning faculty, boasting a collective thirty National Science Foundation Career awards, twenty Sloan Research Fellowships, Eight Fulbright Awards, 2 MacArthur Fellows, and numerous other awards and fellowships. The research at the University of Washington is wide in scope, featuring work in big data, robotics, artificial intelligence, and computational and synthetic biology.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #25

30 Year Average Net ROI: $904,300

#17. University of California-Irvine: Irvine, California

Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences

University-of-California-Irvine-Computer-Science-Programs

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One of California’s top public universities, U.C. Irvine is a strong choice for students interested in computer science. The school features several high level research centers including: The Ada Byron Research Center, the Center for Embedded Computer Systems, the Center for Social Computing, and the Computational Vision Lab, among many others. These centers each house numerous cutting edge computer science research projects, each of which is intended to move the field forward in significant ways.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #39

30 Year Average Net ROI: $929,300

#16. University of Texas at Austin: Austin, Texas

College of Natural Sciences, Department of Computer Science

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The University of Texas at Austin is another of the top public schools for science and technology. The school does high caliber computer science research and its undergraduate program is renowned worldwide. The school is also very accessible, accepting more than 45% of applicants. Research taking place at UT Austin in computer science is cutting edge and features research projects like: automatic programming, virtual reality, and Randomness in Computation.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #8

30 Year Average Net ROI: $931,000

#15. University of Maryland-College Park: College Park, Maryland

Department of Computer Science

University-of-Maryland-College-Park-Computer-Science-Programs

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The University of Maryland College Park is a public university, and one of the fifteen best computer science universities in the world. The school is engaged in groundbreaking computer science research in areas like: databases, high performance computing, numerical analysis, and much more. Students will enjoy the opportunity to study under and work with many of the foremost minds in the industry.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #15

30 Year Average Net ROI: $934,800

#14. University of California-Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara, California

Department of Computer Science

University-of-California-Santa-Barbara-Computer-Science-Programs

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UCSB is yet another California public university to make this list. While it’s not the most highly ranked according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, 41st in the world is very strong. The high 30 year average net ROI is strong as well, coming in just under that of Yale, making this one of the more affordable computer science programs in the long run. This is a very strong showing for UCSB and is well deserved. The school engages in some of the most cutting edge computer science research including: distributed systems, computer architecture, and computer science education and diversity.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #41

30 Year Average Net ROI: $ 939,900

#13. Yale University: New Haven, Connecticut

Department of Computer Science

Yale-University-Computer-Science-Programs

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Computer Science may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Yale; however, Yale is one of the strongest schools worldwide for undergraduate computer science programs, and computer science research. Yale features some of the most unique computer science research going on in the industry at this time, including research into Computer Music and Social Robotics.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #33

30 Year Average Net ROI: $954,300

#12. University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign: Urbana/Champaign, Illinois

College of Engineering, Department of Computer Science

University-of-Illinois-Urbana-Champaign-Computer-Science-Programs

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The University of Illinois Urbana Champaign is quickly becoming one of the most respected research universities in science and technology. This makes it a great choice for students interested in the ultimate cross section of science and technology, computer science. Some examples of the cutting edge research happening at UIUC are: parallel computing, distributed systems, artificial intelligence, and programming languages.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #14

30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.03 Million

#11. University of California-San Diego: San Diego, California

School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science and Engineering

University-of-California-San-Diego-Computer-Science-Programs

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Another public university among the top ten computer science universities in the world, UCSD is a hub of computer science research. Students will have a wide range of options when attending UCSD as the school features research projects that span the field of computer science. Research areas include: theoretical and applied cryptography, scientific computation and performance programming, and microelectronic embedded systems technology

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #10

30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.04 Million

#10. Cornell University: Ithaca, New York

Computing and Information Science, Department of Computer Science

Cornell-University-Computer-Science-Programs

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Cornell boasts an award winning faculty consisting of many leaders in the field of computer science. The computer science research taking place at Cornell is driven by these individuals and represents the cutting edge of the computer science industry. Research areas one will find at Cornell are constantly changing as the field changes, but here are some examples of the work of which students will be able to be a part: Systems and Networking research into distributed systems, Cryptography and its effect on computational complexity and game theory, and a wide range of robotics projects including the development of autonomous cars and various legged and flying robots.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #7

30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.12 Million

#9. Columbia University: New York City, New York

The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Department of Computer Science

Columbia-University-Computer-Science-Programs

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The minds at Columbia University explore some of the most difficult challenges in the field of computer science. As one of the world’s best universities for computer science, Columbia naturally attracts many of the greatest computer science scholars in the world. These scholars head up research initiatives that include Information-Based Complexity, Computational Biology, and Robotics with a particular focus in Automated Vision.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #21

30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.18 Million

#8. University of California-Berkeley: Berkeley, California

College of Engineering, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

University-of-California-Berkeley-Computer-Science-Programs

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U.C. Berkeley is one of the largest, most highly regarded public universities in the United States. The only public university ranked in the top five universities in the world for computer science by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, U.C. Berkeley stands as an example of high quality but accessible higher education. U.C. Berkeley features high concept research areas like Control, Intelligent Systems and Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Quantum Information and Computation.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #3

30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.18 Million

#7. Carnegie Mellon University: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

School of Computer Science

Carnegie-Mellon-University-Computer-Science-Programs

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CMU is considered one of the best universities in the world for science and technology. The school is currently conducting research in such areas as robotics and cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is especially important as technologies are growing at increasingly fast rates and it is difficult to keep on top of all the new threats to our privacy that come hand in hand with increasingly integrated networks and cutting edge technology.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #6

30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.22 Million

#6. Princeton University: Princeton, New Jersey

School of Engineering and Applied Science, Department of Computer Science

Princeton-University-Computer-Science-Programs

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Princeton University is an ivy league university and well known for its academically rigorous approach to higher education. The computer science programs at Princeton are some of the most advanced in the world, bringing the intellectual might of some of the most illustrious minds in the field to bear on the biggest issues in the industry. Examples of the cutting edge research taking place at princeton right now are their computer science research projects in computational markets, economics, game theory, and bioinformatics and computational biology.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #4

30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.23 Million

#5. Harvard University: Cambridge, Massachusetts

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Harvard-University-Computer-Science-Programs

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Harvard University is one of the oldest universities in the United States and has a storied academic tradition. The school has remained on the cutting edge of education and technology throughout its long history and in the modern age. Though not offering the cheapest computer science program out there, Harvard is one of the leading computer science schools in the world. Harvard is famous for its interdisciplinary scholarship and its approach to computer science is no different. Harvard’s Center for Research on Computation and Society connects the foremost scholars in computer science with scholars from across disciplines to study major computational challenges that are of major concern in modern society. These issues include privacy, security, and croudsourcing. Harvard seeks to understand the long term impact of computation on society, and help guide the technological revolution in such a way that keeps these crucial issues in the mind of the cutting edge developers in the industry.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #5

30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.33 Million

#4. Georgia Institute of Technology: Atlanta, Georgia

College of Computing, School of Computer Science

Georgia-Institute-of-Technology-Computer-Science-Programs

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The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the top public universities in the nation and computer science is one of its strongest programs. The school also boasts one of the best 30 year net ROIs among public schools in the United States, and appears in the #1 spot on our list of Top-Ranked Public Universities With The Best ROI: Southern U.S. Region. The accredited computer science program at Georgia Tech features some of the most cutting edge research in the field. One of the most interesting areas of research at Georgia Tech is Theoretical Computer Science. This explores the cutting edge theories being applied to the most advanced areas of the field, areas like Complexity Theory, Algorithmic Game Theory, and Learning Theory.
Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #21

30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.39 Million

#3. Stanford University: Stanford, California

Computer Science Department

Stanford-University-Computer-Science-Programs

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Located in the heart of the Silicon Valley it will come as no surprise that Stanford is the top ranked computer science school in the world. Located in the midst of the epicenter of the modern technological revolution, Stanford has enjoyed relationships with most of the major tech companies. Some of the companies founded by Stanford alumni include Google, Yahoo!, Hewlett-Packard, and Sun Microsystems. These are just some the major players in computer science; the state of California alone is home to over 18,000 firms founded by Stanford alumni.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #1

30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.43 Million

#2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department

Massachusetts-Institute-of-Technology-Computer-Science-Programs

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MIT is a school that is world renowned for its first class education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. MIT has one of the most highly regarded computer science programs in the world. The school has research centers that lead cutting edge research in such areas of computer science as aerospace computational design, artificial intelligence, computational biology, and computer science education; these are just a few examples of the numerous computer science research projects of which MIT students and faculty can be a part.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #2

30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.6 Million

#1. California Institute of Technology: Pasadena, California

Division of Engineering & Applied Science, Department of Computing + Mathematical Sciences

California-Institute-of-Technology-Computer-Science-Programs

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The California Institute of Technology is on the forefront of computer science education and research. The school boasts not only one of the top computer science programs in the world, but also the second highest 30 year average net ROI among all schools in the United States, second only to Harvey Mudd College. An example of the high level research conducted at Cal Tech is the work of the Molecular Programming Project: a research initiative focused on understanding the working of information bearing molecules like RNA and DNA, developing new means by which to program molecules with the goal of creating complex artificial biomolecular programs.

Program website

Academic Ranking of World Universities: #13

30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.99 Million

 

In today’s rapidly progressing technological environment, there’s never been a better time to earn a degree in a field that practically guarantees career success.  When researching the top-ranked computer science programs, the computer science degrees with the best return on investment we’ve detailed in the above list are definitely worth a second look.

 

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