Top 25 Computer Science Programs With the Best Return on Investment (ROI)

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Students looking into computer science should look for strong academic programs. Getting an education is an investment. As such, students should considerthe return on investment (ROI) when making decisions.

Currently, computer science is one of the highest-paying industries in the world. The average pay for software developers is over $90,000 per year. The average pay for computer and information research scientists is over $100,000 per year. These numbers come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those hoping to maximize their investment should attend one of these high-ROI universities.

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The 25 Best Computer Science Programs Ranking Methodology

Selection Criteria

For this ranking, we focused on public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities. But not just any computer science programs would do. Specifically, we looked for top degree programs that also offer a strong ROI.

Ranking Factors

First, we sought out the strongest computer science degrees by collecting data in three categories. In each of these categories, we then created a minimum threshold requirement. Only schools that performed at or above the threshold in all three areas made it onto our final ranking.

  • Program Demand: How much demand is there for the program relative to other majors at the school? To find out, we calculated the percentage of all 2015-16 graduates who earned their degree in computer science. (Threshold: 3%)
  • Computational Aptitude: Does the school attract students with strong math/analytical skills? We assessed this metric using the 25th percentile SAT math score of all accepted applicants. (Threshold: 560 points)
  • Research and Development: How much does the school invest in research and development? Here, we considered two data points. First, the dollar amount that the university dedicated to math and computer science programs last year. Second, what percentage that amount represents of all annual research spending. (Thresholds: $200k and 3%)

Finally, we ranked the 30 qualifying colleges according to their projected ROI. Scroll down to see which 30 schools made our computer science degrees ranking. Scroll down to see which 30 schools made our computer science degrees ranking for the best return on investment!

  1. Harvey Mudd College
    Location

    Claremont, CA

    Coming in at the top of this list, Mudd offers the absolute best computer science degree in terms of ROI. Mudd's membership in the Claremont Colleges consortium means students have lots of opportunities. This includes access to courses and resources from other top schools in the area. But the program's true strength lies in its breadth. Students study the theoretical underpinnings of the field. They also take a creative approach to problem-solving, and learn how to communicate their ideas. They do all of this through the application of ethical principles, keeping an eye to the societal impact of their work. These features make graduates of the program attractive to employers.

  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    MIT blows the competition out of the water when it comes to the number of CS degrees it awards. In fact, roughly a quarter of all its BS graduates are computer science majors. The school attracts expert faculty members who work on an array of research topics. Frequently, they receive honors for their efforts. The school maintains four separate research labs. Its student-centered research initiative will give you ample opportunities to use them. Learners can also complete a year-long advanced research program.

  3. Stevens Institute of Technology
    Location

    Hoboken, NJ

    Stevens Institute of Technology offers a truly impressive ROI. It also sets itself apart by offering a BS in cybersecurity. This degree includes core coursework similar to a typical CS degree. However, it diverges into more specialized topics in the junior and senior years. Stevens offers one of the best bachelor of computer science degrees. This helps you make inroads into a cybersecurity career. At the graduate level, the MS in cybersecurity has earned a prestigious designation by the NSA.

  4. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, CA

    This top computer science school is one of the best in the country. Standard prepares graduates for "research and teaching careers either in universities or in industry." As such, the BS degree requires you to select a "track." The track helps you define your studies and find an area in which to develop your knowledge more fully. Students should feel free to design their own specialty. Topic options include artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, graphics, and biocomputation. The school provides comprehensive coverage of research areas in tech.

  5. Harvard University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    At Harvard, the CS department does not operate alone. The future of computer science will depend on input from myriad other fields. As such, the school's accredited computer science programs focus on problem-solving. It is not just a matter of using codes or algorithms. Whatever works is preferable. Graduates often work in fields outside of the tech industry. And Harvard is not content to rest on its laurels. It expects to hire more CS faculty and expand its facilities.

  6. University of California-Berkeley
    Location

    Berkeley, CA

    Thanks to its proximity to Silicon Valley, UC - Berkeley acts as a conduit to some of the biggest names in tech. For example, the school hosts speakers from companies such as Apple and SpaceX. And it frequently hosts career-related info sessions from similar organizations. This top computer science college also runs highly ranked programs. These programs prioritize diversity, especially when it comes to gender. Berkeley has chapters of leading women in STEM organizations. It also runs a residence theme program. Here, where women have access to targeted advising and mentoring.

  7. Carnegie Mellon University
    Location

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Carnegie Mellon stands out on this computer science program ranking for several reasons. First, it offers some unusual interdisciplinary bachelor's degrees. These include a BS in music and technology and computational biology. Plus, its traditional CS degrees incorporate unique features through focus areas. These include robotics and human-computer interactions. Students can also pair their degree with a minor in neural computation. CMU even provides students with access to technology-related workshops and organizations.

  8. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Location

    Troy, NY

    This top computer science school has embarked on a massive research project. It is dedicated to developing the next generation of supercomputers. The tech school's foray into neuromorphic computing is emblematic of its broader commitment. This focus extends to the undergraduate program. Many BS students assist with faculty research or even pursue their own projects. Students can also sign up for the school's summer program, which comes with a modest stipend.

  9. Dartmouth College
    Location

    Hanover, NH

    Many top computer science colleges offer electives in graphic design. Dartmouth takes it a step further by offering a minor in digital art. The program combines extensive practice in modeling and animation with computational concepts. You can even earn an accelerated MS degree with a concentration in digital art. Just be prepared to complete a rigorous independent research project! Dartmouth also offers a "modified major" that lets you pair CS with a secondary interest. This allows for a more interdisciplinary education.

  10. Lehigh University
    Location

    Bethlehem, PA

    Lehigh stays at the forefront of computer science with its focus on data analytics. The school recently launched a new "Data X" initiative that prepares students for jobs. Its mission is to incorporate an interdisciplinary approach to teaching. This helps show how data affects the real world. CS undergrads enjoy professors who are data experts. Many pair their CS major with a minor in data science. The school also boasts many research opportunities. Many of these enjoy funding from big-name corporate or government entities.

Thanks for reading our ranking of the 30 top computer science schools for ROI in the United States!

Sources:
IPEDS Data Center
College Navigator
National Science Foundation
PayScale.com

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