Top 10 Colleges for Computer Science Major in US

What are the best universities to begin your journey into coding, algorithms, and building the technology of tomorrow? To help build your college list, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 colleges for computer science majors in the US. These institutions are renowned for their exceptional programs, cutting-edge research, and commitment to fostering the next generation of tech leaders.

1. Stanford University

The Department of Computer Science at Stanford University offers a comprehensive undergraduate and graduate program, encompassing a wide range of specializations, and it is highly sought after by talented students due to the popularity of Computer Science as a major. 

  • Notable alumni include: Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who co-founded Google, Reid Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn, and Jerry Yang and David Filo, founders of Yahoo. 
  • Distinguished professors in the field of computer science at Stanford include: Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, co-founders of Coursera. 
  • Significant contributions by Stanford’s computer science faculty and students include: The development of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), the creation of the Java programming language, and the Google File System (GFS).

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Top 10 Colleges

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) boasts a world-class computer science program offered through its Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), attracting a significant number of students due to its popularity and reputation for a rigorous curriculum and cutting-edge research. 

  • Notable alumni from MIT’s computer science program include: Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation, and Drew Houston, the co-founder of Dropbox. 
  • Distinguished professors in the field at MIT include: Barbara Liskov, a recipient of the Turing Award, Hal Abelson, a co-founder of Creative Commons, and Erik Demaine, a renowned algorithms researcher. 
  • Significant contributions by MIT in the field of computer science include: Development of groundbreaking inventions and technologies, such as the RSA encryption algorithm, the GNU Project, and the Scratch programming language.

3. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is renowned for its School of Computer Science, which offers a diverse range of computer science programs, encompassing fields like artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, and robotics. CMU’s computer science major is highly sought after, renowned for its interdisciplinary approach and collaborative research environment. 

  • Notable alumni from CMU’s computer science program include: Andy Bechtolsheim, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, Vint Cerf, a co-developer of the TCP/IP protocols, and Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal. 
  • The esteemed computer science professors at CMU include: Manuel Blum, a recipient of the Turing Award, Tom Mitchell, a pioneer in machine learning, and Randy Pausch, the author of “The Last Lecture.” 
  • Significant contributions by CMU’s computer science community include: Development of the first practical autonomous vehicle and the creation of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

4. Harvard University

Harvard University offers a robust computer science program, emphasizing interdisciplinary research and attracting students who wish to combine computer science with other fields like biology, economics, or linguistics. The computer science major at Harvard is popular and has produced notable alumni.

  • Notable alumni from Harvard include: Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, and Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft.
  • Distinguished computer science professors at Harvard include: Leslie Valiant, a recipient of the Turing Award, Michael D. Smith, the former Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Margo Seltzer, an expert in database systems. 
  • Significant contributions by Harvard in the field of computer science include: The development of the Aiken Relay Calculator, one of the earliest electronic computers, and the invention of the A* search algorithm.

5. Princeton University

Princeton University’s Department of Computer Science offers a rigorous program with a strong theoretical foundation, attracting students interested in algorithm design, cryptography, and theoretical computer science. 

  • Notable alumni include: Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, Brian Kernighan, co-creator of the C programming language, and Robert Tarjan, a recipient of the Turing Award. 
  • Prominent computer science professors at Princeton include: Andrew Appel, an expert in compiler design, Sanjeev Arora, a pioneer in computational complexity theory, and Jennifer Rexford, an expert in networking and the internet. 
  • Significant contributions of Princeton University’s in computer science include: The development of the Princeton Application Repository for Shared-Memory Computers (PARSEC) benchmark suite and advancements in cryptography and information security.

6. University of California, Berkeley

The University of California, Berkeley’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) department offers a highly respected computer science program, attracting students with its comprehensive approach that combines theoretical and practical aspects of computing. Computer Science is among the most popular majors at UC Berkeley. 

  • Notable alumni include: Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, and David Patterson, a recipient of the Turing Award.
  • Distinguished computer science professors at UC Berkeley include: John Hopcroft, a Turing Award recipient, Jennifer Chayes, an expert in data science and social network analysis, and Stuart Russell, a pioneer in AI and robotics. 
  • Significant contributions made by UC Berkeley in computer science include: The development of the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) Unix operating system, advancements in the RISC-V instruction set architecture, and breakthroughs in artificial intelligence.

7. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) offers a rigorous computer science program through its Computing and Mathematical Sciences (CMS) department, known for its strong mathematical foundation. Caltech’s computer science major is popular among students interested in theoretical computer science, algorithms, and scientific computing. 

  • Notable alumni from Caltech include: Donald Knuth, renowned for his book “The Art of Computer Programming,” Leonard Kleinrock, a pioneer in packet switching, and Frances Arnold, a recipient of the Turing Award. 
  • Caltech is home to prominent computer science professors including Carver Mead, a pioneer in VLSI design, Shafi Goldwasser, a Turing Award recipient, and Leslie Greengard, an expert in numerical analysis. 
  • Significant contributions by Caltech in computer science include: Early advancements in computer networking, the creation of the first computer-based video game (Spacewar!), and breakthroughs in cryptography.

8. Cornell University

Cornell University’s Department of Computer Science offers a comprehensive computer science program that emphasizes research and innovation, attracting students with its diverse range of specializations and opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations. 

  • Notable alumni include: Gary Johnson, co-founder of Applied Minds, David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails, and John Resig, creator of the jQuery library. 
  • Distinguished computer science professors at Cornell include: Jon Kleinberg, an expert in network analysis, Eva Tardos, renowned for her work in algorithm design, and Claire Cardie, an expert in natural language processing. 
  • Significant contributions made by Cornell University in computer science include: Notable inventions such as the Cornell Theory Center, a supercomputing facility, the Cornell RoboCup team, dedicated to robotics research, and advancements in computer vision.

9. University of Washington

The University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering offers a highly regarded computer science program that prioritizes innovation and entrepreneurship, attracting students with its strong connections to the tech industry and dynamic startup culture.

  • Notable alumni include: Jeff Dean, senior fellow at Google, Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for AI, and Ed Lazowska, a prominent computer science researcher.
  • Distinguished computer science professors at UW include: Rajesh Rao, specializing in brain-computer interfaces, Emily Fox, an expert in machine learning and statistics, and Shwetak Patel, known for his work in sensor systems and energy. 
  • Significant contributions by The University of Washington in computer science projects include: The creation of the first real-time video game (Pong), advancements in machine learning and natural language processing, and the development of the BeagleBoard, an open-source single-board computer.

10. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Computer Science offers a comprehensive computer science program that emphasizes both research and practical applications, attracting students with its robust technical curriculum and collaborative research opportunities.

  • Notable alumni include: Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, Ray Ozzie, former Chief Software Architect at Microsoft, and Susan Eggers, a recipient of the Turing Award. 
  • Distinguished computer science professors at UIUC include: David Forsyth, an expert in computer vision, Jennifer Tour Chayes, specializing in complex systems and networks, and Wen-mei Hwu, renowned for his work in parallel computing and GPU architecture. 
  • Significant contributions made by UIUC in computer science include: The development of the Mosaic web browser, the Blue Waters supercomputer, and advancements in parallel computing and high-performance computing.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Computer Science Program 

When searching for the perfect computer science program, there are a few essential factors you’ll want to keep in mind. By considering these key points, you’ll find a program that aligns with your passion for tech and sets you up for an exciting career! 

Curriculum 

Look for a curriculum that covers the latest technologies and trends in the field like artificial intelligence, data science, and cloud computing. The more courses offered in cutting-edge topics, the more prepared you’ll be for jobs of the future. Some programs may focus more on theory, while others take a hands-on approach with lots of opportunities for internships, research projects and networking with tech companies. Choose what suits your learning style best!

Faculty 

An exceptional faculty with real-world experience in the tech industry is ideal. Instructors who actively conduct research in emerging areas of computer science will be up-to-date on innovations that they can pass on to you. Look for student reviews that praise professors for being enthusiastic, engaging and dedicated to helping students achieve their goals.

Career Support 

The best programs provide career support to help you land an internship or job. They may offer resume help, interview preparation, career fairs where you can network, and opportunities to connect with alumni currently working in companies you’re interested in. Some even have dedicated career counselors to help customize your job search. 

Location 

Consider location and how it might impact your experience. Programs near major tech hubs give you a chance to network and find nearby internships. However, small college towns can also be appealing with lower costs of living and tight-knit campus communities. Visit schools that interest you and start visualizing what life there could look like! 

Overall, evaluate what’s most important to you, do thorough research on schools that meet your needs, and don’t be afraid to apply to multiple places. Your future in computer science awaits!

Frequently Asked Questions About Studying Computer Science in the US 

Are you interested in studying computer science in the US but have some questions? We’ve got you covered! Here are some of the most common FAQS and answers about getting a computer science degree in America. 

What kinds of degrees are offered for computer science? 

You can earn an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate (PhD) in computer science. Bachelor’s and master’s degrees are the most popular. A B.S. in Computer Science will give you a solid foundation for a career as a software engineer, web developer or IT professional. A master’s or PhD will allow you to specialize in areas like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, or software engineering. 

What will I study? 

Some of the core courses you can expect include: 

• Programming languages like Java, C++ and Python 

• Algorithms and data structures 

• Operating systems 

• Database systems 

• Software engineering and design 

• Discrete math 

• Statistics 

• Information and network security 

As an upperclassman or in graduate school, you can take electives in fields that excite you like artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, virtual reality and more! The opportunities are endless. 

What kind of jobs can I get? 

A degree in computer science opens you up to many high-paying, fast-growing jobs like: 

  • Software Engineer – Design, develop and test software and applications. 
  • Web Developer – Build and maintain websites and web applications. 
  • Data Scientist – Apply statistics, programming and visualization to solve business problems. 
  • Information Security Analyst – Help protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. 
  • Database Administrator – Store and organize data using specialized software. 
  • Technical Co-Founder – Start your own company with software you built.

A computer science degree from a top US university opens up a vast range of career opportunities, allowing you to explore your passions and thrive in the dynamic world of technology.

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