Interested in earning an online master’s degree in computer science, but need it quick? Check out our ranking of the fastest online master’s of computer science degree programs.
Accelerated programs in computer science prepare graduate students for challenging yet rewarding upper-level careers in the field of computer science.
There are numerous career options with an online master’s degree in computer science. The sheer number of concentrations and specializations in online degree programs demonstrate how wide the field is. Specialization include:
Even better, the field of computer science is ever-evolving, necessitating the need for new technology for software and software systems, design and development, theory, and the application of new technologies, the field only continues to grow.Back to Top
There are a few types of master’s in computer science degree programs:
The MS in computer science is one of the most common degree programs in this field. This degree places a greater emphasis on the science and technology of computer science. It can be used as a stepping stone for a doctorate degree in computer science or a related field or for immediate employment after graduation.
The MSC degree is considered a terminal course-based degree. But it must also be emphasized that its curriculum may be similar, if not the same, as the MS in Computer Science degree.
The MAS degree places an emphasis on the practical applications of knowledge and skills in the workplace. Students will take some theory-based classes. but the general foucs will be on the tangible aspects of computer science.
If you’re planning on pursuing a doctorate degree, an MS in computer science degree is your best bet. The doctorate degree will be your stepping stone toward careers in academia, research organizations, and government agencies, among others.
If your desired career path doesn’t require a doctorate degree, then a master’s in computer science or an MAS in Computer Science degree will be more than enough. The doctorate degree may be a hindrance in your career advancement—you may be considered overqualified for the job you are seeking.Back to Top
Students interested in online accelerated programs in computer science can choose between thesis and non-thesis degree programs.
The thesis is a formal and original scholarly work written by a graduate student under the direction of their faculty advisor. This is a research-intensive paper intended to add to the existing body of knowledge in computer science. Writing a thesis is excellent training for the doctoral dissertation because it’s shorter and with a narrower focus.
On the other hand, non-thesis programs require completion of more computer science courses and a capstone project. The capstone project has real-world applications and, thus, each student must identify an issue, develop a solution, and demonstrate its applicability in a presentation.
If you’re planning on a career in academia or in research, a thesis program is the better option. You will spend a few semesters on data collection and other research-related activities, which will extend your stay in graduate school.
If you’re a working professional whose main career goal is in finding practical solutions, a non-thesis program is the right fit. You won’t be spending extra semesters on research yet still earn your master’s degree.
Key Point: Another key consideration of whether to choose a thesis or non-thesis program is that a thesis should be published, while a capstone project doesn’t have to be. Publishing a thesis can add time to accelerated programs.
Due to the academic rigor, the admission requirements for online accelerated programs for master’s degrees in computer science are more selective and competitive. Prospective applicants must demonstrate readiness, preparation, and aptitude for computer science, as well as must-have communication, critical and analytical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
Those qualities are usually determined by admissions officers through the analysis of the following minimum admissions requirements:
Key Point: Check if the master’s in computer science program you’re interested in has prerequisite courses for completion before formal admission. Prerequisite courses may include Introduction to Object-oriented Programming and Design, Introduction to Problem-solving through Computer Programming, and Introduction to Data Structures.
Prospective students in this accelerated program may also have to complete courses in computer architecture, operating systems, calculus, linear algebra, and statistics.
Other documentation required for admission purposes may include:
Many computer science graduate programs also require shortlisted applicants to undergo an interview or a series of interviews before formal admission. Such selectivity in admission isn’t just about maintaining excellent graduation rates and graduate outcomes—it’s also about the university getting good ROI from its graduates.
On average, a master’s degree in computer science can be earned in two years of full-time study. For part-time students, the time-to-degree ranges between three and five years.
But for accelerated master’s degree programs, full-time students can earn the graduate degree in less than two years! There are online accelerated programs that allow for a one-year time-to-degree, but interested individuals must be aware of the full-time commitment required and the fast-paced coursework.
Accelerated online master’s in computer science degree programs have the same number of credits required for completion as their standard on-campus counterparts—between 30 and 45 semester credit hours or the equivalent in quarter units.
The coursework in every master’s in computer science program is unique, but the courses can be divided into several categories—core courses, research courses or capstone courses, electives, and concentration courses.
The credits assigned to each course can be 3-4 credits, and full-time students may be required to take 2-3 classes per term in accelerated format.
The common core courses in master’s in computer science programs include:
Elective courses are intended to expand the students’ knowledge and skills in their personal interests. The choices can be diverse, too, from computer graphics and data science to health informatics and management information systems.
There are also several computer science degrees at the graduate level and these are possible through concentrations or specializations. Not all programs offer concentration options but the most popular ones are:
All acclerated online master’s in computer science programs use a learning management system (LMS) that students, faculty members, and administrators can access, albeit in varying degrees. The most popular learning management systems used in higher education institutions, such as Canvas, Moodle, and Blackboard, have the following essential features:
Most, if not all, online master’s in computer science programs provide new students with orientations about the LMS and its features and functions before the academic term starts. The orientation also includes an introduction to the program’s policies and practices, academic rules, and other relevant information.
As with an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree in computer science requires a substantial monetary investment. Per-credit costs in online programs range between $500 and $2,000+ and don’t include other fees and charges, such as a technology fee.
The per-credit tuition will also depend on two factors—first, if it’s a public or a private university; and second, if you’re an in-state or an out-of-state student.
Don’t forget the costs involved for textbooks and/or ebooks, for your laptop or desktop, and for your Internet connection. While you may not spend on commuting to and from the campus or on on-campus accommodations, these costs add up, too, over the two-year period.
There’s good news: Online master’s in computer science programs also offer financial aid for graduate students! These include institutional scholarships and grants as well as federal Direct Loans and PLUS Loans. Private loans are also a good option for financing a master’s degree in computer science.Back to Top
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for computer and information research scientists who hold a master’s degree is among the fastest at 21% over the next decade.
Plus, these professionals are among the most well-paid professionals with a median annual wage of $131,490 (May 2021). The demand comes from their usefulness, so to speak, in contemporary society.
Find out about other in-demand Online Accelerated Degree Programs. Take your career opportunities to the next level.
By turning abstract ideas into tangible and useful technology, computer and information research scientists make our world smaller while also expanding our horizons! As society demands newer and better technology, their expertise will be vital in its progress, too.
Furthermore, an online master’s in computer science degree can lead to these equally fulfilling careers as:
Students in the fastest online master’s in computer science programs can expect to develop the following skills:
While extensive work experience will also result in the development of these knowledge and skills, an online master’s degree in computer science shortens the learning curve. Besides, many organizations prefer computer science professionals with a master’s degree because it’s a demonstration of their advanced skill sets, both the technical and transferable kinds.
Indeed, earning an online master’s in computer science degree is well worth the significant time, effort and dollars on your part! The trick is in choosing the best one for your needs and it’s something that you should carefully consider.
We make it easier for you to make your decision by compiling this list of the fastest online master’s in computer science degree programs. We chose these online programs based on the following criteria:
The following graph depicts the average salaries of similar occupations to Computer Programmers in the U.S.
Source: U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
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Columbia University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Once again, Columbia University has proven itself among the best in computer science when Shree K. Nayar was awarded the Okawa Prize for 2022! Nayar, the T. C. Chang Professor of Computer Science, was recognized for his landmark study of computer vision and computational imaging.
Of course, this isn’t the first prestigious recognition that Columbia has received for its research projects—it was instrumental in the publication of the neuroscience bible, the Principles of Neuroscience, among others.
The MS in Computer Science program emphasizes the crucial importance of both theory and applications, particularly on experimental technology, in computer science. Students choose from diverse upper-level courses in computer architecture, artificial intelligence, and software systems, among other topics.
The top-ranked graduate computer science degree program welcomes experienced professionals who want to develop their advanced skill sets in computer science through specific concentrations. Columbia offers eight specializations:
Students choose their specific track as early as their first semester but may also work with academic advisors for a personalized plan of study.
Regardless of track chosen, students complete all the core courses and choose from the diverse electives. The academic standards at Columbia are high and it applies to master’s degree students who must maintain a 2.7 minimum GPA.
The exceptional faculty members, the interactive and challenging curriculum, and the diverse research opportunities for master’s degree students are a few of the reasons why Columbia is at the top of the list. Graduates are known for being competent and creative researchers who make seminal contributions to computer science.
Where to begin with such an overachieving university? Columbia administers the Pulitzer Prize, was the first school to award the M.D. degree, and has the largest endowment in the world.
Columbia University is great for students who:
Thrive under pressure and deliver on excellence
Columbia University might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer coasting along on their college education
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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Such is the forward-thinking spirit at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) that its professors developed the Programmed Logic Automated Teaching Operation (PLATO) in 1960 - and the innovative spirit continues in its academic programs today.
Considered the world’s first-ever shared computer-based learning system, its features include direct instruction, international communication, and research as well as the first email program and the first online community.
The Master of Computer Science degree is a non-thesis program aimed at professionals who want to deepen their knowledge and skills in computer science. Students take their eight online courses via the Coursera platform, thus, the self-paced convenience. But the Illinois faculty members and teaching assistants provide guidance and assessment for the assignments, exams, and projects.
The computer science degree program consists of graduate-level courses in the core areas of human-computer interaction, high-performance computing, and artificial intelligence. Students also take advanced-level courses in software engineering, databases, and scientific computing.
The fast-paced coursework involved in earning the master’s degree in one year means full-time commitment, although students may be able to pursue full-time careers, too. Prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, but applicants with a bachelor’s degree in another field may either complete prerequisite courses or demonstrate experience in core areas.
Computer science students love that UIUC is the home of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the fastest supercomputer in any university in the United States! That’s a wealth of research opportunities right there.
UIUC is great for students who:
Love the competition that comes with being in a challenging environment that nurtures excellence in the classroom, labs and life
UIUC might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer a so-so college experience with little competition
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Syracuse University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Student success is an integral part of life at Syracuse University and it manifests in the outstanding career services offered to all undergraduate and graduate students! In fact, each of the schools and colleges in the university has its respective career center where students get expert advice in their field of study, get opportunities for networking, and get guidance on job hunting. Did we mention that the research opportunities for students are impressive? Check out the SOURCE for research funding, too.
The MS in Computer Science program is an exceptional training ground for professionals who want to address the complex challenges of computer science with groundbreaking solutions. Students develop their advanced knowledge and skills under the tutelage of experienced professors who deliver their live lectures with expertise.
Students of the online master’s in computer science program are encouraged to generate innovations in the field with a special focus on core areas, such as artificial intelligence, advanced programming, and computer architecture. There are four core courses: Structured Programming and Formal Methods, Advanced Computer Architecture, Design and Analysis of Algorithms, and Principles of Operating Systems.
Preparatory courses are available for students who don’t have the academic and professional background in computer science. Applicants don’t have to submit GRE scores but must have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or related fields, among other qualifications.
The university has a beautiful, walkable campus but it’s also near downtown Syracuse with its attractions, from shops and restaurants to theaters as well as nature parks.
Syracuse University is great for students who:
Thrive in competitive academic environments but with a strong sense of community—and the sea of Oranges prove it!
Syracuse University might not be the best fit for students who:
Like a more laidback and small campus community
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Arizona State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
With its mission of making education accessible to everybody, Arizona State University Online created among the best digital learning platforms in online education! Online students receive the quality of instruction, student support services, and academic offerings as their on-campus counterparts. The ASU Online education is designed to drive every student’s life forward and, thus, make a truly positive impact.
The collaborative Master of Computer Science program is between ASU’s School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence and Coursera, among the world’s largest MOOCs. This is intended for professionals who want to develop advanced skill sets in computer science and strengthen their skills via practical projects with real-world applications. Students also learn the theories behind computer science since these are the foundation for practical skills.
The online master’s in computer science program offers two concentrations—big data systems and cybersecurity. All students must complete a foundations course, a systems course, and an applications course as well as seven electives. Every class has a 7.5-week duration. The culminating project is a project portfolio showcasing each student’s major learnings.
Applicants must possess proficiency in several programming languages and demonstrate knowledge of topics including data structure and algorithms, operating systems, and computer organization and assembly language programming.
Students maximize their learning partly because of the well-planned online courses designed with effective instructional design methodologies and adult learning theories.
ASU Online is great for students who:
Benefit from the flexibility, convenience, and accessibility of online learning
ASU Online might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer in-person learning
Tuition + fees
Concordia University Wisconsin’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Lutheran life is a way of life at Concordia University Wisconsin and students, faculty and staff members, and alumni benefit from it in so many ways. The diversity of academic programs range from the professional fields to church careers that make CUW attract students from across all walks of life. There’s an intentional purpose with every academic program and educational policy, too, which encourages students toward personal and professional development in Jesus Christ.
Graduate students in the MS in Computer Science program use their learnings for career advancement in the competitive field of computer science. The program of study emphasizes cutting-edge technology, practical skills rooted in a robust theoretical foundation, and professional practice based on Christ-centered ethics and social advocacy. Students also develop their leadership skills that will enable them to lead technical teams after graduation.
The concentrations offered are in:
The STEM-designated program has several start dates throughout the year, thus, allowing interested individuals to apply when they are ready. While a bachelor’s in computer science is preferred, it isn’t required—admitted students can take optional catch-up modules for this reason. Once admitted, students take seven core courses in computing and then three courses in their chosen concentration.
Note that CUW has an accelerated bachelor’s-to-master’s in computer science program with a four-year time-to-completion.
While fun activities abound off the campus, the CUW campus itself is filled with opportunities for recreation and entertainment! Student events are aplenty, from the Freddy Fest to the STOMP the Courtyard events.
CUW is great for students who:
Love a mid-sized campus community that’s just right, from the grounds to the student body
CUW might not be the best fit for students who:
Like their alcoholic drinks (CUW is as dry a campus as you can get)
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Old Dominion University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Being on the forefront of research, science and technology isn’t new to Old Dominion University! Take, for example, the Virginia Modeling, Analysis & Simulation Center (VMASC) on its campus. The VMASC is a university-wide interdisciplinary research center that carries out cutting-edge research and development in modeling, simulation and visualization. Students are invited to participate in the research programs and, thus, advance their education.
The MS in Computer Science program is on the same path, so to speak, with its dual emphasis on education and research. Students receive ample support for graduate-level research in diverse areas including bioinformatics, high performance computing, and software engineering. The computer science degree program has three start dates—fall, spring and summer semesters—and with flexible schedules for working professionals.
Students choose from three programs of study, namely:
All students can access their course materials anytime, anywhere with an Internet connection.
Check out the College of Sciences for its rich opportunities for research and development in its contemporary facilities! It’s among the best places at ODU to establish your career as an innovator and scientist.
ODU is great for students who:
Love research and willing to work hard for results
ODU might not be the best fit for students who:
Like less competition and more leisure time
Tuition + fees
Pace University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
The beauty of Pace University lies in its consistency—the New York City and Westchester campuses as well as the online campus provide students with nearly endless opportunities for learning, growing and networking. Thanks to its strategic location, students have access to thousands of internship and employment opportunities that few universities can offer.
Offered at the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems, the MS in Computer Science program welcomes both established computer science professionals and career changers. Since computer science is an ever-changing field, Pace University also updates its curriculum to reflect current technologies. Students earn the graduate degree with a robust theoretical framework and hands-on practical experiences.
The graduate-level computer science program has two pre-planned concentrations—Artificial Intelligence and Application Development. Students can also customize their degree based on their career goals and professional backgrounds. Students have virtual access to the Seidenberg Portable Lab with its cutting-edge enterprise servers, software development tools, and other industry-standard tools.
Applicants preferably should have an undergraduate degree in computer science with a 3.0 GPA, but qualitative factors are considered.
Applicants without a computer science background are welcome to apply but must take a bridge course in preparation for the academic rigors ahead.
Students have something new to look forward to, thanks to the brand-new student commons, student center and study spaces, even new residence halls! But if the campus becomes too small, explore downtown New York City.
Pace University is great for students who:
Love the hustle and bustle of a cosmopolitan city yet still have a campus to call home
Pace University might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer a small campus community in a rural area
Tuition + fees
Mercy College ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Being a Hispanic-Serving Institution is among the points of pride of Mercy College. Such a designation is in line with its mission of providing opportunities for all students to earn a college degree. The robust Latino student population is the largest in New York with 44% of undergraduates being Hispanic. Indeed, Mercy College is funded and recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for its initiatives in this area.
The MS in Computer Science program is also known for the diversity of its student body and with students provided with equal opportunities to earn the graduate degree. Students first build strong foundational knowledge and skills before gaining hands-on experiential learning experiences.
The program has two concentrations for students to choose from. First, the Software Development track prepares students for advanced software design and development. Second, the Data Science track trains students in the sophisticated fields of computational data analysis, data science, deep learning, and machine learning.
Student success is a commitment and it’s manifested in accessible professors who provide guidance to their students. The guidance includes coursework planning and identification of career opportunities.
For applicants without a bachelor’s degree in computer science, Mercy College has a bridge program with NYU Tandon.
Students benefit from the individualized instruction, stackable college credits, and specialized academic programs with flexible scheduling.
Mercy College is great for students who:
Benefit from practical skills training in preparation for successful careers
Mercy College might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer a large party school
Tuition + fees
Franklin University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
For over 115 years, Franklin University has been at the forefront of adult accelerated education offered both at its main campus and in its online platform. Here, adult learners start working on their dreams, thus, strengthening the idea that it’s never too late to become what you are meant to be.
The MS in Computer Science program is also geared toward adult learners and working professionals who want to be leaders in their industry, whether it’s in research or in applications. Students develop their knowledge and skills in the design, development, and implementation of secure software solutions for organizations. Graduates are sought-after by startups, small and large businesses, and even Fortune 500 companies for their exceptional skills.
Students choose from three concentrations—Software Systems, Data Analytics, and Cybersecurity. All students complete the major courses, such as Advanced Data Structures and Programming and Distributed Systems, before choosing from electives aligned with their chosen track. Students also complete a capstone course to demonstrate their accumulated learnings.
Students can earn prior learning credit with their professional certifications. Transfer credits from graduate-level coursework from another accredited institution are also evaluated.
Franklin takes pride in offering high-quality education to working adults that are tailored to meet the standards of real-world professional settings.
Franklin University is great for students who:
Love the convenience, flexibility and accessibility of online adult education
Franklin University might not be the best fit for students who:
Like a party-filled experience in college