2020 Most Affordable Master's in Computer Science Online

By the OnlineU team | Updated 9/16/2021
2020 Most Affordable Computer Science Masters Degrees Badge
By the OnlineU team | Updated 9/16/2021

The 24 schools on this list represent the most affordable options for obtaining an online master's degree in computer science. Georgia Institute of Technology is the #1 school on the list, offering a tuition rate of $2,550 annually. Georgia Tech offers an online Master's in Computer Science with concentrations in Computational Perception & Robotics, Computing Systems, and Machine Learning. Second-ranked Georgia Southwestern State University is a similarly affordable option, with an annual tuition of only $3,855.

You can read more about our ranked schools below or browse our rankings of the most affordable online bachelor's in computer science degrees. View our methodology or learn more about OnlineU.

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All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank School Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Georgia Institute of Technology $2,550
# 2 #2 Georgia Southwestern State University $3,855
# 3 #3 The University of West Florida $4,250
# 4 #4 Columbus State University $4,935
# 5 #5 Southeast Missouri State University $5,475
# 6 #6 University of Illinois at Springfield $6,448
# 7 #7 Southern Arkansas University $6,600
# 8 #8 Mississippi State University $7,824
# 9 #9 Campbellsville University $7,875
# 10 #10 University of Idaho $8,235
# 11 #11 Frostburg State University $8,400
# 12 #12 University of South Carolina-Columbia $8,583
# 13 #13 University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth $9,135
# 14 #14 Capitol Technology University $9,270
# 15 #15 Old Dominion University $9,520
# 17 #17 Dakota State University $10,357
# 18 #18 City University of Seattle $10,400
# 19 #19 Arizona State University $10,640
# 20 #20 University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign $10,720
# 21 (tie) #21 (tie) University of Louisville $11,460
# 21 (tie) #21 (tie) University of North Dakota $11,460
# 23 #23 University of Bridgeport $11,560
# 24 #24 Nova Southeastern University $12,735
#1
#1
Annual Tuition: $2,550
Annual Tuition: $2,550
Annual Tuition: $2,550
  • Online Degrees: 7
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 69%
  • Graduation Rate: 90%
  • Acceptance Rate: 23%
  • Average SATs: 1300 -1510
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 474
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 12,827
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (404) 894-2000

Example Classes: Advanced Operating Systems, Computational Photography, Computer Networks, Computer Vision, Software Development Process

#2
#2
Annual Tuition: $3,855
Annual Tuition: $3,855
Annual Tuition: $3,855
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 38%
  • Acceptance Rate: 67%
  • Average SATs: 940 -1120
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 604
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 208
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Example Classes: Advanced Computer Graphics, Decision Support Systems, Distributed Operating Systems, Human-Computer Interaction and Interface Design, Internet Architect and Protocols

#3
#3
Annual Tuition: $4,250
Annual Tuition: $4,250
Annual Tuition: $4,250
  • Online Degrees: 3
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 46%
  • Acceptance Rate: 50%
  • Average SATs: 1080 -1260
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,893
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,452
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (850) 474-2000

Example Classes: Big Data Analytics in the Cloud, Computer Graphics and Simulation, Database Administration, Digital Forensics, Software Engineering Foundations: Java Programming, Software Engineering Practice and Tools

#4
#4
Annual Tuition: $4,935
Annual Tuition: $4,935
Annual Tuition: $4,935
  • Online Degrees: 7
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 38%
  • Acceptance Rate: 53%
  • Average SATs: 860 -1100
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 674
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 786
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (706) 507-8800

Example Classes: Advanced Computer Architecture, Computer Forensics, Computer Network and Management, Contemporary Issues in Database Management Systems, Simulation Project, Survey of Modeling and Simulation

#5
#5
Annual Tuition: $5,475
Annual Tuition: $5,475
Annual Tuition: $5,475
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Acceptance Rate: 85%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,223
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 481
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (573) 651-2000

Example Classes: Advanced Robotics, Computer Architecture, Data Mining, Distributed Cloud Computing, Machine Learning

#6
#6
Annual Tuition: $6,448
Annual Tuition: $6,448
Annual Tuition: $6,448
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Acceptance Rate: 52%
  • Average SATs: 995 -1220
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 889
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 859
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (217) 206-6600

Example Classes: Computer Cryptography and Digital Steganography, Computer Graphics, Design and Evaluation of User Interfaces, NoSQL Databases, RoboEthics, Wired Perspectives

#7
#7
Annual Tuition: $6,600
Annual Tuition: $6,600
Annual Tuition: $6,600
  • Online Degrees: 3
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Acceptance Rate: 69%
  • Average SATs: 966 -1168
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 371
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 634
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (870) 235-4000

Example Classes: Advanced Programming Concepts, Applied Cryptography, Computer Networking, Database Management Systems, Network Security, User Interface Implementation, Web Programming

#8
#8

Mississippi State University

Mississippi State (MS)
Annual Tuition: $7,824
Annual Tuition: $7,824
Annual Tuition: $7,824
  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Acceptance Rate: 62%
  • Average SATs: 1070 -1280
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 872
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 964
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (662) 325-2323

Example Classes: AI Robotics, Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, Database Management Systems, Machine Learning

#9
#9

Campbellsville University

Campbellsville (KY)
Annual Tuition: $7,875
Annual Tuition: $7,875
Annual Tuition: $7,875
  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 36%
  • Acceptance Rate: 69%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 913
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 944
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (270) 789-5000 x5000

Example Classes: Artificial Intelligence, Current & Emerging Technology, Cyber Security, Disaster Recovery Planning, Software Engineering

#10
#10

University of Idaho

Moscow (ID)
Annual Tuition: $8,235
Annual Tuition: $8,235
Annual Tuition: $8,235
  • Online Degrees: 12
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 56%
  • Acceptance Rate: 73%
  • Average SATs: 1010 -1240
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 431
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 590
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NWCCU
  • Phone #: (888) 884-3246

Example Classes: Advanced Operating Systems, Compiler Design, Computational Biology: Sequence Analysis, Fault-Tolerant Systems, Parallel Algorithms, Real-Time Operating Systems

#11
#11
Annual Tuition: $8,400
Annual Tuition: $8,400
Annual Tuition: $8,400
  • Online Degrees: 3
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 49%
  • Acceptance Rate: 72%
  • Average SATs: 920 -1140
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 500
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 474
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Phone #: (301) 687-4000

Example Classes: Advanced Object-Oriented Data Structures and File Organization, Advanced Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Security in Computing, Theory of Computation, Web Development and Programming

#12
#12
Annual Tuition: $8,583
Annual Tuition: $8,583
Annual Tuition: $8,583
  • Online Degrees: 3
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 77%
  • Acceptance Rate: 72%
  • Average SATs: 1180 -1370
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 454
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,462
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (803) 777-7000

Example Classes: Analysis of Algorithms, Compiler Construction, Computer Architecture

#13
#13
Annual Tuition: $9,135
Annual Tuition: $9,135
Annual Tuition: $9,135
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 98%
  • Graduation Rate: 59%
  • Acceptance Rate: 84%
  • Average SATs: 990 -1190
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 695
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 502
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NECHE
  • Phone #: (508) 999-8000

Example Classes: Algorithms and Complexity, Database Design, Mobile Robotics, Neural Computing, Paradigmatic Software Development, Software System Design

#14
#14
Annual Tuition: $9,270
Annual Tuition: $9,270
Annual Tuition: $9,270
  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 52%
  • Acceptance Rate: 75%
  • Average SATs: 1020 -1230
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 54
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 316
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Phone #: (301) 369-2800

Example Classes: Data Structures, Database Management, Discrete Management, Numerical Methods, Object Oriented Programming, Software Testing

#15
#15
Annual Tuition: $9,520
Annual Tuition: $9,520
Annual Tuition: $9,520
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 51%
  • Acceptance Rate: 86%
  • Average SATs: 980 -1180
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 3,948
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,206
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (757) 683-3000

Example Classes: Algorithms and Data Structures, Computational Geometry, Methods and Applications, Computer Architecture

#17
#17
Annual Tuition: $10,357
Annual Tuition: $10,357
Annual Tuition: $10,357
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Acceptance Rate: 84%
  • Average SATs: 1005 -1270
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,315
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 389
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (605) 256-5111

Example Classes: Design and Analysis of Computer Algorithms, Machine Learning Fundamentals, Operating Systems & Parallel Programming, Structure and Design Programming Language, Theory of Computation

#18
#18
Annual Tuition: $10,400
Annual Tuition: $10,400
Annual Tuition: $10,400
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 50%
  • Graduation Rate: 33%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 277
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 215
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NWCCU
  • Phone #: (888) 422-4898

Example Classes: Data Exploration and Visualization, Ethical Obligations in Information Security, Software Testing, System Administration for Information Security, Technology Implementation and Change

#19
#19

Arizona State University

Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
Annual Tuition: $10,640
Annual Tuition: $10,640
Annual Tuition: $10,640
  • Online Degrees: 3
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Acceptance Rate: 76%
  • Average SATs: 1091 -1301
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 33,410
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 10,843
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Example Classes: Data Processing at Scale, Data Visualization, Distributed Software Development, Software Analysis and Design, Software Verification, Validation, and Testing, Statistical Machine Learning

#20
#20
Annual Tuition: $10,720
Annual Tuition: $10,720
Annual Tuition: $10,720
  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 64%
  • Graduation Rate: 85%
  • Acceptance Rate: 62%
  • Average SATs: 1210 -1470
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 467
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 6,025
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (217) 333-1000

Example Classes: Advanced Bayesian Modelling, Applied Machine Learning, Cloud Computing Capstone, Parallel Computing, Programming Languages and Compilers, Theory & Practice of Data Cleaning

#21
#21

University of Louisville

Louisville (KY)
Annual Tuition: $11,460
Annual Tuition: $11,460
Annual Tuition: $11,460
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 98%
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Acceptance Rate: 75%
  • Average SATs: 1070 -1290
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 460
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 400
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (502) 852-5555

Example Classes: Automata Theory, Data Image Processing, Distributed Systems, Modeling and Analysis, Performance Evaluation, Simulations

#21
#21

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks (ND)
Annual Tuition: $11,460
Annual Tuition: $11,460
Annual Tuition: $11,460
  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Acceptance Rate: 83%
  • Average SATs: 1010 -1250
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,851
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,500
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (800) 225-5863

Example Classes: Cloud Computing, Computer Networks, Data Engineering and Management, Machine Learning, Scientific Visualization

#23
#23

University of Bridgeport

Bridgeport (CT)
Annual Tuition: $11,560
Annual Tuition: $11,560
Annual Tuition: $11,560
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Acceptance Rate: 54%
  • Average SATs: 910 -1100
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 467
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 480
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NECHE
  • Phone #: (203) 576-4000

Example Classes: Analysis of Algorithms, Engineering Colloquium, Mobile and Pervasive Computing, Object-Oriented Programming Using C++, Smartphone App Development, Unix System Programming

#24
#24

Nova Southeastern University

Fort Lauderdale (FL)
Annual Tuition: $12,735
Annual Tuition: $12,735
Annual Tuition: $12,735
  • Online Degrees: 7
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Acceptance Rate: 58%
  • Average SATs: 1070 -1280
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 292
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 5,532
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (954) 262-7300

Example Classes: Applied Cryptography, Operating Systems, Programming Languages

Overview of Online Master's in Computer Science Degrees

An online master's in computer science teaches you how to solve problems with technology. With this degree, you can learn how to design efficient algorithms, deal with cybersecurity threats, and develop software that solves real-world problems. You can also gain a set of mathematical, project management, and critical thinking skills.

Many schools offer an online computer science master's. A typical degree requires 30 credit hours, but some programs may need as many as 42 based on the specialization. Depending on the program, you may distribute credit hours across thesis, non-thesis, and project-focused coursework. Online programs allow students to learn at their own pace so completion times vary. Most full-time students complete a master's degree in two years. But some more intensive graduate programs can be finished in just over a year. Although part-time students can take more than the typical two years to finish, some programs put a limit on the number of years within which you may complete a master's degree.


Admission Requirements

Online graduate programs in computer science have certain prerequisites for admission. Most programs require a bachelor's from an accredited institution with some coursework in programming, database management, or a similar computer-related topic. Others can require an undergraduate major in computer science, or a bachelor's degree in a STEM field. Additional experience with software engineering, programming languages, and computer science theory, whether through work experience or coding bootcamps, can further boost your application and strengthen your chances of admission.

Academic requirements vary by program. Some programs no longer require a GRE. For those that do, students should expect to have a cumulative GRE score of 300 with at least a 150 in quantitative reasoning. In general, students should have a GPA of at least 3.0. More competitive programs may have higher academic requirements. Students may be required to submit letters of recommendation and a personal statement outlining their career goals or future aspirations.

Experience with software engineering, programming languages, and computer science theory can boost your application.

Is an Online Master's in Computer Science Worth It?

Earning a computer science master's online requires a significant investment of time and money, so it's important to examine the benefits of this degree in light of your career goals. You should also consider your personal and financial situation. Online degrees are often more affordable than in-person programs and may be an especially good option if you're a caregiver, work full-time, or are unable to relocate. The additional pros and cons outlined below may help you decide whether to pursue a computer science master's online:

Advantages:

  • A master's in computer science can lead to a potentially lucrative career. Given the growing importance of tech in the modern economy, it's no surprise that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects computer-focused occupations to grow by 13% through 2030. In addition to good chances for future employment, a graduate degree in this field may also lead to higher earnings. For instance, a master's may allow you to apply for computer and information science positions that pay a median annual income of $126,830, more than triple the U.S. average of $41,950.
  • This degree is applicable across multiple industries. Organizations in both the public and private sector are relying more and more on algorithms, cybersecurity, and software development for their daily operations. This degree could give you the chance to work in the sector of your choice.
  • Curricula cover a range of topics. Students can gain exposure to topics like advanced mathematics, modern-day challenges in cybersecurity, and information ethics in a computer science graduate program. If the prospect of learning about a variety of tech-related subject areas excites you, an online master's could be worth the investment.
salary potential with a master's in computer science
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Drawbacks:

  • An online degree may limit your chances to network. Though distance learning allows you to learn at your own pace, pursuing an online master's in computer science can prevent you from networking with others, including potential employers.
  • This degree is not a substitute for work experience. If you're interested in gaining experience with how to solve everyday computing problems in an applied setting, a coding or software engineering bootcamp may be a better option.
  • A computer science master's is not necessary to work with technology. If your goal is to work in a tech capacity, you don't necessarily need a graduate degree. A bachelor's degree is often sufficient to get a job as a software developer or information security analyst according to the BLS.

Cost of an Online Master’s in Computer Science

The most affordable online master's degree in computer science costs $2,550 annually. The median annual tuition for this degree across the 83 online colleges we've researched is $13,838. This is slightly lower than the median annual tuition rate of $14,278 for all online master's programs.

In addition to tuition rates, you should consider additional potential costs while pursuing an online computer science master's. These expenses may include books and incidentals such as application fees, enrollment fees, late course drop fees, and fees to access cloud and communication services. For an online computer science degree, you may also need a personal laptop or computer with enough processing power to run several programs reliably. An appropriate device can cost anywhere between $650 to $4,000. Standardized tests, such as the GRE, that have fees for registration, prep courses, and score reporting may also add to your expenses.

Online students may be able to reduce their costs by avoiding transportation and/or room and board at the college. Given that the interest on student loans can significantly add to the total cost of a degree, you'll want to minimize your student debt as much as possible. Here are a few more tips for reducing college expenses:

  • Consider choosing a more affordable online option.
  • Compare programs and per-credit fees carefully—generally, the fewer credits required to graduate, the lower the total cost.
  • Apply for financial aid through the FAFSA, as well as private scholarships and fellowships for computer science students.

Funding an Online Master's in Computer Science

Students enrolled in online master's in computer science programs have access to the same financial aid that campus-based students do. Graduate students can use federal, state, school, and private funding to help pay for tuition, fees, and other expenses. Tech companies also regularly offer funding for graduate students. For instance, Google awards need-based scholarships of $10,000 each to undergraduate and graduate computer science students who exemplify leadership in the field.

Online master's students have access to the same financial aid that campus-based students do.

Graduate students can also enroll in the Federal Work-Study program, which provides federal funding for student jobs at the university or in the local community. Most work-study jobs are on campus, but some schools offer online students remote jobs or may coordinate with community organizations to arrange work-study positions for online students. Military veterans or current service members can also use GI Bill benefits and other military tuition assistance programs to help pay for an online master's degree.

Taking out student loans from the federal government or private lenders can help bridge the gap for graduate students who have exhausted all other funding opportunities. Federal student loans are typically the best option as they offer fixed interest rates, may qualify for loan forgiveness programs, and often have more flexible repayment plans than private lenders. Before enrolling in an online computer science program, you should confirm whether a university also accepts additional financial aid that you may be entitled to.

Applying for Aid

The first step in applying for financial aid is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA. This application is used by the federal government, your state, and your university to determine how much aid you qualify for. Our FAFSA guide gives students an overview of what the FAFSA is and how to fill it out. Students should still fill out the FAFSA even if they think they won't qualify for any federal, state, or university aid because many private scholarships and other financial aid providers also use the FAFSA to award funding.

Financial aid is usually only available to students enrolled in accredited colleges and universities. Online students may have to meet additional criteria to qualify for funding such as studying full-time or maintaining in-state residency. Finally, while most awards and grants are open to both undergraduate and graduate students studying computer science, you should confirm your eligibility based on your degree type. Some scholarships are reserved for undergraduates while others may be specifically designed for students pursuing higher-level degrees in computer science.

Where to Look For Additional Assistance

The financial aid office at your school will have more information about additional funding sources available to you and what types of aid you can use toward your degree program. Students should also check with their department to find out if any grants or scholarships are available for their specific program. Additionally, we've compiled a list of some scholarships that are open to students in online master's in computer science programs.

Students earning a STEM degree are eligible for $2,000 and are chosen based on the strength of a written essay on blockchain, the Internet of Things, virtual reality, or artificial intelligence. Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, accepted or enrolled in a U.S. college or university, and studying STEM, economics, or business.

The SBB Research Group awards $2,500 to one STEM major each quarter. Students must be full-time to qualify.

This organization awards a variety of scholarships to LGBTQ+ students in STEM. Award amounts and eligibility requirements vary.

This scholarship is for women enrolled in programs approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology who are interested in pursuing careers in engineering, engineering technology, and computer science. Award amounts and eligibility requirements vary.

Student veterans in computer science programs and related majors are eligible to receive the $10,000 Google SVA scholarship. To qualify, you must be currently enrolled or accepted as a full-time student at a university in the U.S., be a veteran or on active duty, have received an honorable discharge or be in good standing with your service branch, maintain strong academic performance, and pursue a computer science, computer engineering, or closely related degree.


Common Computer Science Courses

Coursework for an online master's degree in computer science gives students a foundational understanding of computer programming and the skills necessary for a career in tech. Students take online courses that cover topics in web technologies, information systems, cybersecurity, and computer science theory. Depending on the program, students can take electives to explore topics such as network architecture, software design, and bioinformatics.

  • Applied Cryptography: This course will cover cryptography engineering and its role in privacy protection, data quality and integrity, and other areas of cybersecurity. Course topics often include public-key cryptography, basic cryptanalysis, hash functions, authentication codes, and real-world cryptography applications such as cryptocurrency.
  • Database Systems: This is a core course which covers how to design, utilize, and implement database management systems to store and retrieve information. Students will explore different data and storage models, query languages such as SQL, indexing, and query processing.
  • Machine Learning: Students who want to work with artificial intelligence or data analytics may take one or multiple elective classes focused on machine learning. Introductory courses focus on machine learning techniques and developing algorithms using programming languages such as Python. Students also complete assignments or group projects that allow them to apply machine learning theories to data sets.
  • Network Security: This elective course explores potential security risks for different networks and the methods used to protect them. Students learn about various network vulnerabilities, worms, viruses, and other security risks. Coursework also includes learning how to develop security protocols such as network authentication, firewalls, and encryption.
  • Software Engineering: For those seeking to specialize in software engineering, this core course helps students gain the foundational understanding and hands-on skills necessary to design, develop, model, and test software programs.

Specializations

With an online master's in computer science, you can choose to specialize in software engineering, data science, cybersecurity, or artificial intelligence by selecting specific tracks within a general computer science master's or by enrolling in particular degree programs. These are some of the most common specializations and what they cover.

Artificial Intelligence

Generally covering topics in computer vision, machine learning, and robotics, this specialization focuses on how to design intelligent systems. Students gain an understanding of how computers can communicate, reason, or make decisions.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity involves protecting online data from various threats such as theft. Students who choose this specialization learn how to build safe and resilient networks, usually through a combination of coursework and practical exercise. They may also learn about cybersecurity laws and policies.

Data Science/Analytics

This specialization focuses on the evolving data needs of individuals and organizations. You'll gain exposure to data analysis tools and management strategies. Students who pursue this specialization gain skills in statistical analysis, mathematics, and information technology. Certain programs may include the option to learn about data needs in a particular sector such as healthcare.


Careers with a Master's in Computer Science

Although a bachelor's degree may be sufficient to pursue a career in tech, a master's in computer science can help you develop technical skills that qualify you for a variety of roles. Keep in mind that hiring requirements also vary by employer. While the federal government may accept an undergraduate degree for certain roles, some private companies and businesses may require a master's. The following are some potential career opportunities for graduates who've earned a master's in computer science, with salary data from the BLS.

  • Computer and Information Systems Research Scientist: Computer and information systems research scientists explore how to solve computing problems. Their work can involve software design and utilizing complex algorithms that tell computers how to execute tasks. Some in this field also work on improving computer hardware to produce more efficient machines. Given increasing demand for their skills, computer and information systems research scientists work in a variety of such as health, business, non-profit, and government. They earn a median annual income of $126,830.
  • Computer and Information Systems Manager: In this managerial role, employees plan, coordinate, and implement computing operations in a business or organization. Computer and information systems managers tend to have experience in other tech capacities and can earn a median annual salary of $151,150. They often work with outside vendors to secure new software or web technologies for their organization.
  • Network Architect: Employment opportunities for computer network architects are expected to grow by 11% through 2029. Also known as network engineers, their job is to ensure the smooth running of information systems that help people communicate and share data. This involves designing information technology, diagnosing network problems, and anticipating an organization's changing network requirements. The median salary for this career path is reported to be $116,780.
  • Professor of Computer Science: Professors of computer science typically hold doctorates and conduct research in computing-related areas. They can work on various topics such as bioinformatics and applied computer science, or information science with the goal of advancing knowledge in these areas. Professors of computer science also teach undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as advise students on theses and projects. They can earn an average mean income of $103,140 per year.