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Undergraduate Computer Science Program Rankings by University

Computer Science continues to reign as one of the most popular undergraduate programs being pursued by college students nationwide. In a world driven by technology and technological advancement, the pool of applicants seeking a college that can provide them with the field-specific knowledge, resources, and opportunities to succeed only continues to grow. However, given the popularity of computer science, students applying to that major will face significantly greater competition and it will be harder to get admitted. This means that the admission rate at any particular school for computer science will be substantially lower than the admission rate for the school as a whole.

Of course, the benefits of studying computer science as an undergraduate at the top-ranked universities are bountiful. There are premier research opportunities, a curriculum that will enhance your candidacy for jobs after college, and irreplaceable connections made with world-renowned professors that are the pioneers and innovators within the field of computer science…and these are just a few of the benefit to studying computer science in college!

To provide you with the most up-to-date rankings of undergraduate computer science programs, we have profiled the top ten college computer science programs below.

         Top Ten Colleges for       Computer Science
1 Carnegie Mellon University
3 Stanford University
4 University of California – Berkeley
5 Cornell University
6 Georgia Institute of Technology
7 Princeton University
8 University of Illinois– Urbana-Champaign
9 California Institute of Technology
10 University of Washington

*This data has been populated based on the most current reporting from U.S . News & World Report

 1. Carnegie Mellon University

University Acceptance Rate: 11%

Carnegie Mellon currently reigns as the top university for studying computer science for undergraduates. Close to 13% of the university’s graduates will leave with a degree in Computer Science. The School of Computer Science (SCS) offers bachelor’s degrees in artificial intelligence, computational biology, computer science and human-computer interaction. The school also provides interdisciplinary majors that integrate computer science and the arts and music and technology.

The available research areas at SCS include computational biology, computer science, human-computer interaction, language technologies, machine learning, robotics, and software and societal systems. With an overall acceptance rate of 11%, Carnegie Mellon boasts a competitive admissions process, but for computer science hopefuls, the school’s 5% admission rate to the School of Computer Science is what is most relevant. Statistics tell us that this broad applicant pool, as Carnegie Mellon was one of the top five American Universities with the highest percentage of international undergraduates at 16% of their class of 2021. While Carnegie Mellon may rank number one for undergraduate computer science majors, this does not mean that the schools following it are any less prestigious or renowned for their computer science programs. Also, please note that at Carnegie Mellon, students must apply directly to the computer science program when they are applying from high school to be guaranteed the opportunity to study computer science at Carnegie Mellon.

2. MIT

University Acceptance Rate: 5%

MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science a top-ranked college computer science program. This is no surprise since computer science degrees at MIT attract one of the highest percentage of undergraduates. MIT offers a robust selection of different computer science majors including Electrical Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Computer Science and Engineering, Artificial Intelligence and Decision Making, Computer Science and Molecular Biology, and Computer Science, Economics, and Data Science.

MIT also has outstanding research divisions across the computer science field: AI for Healthcare and Life Sciences, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Communication Systems, Computational Fabrication and Manufacturing, Computer Architecture, Educational Technology, Graphics and Vision, Human-Computer Interaction, Security and Cryptography, and more. The expansive breadth and depth of MIT’s resources and opportunities makes it a compelling choice for any undergraduate looking to pursue computer science at the highest level. MIT computer science graduates are renowned for securing competitive positions across diverse industries, given the high demand for their talent. Widely known for its excellence in computer science education, MIT consistently claims the top spot in most publications’ rankings of computer science colleges in the US. With one of the finest undergraduate computer science programs nationally, if not globally, the institution’s reputation speaks for itself.

3. Stanford University

University Acceptance Rate: 4%

When it comes to pursuing an undergraduate computer science degree, few colleges can rival the prestigious opportunities offered by Stanford University. Stanford has outstanding, high-level research opportunities available to its undergraduate students, and the research projects at Stanford are renowned for being leading-edge. Stanford undergrads can get involved with this research through their participation in CURIS (a summer research program), for-credit academic year research, and in completing their senior year Honors Thesis. Stanford graduates enjoy a remarkable advantage, earning some of the highest starting salaries compared to their fellow computer science peers from other institutions. Such a substantial increase in earning potential further underscores the immense value of a computer science education at Stanford University as well as why it is so hard to gain admission to its prestigious ranks.

4. University of California- Berkeley

University Acceptance Rate: 11%

Berkeley stands among the elite undergraduate institutions for computer science, ranking as the number four for computer science majors in college. Berkeley provides aspiring computer science majors with the option to pursue either a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree within the field.

For those seeking the highly competitive BS degree, students must apply through the College of Engineering. Alternatively, students aiming for the BA degree in computer science can apply through the College of Letters and Science. The Bachelor of Arts Major provides students with the broader opportunity to study computer science within the context of other fields while the Bachelor of Science Major is specifically focused on the relationship and integration between computer science and electrical engineering. These two distinct academic pathways allow Berkeley undergraduate students to tailor their education according to their specific interests and career goals within the realm of computer science.

The research areas at Berkeley are plentiful and include Artificial Intelligence, Biosystems & Computational Biology, Cyber-Physical Systems and Design Automation, Integrated Circuits, Micro/Nano Electro Mechanical Systems, Physical Electronics, Scientific Cl Processing, and more.

5. Cornell University

University Acceptance Rate: 7%

Ranking as the number 5 program for undergraduate computer science studies, Cornell’s Computer Science department has long been a pioneer within education, research, and innovation in computer science. Cornell students are given the opportunity to engage in research alongside visionary faculty, participate in national and international competitions, and contribute to projects that have real-world affect. With a focus on cutting-edge areas like robotics, artificial intelligence, scientific computing, virtual reality, computer vision, and more, Cornell provides many paths of pursuit within the scope of undergraduate computer science studies.

Cornell also has a unique research offering known as the Bowers Undergraduate Research Experience (BURE). BURE is an application-only program that offers Cornell computer science undergraduates a hands-on summer experience, allowing them to acquire new skills and delve into the world of research at a Ph.D. level. This 10-week summer program pairs undergraduates with esteemed faculty mentors and provides individual funding of $6,000 per admitted student. Space to participate in BURE is limited as this is a competitive, and highly-sought after program.

6. Georgia Institute of Technology

University Acceptance Rate: 16%

Ranking as the number six college for computer science, the Georgia Tech College of Computing’s Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) program equips over 3,000 undergraduate students with the essential skills and knowledge to emerge as trailblazers and influential figures in the world of computing. Georgia Institute of Technology, or more specifically the College of Computing, utilizes a revolutionary curriculum known as Threads. With 8 different “threads,” undergraduate computer science students get to customize their path of study and application. The 8 available pathways for students to select from are Devices, Info Internetworks, Intelligence, Media, Modeling & Simulation, People, Systems & Architecture, and Theory.

Beyond the pursuit of a specific thread or major, students also have a plethora of research areas to become involved in including Computer Architecture, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, Robotics and Computational Perception, Social Computing & Computational Journalism, Geometry, Graphics & Animation, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Hardware Security, and so many more. It is also worth noting that students at the Georgia Institute of Technology are set up for success long after graduation. Graduates can expect to earn a median starting salary of $101,000.

7. Princeton University

University Acceptance Rate: 4%

At Princeton University, which is ranked as the number 7 in the rankings of college computer science programs, the computer science department offers undergraduate students the choice of pursuing a computer science major through either the A.B. or B.S.E. degree programs. This customizable programming ensures comprehensive exposure to algorithms, theoretical computer science, computer system design, and more. Independent work and hands-on collaboration are key features of Princeton’s undergraduate computer science curriculum. Each participating student undertakes at least one design or research project, guided by a seasoned faculty member. This applied approach enables students to engage in cutting-edge research and entrepreneurial product design.

Research areas at Princeton include Computational Biology, Computer Architecture, Human-Computer Interaction, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Public Law & Policy, Robotics, Security & Privacy, Theory, Vision & Graphics, and more. Graduates of the computer science program at Princeton are extremely well-secured in being able to pursue the highest-ranked computer science graduate school programs in the country.

8. University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign

University Acceptance Rate: 45%

Ranked as number 8, the Computer Science department at University of Illinois—Urbana- Champaign offers 14 different variations of CS undergraduate degrees. Each program encompasses a core foundation of CS courses, but also allows for students to personalize their degree to align with their own specific interests. This uniquely blended programming reflects the interdisciplinary nature of computer science and the opportunities for innovation across a wide variety of subjects. The specific major pathways include CS + Anthropology, CS + Astronomy, CS + Philosophy, CS + Economics, CS + Chemistry CS + Animal Sciences, CS + Music, CS + Education, CS + Advertising, and more. This flexibility is a major allure to the 2,300, or so, undergraduates who pursue a CS major from University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign.

It is also worth noting that undergraduate students are treated as critical contributors to the world-renowned research that is conducted each year at the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign. Research areas include Artificial Intelligence, Computers and Education, Data and Information Systems, Interactive Computing, Scientific Computing, Systems and Networking, Theory and Algorithms, and more. The university has good reason to boast its innovative and competitive approach to the world of tech, seeing as some of its graduates have gone on to create Microsoft, PayPal, YouTube, and more.

Please note that although the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign has an overall admission rate of 45%, the admission rate to its computer science program is going to be substantially lower (as in the single digits). So, please how competitive this program is in mind when applying.

9. California Institute of Technology

University Acceptance Rate: 4%

Caltech has gained esteemed prestige for its academic focus and expertise in the greater fields of technology. Its 4% acceptance rate makes it one of the most competitive universities in the country. The entire college has less than 1,000 students, so it is a very small, select group of students. Undergraduate students are able to pursue a computer science degree through varying academic pathways including Networking, Distributed Systems, Robotics, Machine Learning, Graphics, Databases, and more. Furthermore, Caltech is renowned for its emphasis on research opportunities for its undergraduate students. Through initiatives like the SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships) program and the mandatory independent capstone project, undergraduate students are exposed to a variety of research avenues, enabling them to engage in hands-on exploration and contribute to cutting-edge advancements in the field of computer science.

10. University of Washington

University Acceptance Rate: 48%

Ranked as 10th in the country for undergraduate computer science programs, The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at University of Washington offers an exceptional environment for college students who want to study computer science. Due to the high demand and the limited nature of its prestige resources, the Allen School operates on a capacity-constrained basis and can only admit nearly 550 new students every year. This makes entry into University of Washington’s computer science program extremely competitive, necessitating a thoughtful admissions process to ensure the best possible learning experience for all admitted students. Most students utilize the “Direct to Major” admission pathway as high school applicants when pursuing admission to the Allen School. On average, 25% of Allen School students are current UW students who unearth their passion for CS during their initial year at the university. Regardless of the route in which you reach admission, the Allen School promises an academically rich and thoughtful undergraduate experience within the field of computer science.

Students at University of Washignton can choose between pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (CS) or a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering (CE). The CS degree is granted by the College of Arts and Sciences and provides a wider range of liberal arts and general education courses. This degree provides students with greater flexibility to customize their educational path. Alternatively, the CE degree is conferred by the College of Engineering and holds accreditation from ABET. Its focus is more strongly directed towards math, science, and computing hardware, reflecting its engineering-oriented focus. Regardless of the major a student chooses to pursue, there are plenty of opportunities for students to personalize their academic pathways based on their own interests and career aspirations.

The research areas offered at the University of Washington are extensive and include Artificial Intelligence, Computer Architecture, Animation & Game Science, Cryptography, Machine Learning, Molecular Programming & Synthetic Biology, Natural Language Processing, Robotics, Theory of Computation, Wireless & Sensor Systems, and more.

A Summary of the Top 10 Undergraduate Computer Science Program Rankings

A key takeaway from exploring the top 10 colleges for computer science is that, while prestige and ranking are relevant when making your college choices, it is important to learn about which schools are best-fit for your goals, strengths, and individual preferences. Just because a school listed in the table above may not be ranked in the first position doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be an exact fit for your interests and needs! In addition, due to the competitiveness of these programs, it is always important to have a broader list than only the schools that are ranked in the top 10.

A college admissions consultant or a college admissions counselor can play a pivotal role in helping you develop an effective resume for getting into top computer science programs for college. An effective college admissions counselor will have the necessary resources and tools to help guide you in your process of creating a customized college list that reflects your academic standing and your resume to help you target the right college computer science programs. In an increasingly competitive college admissions landscape, we are here to help dissect the application process in a way that will make it personalized and manageable for you so that you can feel more empowered to attain success in college admissions to computer science programs. If you want to learn more about focused academic programming or want to find out what the Spark Advantage is, reach out to one of our expert college admissions consultants here.

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