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Top Universities in the US for Computer Science

By Sabrina Collier

Updated April 13, 2021 Updated April 13, 2021
  • There are 110 computer science schools located in the US this year.
  • The best of these, according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject, is Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), ranking first globally.

The recently released QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 features 651 of the best universities to study computer science in the world – with 110 of these located in United States 

The QS World University Rankings by Subject are based on four indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations per paper and the H-index (a way of measuring the productivity and published work of a scientist or scholar). You can find more details about the methodology behind the subject rankings here

Read on to learn more about the top 10 computer science schools in the US in 2021. 

Alternatively, if you would like to explore the computer science schools in further detail, click here to view the full table. 

Top 10 Universities for Computer Science in the US

Based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 

US Ranking 

World Ranking 

Name of Institution 

Location 

1  

 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

Massachusetts 

Stanford University 

California 

Carnegie Mellon University 

Pennsylvania 

University of California, Berkeley (UCB) 

California 

Harvard University 

Massachusetts 

14 

Princeton University 

New Jersey 

15 

University of Washington 

Washington 

17 

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 

California 

18 

Columbia University 

New York 

10 

19 

Cornell University 

New York 

10. Cornell University 

 Cornell Uni

 Part of the prestigious Ivy League group, Cornell University is currently ranked 19th in the world for computer science, earning a high score in the H-index.  

Its department of computer science was established in 1965, making it one of the oldest of its kind in the country. Based in Ithaca, the university runs a technology-focused graduate campus in New York City, known as Cornell Tech. 

9. Columbia University 

 Columbia

Also in the state of New York is Columbia University, ranking 18th and earning its best score in the research citations per paper indicator.  

Most graduates from Columbia’s computer science go into positions in computer science with industry or government. Others choose to continue their education or go into other careers in business administration, medicine or other professional studies.   

8. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 

 UCLA

Eighth in the US and 17th globally for computer science is The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). UCLA earns high scores across most of the indicators, particularly in the H-index and research citations per paper indicators, reflecting the quality of the school’s research.  

Its computer science faculty is part of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. It is credited as being ‘the birthplace of the internet’, as the first transmission of what would become the internet was sent from the university’s Boelter Hall in 1969. 

7. University of Washington 

 Washington

Rising three positions to 15th place globally, University of Washington is the seventh best university in the US this year. The school earns its highest score in the research citations per paper and H-index indicators. 

 The University of Washington’s college of computer science and engineering was established as an inter-college graduate program in 1967. Undergraduates often participate in research, with 33 students at the university winning the Computing Research Association Undergraduate Research Award over a decade, more than any other program in the nation. 

6. Princeton University 

 Princeton

Ranked 14th in the world for computer science and sixth in the US is Princeton University. Earning near-perfect scores across each of the indicators, the university performs particularly well in the research citations per paper and the H-index indicators.  

Princeton University’s computer science department is part of the university’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, in which 1,900 students are enrolled. Its alumni include ‘father of computer science’ Alan Turing, computer scientists Alonzo Church and John von Neumann, and Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos. 

5. Harvard University 

Harvard

Harvard University ranks seventh in the world and fifth in the UK Harvard UniversityUS. Its computer science department is part of the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (founded in 1847, with computer science courses available from 1984).  

Famous technology magnates to have studied at Harvard include Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (both of whom famously ‘dropped out’ to pursue their careers in tech). 

4. University of California, Berkeley (UCB) 

 UCB

The University of California, Berkeley is ranked fifth in the world and fourth in the US for computer science this year. Like MIT, Berkeley combines its computer science school with electrical engineering.  

The Turing Award, known as the ‘Nobel Prize in computing’ has been awarded to 11 alumni and 10 past and present faculty members of Berkeley, including Douglas Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse. 

3. Carnegie Mellon University 

 Carnegie Mellon

Coming third in the US for its computer science course is Carnegie Mellon University, based in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Carnegie Mellon University earns a perfect score in the academic reputation indicator – the best school in the US for this indicator.  

Its School of Computer Science is based at the Gates and Hillman Centers, a US$98 million complex which opened in 2009 and has achieved LEED Gold certification for its high levels of sustainability. 

2. Stanford University 

 Stanford

Ranked second for computer science both in the US and globally, Stanford University’s setting near the famous Silicon Valley in California makes it unique amongst these top universities in the US, with many of the world’s largest high-tech corporations right on its doorstep.  

Stanford’s computer science department was founded in 1965 and is part of the university’s School of Engineering. 

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

 MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers the world’s best computer science programme for another year running. MIT’s computer science department, combined with electrical engineering, is the largest department at the institution.  

The university is well-known for its innovative research in this area, with its computer science faculty and researchers having made fundamental contributions to cybernetics, artificial intelligence, computer languages, machine learning, robotics, and cryptography. MIT earns its highest score in the employer reputation indicator this year.  

Other top universities in the US for computer science 

Many more top universities in the US can be found in the computer science rankings, including the New York University (NYU, 21st), California Institute of Technology (Caltech, 22nd) and the University of Texas at Austin (28th). Six more US universities feature in the global top 50 for computer science, and 10 more in the top 100.  

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This article was originally published in September 2016 . It was last updated in April 2021

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Written by

The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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