Best Small Colleges for Computer Science

Last Updated on May 31, 2022

Computer science is the study of computers and computing, including their theoretical and algorithmic foundations, hardware and software, and their uses for processing information. The discipline of computer science includes the study of algorithms and data structures, computer and network design, modeling data and information processes, and artificial intelligence.

Computer science draws some of its foundations from mathematics and engineering and therefore incorporates techniques from areas such as queueing theory, probability and statistics, and electronic circuit design. Computer science also makes heavy use of hypothesis testing and experimentation during the conceptualization, design, measurement, and refinement of new algorithms, information structures, and computer architectures.

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Top schools for computer science

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#1 — University of California-Berkeley

Berkeley, CA

  • Tuition: $5,721/semester (in state); $5,721/semester + $14,877 in nonresident supplemental tuition (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

UC Berkeley‘s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Department offers two bachelor’s degrees and five graduate programs. The department boasts 190 active faculty members, two MacArthur Fellows, 14 National Academy of Sciences members, and 35 Association for Computing Machinery fellows. 

Research areas in Berkeley’s EECS include artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, signal processing, and operating systems and networking. 

The computer science BA requires computer architecture and engineering, software engineering, and introduction to robotics classes. The electrical engineering and computer science BS curriculum includes courses in data structures, multivariable calculus, user interface design and development, and linear integrated circuits. 

#2 — Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA

  • Tuition: $800/credit 
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Students can earn graduate and undergraduate degrees from Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at CMU. The largest department in the university’s College of Engineering, ECE awards 160 undergraduate electrical and computer engineering degrees annually. 

Accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, the BS in electrical and computer engineering includes classes like fundamentals of semiconductor devices, introduction to soldering, logic design and verification, and introduction to machine learning for engineers. 

Graduate degrees include an MS in electrical and computer engineering, an MS in software engineering, a dual MS/MBA in electrical and computer engineering, and a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering.

#3 — Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA

  • Tuition: $5,129/semester (in state); $15,685 (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom; Online

Georgia Tech offers about nine undergraduate and graduate computer science, computational science, or computer engineering degrees. 

Distance learners can earn an online MS in computational science and engineering or computer science. Required classes for the online master’s in computer science include high-performance computer architecture, advanced operating systems, and database systems concepts and design. 

The BS/MS in electrical and computer engineering allows students to complete both degrees in five years. Undergraduates can apply for the dual program as juniors. Through Georgia Tech’s research option, computer engineering bachelor’s students complete an intensive research experience and undergraduate thesis. 

#4 — University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL

  • Tuition: $8,674/semester (in state); $17,399 (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

One of the top low-cost colleges for computer science and engineering, U of I welcomes undergraduate and graduate computer science and engineering majors. 

The Grainger College of Engineering’s computer engineering BS focuses on computer systems, circuits, computer science, and electromagnetics. The curriculum includes computational aerodynamics, finite element analysis, data structures, and computer systems programming. 

The university’s BS in computer science’s required classes include discrete structures, numerical methods, programming languages and compilers, and probability and statistics for computer science. U of I students can pursue dual undergraduate degrees in computer science and another field, like anthropology, music, or philosophy.

Graduate students can pursue an MS in computer science or a master of computer science in computer science, a professionally oriented program.

#5 — University of Michigan  

Ann Arbor, MI

  • Tuition: $8,311/semester (in state); $26,072/semester (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

U-M’s internationally known Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department emphasizes diversity, inventiveness, and interdisciplinary teamwork. The department employs 72 tenured or tenure-track faculty members and 16 research scientists.

Accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, the computer engineering BS’s required courses include autonomous robotics design experience, parallel computer architecture, digital signal processing design lab, and advanced computer networks. The program offers tracks in computer-aided design, computer-based control systems, embedded systems, and robotics and vision.

Graduate students can pursue an MS, Ph.D., or M.Eng. in electrical and computer engineering. ECE considers all Ph.D. candidates for fellowships and graduate student research assistantships.

#6 — University of Nebraska Omaha

Omaha, NE

  • Tuition: $5,129/semester (in state); $15,685 (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom; Online

UNO’s College of Information Science & Technology offers undergraduate and graduate computer science programs, including an accelerated bachelor’s/master’s in computer science, a master’s in computer science education, and a bachelor’s in computer science.

UNO’s Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department offers a computer engineering BS accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. The four-year program requires classes like microprocessor applications, electrical and computer engineering fundamentals, applied linear algebra, and embedded microcontroller design. 

Computer engineering majors participate in research opportunities focused on robotics, metamaterials and plasmonics, and smart materials. The university’s student organizations include a robotics group, the student chapter of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, and Eta Kappa Nu.

#7 — Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

  • Tuition: $30,143/semester
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Among the top low-cost colleges for computer science and engineering, Cornell’s Engineering Department offers a BS in computer science and a BS in electrical and computer engineering. 

The computer science curriculum requires classes in embedded systems, data structures and functional programming, operating systems, and analysis of algorithms. The electrical and computer engineering program explores circuits, digital logic and computer organization, intelligent physical systems, and electronic device fundamentals.

Engineering majors choose from 20 engineering-specific minors including business for engineering students, engineering management, information science, or robotics. Departmental faculty research focuses on energy and the environment; bioengineering; advanced materials; and complex systems, network science, and computation.

#8 — University of California, San Diego

La Jolla, CA

  • Tuition: $14,733/year (in state); $29,754/year (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

UC San Diego’s Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) and Electrical and Computer Engineering departments jointly host a BS in computer engineering. The curriculum includes classes in advanced data structures, the principles of computer operating systems, design and analysis of algorithms, and circuits and systems. 

A CSE honors program invites eligible undergraduates to complete a research project in close consultation with a faculty member. The CSE department also offers study abroad, volunteer, and job/internship opportunities. Funding options for computer engineering majors include fellowships, scholarships, and a CSE showcase. 

Graduate students can earn MS or doctoral degrees in computer science and computer engineering from CSE.

#9 — Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN

  • Tuition: $9,992/year (in state); $28,794/year (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Purdue’s computer engineering program requires core courses in Python for data science, microprocessor systems and interfacing, professional communications and diversity, and advanced C programming. Students complete a senior design project in their final year of the program. 

Purdue’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department also offers a 4+1 BS/MS program that lets students earn an accelerated master’s degree after completing their bachelor’s.

Scientists and engineers conduct research in emerging fields at Purdue’s Birck Nanotechnology Center. There may be other research opportunities at the Center for Wireless Systems and Applications, Integrated Circuits & Devices Lab, Parallel Distributed Processing Laboratory, and Ziaie Biomedical Microdevices Laboratory.

#10 — University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA

  • Tuition: $13,258/year (in state); $29,754/year (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences offers a computer engineering BS, computer science BS, and computer science and engineering BS. Samueli employed 192 full-time faculty members and counted 3,331 undergraduates and 2,185 graduate students in 2020-21. 

The computer science BS curriculum includes classes like methods and application of collaborative learning theory in life sciences, introduction to algorithms and complexity, operating systems principles, and principles and practices of computing. 

Departmental research areas include artificial intelligence, computational systems biology, network systems, and software systems. Student clubs include IEEE Women Advancing Technology through Teamwork, Queers in Stem at UCLA, and UCLA 3D4E (a network for 3D printing enthusiasts).

Best Small Colleges for Computer Science

  1. Stevens Institute of Technology
    Hoboken, NJ

Considering that a group of technological innovators founded Stevens, you won’t be surprised that this Hoboken-based research institute values innovation. Today, it’s a top small college for computer science majors thanks to its focus on staying up to date with current technology trends. The computer science major provides a comprehensive overview of programming basics, and you can broaden the scope of your degree with electives like Artificial Intelligence, Distributed Systems and Cloud Computing, and Interactive Computer Graphics. And to beef up their resume, students can easily add a minor in cybersecurity; many of the required courses count toward both the major and minor.

Net Price: $34,935/yr

  1. Harvey Mudd College
    Claremont, CA

The smallest school on this affordable computer science degrees ranking, Harvey Mudd also boasts one of the highest graduation rates. And as a STEM-focused college, HMC requires all students – regardless of major – to take at least one introductory computer science course. If you want to pair computer science with another subject, Harvey Mudd also offers joint majors with mathematics and computational biology. Regardless of your choice, expect to learn not only traditional programming and problem-solving skills but to immerse yourself in current trends and ideas in the field. Program members round off their degree with a unique capstone experience, working in small groups to complete a real-life corporate or laboratory-based project.

Net Price: $34,529/yr

  1. Simmons College
    Boston, MA

Simmons’ location in the heart of Boston, its focus on research opportunities, and its all-female student body make it a top college for a computer science degree – especially for young women. Even freshmen are eligible to pursue research work, giving them a great chance to make professional connections early on. And if you have specific career goals in mind, you’ll appreciate that Simmons’ faculty encourages students to develop tailored courses of study. Whether you want to focus on web development, health informatics, or something else, Simmons has you covered. Ambitious undergrads should also check out the accelerated 3+1 program, where you can earn a BS in Computer Science and an MS in Library and Information Science in just four years.

Net Price: $30,232/yr

  1. Tuskegee University
    Tuskegee, AL

Founded in 1881 by Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver, this HBCU in Alabama has a storied history of providing a quality education to an underserved community in the American south. Today, it stands as one of the best computer science colleges in the region. Undergrads choose from degrees in general computer science, information systems, and information technology. After you enroll, the school uses your SAT or ACT scores to help determine your course placement, so you could start taking advanced courses from the get-go. As you approach graduation, you’ll appreciate Tuskegee’s rich set of career preparation resources and opportunities for networking.

Net Price: $28,497/yr

  1. Norwich University
    Northfield, VT

At Norwich, you’ll find affordable small college computer science programs that are particularly well-suited for students interested in joining the military. Although you can attend as a civilian, the school is recognized for its Corps of Cadets, a challenging training and lifestyle program aimed at developing leadership skills in its participants. With this focus on the military, it’s not surprising that one of the school’s best programs is in Computer Security and Information Assurance (CSIA). This degree prepares undergrads for the 21st century job of protecting our nation’s data and ensuring network security. Norwich also offers a rare concentration in digital forensics that highlights law enforcement issues related to technology.

Net Price: $26,733/yr

  1. Lawrence Technological University
    Southfield, MI

One of the best small colleges for computer science majors who thrive in a hands-on environment, LTU provides a project-based approach that stresses real-world experience. Undergrads have ample opportunities to conduct research, write papers for publication in the scientific and popular press, enter national competitions, and pursue paid internships. Your studies include not just the theory and fundamentals of computer science, but also practical skills to help you succeed in the workplace and appeal to future employers. As an added benefit, LTU offers software development-based concentrations that will help focus your studies and guide your career path. Potential specialties include game software, scientific software, and business software design.

Net Price: $26,248/yr

  1. Albright College
    Reading, PA

If you’re one of the many students who became interested in computer science thanks to a love of gaming, take a look at Albright’s Interdisciplinary Major in Game and Simulation Development. Delivered through both the computer science and digital media departments, this program provides a truly comprehensive look at game design. Participants flex their communication and critical thinking skills as they learn the fundamentals of software development, thanks in part to Albright’s background as a liberal arts college. If gaming doesn’t interest you, this affordable computer science college also has a traditional computer science option as well as a program in information systems.

Net Price: $24,971/yr

  1. Walla Walla University
    College Place, WA

As the only Seventh Day Adventist-affiliated school on this top computer science degrees ranking, Walla Walla represents an opportunity for students of faith to pursue a degree in a Christian environment. The school aims to “foster the unique gifts of every individual,” and as such, members of its computer science programs receive a top-notch education: Walla Walla boasts a 100% job placement record for CS graduates. While on campus, you can choose from eight computer science options, including a relatively unique concentration in hardware systems. Outside the classroom, CS undergrads can build camaraderie with their fellow majors through the computer science club. And each quarter, you can hunker down for a night of intense LAN and modem-based gameplay with “GameFest.”

Net Price: $24,104/yr

  1. Trinity College
    Hartford, CT

It’s no secret that effective communicators are better employees in any field, and Trinity wants all computer science majors to graduate with strong speaking and writing skills. Thanks to this commitment, Trinity is one of the best colleges for a computer science degree that truly prepares you for success in the real world. The department offers both a standard computer science major and an interdisciplinary program that lets you pair CS courses with classes in another discipline. The latter option gives you a great chance to hone your skills in a particular area; for example, you could tap into the current interest in genome sequencing by taking biology courses, or study philosophy as you explore the ethics of artificial intelligence.

Net Price: $23,980/yr

  1. Elmhurst College
    Elmhurst, IL

Elmhurst’s strength lies in the breadth of its affordable small college computer science programs. With three majors and four minors, you can mix and match course plans to create the ultimate career-focused degree. For instance, you might major in information systems with a minor in cyber security. Elmhurst also provides a top-notch computer game and entertainment technology degree that incorporates classes in web-based entertainment systems, digital cinema, interactive digital media, and more. And regardless of your major, you can request a mentor from Elmhurst’s alumni advisory board if you’d like career advice and guidance from someone in the field.

Net Price: $23,688/yr

  1. Illinois Institute of Technology
    Chicago, IL

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a tech school offers some of the best small college computer science programs around. In fact, IIT was one of the first schools in the Chicago area to introduce a CS department. At IIT, the comp. sci. options span from the traditional to the forward-thinking and include a number of specializations that address current technology trends (such as knowledge management systems and cloud computing). This dedication to innovation means that you’ll graduate with skills relevant to current issues in the CS world. And while you’re on campus, you’ll have access to more than 10 research groups in highly focused areas like machine learning and information retrieval – experience that looks great on a resume.

Net Price: $23,371/yr

  1. Caltech Institute of Technology
    Pasadena, CA

With an outstanding 3:1 student-faculty ratio in the computer science department, a high graduation rate, and a great location in Pasadena, it’s easy to see why Caltech earns a spot on this top computer science degrees ranking. Recognized internationally for its research opportunities, Caltech also manages the internationally known Jet Propulsion Laboratory. And CS majors reap the rewards of this world-class campus. You’ll start by learning the fundamentals of computer science (heavily focused on math and engineering) and then have the opportunity to branch out into one of many cutting-edge tracks (think robotics or machine learning). Your degree culminates in an undergraduate project or thesis, giving you the chance to take advantage of Caltech’s many research facilities and programs.

Net Price: $23,213/yr

  1. LeTourneau University
    Longview, TX

Although programming might seem like a solitary pursuit, LeTourneau ensures its CS majors have opportunities to collaborate – and to compete. Based in Longview, Texas, this affordable small college for computer science majors supports a chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery, an international organization that promotes computer science both as a discipline and a profession. Motivated students can work as a team to participate in ACM competitions; the team earned an invitation to a competition in Russia after winning a regional prize. And LeTourneau also participates in a national professional association, giving computer science majors opportunities to meet, compete against, and network with others in the field.

Net Price: $23,024/yr

  1. Anderson University
    Anderson, IN

Just this year, Anderson has expanded its selection of computer science and math degrees to include an innovative program information security (also called cybersecurity). This major requires courses in both the computer and political sciences, providing not just technical knowledge, but also a deep understanding of cybersecurity policy. Because Anderson is affiliated with the Church of God, academic programs also incorporate religious elements – an approach that makes Anderson one of the top computer science colleges for Christians. In addition, the university encourages students to pursue careers in public service, which you can easily do with a degree in such a popular discipline like computer science.

Net Price: $21,945/yr

  1. Oklahoma Christian University
    Edmond, OK

At OC, computer science undergrads choose from a broad range of majors and minors. And although many schools offer gaming concentrations, OC’s B.S. in Computer Science with Gaming and Animation program goes a step further. This comprehensive major not only provides a thorough introduction to game development, but also places specific emphasis on modeling and animation. Required classes like Team Game Production, for example, will give you a glimpse into what it takes to create a real game demo – and will impart valuable career-focused experience in the process. Overall, OC represents a great opportunity to attend a top college for a computer science degree in both gaming and animation.

Net Price: $18,758/yr

  1. Mount Saint Joseph University
    Cincinnati, OH

Advances in technology happen rapidly, and Mount Saint Joseph wants its computer science majors to study relevant topics. As such, the affordable small college computer science programs at the Mount are fresh and focused. For example, you can major in Web and Mobile App Development, an innovative program that many other colleges have yet to add to their course catalog. App development in particular is a rapidly evolving field, and the Mount’s major offers two tracks: graphic design and software development. Or if you’d prefer a more traditional CS degree, you can always pick up a minor in Mobile App Development to round out your resume.

Net Price: $18,140/yr

  1. University of Saint Francis
    Joliet, IL

A top computer science college in Joliet, Illinois, USF splits its CS offerings into two tracks: computer science and information technology. While the former track features more traditional, broad-based programs, the latter serves up more contemporary options. This includes USF’s popular Web Application Development degree. Majors in this highly focused program learn to build websites and maintain servers and networks. They also study emerging areas of interest in the field, such as intranet development. But regardless of which degree path you choose, know that USF’s commitment to service learning means you can use your new skills for good: A previous student group even developed an online portal for a Franciscan-run retirement community.

Net Price: $17,616/yr

  1. St. Mary’s University
    San Antonio, TX

With its focus on creating a sense of community, St. Mary’s is one of the best small colleges for computer science majors who want to learn – and live – alongside their peers. If you opt to live in the school’s Science Living Community, you’ll share your residence hall with other science and technology students, creating an inclusive, collaborative environment. St. Mary’s builds on that communal atmosphere with a semi-annual symposium, where upper-class CS students (working alone or in groups) show off their projects in competition. Frequent seminars, professional society events, and research opportunities all help make St. Mary’s a school that truly nurtures its undergraduates.

Net Price: $17,164/yr

  1. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
    Socorro, NM

The computer science department at New Mexico Tech has been around for more than 50 years, making it one of the oldest departments on this top computer science degrees ranking. So you might not be surprised to learn that it receives plenty of accolades for its programs. NMT’s fan club even includes the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security, both of which have applauded the university’s focus on IT and cyber-safety. Most notable is New Mexico Tech’s B.S. in Information Technology, which combines broad training in the fundamentals with highly technical experience. You’ll take required courses on topics like the global context of internet usage and also complete at least 12 hours technical electives.

Net Price: $12,489/yr

  1. Brigham Young University – Hawaii
    Laie, HI

Want a little taste of paradise while attending a top college for a computer science degree? Take a look at BYU’s Hawaiian campus. Not only does BYU – Hawaii have a beautiful location, but it also offers the best net price on this list. The university’s well-rounded CS department features straightforward majors in computer science, information services, and information technology. All of these topics are also available as minors, so you can mix and match to create a program that fits your interests. And to improve your communication and networking skills, consider joining the Computer and Information Science Student Professional Association. The organization promotes camaraderie and skill development – and will make sure you’re prepared for the job market after graduation.

Net Price: $10,695/yr

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