Best Colleges For Computer Science – Most students who take computer science do so for one simple reason: to prepare for a career in computer science. Deciding where to apply and where to enroll are crucial decisions at the start of such a career. But where should you apply? How important is the decision?
Many students and parents rely on computer science rankings to help them decide which schools to apply to. Some influential ratings, such as the U.S. News & World Report, pushing a kind of “collective consciousness” into acceptance. People often assume that the ‘good schools’ are at the top, and conversely that low-ranking schools cannot be ‘good schools’. This assumption is incorrect, especially when the ratings are based on factors that applicants and parents don’t care about.
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Companies that provide computer science rankings are transparent with their methodologies to varying degrees, but the main rankings have one thing in common: none of them are based on real employment outcomes in the industry. For example, US News uses a single metric: a survey of university education professionals asking them to rank other universities. Other rankings, such as the Times Higher Education Computer Science Rankings and the QS Computer Science Rankings, include measures of “employer reputation” in addition to measures of academic quality. In this way, “common sense” about which institutions are “good schools” for computer science is reinforced. Because none of the other measures use real employment outcomes, the misconceptions grow year on year. Also, none of the available rankings include liberal arts colleges for computer science.
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That’s why we tried to make our scientific ranking. Our goal was to rank schools based on data that is both relevant and reliable. Our rankings are based on two factors: placement in high paying tech jobs and starting salaries for graduates. All computer science schools were eligible for our ranking, and our rankings included private research universities, public universities, online universities, and liberal arts colleges (including top computer science colleges for women). Our initial ranking only includes colleges and universities in the United States, but we also provide basic information about schools in Canada.
Managed by the U.S. Department of Education, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) contains comprehensive information on student admissions, demographics, course offerings, school resources, degrees awarded, and more. We collected data from more than 250 schools, starting with a group of schools that earned at least five computer science degrees in 2016, the most recent year for which data were available.
LinkedIn is a professional networking site. “Recruiter” is a premium LinkedIn product that enables highly specific searches. As the name suggests, its purpose is to enable professional recruiters to find applicants with specific skills and experience. We could use it for another purpose: to understand which graduates are best represented in the software industry. Search parameters can be found below in “Notes”.
PayScale is a website that collects and reports payroll data for various industries. Last year, PayScale partnered with the US. News and World Report to provide starting and semi-annual salary data for graduates of various colleges. PayScale claims to have surveyed millions of users, we are unsure of the reliability of the data, especially for schools with a small sample size. Still, we found the PayScale data to be fair, and even if it’s not a good indicator of absolute salary expectations due to self-selection, an excellent measure of graduates’ relative performance in the labor market.
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Potter’s academic ranking has two components: relative employment and median starting salary. In each case, the scores were normalized with the highest score being 1 and the lowest being zero. The final weighted average was normalized to 1 to create a Computer Science Employment Index (CSEI).
Relative Employment (50%) = number of LinkedIn users who graduated in 2012-2017 and reported computer science-related jobs at top companies, divided by [number of computer science schools awarded in 2013-2016.
Median Starting Salary (50%) = Median Starting Salary for Computer Science Reported Starting Salary. When computer engineering data were available, we calculated a weighted average of the PayScale data for computer science and computer engineering, respectively, based on the number of degrees offered.
According to US government data, these institutions awarded more than 1,500 degrees in computer science and computer engineering between 2013 and 2016. non-profit university George Mason University in Virginia, University of North Carolina-Charlotte, and University of Central Florida, all non-flagship state schools, also graduate many students who do not end up with top technology companies. Indiana University-Bloomington, the state’s School A standard bearer, is also doing well, especially when compared to its state rival, Purdue.
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UT Austin outperforms UT Dallas, sending about the same number of graduates to high-paying engineering jobs, but awarding fewer degrees. Stanford and the University of Washington-Seattle, schools in tech hubs (Stanford is in Silicon Valley and Seattle is home to Microsoft and Amazon), have some of the best placement prospects.
The relationship is for reference to compare settings; It does not represent the share of graduates in high-paying engineering jobs, as the data covers different time periods (2013-2016 degree data and 2012-2017 graduate employment data). The search parameters also don’t include all high-paying tech jobs, but are meant to be a representative sample.
The 18 schools listed here have generated more than 1,000 hits using our LinkedIn search parameters. Judging by LinkedIn results, graduates from these 18 schools alone make up about 40% of all workers in high-paying tech jobs. (66,628 total search results versus 26,521 cumulative search results for these 18). The University of California-Berkeley, not far from Silicon Valley, has by far the most employees in high-paying technology jobs relative to the number of college graduates.
Computer science is one of the few majors that makes paying full price for college a good tax investment. Not surprisingly, most of the schools that produce computer science graduates with the highest starting salaries are also very expensive, costing more than $60,000 a year. A school whose graduates earn good starting salaries, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is relatively cheaper. (Note that the prize is not the full cost of attendance; it only includes tuition, required fees, room, and a meal plan. We recommend adding $5,000 – $10,000 to estimate the total cost of attendance.)
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The results of the operation were amazing. People tend to think of “ranks” as linear: going from 1 to 10 is the same as going from 20 to 30 or from 40 to 50. Our reviews are anything but:
The top schools have a huge employment advantage. When we plotted the CSEI against the ranking, we saw a rapid decline in the top 40 job outlook, a level of 40-60, and a steady decline thereafter. Highlighted below are the top 40 schools so you can see how they compare to each other and between schools under 40.
The CS Employment Top 40 contains a mix of school types. Just over half (21) are private research universities (Caltech, Stanford, Duke, Carnegie Mellon, Dartmouth, UPenn, Princeton, MIT, Cornell, USC, Yale, Columbia, Brown, Rice, Santa Clara, Northwestern, Seattle University, Harvard , WPI, RPI and Tufts); There are also public schools (Berkeley, University of Washington, UCLA, Georgia Tech, UCSD, UT-Austin, UC-Davis, Cal Poly, UIUC, San Jose State, University of Florida, Penn State, Michigan, UVA, and Texas A&M) ; liberal arts colleges (Harvey Mudd and Pomona) and women’s liberal arts colleges (Wellesley and Mount Holyoke).
The top 20 schools award up to 15% of all computer science degrees in the United States, but if our LinkedIn data is any indication, their graduates account for about 30% of all high-paying tech jobs. Graduates of these top 20 schools also earn significantly more money:
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The reported average (unweighted) starting salary for schools in the top 10 was $92,748. The top 20 average above $90,000. The median starting salary for the CS Employment Top 40 was $83,802. For schools ranked 41-60, the median starting salary was $71,721, more than $12,000 lower. For schools ranked 81-120, it was even lower at $65,935. (Note that this is still higher than the average income in the United States).
Here’s a graph of our two factors (relative employment and median starting salary) on separate axes. This is where it gets really interesting:
We chose to tag some popular schools outside the top 40. When we look at how schools are grouped (particularly within the top 40), we see some interesting features:
Looking at the top 40, our ranking correlates quite well with the Times Higher Education, followed by US News:
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(This does not include schools outside the CS Top 40, some of which rank highly among others.)
US. News & World Report has been ranking colleges for decades. They only provide graduate school computer science rankings. There is only one benchmark for the U.S. computer science rankings. News: A survey of academics seeking to rank institutions other than their own. The exclusivity of the graduate school means liberal arts
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