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The Best Computer Science Schools: A Guide for Computer Experts

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If you’re interested in pursuing computer science in college, you probably want to know which schools can offer you the best computer science education (and the best overall experience).

Well, you’ve come to the right place!

In this guide, we’ll give you a list of the best schools for computer science, based on extensive research.

We’ll also provide useful information about each school’s location, acceptance rate, student life, and more. Let’s get started!

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

MIT is noted for engineering, science, and mathematics, so it’s a natural choice for computer science enthusiasts.

  • Although the school is challenging and competitive, students enjoy their classes and say that professors emphasize creativity and problem-solving rather than rote memorization of facts.

Professors at MIT are on the cutting edge of math, science, and technology, so you’ll learn from true experts in the field. MIT also offers unique research opportunities and a rock-solid alumni network.

There are 500 registered student organizations at MIT, including eight social sororities and nine honor societies.

  • Campus offers a variety of attractions, like the MIT Science Fiction Library, home to the largest collection of science fiction novels in the country.

Plus, MIT is just across the river from Boston, providing access to museums, plays, nightlife, and delicious dining options.

  • Acceptance Rate: 7.9%
  • Enrollment: 11,466
  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Stanford University

Stanford is a private Ivy League university located in the heart of Silicon Valley, where many companies were founded and are still run by Stanford faculty and alumni.

  • Its computer science department was founded in 1965 and continues to be a global force for innovation and discovery, and computer science is one of the university’s most popular majors.

At Stanford, you’ll get a world-class education, typically in classes of 20 or fewer students.

  • The freshman retention rate at Stanford is an impressive 98%, and undergraduate teaching is ranked in the top ten nationally.

The university has over 600 student organizations, including 30 fraternities and sororities.

And if you can’t find anything fun to do on campus, the school is a brief walk from downtown Palo Alto, where you can explore a variety of shops and restaurants.

If you’re into nature, you may want to visit the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains, Pacific Ocean, or San Francisco Bay.

  • Acceptance Rate: 5%
  • Enrollment: 16,914
  • Location: Stanford, California

California Institute of Technology (CalTech)

CalTech is a private university on a mission to “investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology…while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

  • It boasts one of the nation’s lowest student-faculty ratios and is recognized globally for significant contributions in research, science, and technology.

The school owns and operates large-scale research facilities and even manages NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, so opportunities for research and hands-on experience are plentiful.

  • Students say that courses taught by renowned experts, including Nobel Prize winners, are small, collaborative, challenging, and fascinating.

Thanks to the university’s small size, students form a close-knit community that many say is more like family.

The school has a house system that has been compared to Harry Potter, and each house has its own culture.

  • You’ll find over 100 registered student organizations on campus, as well as a number of fun student traditions.

Trips to the beach and Los Angeles are common over the weekend, and students appreciate the fantastic Southern California weather.

  • Acceptance Rate: 8%
  • Enrollment: 2,238
  • Location: Pasadena, California
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Carnegie Mellon University

At Carnegie Mellon, the computer science program is widely recognized as one of the first and best in the world.

  • The high-ranking program is also renowned in specialty areas such as artificial intelligence, programming language, systems and theory, and robotics.

Students praise the interdisciplinary environment, tremendous resources, and passionate professors at Carnegie Mellon.

  • Professors are supportive, even helping students select internships and giving advice on programs and opportunities.

The university’s career center is extremely helpful in preparing students to enter the professional world after college.

  • With 396 registered student organizations, there is plenty to do on campus, although students report spending the majority of their time on academics.

Of course, the city of Pittsburgh also offers plentiful entertainment and dining options, and students get free entry into area museums.

  • Acceptance Rate: 13%
  • Enrollment: 13,961
  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

Georgia Tech is full of intelligent, driven, and ambitious students who are passionate about STEM fields.

  • Programs in engineering, science, technology, and business are especially challenging and rigorous.
  • At the same time, professors are supportive, and students appreciate the hands-on, project-based learning offered in most courses.

Students claim that the primary activity at Georgia Tech is “studying,” but there are also 518 registered student organizations, and most students participate in at least one of them.

  • Greek life is extremely popular, as are tailgates and football games during the fall. Undergrads also enjoy attending plays and musical events at the arts center.

Of course, the city of Atlanta also offers museums, festivals, concerts, restaurants, clubs, and many other attractions that appeal to college students.

  • Acceptance Rate: 23%
  • Enrollment: 26,839
  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Harvard University

Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and its computer science program is no exception.

The university is currently expanding the size of the computer science faculty, enabled by Harvard alumnus and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

  • The program is also moving into new state-of-the-art facilities on Harvard’s campus in Allston.

Currently, computer scientists at Harvard are pursuing ground-breaking work in areas like theoretical computer science, artificial intelligence, privacy and security, robotics, data-management systems, networks, program languages, and much more.

The university offers over 400 student organizations, and downtown Boston is just a 12-minute ride from campus.

  • This puts students in close proximity to restaurants, shops, and entertainment.

Cambridge is also a hub for the art and technology scene, providing exciting opportunities and experiences for students.

  • Acceptance Rate: 5%
  • Enrollment: 20,234
  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Princeton University

Princeton is a private Ivy League university and the fourth-oldest institution of higher learning in the nation.

Among the university’s notable alumni is Alan Turing, the father of computer science. Since Turing’s tenure at Princeton in the 1930’s, the school’s computer science program has been at the forefront of computing.

  • The department is particularly strong in theory, networks/systems, graphics/vision, architecture/compilers, programming languages, security/policy, machine learning, and computational biology.

As far as student life, Princeton offers 250 student organizations and varied opportunities to de-stress and relax, including sporting events, concerts, recreational facilities, a movie theater that screens movies for free, and arts and crafts at the student center.

Both New York City and Philadelphia are an hour away by car, prompting frequent weekend trips.

  • Acceptance Rate: 6.5%
  • Enrollment: 8,623
  • Location: Princeton, New Jersey

Rice University

Rice is known for its contributions to science and technology, including work with nanotechnology and artificial hearts.

The highly ranked computer science program focuses on “the interdisciplinary impact of computing on a wide range of fields and industries” and engages students in learning key problem-solving, analytical, and programming skills.

  • The university website describes the school as “a community of curious thinkers, passionate dreamers, and energetic doers.”
  • Students agree, enthusiastically speaking of their “incredibly smart, curious, motivated, and fiercely independent” peers.

Choose from 280 registered student organizations, and enjoy student-run events ranging from bubble soccer to formal dances.

Residential colleges also offer fun opportunities like competitive sports, swing-dancing lessons, and improv comedy nights.

On the weekends, students attend parties or explore Houston’s restaurants, museums, concerts, and shows.

  • Acceptance Rate: 14%
  • Enrollment: 6,740
  • Location: Houston, Texas

Conclusion: The Best Schools for Computer Science

As you can see, a general rule of thumb for students interested in computer science is to look into Ivy League colleges or schools with “tech” in the name.

Of course, many of these schools are highly competitive—and often pricey.

  • If you’d like to explore other alternatives, you may be interested in Vanderbilt University, the University of Southern California (USC), Harvey Mudd College, the University of Michigan, Duke University, or the University of Texas-Austin, to name a few.

Wherever you go, look for a strong computer science program that can help you fulfill your academic and career goals, just like the schools listed here. Good luck!

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