CS programs with great teaching [for a "solid B student" who wants to stay within a 6-7 hour drive from Maryland]

Hi, our S wants to major in CS (or possibly mech engineering). We’re less interested in whether a program is ranked 32 or 45 or 89 by USN, and more interested in the quality of the teaching and learning experiences in the program. I wonder if even at many highly ranked schools many profs may care little about teaching undergrads, and many classes may be 200 students or more. Any recommendations for CS programs where students really felt good about the teaching and support for learning? Also, we’re in MD and he wants to stay within a 6-7 hour drive from home, and he’s a solid B student – lots of coursework and experience in coding and network ops plus some AP classes, but not headed to MIT or CMU.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

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I’m interested in the responses you may get because I feel the same way. I can’t contribute much because I’m still in HS but I have a sibling at a small LAC and they have had an AMAZING experience with their profs!! They truly care and are always available to answer questions. I’m super impressed. So maybe look into a few of those.

Clarkson, WPI, and RIT all have good engineering and CS programs. I’d think the support and teaching would be quite good.

It can be hard to offer CS and engineering at a SLAC. For engineering in particular, it’s important to have ABET accreditation.



At colleges where CS is popular (which is common at more selective colleges), increased enrollments in CS courses can exceed the department’s instructional capacity. Some things colleges can do:

  1. Hire more faculty. But colleges have to compete with industry for CS PhD graduates, or even less-degreed people for adjuncts or other non-tenure-track faculty.
  2. Increase class sizes. This may require more TAs, which can mean admitting more graduate students (though there are limits on how many can be admitted based on funding and faculty), or using senior undergraduate students as TAs for lower level courses.
  3. Ration space in the CS major. This can mean needing to apply for the CS major in frosh admission, or applying to it later based on college grades in lower level CS courses.
  4. Ration space in CS courses. Usually, this means that CS majors are prioritized, but some colleges have had to limit CS course enrollment even for CS majors.

However, colleges which admit “solid B students” (3.0 unweighted HS GPA) are less likely to have overflowing CS enrollments (although there can be some exceptions where a 3.0 gets into most majors in the college, but a 4.0 is needed to get into the CS major at the same college), since more of the students at such colleges tend to perceive CS as “too hard”.

I second WPI. I’d also add Cal Poly, Rose Hulman, and Harvey Mudd.

While Cal Poly Humboldt will admit a “solid B student” with a 3.0 HS GPA, the other Cal Polys and Harvey Mudd would be unrealistic reaches for a “solid B student” CS major.

It would also take more than 6-7 hours to drive to any of them from Maryland.


I would add in RPI, as a reach.

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Another vote for Clarkson. Very impressive for a smaller school. The other school that is becoming quite popular is Elon in NC but the engineering program is new. Consistently ranked as one of the top teaching schools. However, I expect Elon to become more and more competitive. Lafayette could be an option too. But that is a pretty competitive school. I’d say Elon and Lafayette are more A-/B+ type schools. You could also look at Illinois Institute of Technology if your kid does not mind living in Chicago. It is a fine school.


I think there would probably be a number of schools that would meet your criteria. What’s the budget? That is a necessary (and limiting) factor to consider.

Concur! In my typical fashion, I read right over the “solid B” part.

Not knowing your budget or more about your son’s desires in a university, these are some schools I’d consider that I suspect are likely to have small classes and have some CS strength (based on the numbers/proportion of CS majors and, if applicable, ABET-accreditation in CS). ABET-accreditation is not crucial for CS, like it is in some other engineering fields, but it is an external type of validation. Additionally, though I listed the student/ faculty ratios as listed in College Navigator, there can be some inconsistencies in how schools report the data. Thus, this is a just one data point, but not necessarily 100% accurate. For reference, College Park’s student/faculty ratio is 18:1 and UMBC’s is 17:1.

Additionally, this is not my area of expertise. I would talk with the experts, look at course offerings (and class schedules to see how often the classes are held), look at the syllabus, etc. And there are a number of experts here on CC; I’m just not one of them. :blush:

I randomly chose zip code 21044 (Columbia, MD) as your imaginary spot in Maryland. All of these schools are within 250 miles of that zip code, so within about a 5.5 hour drive. Some schools I’d consider include:

  • Allegheny (PA ): About 1600 undergrads with a 9:1 student/faculty ratio.

  • Frostburg State (MD): About 3700 undergrads with a 13:1 student/faculty ratio.

  • Gettysburg (PA ): About 2400 undergrads with a 10:1 student/faculty ratio.

  • Grove City (PA ): About 2300 undergrads with a 13:1 student/faculty ratio. ABET-accredited for CS.

  • Hood (MD): About 1200 undergrads with a 10:1 student/faculty ratio. ABET-accredited for CS.

  • Loyola Maryland: About 3800 undergrads with a 12:1 student/faculty ratio. ABET-accredited for CS.

  • Manhattan College (NY): About 3200 undergrads with an 11:1 student/faculty ratio. ABET-accredited for CS and computer engineering

  • Monmouth (NJ): About 4100 undergrads with a 12:1 student/faculty ratio. ABET-accredited for CS with an 11:1 student/faculty ratio.

  • Moravian (PA ): About 1900 undergrads

  • New Jersey Institute of Technology: About 9200 undergrads with a 15:1 student/faculty ratio. ABET-accredited for CS and computer engineering

  • Salisbury (MD): About 6700 undergrads with a 14:1 student/faculty ratio.

  • St. Mary’s College of Maryland: About 1500 undergrads with a 10:1 student/faculty ratio.

  • Stevens Institute of Technology: About 4100 undergrads with a 12:1 student/faculty ratio. ABET-accredited for CS and computer engineering

  • Towson (MD): About 18k undergrads with a 16:1 student/faculty ratio. ABET-accredited for CS.

  • Widener (PA ): About 2800 undergrads with a 12:1 student/faculty ratio.

Some other schools that are more than 250 miles away but within a 7-hour drive that I’d consider include:

  • Gannon (PA ): About 3200 undergrads with a 13:1 student/faculty ratio. ABET-accredited for CS.

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic (NY): About 5600 undergrads with a 13:1 student/faculty ratio. ABET-accredited for Computer & Systems Engineering.

  • Rochester Institute of Technology: About 14k undergrads with a 13:1 student/faculty ratio. ABET-accredited for CS and computer engineering

I think Clarkson is an excellent suggestion, but according to Google maps, it’s about an 8-hour drive. If that works for your family, I’d definitely recommend!

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I’ve heard great things about St Mary’s cybersecurity. Washington College (Chestertown) has amazing professors and the Comp Sci kids actually built the app that the school uses for the bike share program. A few years ago Drexel was really focusing on not wedding kids our, but rather supporting them their freshman year, so that may be a place to check (assuming they still have that philosophy)

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Miami of Ohio (8.5 hours from Baltimore so a tad far) is known for quality of undergraduate teaching…can’t say so for the major.

Elon is rated #1 for what it’s worth in teaching quality. UMBC is another highly rated - not sure how they determine it. If religious ok, how about Fairfileld and Dayton?

Good luck.


Agree with that, Cal Poly Slo and Harvey Mudd are single digit acceptance rates for CS and it’d take 6 hours to fly there! Even a 3.6-3.8 UW GPA is iffy for Cal Poly Pomona CS lol. I’d take a close look at some of the moderately competitive regional LACs like Rhodes or Rollins if you can afford the price tag or your EFC indicates you’ll receive need based aid. Otherwise, look at some of the less competitive (e.g., Southeast) state schools. Generally speaking “B student” and “one of the most challenging STEM majors” don’t go well together. You are shooting for a narrow target but best of luck!

Good advice here - have a friend whose daughter attends Elon and loves it, not a CS major tho. Miami of Ohio is another good sleeper regional school. There aren’t many schools that don’t have a CS dept these days. OP, search on reddit USN CS major rankings 2023 or something like that. Someone copies and pastes the unlocked version every year. Schools that accept B students will be in the 175+ range or unranked (they only rank 250 programs)