How does Rose-Hulman's computer science stack up

I have no doubt that Rose-Hulman would be a FANTASTIC school if I aspired to be an engineer. While I love that topic computer science is really my thing. I am having difficulty ranking/understanding the prestige/merit of the CS program at Rose-Hulman.

How does it stack up against the following computer science programs at other schools (Sorry for the big list, usually I am able to get a better feel for the prestige of a CS program but I can’t really tell, I am also biased by how much I like their campus):

  1. Harvey Mudd
  2. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  3. Georgie Tech
  4. Cal Tech
  5. Northeastern
  6. UC Berkley

Keep in mind I am looking at a bachelors here. I would not go for their masters in software engineering.


RHI is excellent in CS, and you will have smaller class sizes and more individual attention than at some of the larger schools on your list. However, it is in Terre Haute, IN, so make sure you visit to ensure fit.

If you do well at RHI in CS, you can go anywhere you want with your education.

Good luck!

Berkeley and I assume Ga Tech are about as different from Rose / Mudd as can be.

Berkeley has a great reputation for grad school - but my sense is that it’s challenging to get an (undergrad) education there. You can’t get the classes you need, some classes you have to watch on video, etc.

My sense is that WPI and Cal Tech are more known for engineering than software. I think Rose Hulman’s CS rep is equivalent to its engineering rep. I assume that Mudd’s reputation is better - though maybe USWNR doesn’t agree.

This thread is a little old, but in case anyone references this I think that the CS program at Rose is right up there with the engineering programs. All of the schools you listed are great places to go for CS, and it’s always hard to compare, but here’s my ranking into very general tiers:

Tier A: UC Berkeley
Tier B1: Cal Tech / Georgia Tech
Tier B2: Harvey Mudd / Rose-Hulman
Tier C: WPI, Northeastern

I think UC Berkeley stands apart from the rest in CS due to it’s proximity to its excellent CS program and lots of CS opportunities. There are definitely some cons as thshadow pointed out - it might not be optimized for undergraduate education like a Rose or Mudd are, but I think the overall reputation and strength of the department and the sheer number of opportunities are hard to ignore.

In Tier B I separated Cal Tech and GT from RHIT and HMC because they are so different - all four are good schools, and I think in general they are comparable to each other within their band. Mudd’s location in California and proximity to lots of great CS opportunities is a bonus. Mudd’s admissions are also very selective, so they take great students in and put great CS majors out, which I think adds to their reputation. Rose’s CS department is strong and has great career opportunitites - you can look at the company list for the 2016 career fair: . Rose also has less stringent general education requirements than Mudd - see HMC’s common core. Some people may find that appealing, but others may be turned off by having to take so many STEM classes outside of their major.

The Tier C schools are good schools, but I don’t think are in the same category as Cal Tech / GT or UCB.

In general, looking at Rose versus other schools I think you have some pros and cons

Rose vs UCB, Cal Tech, etc.

  • Pro: Undergraduate-focused environment that puts a focus on teaching undergraduates. The benefits of this are hard to overstate in my opinion. I did grad school at a UC with a good CS program, and the difference in undergraduate education was alarming (see my post here:
  • Pro: small, familial school environment. Students are like family, willing to help each other out - not looking to be underhanded to get a leg up on grades.
  • Con: less nationwide brand-name recognition. Because Rose puts out fewer CS graduates, fewer people will be exposed to Rose. I personally didn’t have an issue with this when I was looking for jobs, but it is something.
  • Pro/Con: because Rose doesn’t have PhD programs, there will be less cutting-edge research at Rose that you will have the opportunity to be involved with. However, because there are no PhD students it means that the research that IS going on is done by undergraduates and masters students, and as an undergraduate you can be a significant part of a research team and work hand-in-hand with professors.

Rose vs Harvey Mudd

  • Pro/Con: curriculum is a little more focused on your major at Rose. Harvey Mudd has a larger common core of required classes.
  • Pro/Con: Rose admissions are less selective than at Harvey Mudd, Rose is in the midwest and Mudd is in SoCal.

EDIT: I should provide the disclaimer that I’m a Rose graduate, so I may be biased. I graduated in EE but I took several CS classes at Rose, got a job in CS and did a masters in CS.

You are comparing things that don’t compare. For example, Rose and Harvey Mudd couldn’t be more different. Harvey Mudd is an odd program, with no specialization. Rose is the opposite. CalTech is a tiny school, and not a great place for undergrad work. Plus, you are kidding if you think just anyone gets in there.

Cubby208, forget how much you like the campus; just find the program that is what you want. If you are the type who wants a big school, you know where to go. If you want a small school where you will know your professors, then that is a different choice. It is a mistake to pick your school for the perceived prestige. Go to the right place for you.

Just to add a followup, where I will be more opinionated… :slight_smile:

About me, to understand any biases:

  • Currently software engineer at Google.
  • Was accepted to PhD CS programs at both Berkeley and MIT (when I was younger :slight_smile: ), and chose Cal.
  • I live in CA - pretty close to Cal.
  • DD was just accepted to Rose, and she is so excited about it (as am I)

I convinced her to not even apply to Cal. I have a friend’s son who was accepted into Cal for CS, and turned it down for Chapman. It seems to me that Cal would be a very bad undergraduate experience for many kids. I think it’s living off of its graduate reputation - which presumably is still fantastic - but even back in the day its undergrad program wasn’t nearly at the same level, and with California’s eternal budget problems, I think its undergrad program has been deteriorating.

To clarify why the friend turned down Cal, according to the dad (who obviously would have researched it). The intro to CS class apparently has order of 1,000 kids in it IIRC :-O, and you (often?) can only watch the lectures on video. Plus, it’s almost impossible to graduate in 4 years - because you can’t even register for the classes you need in that time period (mainly due to budge cuts). In general, undergrad education doesn’t seem to be the focus. (On the other hand, as a big school with a fantastic grad program, there are also opportunities at Cal which just don’t exist elsewhere.)

WRT Mudd - DD and I visited Mudd last month, and while she loved Rose, she hated Mudd. My broad superficial impression of the two is that Rose is geeky go-do-goofy-things geeky (e.g. go to Walmart at 1am for no good reason), while Mudd is geeky work-all-the-time-except-for-video-game-breaks geeky. My guess is that Mudd students tell their friends (proudly) about how hard they work, while Rose students tell their friends (proudly) about the stupid things they’ve done (like burning an outhouse or something??).

Oh, and I should also mention that at Mudd we sat in on an intro to CS class - and it was in a huge auditorium with like 500 kids. I wasn’t even sure how that was possible. But apparently kids from all of the Claremont colleges takes classes at any of the schools. Which conceivably makes Mudd feel like a much bigger school than it is. Which was a definite negative for my D, though it might be a positive for others.

@thshadow great perspective, thanks for that. I did my MS at UCLA and I was surprised at how different the undergraduate education was there compared to Rose. A whole different league. Your friend’s thoughts on UCB echoed my experience at UCLA: classes were crowded and hard to get into, some professors put very little effort into teaching, the computing resources were worse…in general I just didn’t have a good impression. I know it’s unfair to compare large public research universities to a small undergraduate-only private school - they clearly aren’t optimizing for the same education criteria - but that’s exactly the trade-off that you accept when you go. Interesting to hear that perhaps Berkeley shares similar struggles - I’m sure budgets across the whole UC system aren’t helping.

If you can stomach the negatives I would personally still consider them as there are definitely good opportunities to be had at a UCB/UCLA/etc that are harder to come by at an RHIT or HMC. If those public schools are cheaper that’s a bonus as well.

Huh… my Mudder went to Operation Catapult and thought RH was much more “fratty” than Mudd. She thought it was really sexist (much more so than Mudd). Mudders like to go to an all night diner near campus (not Walmart). Oh, and my kid doesn’t play video games at all. Her hobbies are trivia nights and her secondary concentration is literature – they are a geeky bunch, but have a lot of other interests, too.

At Mudd only the first 2 CS classes are large, but they also have smaller lab sections and tutoring available, and my kid never felt like she couldn’t get the help she needed. RH is a perfectly fine school. But there is no need to put down other schools. Oh, and GA Tech and Mudd should probably be swapped in the tiers in post #4.

Sorry @intparent , I wasn’t trying to put down Mudd at all. Obviously every child is different. My D has very strong opinions, typically reached (too) quickly. I was trying to summarize what her impression was. I did say “broad superficial impression”, which was meant to mean “not based on too much”. I was also trying to be pithy - apologies if I offended.

Also, I really appreciate hearing your perspective. Specifically I like reading negative impressions of RH, so I can try to figure out if DD overlooked something / it should be concerning / etc. And DD did still apply to Mudd (RD). If she’s fortunate enough to be accepted (which I don’t expect), I will probably try to convince her to do an overnight visit to see if she can confirm (or contradict) her initial impressions.

Oh, and with tiers, I agree with you. I think Mudd definitely has a better CS reputation than RH. And I definitely wouldn’t put GT in the same tier as CalTech. If I were to make an ordering of the non-giant schools listed (mainly because bigger undergrad schools are so not a fit for my D that I have trouble comparing them to smaller schools), I would probably say:

  1. Mudd / Cal Tech
  2. RH (at least I want RH’s rep to be > WPI / NE… :slight_smile: )
  3. WPI / Northeastern (though Northeastern I know the least about, and has been changing a lot recently)

It’s also important to keep in mind that “CS” has different branches. While many specific branches probably don’t matter much at the undergrad level, some schools might have a theoretical CS focus, and others might have a “software engineering” (for lack of a better word) focus. It’s possible that Cal Tech’s CS program is more theoretical / math focused than some of the other programs - though I don’t know that. As an example, Harvard’s CS program is very theoretical - at least according to my officemate (who went there undergrad) .

Yup, it is a good idea for any kid to keep an open mind until going through accepted student visits at their final 2-3 choices! And until the FA packages are in. :wink:

Not to drag out a long discussion here, but I’m surprised that you would both rank Caltech so clearly ahead of GT. Is this because you think Caltech to be that much better for undergrads? I don’t think their CS reputations overall are that different…rankings are of dubious usefulness, but they aren’t nothing; GT is right up there in a variety of rankings, often ahead of Caltech: usnews, QS, publication output/quality via Just curious what I might not be factoring in.

There are many places in the east and midwest that would have much more exposure to Georgia Tech grads than Caltech grads. Likewise for RHIT versus HMC - I have no doubt that Harvey Mudd has a better reputation for CS in California than Rose-Hulman, but I doubt that Mudd is well known in the midwest. I’m from the northwest so that may affect how I view WPI and Northeastern.

And as an RHIT alum I’m totally open to the fact that I may think higher of RHIT than it deserves :).

In general I spend too much time blabbing about rankings anyway; your performance at a school and what you learn is generally much more important than where you go. All of OP’s schools would be fine places to study IMO.

I believe most rankings are strongly biased towards the graduate program. My guess is that Berkeley, GT, and I think U of Michigan as well all have excellent graduate programs. But my feeling (again based really only on personal opinion) is that their undergrad programs aren’t in the same category.

Maybe U of Washington / Seattle is an exception for a big state school, in that its undergrad reputation is really strong? Not 100% sure.