Top Undergraduate Computer Science Programs (2022 Rankings)

Since it’s application season and there are many posters looking to major in computer science, this ranking of the top CS schools might be useful.

Posting this with the usual caveat that rankings are but one factor among many in choosing the right school. But often, applicants focus on generic “top national universities” without considering the strength of the CS program at each. So a computer science ranking helps.

Here’s USNWR’s top 20:

#1: CMU, MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley
#5: Cornell, Princeton, Georgia Tech, UIUC
#9: Caltech, UWash
#11: UT Austin
#12: Columbia, Harvard, UCLA, UMich
#16: JHU, Purdue, UCSD, UMD, UPenn, UWisconsin-Madison, Yale

And these are the Top 20 from Brown’s aggregate rankings (includes Canadian universities):
#1: MIT
#2: CMU
#3: Stanford
#4: UC Berkeley
#5: UIUC
#6: UWash
#7: Cornell
#8: University of Toronto
#9: UMich
#9: Georgia Tech
#11: UT Austin
#12: UC San Diego
#13: Princeton
#14: UMD
#15: Columbia
#16: University of Waterloo
#17: University of Wisconsin-Madison
#18: University of British Columbia
#19: UCLA
#20: UPenn


Notice, not a single one in either ranking is a school that doesn’t offer PhDs.

According to College Scorecard, Rose-Hulman, Cal Poly and Harvey Mudd grads average $131K, $143K, and $159K at 2 years respectively.

Still willing to write them off for a flawed rankings system? :wink:


Curious where you’d slot those in.

And to what degree do you need to major in computer science in any case? My d who went to Georgetown got a great software engineer job with a different major altogether.


Good point. And for some CS type jobs at some companies, no need for a degree to access high paying jobs.


It depends, and mostly for first jobs.
If it’s a job that requires a deep level of understanding of software principles, run-time efficiency, software-hardware interactions, research based development (i.e. new ground breaking areas like Alexa), etc then typically a CS degree is required. Many quant jobs in finance will also ask for a CS degree.

Then there are plenty of other jobs that only require coding knowledge and these don’t necessarily require CS degrees (but for entry level jobs CS graduates will still have an edge in the market). Additionally there are non-coding jobs like business analysis and project/product management that are often classified as software jobs but don’t require CS degrees.


Interesting no cal tech

#9 on the USNWR list. The other list skews more towards published papers.

Yeah was referencing that second list.

My nephew just got a gig in nyc. 165k. Bonus so he thinks 200k total. . 30 years old. Degree from Az in Poli sci. In finance b4. Had to pass their programming test. Degree not relevant. Major company.

So I m sure a degree helps but not entirely needed.


It really depends on what you are ranking. If you’re simply talking opportunity after undergraduate, I’d put all three in the top 20 and HMC and CP in the top 10. Where an individual would rank them would depend on other factors.

Who would they replace? Illinois, Georgia Tech and then choose your third from Maryland, Wisconsin, or Purdue.

This is yet another example of what’s wrong with trying to rank schools for everyone. Both of these lists are completely skewed to graduate programs, one because the methodology excludes schools that don’t offer PhDs and the second, because it highly prioritizes publications. What do either have to do with preparing undergraduates to be employable in the workforce?


If you start a discussion along these lines in a forum that has a lot of CS grads (like reddit), there’d be holy war :-). UIUC and GT are exceptionally strong. They place very well into industry.


I think there’s just way too many great schools.

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Of course it would, but based on what? That’s the problem with ranking CS programs. There are too many that are good and are essentially the same to put in rank order.

I’d replace those two, because according to College Scorecard, their earnings are lower, $118k for UIUC and $110k for GT. Of course there’s a CA bias in wages, but Rose, in little ole Terre Haute outperforms too.

Suffice it to say, if you were instate at any of the publics you’d be getting a screaming deal. Decisions get tougher when paying for a private or OOS.

That’s a long discussion. So let me leave it here. Anyway I am not a CS undergrad from either of those places. So I don’t want to take up their case.

Should this ranking be based on ‘average’ anything? Or to be in the top 20 should the focus be on how much you can learn in four years if you really push yourself. Sure, the ‘average’ student will see an amazing outcome from CP and HMC. However, an advanced student that comes in to either one of those will quickly max out what they can learn from the CS classes and have limited advanced research to move into. The breadth will be great, and likely outclass half the other top 20 programs, but there is a limit to how far a student can push themselves in focused areas. A top 20 program shouldn’t have that limit.

Not arguing at all. It is a long, and nuanced discussion, the details of which will vary from individual to individual. That’s why I find rankings so specious.

Who says any of them have that limit? And, when it comes to averages, EVERYONE thinks they or their kids are or will be the exception. The reality is that the top end outlier is exceedingly rare. Only in Lake Wobegon can all the kids be above average. :wink:

I am always of the opinion that a parent often has a good sense of what their kid is willing and capable of doing. It is fashionable to second guess a family and what it perceives its needs are for the kids.

Are you saying that a degree in Computer Science doesn’t matter because any political science graduate can get a $200,000/year job in technology? I just want to make sure I am getting your point.

“Does the school matter?” comes up so often here on CC.

I believe it depends on what you’re looking to get out of an undergraduate program. CS is no doubt a highly employable field and you can get a high paying job graduating from almost any school. No one will really challenge that.

But the difference I’ve observed in my 20+ years of experience hiring CS grads is both the depth and breadth of CS classes students have had exposure to at one of the schools listed here vs at much lower ranked schools. So if you’re looking beyond employment prospects - kids who really enjoy CS, who want to learn all they can, get exposure to research opportunities, etc - they will have more such opportunities at these top ranked schools.

Of course, there are those who say having an intellectually challenging environment, doing research, having leading companies come on campus, etc is overrated but there are students and parents who genuinely value these factors.