MS in CS in the USA - Overview
I’ve often thought that the development of the internet is synonymous with the discovery of fire. We may be soon heading towards a world where coding is the norm, much as the usage of smartphones and navigating the internet is the norm today. In such a world, the pursuit of higher studies in computer science by those who are passionate, driven and curious about it, is one of the best academic and career paths to choose.
Computer Science, as the name suggests, is the study of computers and computational systems, dealing with software, algorithms, programming, security, networks, analysis and much more. The applications of Computer Science range far and wide, with webs in fintech, software engineering, biotech, design, social media, hardware, networks etc. They are practically applicable to most spheres of life, and have taken humankind to heights and depths previously unfathomable.
Courses in CS provide conceptual understanding from the top minds in the field, experience, exposure to industry practices, knowledge, developing sprees, and invaluable connections to companies and individuals through internships, placements and networking. Phew! That’s a lot to pack in a course. Coding languages such as Java, Python, R, and more are also covered.
Such courses are optimised for maximum benefit and learning in the USA, the Land of Opportunity as they call it. Modern tech, computers, IoT, social media, and the smartphone revolution can all be traced back to the USA. 7 out of the world’s top 10 universities for CS are inside the USA, where these universities guarantee getting you many steps closer towards your dream.
The USA has top-ranked universities, with world-class systems of education, quality academic research, diverse specializations, exposure to top minds in the field, excellent placements, and academic excellence. It is home to giant tech firms such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and much more. Specializations such as Machine Learning, AI, Automation, Cloud Computing, IT, and Software development are increasingly in demand, with companies vying for the best minds in these fields.
CS in the USA accounts for 1.8 trillion USD, which is more than 10 % of its GDP, and around 11.8 million jobs. The USA is planning to invest another 2 trillion USD into the industry for research purposes, and are predicting that there will be a rise of 16% in computer science and tech jobs in the coming years (~2028).
Despite the doubts for post-study work VISA, the Biden Administration is looking to improve matters and streamlines the process further. This will allow students to work in companies they only dreamt of working with, and allow them to gain opportunities in practically every part of the world.
Universities in the USA are quality-oriented, with heavy emphasis on practical knowledge, development, research, and projects. Why the USA? They have set the norm for CS and have been at the forefront of the field for decades now. (We’re looking at you MIT! :P)
Let us now look at top specializations within CS in the USA, the basic eligibility criteria, and the documents required for applications. As we go further, we will cover top universities for CS in the USA, job prospects, and scholarships. Read on!
Top Specializations within CS in the USA
Like I said before, CS has far-reaching applications in a multitude of fields, which allows students to pursue different specializations within their master’s degree. As a field that is dynamic, constantly evolving and promising, the right specialization and university can set your career all the way to the end. Let us look at the top specializations offered within CS in the USA:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Cloud Computing
- Cyber Security
- Software Engineering
- Machine Learning
- Information Technology
- Data Science, Analytics and Visualization
All of these specializations are covered and taught to you by experts and PhDs in the respective field, and the curriculum is designed to be up-to-date with current advancements. Placements are massively useful and can set you up with the best start possible.
Due to all the aforementioned reasons, competition for a seat in these top universities is extremely high. Let us look at the basic eligibility criteria for an MS in CS in the USA.
Basic Eligibility Criteria for MS in CS in USA
We will cover the eligibility criteria for the top universities later. For now, let us look at the general criteria:
- UG/Bachelor’s in Computer Science or any other relevant technical field, with a minimum 3.0/4 GPA.
- GRE – The GRE is your gateway to an admission in a top university in the USA. You will be a score range of about 300 to 335 for the best programs available.
- IELTS/TOEFL – You will need a minimum band score of 6.5 in the IELTS or a minimum TOEFL Score of 90 to prove your proficiency in the English language.
- Relevant internships/work experience/projects – These can definitely add an edge to your profile, depending on the relevance, quality and results of your work.
Documents Required for MS in CS in USA
- Detailed Resume – This should contain your academic and professional qualifications in a concise, organized manner.
- Official Transcripts – Scanned.
- Letters of Recommendation – You will need at least 2 LORs from your previous employer and university.
- Statement of Purpose – This one can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your selection. You need to express your goals and explain why you should be considered for this program.
- GRE Scores
- IELTS/TOEFL Scores
- Proof of Internships/Work Experience/Projects
- As you progress, you will need your VISA and other relevant permits for the same.
Top Universities for MS in CS in USA
We’ve compiled a table of the top 10 universities for CS in the USA, and provided you with additional information such as program fees, GRE and TOEFL cut-offs, world rankings (QS 2021), and location of the university.
Rank (in the USA)
Global Rank (QS World Rankings 2021)
TOEFL Score (Cut-off)
Tuition Fees (INR)
Important Note: The top 10 universities for CS in the USA, are in the top 20 universities for the world. Quite obviously, competition is going to be fierce. Point is, even though we have listed certain GRE scores as requirements, reality could prove that you need a much higher score than that. Students who get into these universities are among the cream of the lot, and have excellent profiles as well. Their projects, work experience, knowledge base, research and academic score are bound to be off the charts. These aspects come into play even in the top 20 universities for MS in the USA.
The best part about studying MS in CS in the USA is that even the universities that do not fall in the top 10 for CS, fall in the top 50 in the entire world. That is something that isn’t to be overlooked. Plenty of opportunities lie in these universities as well. Here’s a table of some of the best universities you can opt for, apart from the ones listed above.
Rank (in the USA)
Global Rank (QS World Rankings 2021)
New York University
New York City
California Institute of Technology
University of Texas at Austin
University of Illinois at Urbana
University of Pennsylvania
Georgia Institute of Technology
University of Michigan
University of Chicago
University of Southern California
The universities listed above are excellent and are also world leaders in the field of computer science. This gives many students who are not able to meet the absurdly high criteria of the top 10 universities a fighting chance. And as you can see, these universities are among the top 50 in the world. So definitely keep an eye out of these as well.
Let us now briefly look at some of the features, statistics and deadlines of the top 10 universities for MS in CS in the USA. Also, keep the table as a handy reference for the future!
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – 1
MIT offers what is arguably the best Computer Science program in the world (rivalled by Stanford University). MIT’s faculty, research facilities and students have made and continue to make unparalleled (again, Stanford is close behind) contributions to various fields of Computer Science, such as AI, Machine Learning, Coding Languages, Cryptography, and Robotics. It is ranked 1st in the USA for MS in CS and 1st in the world for CS (QS 2021).
We can very well imagine the level of placements and opportunities in this extremely prestigious program. The employer reputation at MIT is one of the highest in the world. Its Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department was established in 1975.
Quite often known as the Dream University for MS in CS, Stanford ranks 2nd in the USA and 2nd in the world for MS in Computer Science. It has also been the best program in Computer Science before and frequently competes with MIT in this regard. Located right next to Silicon Valley, Stanford collaborates with top tech companies in the world, while producing and training some of the brightest minds in this field. Its Computer Science Department was founded in 1965.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie is ranked 3rd in the USA and 3rd in the world for its MS in Computer Science. Similar to MIT and Stanford, Carnegie has one of the highest academic reputations for the program, and serves as a centre of excellence for CS and its various specializations. CMU has been a pioneer in human computer interaction and has discovered new ways of computing for decades now. It was established in 1988.
University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
UCB ranks 4th in the USA and 5th in the world for its Computer Science program. Similar to MIT, it pairs its Computer Science program with Electrical Engineering. They are known for their unique and holistic approach towards CS, and receive exposure from some of the top minds in the field. The Computer Science department was set up in 1968.
Harvard is famously known for being a premier institute, and one of the best universities in the world. Both Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are from Harvard, which ranks 5th in the USA and 7th in the world (currently, according to QS 2021). Computer Science courses were established from 1984, in the John Paulson School, which is part of Harvard University.
Princeton is famously known for having Alan Turing as its alumni, the Father of Computer Science. They are known for top-quality faculty, academic research and an excellent student community. They rank 6th in the USA and 14th in the world for their Computer Science program. Princeton is also one of America’s top universities.
University of Washington
The University of Washington closely follows Princeton, ranking 15th in the world for Computer Science and 7th in the USA for the same. Washington state has Microsoft and Amazon set up within it, not to mention the fact that the University of Washington is located in Seattle, where many high-tech firms operate (the city is also beautiful, bordering Canada towards the North). The University also has some of the best researchers in the world.
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
UCLA ranks 8th in the USA and 17th in the world for Computer Science. It has high research citations and H-index scores, with close ties to the birth of the internet. With multiple disciplines and specializations to choose from, students often learn a lot of theory that proves to be cutting edge and complex.
Along with Harvard, Columbia is one of the best options for CS when it comes to Ivy League colleges. They are known for Graphics, Computer Architecture, Machine Learning and Networks. Ranked 9th in the USA and 18th in the world for MS in CS, Columbia is definitely one to look out for.
Lastly, we have Cornell University, which ranks 10th in the USA and 19th in the world for MS in CS. It is also an Ivy League College, is known for its high-tech computer program. It’s department of Computer Science is one of the oldest in the USA.
Note: These top 10 universities are within the top 20 universities for MS in Computer Science in the world. The following 10 universities on the list are part of the top 50 universities in the world, firmly establishing the USA as one of the best destinations for a Computer Science program.
Top Jobs and Prospects after MS in Computer Science in the USA
Computer Science graduates have always been in-demand, regardless of whether they are international students or not. The USA is the home of some of the biggest tech companies in the world. Think of Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Facebook. Think of Silicon Valley and Seattle. Think of even the lesser-known smaller companies that do extremely well. All these companies look to hire CS talent all the time.
With multiple, complex specializations such as Networking, Ethical Hacking, Data Science, Full-stack Development, Software Development, IT Administration, Machine Learning, AI, Robotics, Coding Languages and Cloud Computing (and much more!), the prospects after an MS in CS in the USA are endless.
We covered an overview of an MS in CS in the USA, and why it is so appealing, in the first section of this article. I’d like to draw your attention to one of the paragraphs from that section, so that we may understand the prospects of CS in the USA in terms of the US economy. Keep in mind that the USA is the centre of cutting-edge development in CS specializations.
“CS in the USA accounts for 1.8 trillion USD, which is more than 10 % of its GDP, and around 11.8 million jobs. The USA is planning to invest another 2 trillion USD into the industry for research purposes, and are predicting that there will be a rise of 16% in computer science and tech jobs in the coming years (~2028).”
There we have it. Your chances of innovating, developing, and working in a well-paying job are quite high, and even higher should you complete your degree from the top 20 universities in the USA for MS in CS in the USA. Let us now look at some of the average salaries of popular job roles after an MS in CS in the USA.
Manage office networks, including physical layout. They work with a budget and ensure the best possible network design for the organization, with timely updates and speeds. Avg. salary ~INR 95 lakhs.
UX Designer :
They take care of software interface, user experience, and visual design by working with developers. They frequently incorporate A/B testing. Avg. salary is around ~INR 50 lakhs.
Application Developer :
They take care of app development, test the hardware, run simulations, and design useful apps. Avg. salary ~INR 80 lakhs.
They manage the Information Systems and Technical aspects of the company. They are experts on ICT practices and software, and also keep up-to-date with new technologies, upgradation and manage dept. resources. Avg. salary is around ~INR 94 lakhs.
Business Intelligence Analyst :
They need to know database handling, work closely with developer and interpret data to provide solutions and insights into unique business problems. Avg. salary of about ~INR 90 lakhs.
Systems Analyst :
They diagnose, maintain and test the computer processes and systems within an organization or product, focusing on analysis, feedback, and reports. ~INR 55 lakhs.
These are Computer Science Graduates who have risen to a managerial role, displaying experience, knowledge and expertise. They ensure the project is completed on time and handle everything from allocating resources to the development of the project. Avg. salary of about ~INR 75 lakhs.
They take care of coding and production of new software and ensure a product based on the needed requirements. Avg. salary of about ~INR 70 lakhs.
This is a complex role, requiring knowledge of computer systems, client handling, database handling and knowledge of Software Development Life Cycle. Avg. salary is around ~INR 80 lakhs.
They handle the programming and coding of a multitude of applications and software. Avg. salary is around ~INR 78 lakhs.
This is exactly as it sounds. 😛 You will test systems and software for vulnerabilities and focus on solidifying its defense. You may also be employed in some agencies where security is of paramount importance. Avg. salary is around ~INR 65 lakhs.
Apart from these, there are a lot of niche jobs, requiring specialized knowledge in a particular field. As an industry, CS in one of the largest employers in the USA.
Let us now look at the cost of living in the USA during your MS in CS.
Cost of living in the USA during your MS in CS
Let us look at certain fundamental expenses that can be generalized.
- Food and Drinks – INR 20k per month.
- Internet – INR 4.4k per month.
- Utilities (Electricity, Water, Gas) – INR 5k per month.
- Rent – Avg. INR 80k per month.
- Transport – varies widely – Avg. INR 10k per month.
- Clothing + Laundry – Avg. INR 7k per month. (Invest in durable clothing)
- Entertainment – Varies widely. 😀
Cost of living varies widely in the USA, depending on which city or state you live in. Account for these factors before joining.
Like we’ve said before, all of this may seem too overwhelming, but the fact is, if you are at this stage in your academic career, or have got some admits, it will all be worth it once you get your job and assimilate your learnings from the university.
The US minimum wage is around 7.25 dollars per hour which is around INR 537. You will be allowed to work up to 20 hours per week according to your USA VISA. The minimum wage is definitely not so great in the USA, but recent developments and strikes by workers have led to better wages and rates across the country.
Remember, there are plenty of research positions, internships and other jobs that offer plenty of money if you know where to look for them. It will prove to be worth it in the end.
Top Scholarships for MS in CS in the USA
There are plenty of scholarships available for students, if you are willing enough to look for them. Before covering some of the most popular scholarships, I would like to remind you to go through the portal of the university you are applying for and check for potential scholarships for your program. This will prove to be most useful. All you need to do is check if you meet the university’s criteria for the scholarship, and fill out an application. Do your own research thoroughly! This applies for any program you apply for.
Let us now look at top scholarships in the USA for MS in CS.
PEO International Peace Scholarship for Women
Rotary Foundation Graduation Scholarship Program
National Overseas Scholarships
Tuition, Medical, Travel, and Miscellaneous Expenses.
Hurbert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program
Tuition, Medical, Travel, Monthly Stipend
Civil Society Leadership Award
Tuition, Medical, Monthly Stipend