Best Value Colleges For Computer Science Majors

According to PayScale's College ROI Report, computer science majors have the best 20-year net return on investment out of any degrees on the list, which can probably be accredited to the high earning potential a computer science degree warrants in today's technology-driven world.  Read More

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1Stanford University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$1,570,000
Total 4 Year Cost$240,000
Grad Rate95%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,100
2Columbia University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$1,330,000
Total 4 Year Cost$251,000
Grad Rate95%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,800
3University of California - Berkeley(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$1,320,000
Total 4 Year Cost$133,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,300
4University of California - Berkeley(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$1,230,000
Total 4 Year Cost$225,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,300
5San Jose State University (SJSU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$1,150,000
Total 4 Year Cost$96,600
Grad Rate52%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$21,900
6University of California - San Diego (UCSD)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$1,140,000
Total 4 Year Cost$121,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,600
7 (tie)California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) - San Luis Obispo(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$1,110,000
Total 4 Year Cost$96,300
Grad Rate75%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$23,400
7 (tie)Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$1,110,000
Total 4 Year Cost$243,000
Grad Rate88%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,500
7 (tie)San Jose State University (SJSU)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$1,110,000
Total 4 Year Cost$142,000
Grad Rate52%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$21,900
10University of Washington (UW) - Main Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$1,080,000
Total 4 Year Cost$104,000
Grad Rate84%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,600
11Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$1,070,000
Total 4 Year Cost$232,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,200
12California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) - San Luis Obispo(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$1,060,000
Total 4 Year Cost$141,000
Grad Rate75%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$23,400
13University of California - San Diego (UCSD)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$1,050,000
Total 4 Year Cost$213,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,600
14Northwestern University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$1,020,000
Total 4 Year Cost$248,000
Grad Rate93%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,800
15 (tie)Brigham Young University (BYU)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$1,000,000
Total 4 Year Cost$69,400
Grad Rate79%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$20,200

*NOTE: Unranked schools on this list don’t have on-campus living options, so on-campus costs are not available.

In case you hadn't noticed, technology is ubiquitous these days, permeating every facet of our world, from the iPhone in your pocket to Google's self-driving cars roaming the streets outside your office. This explosion in tech means there's a relative scarcity of employees who can invent, code, develop build it all, and computer science and math majors are poised to cash in on that shortage. PayScale's College ROI Report provides expected return on investment for different majors based on expected 20-year earnings for alumni from top universities across the nation, and the return on investment for computer science majors is the highest overall. And by using the College ROI Report, computer science majors can use the findings to make an informed decision of which computer science programs offer the best return for their educational dollar.

Coming in at number one for best value colleges for computer science majors is Stanford University in Silicon Valley, home to some of the largest high-tech companies and startups in the world. The College ROI Report indicates that Stanford computer science majors can expect a 20-year net return on investment of $1,730,000, which amounts to a 16.9 percent net annualized ROI for students collecting financial aid. For those not collecting financial aid, return on investment decreases slightly to $1,570,000, amounting to a 10.8 percent annualized return.

Stanford might top the charts for best college for students to pursue a computer science degree, but it, unfortunately, is also at the top of the list for having one of the worst college mascots; a tree ('Cardinal", if you're feeling fancy). In fact, Stanford doesn't actually have a mascot, the school unofficially reverted to "Cardinal" because it was the university's color. Official mascot or not, Stanford's graduation rate is still near perfect at 96 percent.

The number two position is held by New York City's Columbia University, the prestigious Ivy League school that was one of the nine colonial colleges founded before the Revolutionary War, and the school where� -- among other US Presidents -- President Barack Obama earned his undergraduate degree. When financial aid is a factor, Columbia's 20-year net return on investment for a computer science major is $1,500,000, at a 15.7 percent net annualized ROI. For those not collecting financial aid, return on investment decreases slightly to $1,330,000, at a 9.8 percent annualized return.

The number-three-ranked school for computer science majors in our College ROI report is a consistently high performer across the board: UC Berkeley. For students who receive financial aid, Cal promises a 20-Year Net ROI for its computer science majors of $1,390,000 with an annualized ROI of 16.8 percent. For students who do not receive financial aid, the results come in slightly lower at $1,320,000 and a 12.9 percent annualized ROI.

All three top-tier best value colleges for computer science majors prove to be wise investments, especially considering that all three universities have graduation rates above 90 percent and promise 20-year returns up to nearly $2 million.

One thing's for sure, computer science majors can expect one of the most lucrative ROIs out of any degree on the College ROI Report. Use PayScale's College ROI Report to see how well a computer science degree from your current or potential university pays its alumni back in the real world.