Skip to content

Best Colleges In California For Computer Science

Last Updated on November 14, 2022 by Ibrahim Agboola

California is home to several of the best colleges for computer science. The state has a rich technological history, and it’s no surprise that many of its best universities have programs in computer science.

Whether you’re looking for a small liberal arts school or a large public research university, California has something to offer everyone. This post will help you find the right school for you, whether you want to attend one of the most prestigious universities in the country or just want to stay close to home.

Best Colleges In California For Computer Science

The computer science industry is among the largest financial sectors in the world. Students that are interested in pursuing a degree in computer science can anticipate high demand for their skillset and are immediately eligible for jobs at companies like Meta, Google, and even Twitter.  

Computer scientists perform tasks including writing code, developing software tools, and managing data. These specialists need to possess a strong understanding of coding languages like Java and C++ and must be able to work in teams to develop tools like websites and apps. This job requires advanced skills in mathematics and attention to detail to ensure that a program functions effectively for users.  

Students that pursue a computer science degree in the state of California can expect ample job opportunities post-graduation and should note that the largest number of software companies in the nation is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area. However, these positions are very competitive due to the large anticipated compensation for a role at a tech startup or existing firm. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that software developers in the state of California can gross well over six figures annually and have access to lucrative stock options and benefits.

Stanford University

 Stanford, CA

Stanford University is another big name institution that provides students the opportunity to make an impact in the world. The School of Engineering is home to nine departments, more than 240 faculty, and more than 4,000 students. They believe that “engineering should solve human problems – not just technical ones.” Whether it’s climate change, overpopulation, or network security, Stanford takes on the toughest challenges of the 21st century and asks, “What can we do about it?” Stanford answers this question with a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research and a general multidisciplinary approach. The school also offers a Computer Forum, offering industries the option to learn about the professional abilities and interests of Stanford students through its active recruiting program. More than 60 companies located in Silicon Valley, the rest of the U.S., Europe, and Asia are members of this cooperative venture.

University of California-Berkeley

 Berkeley, CA

As one of the most distinguished institutions of higher learning, University of California Berkeley, or better known as Cal, sure has something to offer. An excellent faculty, educational opportunities, and close proximity to the California high-tech economy definitely have to be factored in. As the website states: “This close proximity to the latest and coolest technologies enlivens our curriculum, provides many research and summer job opportunities for our students, and makes this a very exciting place to study electrical engineering and computer sciences.” With two different undergraduate degrees from two different colleges (the Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences offered by the College of Engineering and the Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science from the College of Letters & Science) UC Berkeley stands out among other institutions. And if you want to further your education even more, EECS’s graduate programs are also among the best in the nation.

University of Southern California

 Los Angeles, CA

USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering boasts current enrollment of 2,700 undergraduate and 5,600 graduate students. The University of Southern California takes pride in being “innovative, elite and internationally recognized for creating new models of education, research, and commercialization that are firmly rooted in real world needs.” Whether you’re a first year, senior, or graduate student – it’s never too late to start! A variety of courses, designed to introduce you to computer science and programming, make it obvious that we live in an exciting time to study this major. Choose from four bachelor’s degree programs or a variety of master’s degree programs to support students in exploring all the challenges this disciplines has to offer. Stay up to date! By subscribing to the CS Job Announcements mailing list, you will receive information regarding on-campus and off-campus jobs and internships in your field.

University of California-San Diego

 La Jolla, CA

University of California-San Diego offers 3 Computer Science degree programs. It’s a very large, public, four-year university in a large city. In 2020, 767 Computer Science students graduated with students earning 435 Bachelor’s degrees, 294 Master’s degrees, and 38 Doctoral degrees.

University of California-Irvine

 Irvine, CA

University of California-Irvine offers 3 Computer Science degree programs. It’s a very large, public, four-year university in a large city. In 2020, 897 Computer Science students graduated with students earning 805 Bachelor’s degrees, 65 Master’s degrees, and 27 Doctoral degrees.

University of California-Santa Barbara

 Santa Barbara, CA

University of California-Santa Barbara offers 3 Computer Science degree programs. It’s a very large, public, four-year university in a midsize suburb. In 2020, 199 Computer Science students graduated with students earning 145 Bachelor’s degrees, 31 Master’s degrees, and 23 Doctoral degrees.

University of California-Santa Cruz

 Santa Cruz, CA

University of California-Santa Cruz offers 3 Computer Science degree programs. It’s a large, public, four-year university in a small city. In 2020, 713 Computer Science students graduated with students earning 667 Bachelor’s degrees, 39 Master’s degrees, and 7 Doctoral degrees.

San Diego State University

 San Diego, CA

San Diego State University offers 2 Computer Science degree programs. It’s a very large, public, four-year university in a large city. In 2020, 251 Computer Science students graduated with students earning 209 Bachelor’s degrees, and 42 Master’s degrees.

California State University-Fullerton

 Fullerton, CA

California State University-Fullerton offers 2 Computer Science degree programs. It’s a very large, public, four-year university in a large suburb. In 2020, 365 Computer Science students graduated with students earning 264 Bachelor’s degrees, and 101 Master’s degrees.

California State Polytechnic University-Pomona

 Pomona, CA

California State Polytechnic University-Pomona offers 2 Computer Science degree programs. It’s a very large, public, four-year university in a large suburb. In 2020, 266 Computer Science students graduated with students earning 238 Bachelor’s degrees, and 28 Master’s degrees.

Top Universities In The US For Computer Science

The recently released QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 features 651 of the best universities to study computer science in the world – with 110 of these located in United States 

The QS World University Rankings by Subject are based on four indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations per paper and the H-index (a way of measuring the productivity and published work of a scientist or scholar). 

Top 10 Universities for Computer Science in the USBased on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 
US Ranking World Ranking Name of Institution Location 
1   Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Massachusetts 
Stanford University California 
Carnegie Mellon University Pennsylvania 
University of California, Berkeley (UCB) California 
Harvard University Massachusetts 
14 Princeton University New Jersey 
15 University of Washington Washington 
17 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) California 
18 Columbia University New York 
10 19 Cornell University New York 

10. Cornell University 

 Part of the prestigious Ivy League group, Cornell University is currently ranked 19th in the world for computer science, earning a high score in the H-index.  

Its department of computer science was established in 1965, making it one of the oldest of its kind in the country. Based in Ithaca, the university runs a technology-focused graduate campus in New York City, known as Cornell Tech. 

9. Columbia University 

Also in the state of New York is Columbia University, ranking 18th and earning its best score in the research citations per paper indicator.  

Most graduates from Columbia’s computer science go into positions in computer science with industry or government. Others choose to continue their education or go into other careers in business administration, medicine or other professional studies.   

8. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 

Eighth in the US and 17th globally for computer science is The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). UCLA earns high scores across most of the indicators, particularly in the H-index and research citations per paper indicators, reflecting the quality of the school’s research.  

Its computer science faculty is part of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. It is credited as being ‘the birthplace of the internet’, as the first transmission of what would become the internet was sent from the university’s Boelter Hall in 1969. 

7. University of Washington 

Rising three positions to 15th place globally, University of Washington is the seventh best university in the US this year. The school earns its highest score in the research citations per paper and H-index indicators. 

 The University of Washington’s college of computer science and engineering was established as an inter-college graduate program in 1967. Undergraduates often participate in research, with 33 students at the university winning the Computing Research Association Undergraduate Research Award over a decade, more than any other program in the nation. 

6. Princeton University 

Ranked 14th in the world for computer science and sixth in the US is Princeton University. Earning near-perfect scores across each of the indicators, the university performs particularly well in the research citations per paper and the H-index indicators.  

Princeton University’s computer science department is part of the university’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, in which 1,900 students are enrolled. Its alumni include ‘father of computer science’ Alan Turing, computer scientists Alonzo Church and John von Neumann, and Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos. 

5. Harvard University 

Harvard University ranks seventh in the world and fifth in the UK Harvard UniversityUS. Its computer science department is part of the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (founded in 1847, with computer science courses available from 1984).  

Famous technology magnates to have studied at Harvard include Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (both of whom famously ‘dropped out’ to pursue their careers in tech). 

4. University of California, Berkeley (UCB) 

The University of California, Berkeley is ranked fifth in the world and fourth in the US for computer science this year. Like MIT, Berkeley combines its computer science school with electrical engineering.  

The Turing Award, known as the ‘Nobel Prize in computing’ has been awarded to 11 alumni and 10 past and present faculty members of Berkeley, including Douglas Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse. 

3. Carnegie Mellon University 

Coming third in the US for its computer science course is Carnegie Mellon University, based in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Carnegie Mellon University earns a perfect score in the academic reputation indicator – the best school in the US for this indicator.  

Its School of Computer Science is based at the Gates and Hillman Centers, a US$98 million complex which opened in 2009 and has achieved LEED Gold certification for its high levels of sustainability. 

2. Stanford University 

Ranked second for computer science both in the US and globally, Stanford University’s setting near the famous Silicon Valley in California makes it unique amongst these top universities in the US, with many of the world’s largest high-tech corporations right on its doorstep.  

Stanford’s computer science department was founded in 1965 and is part of the university’s School of Engineering. 

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers the world’s best computer science programme for another year running. MIT’s computer science department, combined with electrical engineering, is the largest department at the institution.  

The university is well-known for its innovative research in this area, with its computer science faculty and researchers having made fundamental contributions to cybernetics, artificial intelligence, computer languages, machine learning, robotics, and cryptography. MIT earns its highest score in the employer reputation indicator this year.  

Other top universities in the US for computer science 

Many more top universities in the US can be found in the computer science rankings, including the New York University (NYU, 21st), California Institute of Technology (Caltech, 22nd) and the University of Texas at Austin (28th). Six more US universities feature in the global top 50 for computer science, and 10 more in the top 100.