Top 15 Universities for Computer Science Majors by Salary Potential

March 10, 2017

With recent emphasis on STEM subjects and increased demand in the tech sector for computer science engineers, there’s been a surge of college applicants and students aspiring to study computer science.

In fact, a 2015 research study shows that degrees awarded in CS has increased by 95% in the last 4 years. Why? Because there’s clearly a demand for developers. Plus, the entry level salary is pretty appealing, too.

PayScale, an online compensation information company, published their findings earlier this year and here’s a list of the top 15 university for computer science majors* by potential salary:

*Note, this list do not include the salaries of individuals who pursued another degree after their undergraduate degree in computer science.

1. Stanford University

0-5 years experience: $99,500

10+ experience: $168,00

In the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford University is the dream college for many aspiring college students all over the world, especially those interested in studying Computer Science. The major is part of Stanford’s School of Engineering and require students to have a solid math and science foundation: 5 Math courses (Calculus, 2 math courses in CS, 2 math electives), 3 Science courses (Mechanics, E&M, 1 elective), 3 Engineering fundamental courses and course on Technology in Society. This is then followed by CS major requirements. With such preparation and foundation, it’s no wonder the entry-level salary is so high.

2. University of California - Santa Barbara

0-5 years experience: $72,800

10+ experience: $144,000

UCSB is known as a party school, but it actually has one of the top undergraduate computer science programs in the US. If you’re interested in attending UCSB and studying CS, make sure you declare when you apply! Due to the demand and limited resources, the process of switching your major to CS is extremely competitive.

3. University of California - Berkeley

0-5 years experience: $93,200

10+ experience: $84,000

UC Berkeley needs no introduction when it comes to their computer science undergraduate program. It is number 1 in the country, and has produced some of the most well-known professionals in the technology industry right now. For those individuals who are ambitious, UC Berkeley also offers a 5-year Bachelor-Master’s program in CS.

4. San Jose State University

0-5 years experience: $84,000

10+ experience: $140,000

SJSU’s proximity to Silicon Valley and San Francisco’s tech hub provides a lot opportunity and experience to college students majoring in computer science. On top of their CS degree, SJSU also offers a certificate in Cybersecurity, and even has a degree for software engineering.

5. University of Delaware

0-5 years experience: $66,000

10+ experience: $139,000

University of Delaware is the first university on this list that’s not on the west coast! UD’s undergraduate computer science program is top 50 in the country. The CS major is offered as both a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree. The BS degree has a more focused technical course, while the BA gives students more flexibility. Entry-level salary might be lower, but the 110% salary increase is worth noting.

6. Northwestern University

0-5 years experience: $78,100

10+ experience: $138,000

Located in Evanston, IL, Northwestern University comes in 6th on this list and ranks 29th in top CS programs in the country. Students can either study CS at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and earn a BS degree or study CS at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and earn a BA degree. Both degrees allow students to specialize in AI, interfaces, security systems and theory.

Thinking about applying to Northwestern? Check out this package!

7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

0-5 years experience: $99,800

10+ experience: $135,000

MIT has the highest entry-level salary on this list at $99,800. Why are MIT computer science graduates worth so much? Because of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) program it offers students. It is the largest undergraduate program at MIT and offers the major in CS and Engineering and Electrical Engineering & Computer Science.

8. (tie) California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo

0-5 years experience: $81,200

10+ experience: $134,000

The list continues with colleges on the west coast. Cal Poly only offers the computer science major as a Bachelor of Science degree. They also offer a degree in Software Engineering, and was actually the first college to offer it in California in Fall 2003.

8. (tie) California State University - Chico

0-5 years experience: $57,700

10+ experience: $134,000

California State University - Chico maybe be 8th on this list, but it tops the list in terms of salary increase. Students who study CS at CSU Chico can see an increase of 130% in salary after 5 years of experience. They offer a BS degree in CS and Computer Information Systems, and give students with the option of getting their Master’s in CS as well.

8. (tie) Worcester Polytechnic Institute

0-5 years experience: $83,500

10+ experience: $134,000

WPI offers BS in Computer Science and requires students to take introductory CS courses, Math courses and Basic Science or Engineering science courses. They also offer an accelerated Master’s program in CS for students who study the undergraduate program.

11. (tie) Columbia University

0-5 years experience: $87,400

10+ experience: $132,000

Columbia University ranks no. 12 in best undergraduate computer science programs in the U.S. It offers 4 undergraduate programs: BS in Computer Science, BA in Computer Science, BA in Computer Science and Mathematics, and BA in Computer Science and Statistics. Columbia also offers research projects to students in the department.

Want to study CS at Columbia? Unlock this package!

11. (tie) New York University

0-5 years experience: $78,100

10+ experience: $132,000

Want to study computer science in the Big Apple? Then consider New York University! NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences offers 3 programs: a major in CS, a double major in CS and Math, and a double major in CS and Economics.

11. (tie) University of California - Davis

0-5 years experience: $83,200

10+ experience: $132,000

UC Davis is the third UC School on this list. It is ranked no. 34 for computer science and offers the CS major in the College of Letters and Science and in the College of Engineering. While both majors provide students with a strong foundation in CS, the former focuses on software, while the latter emphasizes on the interaction of hardware and software in computer systems design.

14. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

0-5 years experience: $67,100

10+ experience: $129,000

Are you an aspiring CS major living in Minnesota? Then, apply to University of Minnesota. You’ll not only earn one of the best degrees in CS, but you’ll also being paying much less. UMN offers the major in BA and in BS, so students have the flexibility of choosing which is better suited for them. Students in the CS program are required to take liberal arts courses to build a foundation of higher level thinking, followed by required computer science classes and electives.

15. (tie) California State University - East Bay

0-5 years experience: $76,700

10+ experience: $128,00

CSU East Bay only offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Much like other CS major requirements, East Bay also focuses a lot on the foundation of systems, and requires 4 courses in Math and one in Statistics before they have to fulfill their CS requirements and electives. Depending on the student’s interest, they can concentrate on CS or software development.

15. (tie) University of California - San Diego

0-5 years experience: $81,300

10+ experience: $128,000

UC San Diego is the 4th and final UC School on this list. Their computer science program is ranked no. 18 in the country. UC San Diego offers 4 CS degrees: BS in Computer Science, BA in Computer Science, BS in Computer Science, BS in Computer Engineering and BS in Computer Science with a concentration in Bioinformatics. There’s also an Honor’s Program for CS students to work on a research project with faculty.  

Applying to college?
View the app files and essays of accepted students.

Not sure if you want to study computer science yet? Do some research and browse our database of 60,000+ successful college application files to see what students similar to you are studying!​

Sources: PayScale, CollegeChoice, US News

About The Author

Frances Wong
Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.


Browse Successful Application Files

Stanford ‘21

Accepted to Stanford, Yale, UPenn, Georgetown, UC Berkeley, USC, Notre Dame, UCLA, BC, Brandeis

A Cameron Impact Scholar, aspiring human rights lawyer, committed hiker, and proud tree.
Stanford ‘20

Accepted to Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Washington, UCSD, UC Davis, Cal Poly, UC Irvine

Bay Area Teen with Exclusive Advice about Applying to Stanford
Stanford ‘21

Accepted to Stanford

A Questbridge Match and an aspiring engineer who plans to solve global issues using business, law, politics, and, of course, science.
MIT ‘15

Accepted to MIT, Yale, CalTech, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown, Cornell

MIT Math and CS Major; First generation Chinese immigrant; Drummer; Tennis player; Looking for new and exciting intellectual endeavors.

New Posts

Common App Writing Prompt #5 (2018-2019): Personal Growth
Common App Writing Prompt #5 (2018-2019): Personal Growth
December 05, 2018

The Common Application asks students to choose from 7 essay prompts, each asking for a different type of essay. Prompt #5, which was the most popular prompt amongst applicants from last season, focuses on personal growth. Read...

Dartmouth College 2018-2019 Supplemental Essay Prompts
Dartmouth College 2018-2019 Supplemental Essay Prompts
September 17, 2018

Drafted your personal statement and ready to get started on your supplemental essays? Here are the supplemental essay prompts for Dartmouth College.Dartmouth College requires two additional pieces of writing on top of the Common...

Load More Posts