A Practical Guide to MS in Computer Science in the USA

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Prodigy Finance - May, 15 2024

7 min read

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At Prodigy Finance, we're committed to helping international talent to achieve their education dreams. We offer international student loans to qualified individuals attending top master's programmes in the US.

The USA is home to 5 out of 10 top computer science universities in the world. And this is why the country continues to attract many international students. A master’s in computer science is a two years course and will give you in-depth insight into what the modern computing world has to offer.

Whether you're a recent graduate or a professional looking to advance your career, this article will act as a practical guide for those seeking admission to an MS in Computer Science in the USA. From choosing the right university to understanding the application process and securing funding, we've got you covered.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about pursuing a master's degree in CS in the USA.

Why Choose an MS in CS in the USA?

Pursuing a Master's in Computer Science (CS) in the USA offers more than just academic excellence. Beyond its top-tier institutions, the USA provides a safe and diverse environment conducive to learning and personal growth.

Apart from this, American campus culture offers an out-of-this-world experience for international students. From cultural festivals to sports clubs and dramatic societies, students get a chance to work on their interpersonal skills.

Moreover, students exchange ideas and wisdom with people from all across the globe. Along with these, here are some other reasons why the USA is one of the favourite study destinations for many CS enthusiasts:

Thriving Tech Hub

The presence of prestigious institutions like MIT and Stanford and the vibrant innovation ecosystem in regions like Silicon Valley and Seattle make the USA a thriving tech hub. The concentration of talent, resources, and capital in this ecosystem facilitates better idea exchange and commercialisation of new technologies that shape the world.

Increased Earning Potential

Another reason for choosing the USA for CS is the promising pay scale. For instance, leading tech companies actively look for graduates with STEM courses from a top US university. Because of top-notch training and global exposure, students get a competitive edge in the job market, which could be a stepping stone for a good career in the CS industry.

Practical Training Opportunities

In the field of computer science, practical training is much sought after. The USA stands out for its Curricular Practical Training (CPT) programme, which allows international students to gain real-world work experience during their studies. The hands-on experience not only fosters skill development but also provides them with an opportunity to expand their network in the industry.

Student Support

International students may face some common challenges in the USA during their stay as students. Luckily, many American universities have support services for them that help with housing, visas, scholarships, and other matters. Additionally, some universities offer events and programmes to promote interactions between international students and native students to promote better collaboration.

Top 5 Universities for MS in CS in the USA

There are many institutions in the United States that provide MS degrees in computer science. However, a few of them stand out for their quality education and other perks. As per the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject 2024, the following US universities are ranked the best for studying engineering & technology:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): Ranked #1

MIT boasts a good reputation in terms of the quality of its education. The students here can research different innovations in computer science ranging from AI and ML to Quantum Computing and Robotics. For complex subjects like these, the institution has highly qualified faculty members who bring their great technical and mentoring skills to the table. Apart from this, MIT allows students and faculty to work side by side on research projects under UROP and SuperUROP programs.

Stanford University: Ranked #2

This University is known for its technical prowess in computer science. Here you can pursue an Undergraduate, Master and PhD in multiple disciplines in computer-related fields such as AI, Computational Biology, Network Security and many more. Stanford also allows research programs like the LINUX program and the CURIS program, where people from different specialisations and cultures interact to foster an innovative research environment.

University of California, Berkeley (UCB): Ranked #5

UCB offers two Master's Degree programs in two post-graduate level programs: Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). UC Berkeley has one of the most experienced and qualified faculty members. Paul Debevec (Director of Production Innovative Research, Netflix) and Mendel Rosenblum, Co-Founder of VMWare, are some proud alumni of this university.

Harvard University: Ranked #8

Harvard University is home to some notable leaders in the CS industry, like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. The university offers a number of Master's Degree programs in CS, such as MS in Data Science, MS In Computer Science, and Cybersecurity. However, they have a special joint degree MS/MBA program for computer science enthusiasts who aspire to lead tech companies.

California Institute of Technology (Caltech): Ranked #9

As one of the top 10 Universities in the QS rankings, Caltech is one of the most sought-after universities for CS for both undergraduate and Master's programs. Caltech offers a master's degree in Computer Science. Some notable alumni from this university are Donald Knuth (American computer scientist and mathematician), John McCarthy(American computer scientist) and Robert Tarjan.

Eligibility & Application Requirements

So now that we have discussed the top Universities in the USA for Masters in CS programs, let us talk about the eligibility criteria for these courses at American universities.

Education Qualification

The applicant should have a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, or a related technical field. Additionally, the candidates must have scored a GPA of 3.0 (minimum) on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent to 85% aggregate)

Standardised Test Scores

An applicant must have scored well in the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and TOEFL. GRE scores, in the range of 292-328, are acceptable at some universities. A TOEFL iBT score of 80-100 or an IELTS score of 6.5-7.0 is generally required for international applicants.

Supporting Documents

The candidate must have the following supporting documents required for the admission process:

  • Passport copy and photograph for immigration documentation
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP) outlining your academic and career goals
  • 2-3 Letters of Recommendation (LOR) from a professor or an employer

Work Experience (optional):

The applicants may also present relevant work or internship experience, which can give applicants an advantage in the selection process. However, this is not compulsory.

Disclaimer: The specific admission criteria may vary between individual programs and institutions. Prospective students should check the eligibility and application requirements for their chosen school/course, as those may be different or more extensive than this general list.

Financing your Masters in Computer Science in the USA

As an international student, you have to consider the finances involved in pursuing your postgraduate studies at reputable institutions in the USA. The average cost of staying as an international student would vary from one place to another.

In order to give undivided attention to your studies and secure good grades, you have to have some funding options ready. For instance, getting a scholarship from your institution could be a way to reduce your financial burden.

On the other hand, applying for a loan as an international student can be another wise option. However, there's less availability of federal loans for international students. In such cases, leading loan providers like Prodigy Finance offer no co-signer and no collateral loans. The best part about loans from Prodigy Finance is the hassle-free processing and extended repayment options (7-20 years), with a 6-month grace repayment grace period after classes end. Moreover, the repayment starts 6 months after the classes end.


How important are rankings when selecting a university for MS in Computer Science?

The global ranking could be considered a valid point for predicting the quality of education in an institution. However, it is not the only decisive factor; aspects such as fee structure, networking opportunities, and placement assistance play an important role, too.

Are there opportunities for internships or practical experience during an MS program in Computer Science in the USA?

Yes, of course. A number of software companies constantly look to hire fresh talent from reputed institutions and offer them part-time or full-time internships. Additionally, students in the USA can rely on CPT programs to gain hands-on experience on various projects and increase their chances of getting hired.

How much does a MS in CS in the USA cost for international students?

It all boils down to your chosen educational institution and its location. Top institutions like MIT, Stanford, and Harvard charges are on the higher end. For example, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tuition fees can start at $85,960, and CalTech, has tuition fees as high as $90,000 (approximately).

What visa options are available to international students after completing their MS in the USA?

There is a temporary employment authorisation granted by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to F-1 visa holders (students with a valid student visa studying full-time at an accredited US institution). In certain STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), an additional 24 months of OPT extension (STEM OPT) might be available.

After completion of their Master's degree in the USA, students become eligible for the H-1B Visa, J-1 Visa with Internship/Trainee Designation and E-1/E-2 Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor Visa. A holder of any of these visas can plan an extended stay in the United States for a limited period.

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