The Top 10 Most Underrated Computer Science Colleges in the U.S.
Students who want to study Computer Science in college often seek out name-brand schools such as MIT and Carnegie Mellon, with low acceptance rates at 6.74% and 17% respectively. While these colleges can certainly give students an excellent education, there are many other colleges with strong returns on investment that have the potential to prepare you for a meaningful career.
Based on data we’ve collected over the years, here are the 10 most underrated colleges for students looking to study Computer Science.
How we put this list together
Traditional college rankings do a decent job of ranking the best universities, but some serious factors that get left out. When we look to advise families on colleges that are underrated, our primary focus is on outcomes — more specifically financial outcomes like starting salary and ROI, as well as qualitative outcomes like job placements.
We took into consideration the following criteria:
- Cost of attendance and generosity of financial aid & scholarships
- One and five-year ROI after graduation
- Financial performance of specific majors
- Qualitative data on career outcomes like job placements and grad school progression
The top ten most underrated Computer Science Colleges in the U.S are:
1. San Jose State University
Situated in the heart of the U.S.’s tech capital, San Jose State has a 154-acre campus and claims to be the number one supplier of education, engineering, computer science, and business graduates to Silicon Valley.
San Jose State has an ROI among the top 40. One point of pride for the university is that it is home to the only research facility in North America dedicated solely to the study of the life of Beethoven. It is also a research partner of NASA Ames Research Center.
2. University of Houston
UH is particularly strong in STEM fields, offering more than 300 degrees in total. It ranks among the top 50 for ROI and number 171 by U.S. News and World Report.
Like some other public Texas universities, UH has assured admissions criteria, meaning students who meet certain academic standards are guaranteed admission. There are also many scholarship opportunities.
3. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Already well-regarded, ranked 59 by U.S. News, WPI also has a strong ROI, among the top 35. Located close to Boston, the school has a project-based curriculum and offers numerous combined-degree options.
4. Brigham Young University
The nation’s largest religious university, BYU is affiliated with with the Church of Latter-day Saints. You don’t need to be Mormon to attend, although a vast majority of students (more than 98%) are.
Located in Provo, just outside of Salt Lake City, the university is very cheap for out-of-state students at just $14,000 for the total cost of attendance. Given its location in “Silicon Slopes,” a STEM hub along the Wasatch Front that includes Adobe Systems and SanDisk, there are many opportunities for CS majors. BYU is ranked 66 by U.S. News and among the top 30 for ROI.
5. University of Utah
Rated highly in terms of economic value by The Economist and Brookings, the University of Utah is located in Salt Lake City, also in Silicon Slopes. It is ranked 119 by U.S. News and in the top 65 in terms of ROI.
6. University of Colorado – Boulder
Know for its STEM and business programs, CU Boulder is a member of the Association of American Universities, an elite group of 62 research universities. It is one of the oldest public universities in the Southwest and ranks #96 in U.S. News. It is among the top 40 for ROI.
7. Stevens Institute of Technology
Specializing in STEM-oriented fields, Stevens offers many applied-learning and research opportunities. It is located in Hoboken, New Jersey, just outside of New York, and many students are recruited by companies in New Jersey, particularly those in pharma.
A small school with about 3,000 undergraduates, Stevens ranks #70 in U.S. News and in the top 30 for ROI.
8. University of Missouri
Well-known for its football team, the Mizzou Tigers, Mizzou has an enrollment of more than 30,000 students. Its main campus is located in Columbia, and it is one of only six public universities nationwide that can claim a medical school, veterinary medicine college, and a law school on the same campus. Students graduate in 4.2 years on average.
U.S. News ranks Mizzou at 129, and it is among the top 75 in terms of ROI.
9. University of Illinois – Chicago
UIC is Chicago’s only public research university and professes to be a “vital part of the educational, technological and cultural fabric of the region.” It is #130 in U.S. News and has an ROI among the top 75.
One perk for first-year students is that they are considered for scholarships based on their college applications. UIC has an Honors College and Guaranteed Professional Programs for guaranteed admission into several graduate schools and professional programs.
10. University of Iowa
The flagship public Iowa university in Iowa City, the University of Iowa has many nationally ranked programs in addition to CS. It includes 11 colleges offering 200 areas of study and is considered a “Big 10” school, a term describing a group of large research universities in the Midwest.
The total cost of attendance is very reasonable for out-of-state students at $40,000. The university ranks among the top 50 for ROI and #89 by U.S. News.
Looking for more underrated colleges and universities to explore? Check out The Top 10 Most Underrated Colleges in the U.S..
Want to discover more colleges that might be the right fit for you? When you sign up for our College Applications Program (for seniors) or our College Strategy Program (for Juniors), you’ll use our Chancing Engine and School List Generator to discover the perfect schools for you.
Want more college admissions tips?
We'll send you information to help you throughout the college admissions process.