The best tech colleges in the US

When it comes to finding the best tech schools, these are the top choices

A sign displaying Carnegie Mellon University at the entrance to the school's building

No matter if you're a youngster looking to break into the industry or a seasoned working professional who's considering retraining, a tech degree is a worthwhile consideration for a wide range of reasons.

First, a computer science or IT degree is one of the best ways to get into one of the few industries that's largely unaffected by the COVID-19 outbreak and the financial crisis it created. Although there were fewer job postings last year, the impact wasn't nearly as severe as it was in other segments, like the hospitality industry.

Believe it or not, many areas have already seen tech job listings recover to pre-pandemic levels. What's more, cloud computing, information security, and big data jobs are predicted to increase by more than 530,000 over the next decade, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Second, people working in the tech space often earn significantly more than others. In fact, the nationwide median tech salary was at least 218% higher than the average local salary. It’s worth noting that a post-graduation job isn’t always guaranteed, that’s why a university's job placement rate is so important when choosing a college. It's also a good use of your time to contact someone who recently graduated from the degree program you’re considering. This could give you some genuine advice based on their own experience.

While there are plenty of tech jobs that don’t necessarily require a degree, it can certainly help, especially if you earned it from a prestigious school such as Stanford or MIT. These stalwarts aren't the only tech colleges you should consider. There are plenty of other options with higher acceptance rates and cheaper tuition fees that may be just as beneficial to your skill set and future career.

We’ve performed a coast-to-coast search to find the best tech colleges in the US. You can find these great tech schools in our alphabetized listing of the best tech colleges below.

Carnegie Mellon University

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Related department or school: School of Computer Science

Overview: College ranking site Niche.com ranks CMU as its No. 1 college for information technology in the U.S. Its graduate school programs are especially renowned. U.S. News & World Report also ranks CMU as having the best computer science graduate school and the best IT management graduate program.

Degrees offered: CMU offers B.S. degrees in artificial intelligence, computer engineering, computer science, human-computer interaction, information systems, machine learning and robotics. Bachelor’s degree specializations include animation/special effects, business/enterprise systems, game design and quantitative analysis. CMU’s M.S. degrees include computer science, information technology and software engineering. Finally, if you want a Ph.D., CMU offers one in computer science.

Acceptance rate: 15.4% (2020)

Annual undergraduate tuition: $57,560

Total enrollment: 14,799 (fall 2019)

Job placement rate: 60.9% employed, 27.2% continuing education (2019)

Cornell University

Overlook of Cornell University Campus in Ithaca, NY, from Uris Library

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Location: Ithaca, New York

Related department or school: Department of Computer Science, Department of Information Science

Overview: Cornell Computing and Information Science (Cornell CIS) is the  parent unit of three interconnected departments: computer science, information science, and statistics and data science. Situated in Gates Hall on the university’s Ithaca, New York campus, the unit’s current research includes a wide range of topics, from tech basics such as natural language processing and  data science to more current issues like human-robot interaction or technology and equity.

Degrees offered: Cornell offers three separate IT bachelor’s degree programs, which are taught at three different colleges. Applicants can choose between a B.A. in information science at the College of Arts and Sciences, a B.S. in information science at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, or a B.S. in information systems and technology at the College of Engineering. Cornell University also offers a Master’s and PhD in information science. 

Acceptance rate: 10.9% (2020)

Annual tuition: in-state: $39,244 (state contract colleges) out-of-state: $58,586 (state contract colleges) endowed colleges: $58,586

Total enrollment: 23,620 (fall 2020)

Job placement rate: 66%

Illinois Institute of Technology

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Related department or school: Department of Computer Science

Overview: Illinois Tech is a private, not-for-profit, technology-focused research university with software-engineering-focused computer science programs. That, along with thorough computer science theory, provides solid fundamentals for long-term career success. Illinois Tech conducts research in artificial intelligence, computer networking, cybersecurity, data science, parallel and distributed systems, software engineering, and theory of computation.

Degrees offered: Bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees are available in career-oriented specializations, including: cyber, system and network security, and forensics; data management and analytics; digital systems technology and embedded systems; IT entrepreneurship and management; management information systems; networking, information and communications technology; software development; system administration; systems analysis; and web design and application development.

Acceptance rate: 60.2% (2020)

Annual tuition: $47,670 (fall 2020)

Total enrollment: 6,342 (fall 2020)

Job placement rate: 69.2% employed, 14.6% continuing education (2020)

Lehigh University

Location: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Related department or school: Computer Science & Engineering Department

Overview: Lehigh’s tech majors provide a strong foundation in computer science and engineering, from the hardware/software interface through systems software, programming languages, software engineering and the mathematical foundations of computing. Electives include artificial intelligence, computer networking, parallel and distributed computing, security, robotics, bioinformatics, data mining, web and mobile application development, and databases.

Degrees offered: Lehigh University offers a variety of computer science and information technology degree programs, including B.A. and B.S. degrees in computer science, and a B.S. debris in computer science and business. The latter is accredited in computer science and business and teaches students the skills necessary to manage and innovate in the world of IT in a corporate setting.

Acceptance rate: 25% (2020)

Annual tuition: $54,790 (fall 2020)

Total enrollment: 7,067 (fall 2020)

Job placement rate: 70% employed, 23% continuing education

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Dome in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Related department or school: Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department

Overview: World-renowned, MIT consistently tops the U.S. News & World Report and other college rankings. It’s also widely recognized for its world-class faculty and research. From robots that perform with professional dance troupes to medical electronic devices that harvest energy from differences in body temperature, MIT’s work improves the quality of life for people worldwide.

Degrees offered: Undergraduates can enroll in electrical science and engineering; electrical engineering and computer science; computer science and engineering; computer science and molecular biology; or computer science, economics and data science. MIT also offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.

Acceptance rate: 6.7% (2020)

Annual tuition: $53,790 (2019)

Total enrollment: 11,254 (2020-21)

Job placement rate: 53% employed, 41% continuing education

Michigan Technological University

Location: Houghton, Michigan

Related department or school: Department of Computer Science

Overview: A medium-sized public university, Michigan Tech offers degrees in computer science, software engineering and cybersecurity. Its Department of Computer Science’s expertise includes software engineering, human-computer interaction, virtual environments, data analytics and visualization. It also has core strengths in computing systems, systems software and parallel computing. Students interested in gaming should consider Michigan Tech’s concentration in game development.

Degrees offered: Michigan Tech offers B.S. degrees in computer science, cybersecurity or software engineering, M.S. degrees in Computer Science or Cybersecurity and a Ph.D. in Computational Science and Engineering.

Acceptance rate: 74.3% (2020)

Annual tuition: In-state $16,130, out-of-state $36,432 (fall 2020)

Total enrollment: 7,041 (2020)

Job placement rate: 93% (2020)

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Location: Newark, New Jersey

Related department or school: College of Computing

Overview: Located 20 minutes from Manhattan by train, NJIT bills itself as one of the most computing-intensive campuses in the country. The university’s multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business know-how and leadership skills. NJIT grads frequently land jobs with major companies like IBM, Mercedes-Benz, as well as COVID-19 vaccine developer Pfizer.

Degrees offered: NJIT offers B.S. degrees in bioinformatics, business and information systems, computer science, computing and business, human-computer interaction, information systems, information technology, and web and information systems.

Acceptance rate: 72.8% (2020)

Annual tuition: In-state $17,674, out-of-state $33,386 (2019-20)

Total enrollment: >11,400 (2020)

Job placement rate: 82% (2019)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The Voorhees Computing Center building at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, with lawn and trees at the forefront

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Location: Troy, New York

Related department or school: Department of Computer Science

Overview: Founded in 1824, it bills itself as the oldest technological university in the English-speaking world. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute operates an on‑campus business incubator and a 1,250-acre technology Park. Its Department of Computer Science is aggressively growing with a focus on artificial intelligence, machine learning and cybersecurity. Its students have distinguished themselves by founding companies while still in school and landing high-income jobs at a broad range of companies.

Degrees offered: B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science

Acceptance rate: 47.4% (2020)

Annual tuition: $55,600 (2020-21)

Total enrollment: 7,569 (2020-21)

Job placement rate: 84% (2017)

Rochester Institute of Technology

Location: Rochester, New York

Related department or school: Department of Computer Science

Overview: The computer science program provides students a deep foundation in theory and modern software and hardware concepts, as well as numerous programming languages and paradigms. Students also get paid to work full-time in technological corporate settings.

Degrees offered: RIT offers a wide range of tech degrees, starting with an associate’s degree in applied computer technology. You can also get a B.S. degree in computing exploration, computing and information technologies, computer science, computing security, game design and development, human-centered computing, new media interactive development, software engineering, and web and mobile computing. There are various M.S. and Ph.D. programs as well.

Acceptance rate: 70.7% (2020)

Annual tuition: $50,564 (fall 2020)

Total enrollment: 18,668 (fall 2020)

Job placement rate: 73.4% employed, 19.3% continuing education (2018)

Stanford University 

Stanford University's front lawn and main building on a sunny day, with the bell tower in the background

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Location: Stanford, California

Related department or school: Computer Science Department

Overview: Hands down, Stanford is one of the best schools in the country — it’s also very hard to get into. The main educational goal of the Computer Science Department is to prepare students for research and teaching careers at universities or in industry. Strong research groups exist in the realms of artificial intelligence, robotics, scientific computing and systems. Students commonly work with researchers at nearby institutions. 

Degrees offered: The Computer Science Department offers B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science. The B.S. degree requires students to choose an education track, such as artificial intelligence, biocomputation, graphics or human-computer interaction.

Acceptance rate: 4.3% (2020)

Annual tuition: $55,473 (2019-20)

Total enrollment: 16,385 (2019-20)

Job placement rate: 94% (2018) 

Stevens Institute of Technology 

Location: Hoboken, New Jersey

Related department or school: Department of Computer Science

Overview: Located across the river from New York City, Stevens is known for its prestigious cybersecurity education program. Its Department of Computer Science includes labs and research centers funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and other sources. Students get the opportunity to apply for patents, become entrepreneurs, and pitch their engineering projects and business ideas to investors.

Degrees offered: Stevens offers B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science; B.S. It also offers an M.S. in cybersecurity and a Ph.D. in data science.

Acceptance rate: 40% (fall 2020)

Annual tuition: $55,952 (2020-21)

Total enrollment: 7,283 (fall 2019)

Job placement rate: 96% (2019)

University of California 

The University of California is tricky, as many lists of the best tech colleges in the U.S. include the University of California, but each lists a different campus.

What’s called “the University of California” is actually a sprawling public university system — the most comprehensive in the world. It comprises 10 campuses and numerous research centers scattered across California. It has nearly 23,000 faculty members and more than 285,000 students.

Tuition: In-state $14,000, out-of-state $43,800 (2019-20) 

Each campus handles admissions separately. Here are the campuses that typically get high marks for their tech education programs:

University of California-Berkeley

A decorative iron fence displaying the words University of California at the west entrance to the University of California, Berkeley

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Related department or school: Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences 

Overview: This campus and Stanford University are the major universities closest to Silicon Valley, so they’re linked to many of the biggest names and companies in tech. To say it has close ties to the industry is an understatement. Representatives from Apple and Google drop by for speaking appearances and career fairs. 

Degrees offered: B.S. or B.A. in computer science. Various M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. 

Acceptance rate: 16.3% (2020) 

Job placement rate: 61% (2018)

University of California-San Diego

Related department or school: Computer Science and Engineering Department 

Overview: This is known as an affordable option because of the number of available scholarships and fellowships. UCSD’s tech grads fuel the internet, wireless communications, biotech and computer industries. Many students work with UCSD’s research centers such as the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology, the San Diego Supercomputer Center and others.

Degrees offered: UCSD offers B.S. degrees in computer science, computer engineering and computer science with a specialization in bioinformatics. There are also M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science and computer engineering.

Acceptance rate: 31.5% (2020)

Job placement rate: 95% of respondents received their first full-time job offer within three months of graduating (2019)

University of California-Irvine

Related department or school: School of Information & Computer Sciences 

Overview: A broad foundation in IT disciplines combined with cutting-edge research in strategic areas.

Degrees offered: UC Irvine offers B.S. degrees in computer science, data science, informatics, software engineering, computer game science, business information management, and computer science and engineering. There are also M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science, informatics, networked systems, software engineering and statistics.

Acceptance rate: 26.5% (2020)

Job placement rate: 89.47% employed (2019)

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