Best universities for computer science degrees 2020

Find the best universities for computer science using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings data

October 16 2019
Computer programming

Studying computer science is a smart bet in today’s world, as the career opportunities for tech-savvy graduates are expanding every year.

There’s also an extensive choice of universities when it comes to deciding where to study computer science.

Some 749 schools feature in the ranking for computer science by Times Higher Education this year.

Universities by degree subject

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Nearly a sixth of the featured universities are American colleges, and almost a third are based in Europe. Approximately 230 of the universities are to be found in Asia.

Computer science degrees vary in their focus and specialisms. Some courses are very theoretical, while others are more focused on programming.

The ranking uses the same methodology as the World University Rankings, but with slightly higher weighting given to the innovation metric and lower weighting for citations. The full methodology can be found here.

Scroll down to find out what you can do with a computer science degree.

Best universities worldwide

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Top 5 universities for computer science

1. University of Oxford

Although computer science is a relatively modern discipline, the University of Oxford has one of the oldest departments in the country, formerly known as the Oxford University Computing Laboratory.

Since its beginnings, the department has provided lectures for undergraduates and trained research students at postgraduate level.

In addition to core computer science topics, students can take courses in computational biology, quantum computing, information systems, software verification, software engineering and computational linguistics.

The department offers three undergraduate degrees: single honours computer science, maths and computer science, and computer science and philosophy.

Like students of other subjects, computer science students – whether undergraduate or postgraduate – belong to one of Oxford’s colleges, where they have the option to eat, socialise, study and live.

2. Stanford University

The Stanford University computer science department was established in 1965. The department offers bachelor’s of science, master’s of science and a doctor of philosophy.

The department undertakes research in many areas, including artificial intelligence, robotics, foundations of computer science, scientific computing and programming systems. There is also a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research across chemistry, genetics, linguistics, construction and medicine, among others.

The home of the computer science department is the Gates Computer Science Building, named after Bill Gates, who donated $6 million to the project.

3. ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich has a history of developing software and designing computer systems. Eventually, these projects called for a dedicated computer science department, which was created in 1981.

The department covers many areas of computer science, including computational intelligence, networks and distributed systems, algorithms and theory, and information security. Different programming languages are also taught on software engineering courses.

There are close relationships with other departments within the university and with partners in business and industry, such as IBM, Microsoft, Google, SAP and Disney, with which the university collaborates on research projects.

ETH Zurich dates back to 1855, just a few years after the formation of the federal state of Switzerland. Created as a centre for scientific knowledge and innovation, it remains a top institution for a range of subjects.

What can you do with a computer science degree?

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The department of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology confidently declares: “Our students change the world.”

Many of its alumni feature on lists of influential entrepreneurs who are making changes at home and abroad.

Students are encouraged to develop start-ups, and research projects have explored problems such as calculating the financial risks of renewable energy and developing faster parallel computing.

Undergraduates are enrolled on a flexible curriculum that allows them to focus on both abstract theory and practical problems in computer science. Students can major in computer science or in both computer science and molecular biology.

Graduates go on to design video games, work on supercomputers, research robotics and often join big companies such as Google and Microsoft.

5. University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge computer science department offers undergraduate students the Computer Science Tripos course, a three- or four-year computer science course.

The university also offers an MPhil in computer science as a general master’s degree, which helps to prepare students for a PhD in computer science.

There are many research groups based in the computer science department, exploring topics such as artificial intelligence, security, graphics and interaction, and computer architecture.

Student experience of studying computer science

Women in STEM: stories from MIT students
Studying at POSTECH, South Korea
Caltech: ‘uniquely difficult but a wonderful place to study’
Keeping up with coding
Women in STEM: ‘I hope that one day the tech sector will be more diverse’

Best universities for computer science 2020

Click each institution to view its World University Ranking 2020 profile

Computer Science Rank 2020  Computer Science Rank 2019 University Country/region
 1   1  University of Oxford United Kingdom
 2   3  Stanford University United States
 3   2  ETH Zurich Switzerland
 4   5  Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
 5   4  University of Cambridge United Kingdom
 6   6  Carnegie Mellon University United States
 7   11  Imperial College London United Kingdom
 8   9  Harvard University United States
 9   8  Princeton University United States
 10   10  California Institute of Technology United States
 11   15  National University of Singapore Singapore
 12   12  University of California, Los Angeles United States
 13   29  Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore
 14   14  Cornell University United States
 15   =20  Tsinghua University China
 16   7  Georgia Institute of Technology United States
 17   28  The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong
 18   26  Technical University of Munich Germany
 19   23  UCL United Kingdom
 20   13  École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland
 21   =20  Columbia University United States
 22   27  University of Michigan-Ann Arbor United States
 23   =18  University of Toronto Canada
 24   17  University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
 25   =18  University of Texas at Austin United States
 26   22  University of Washington United States
 27   32  Peking University China
 28   16  Yale University United States
 29   25  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign United States
 30   31  Johns Hopkins University United States
 =31   34  University of Montreal Canada
 =31   33  University of Pennsylvania United States
 33   24  New York University United States
 34   38  Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris France
 35   30  University of California, San Diego United States
 36   37  Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 37   36  University of Southern California United States
 38   46  University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 39   43  University of Chicago United States
 40   41  University of Waterloo Canada
 41   45  Zhejiang University China
 42   40  The University of Tokyo Japan
 43   35  University of British Columbia Canada
 44   53  Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea
 45   49  Shanghai Jiao Tong University China
 46   47  RWTH Aachen University Germany
 =47   56  Delft University of Technology Netherlands
 =47   50  Seoul National University South Korea
 49   44  University of Maryland, College Park United States
 =50   42  Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Germany
 =50   39  University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
 52   66  KU Leuven Belgium
 53   72  Duke University United States
 54   51  University of California, Santa Barbara United States
 55   70  Technical University of Berlin Germany
 =56   =88  Aalto University Finland
 =56   52  University of Melbourne Australia
 58   48  LMU Munich Germany
 59   =74  Eindhoven University of Technology Netherlands
 60   =57  Rice University United States
 61   =57  University of Science and Technology of China China
 62   55  University of California, Irvine United States
 63   61  École Polytechnique France
 64   64  Technion Israel Institute of Technology Israel
 65   69  University of Freiburg Germany
 66   79  McGill University Canada
 67   60  National Taiwan University Taiwan
 68   67  Technical University of Darmstadt Germany
 =69   84  Australian National University Australia
 =69   54  KTH Royal Institute of Technology Sweden
 71   NR  Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) South Korea
 =72   68  Nanjing University China
 =72   101–125  Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands
 =74   59  Brown University United States
 =74   71  ITMO University Russian Federation
 76   =76  Vienna University of Technology Austria
 77   65  University of Massachusetts United States
 78   73  University of Amsterdam Netherlands
 =79   =76  King’s College London United Kingdom
 =79   =74  University of Technology Sydney Australia
 =79   126–150  UNSW Sydney Australia
 82   62  Kyoto University Japan
 =83   NR  Northwestern University United States
 =83   =88  University of Zurich Switzerland
 85   63  University of Manchester United Kingdom
 =86   101–125  Queensland University of Technology Australia
 =86   101–125  University of Sydney Australia
 88   =81  Sorbonne University France
 89   126–150  Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University United States
 90   90  University of Luxembourg Luxembourg
 91   =91  Boston University United States
 =92   101–125  Chalmers University of Technology Sweden
 =92   101–125  Heidelberg University Germany
 =92   97  Penn State (Main campus) United States
 95   101–125  Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Russian Federation
 96   101–125  University of Adelaide Australia
 97   =93  Polytechnic University of Milan Italy
 98   74  Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong
 99   83  Michigan State University United States
 100   NR  Aarhus University Denmark
 101–125   98  University of Alberta Canada
 101–125   101–125  Arizona State University (Tempe) United States
 101–125   126–150  University of Birmingham United Kingdom
 101–125   86  University of Bologna Italy
 101–125   NR  University of Bonn Germany
 101–125   101–125  University of Bristol United Kingdom
 101–125   =93  City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 101–125   101–125  University of Erlangen-Nuremberg Germany
 101–125   101–125  Fudan University China
 101–125   78  Lomonosov Moscow State University Russian Federation
 101–125   126–150  McMaster University Canada
 101–125   96  University of Minnesota United States
 101–125   99  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
 101–125   101–125  Northeastern University United States
 101–125   126–150  Ohio State University (Main campus) United States
 101–125   100  Queen Mary University of London United Kingdom
 101–125   95  University of Queensland Australia
 101–125   101–125  Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey United States
 101–125   126–150  Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies – Pisa Italy
 101–125   101–125  University of Southampton United Kingdom
 101–125   126–150  University of South Australia Australia
 101–125   126–150  University of Surrey United Kingdom
 101–125   =81  Tel Aviv University Israel
 101–125   =91  University of Trento Italy
 101–125   151–175  TU Dresden Germany
 126–150   101–125  University of California, Riverside United States
 126–150   101–125  University of Colorado Boulder United States
 126–150   126–150  Dartmouth College United States
 126–150   126–150  École Normale Supérieure de Lyon France
 126–150   126–150  Free University of Bozen-Bolzano Italy
 126–150   126–150  University of Geneva Switzerland
 126–150   151–175  Griffith University Australia
 126–150   126–150  University of Groningen Netherlands
 126–150   126–150  Harbin Institute of Technology China
 126–150   101–125  Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel
 126–150   176–200  Indian Institute of Science India
 126–150   126–150  King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia
 126–150   151–175  Korea University South Korea
 126–150   101–125  Lancaster University United Kingdom
 126–150   NR  Macau University of Science and Technology Macao
 126–150   101–125  University of Malaya Malaysia
 126–150   126–150  University of Mannheim Germany
 126–150   101–125  National Tsing Hua University Taiwan
 126–150   151–175  University of Nottingham United Kingdom
 126–150   126–150  Sapienza University of Rome Italy
 126–150   201–250  Sejong University South Korea
 126–150   151–175  University of Stuttgart Germany
 126–150   87  Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) South Korea
 126–150   126–150  Technical University of Denmark Denmark
 126–150   NR  Télécom Paris France
 126–150   126–150  University of Tübingen Germany
 151–175   151–175  Aalborg University Denmark
 151–175   NR  University of Basel Switzerland
 151–175   101–125  University of California, Santa Cruz United States
 151–175   301–400  Central South University China
 151–175   176–200  University of Florida United States
 151–175   176–200  University of Göttingen Germany
 151–175   176–200  Graz University of Technology Austria
 151–175   126–150  University of Helsinki Finland
 151–175   176–200  Hong Kong Baptist University Hong Kong
 151–175   176–200  Indian Institute of Technology Bombay India
 151–175   201–250  Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur India
 151–175   126–150  Université Catholique de Louvain Belgium
 151–175   176–200  University of Macau Macao
 151–175   201–250  National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech) Taiwan
 151–175   151–175  North Carolina State University United States
 151–175   151–175  University of Passau Germany
 151–175   301–400  Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic University Russian Federation
 151–175   126–150  Queen’s University Belfast United Kingdom
 151–175   101–125  Stony Brook University United States
 151–175   151–175  Texas A&M University United States
 151–175   201–250  Trinity College Dublin Republic of Ireland
 151–175   85  University of Twente Netherlands
 151–175   NR  Università della Svizzera Italiana Switzerland
 151–175   101–125  University of Warwick United Kingdom
 151–175   NR  William & Mary United States
 176–200   251–300  University of Antwerp Belgium
 176–200   101–125  University at Buffalo United States
 176–200   126–150  Durham University United Kingdom
 176–200   176–200  University of Essex United Kingdom
 176–200   176–200  Free University of Berlin Germany
 176–200   201–250  Huazhong University of Science and Technology China
 176–200   NR  University of Idaho United States
 176–200   301–400  IMT Atlantique France
 176–200   176–200  University of Leicester United Kingdom
 176–200   176–200  Linköping University Sweden
 176–200   NR  Lund University Sweden
 176–200   151–175  National Chiao Tung University Taiwan
 176–200   201–250  University of Ottawa Canada
 176–200   201–250  University of Oulu Finland
 176–200   151–175  Paris-Sud University France
 176–200   126–150  University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campus United States
 176–200   151–175  University of Potsdam Germany
 176–200   151–175  Radboud University Nijmegen Netherlands
 176–200   151–175  Ruhr University Bochum Germany
 176–200   176–200  Temple University United States
 176–200   151–175  University of Virginia (Main campus) United States
 176–200   151–175  Washington University in St Louis United States
 176–200   176–200  West Virginia University United States
 176–200   176–200  Xi’an Jiaotong University China

Click here to view the top 749 universities for computer science

Read more: The most detailed subject guide you will ever see to help you pick your degree

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