Best universities for computer science degrees 2018

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

October 17 2017
Computer programming

Studying computer science is a smart bet in today’s world; 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 300 schools feature in the 2018 ranking for computer science by Times Higher Education this year.

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Nearly a quarter of the featured universities are American colleges and almost half the universities are based in Europe. Nearly 40 of the top 300 universities are Asian institutions.

Computer science degrees vary in terms of their focus and specialisms. Some courses are more theoretical and some 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.

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Top 5 universities for computer science

1. 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. 

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The department of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT confidently declares "our students change the world".

Many of its alumni feature in 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 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.

3. 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 lecturers for undergraduates and trained research students at a 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.

Three undergraduate degrees are offered by the department: 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.

4. ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology 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 formed 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 in 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 whom 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. It was created as a centre for scientific knowledge and innovation and remains a top institution for a range of subjects.

5. University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge Computer Science department offers the Computer Science Tripos course for undergraduate students which is 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 prepare students for a PhD in computer science. 

There are many research groups based in the computer science department looking at artificial intelligence, security, graphics and interaction and computer architecture. 

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Best universities for computer science 2018

Click each institution to view its World University Ranking 2018 profile

Computer Science Rank 2018 University Country
1 Stanford University United States
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
3 University of Oxford United Kingdom
4 ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich Switzerland
5 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
=6 California Institute of Technology United States
=6 Carnegie Mellon University United States
8 Georgia Institute of Technology United States
9 Imperial College London United Kingdom
10 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland
11 Harvard University United States
12 Princeton University United States
13 National University of Singapore Singapore
14 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
15 Cornell University United States
16 Technical University of Munich Germany
17 University of Washington United States
18 University College London United Kingdom
19 Columbia University United States
20 Tsinghua University China
21 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign United States
22 University of Toronto Canada
23 University of Pennsylvania United States
24 University of California, San Diego United States
25 Peking University China
26 University of Texas at Austin United States
27 University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
=28 University of British Columbia Canada
=28 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong
30 University of Southern California United States
31 Nanyang Technological University Singapore
32 University of Maryland, College Park United States
33 University of Waterloo Canada
34 University of Chicago United States
35 University of Tokyo Japan
36 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Germany
37 RWTH Aachen University Germany
38 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
39 University of Melbourne Australia
40 Seoul National University South Korea
41 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea
=42 Delft University of Technology Netherlands
=42 Technical University of Berlin Germany
44 University of California, Santa Barbara United States
=45 University of Massachusetts United States
=45 Zhejiang University China
47 LMU Munich Germany
48 Brown University United States
49 University of California, Irvine United States
50 KU Leuven Belgium
51 Kyoto University Japan
52 Rice University United States
53 National Taiwan University Taiwan
54 KTH Royal Institute of Technology Sweden
55 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
56 University of Montreal Canada
57 Technion Israel Institute of Technology Israel
=58 University of Freiburg Germany
=58 Nanjing University China
60 Lomonosov Moscow State University Russian Federation
=61 King’s College London United Kingdom
=61 Vienna University of Technology Austria
63 University of Manchester United Kingdom
64 Eindhoven University of Technology Netherlands
65 Heidelberg University Germany
66 University of Amsterdam Netherlands
67 Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Russian Federation
=68 Pennsylvania State University United States
=68 Shanghai Jiao Tong University China
70 École Polytechnique France
71 University of Science and Technology of China China
=72 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
=72 Technical University of Darmstadt Germany
=74 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
=74 University of Twente Netherlands
76 ITMO University Russian Federation
77 Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris France
78 University of Luxembourg Luxembourg
79 Arizona State University United States
80 Aarhus University Denmark
=81 University of Bonn Germany
=81 University of Stuttgart Germany
=83 Australian National University Australia
=83 University of Technology Sydney Australia
85 University of Southampton United Kingdom
=86 University of Geneva Switzerland
=86 University of Pittsburgh United States
=88 Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong
=88 Tel Aviv University Israel
90 Aalto University Finland
91 Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey United States
92 Dartmouth College United States
93 University of Helsinki Finland
94 Stony Brook University United States
=95 McGill University Canada
=95 Polytechnic University of Milan Italy
97 University of Minnesota United States
=98 Newcastle University United Kingdom
=98 Queensland University of Technology Australia
100 Washington University in St Louis United States

Click here to view the top 300 universities for computer science

What can you do with a computer science degree?

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


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