50 Great Affordable Colleges for Computer Science and Engineering for 2020

Earning a degree in computer science or engineering can lead to well-paying jobs in an exciting field. Workers with higher-level degrees tend to make higher salaries and experience lower unemployment rates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

Based on 2019 data, the BLS found that workers with an associate degree earned a median of $887 a week, compared to $1,248 for those with bachelor’s degrees. A graduate degree leads to even higher earnings, with median weekly wages of $1,497 for master’s-holders, $1,861 for those with a professional degree, and $1,883 for workers with a doctoral degree.

The BLS projects computer and information technology occupations, as a whole, will increase by about half a million new jobs between 2019 and 2029, though career opportunities will vary by field. For example, computer and information research scientists are projected to see a 15% increase in job opportunities in the next decade. On the other hand, computer engineers have a projected 2% increase. 

Featured Programs

This guide explores our list of the top low-cost colleges for computer science and engineering degrees.

Are you undecided as to what major to pursue? Check out our article 5 of the Easiest Online Bachelor’s Degrees. If you are looking for a way to find high-quality, online degree programs for the best price, check out our ranking of the Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degrees.


To develop this ranking of the top low-cost computer science and engineering programs, we applied an affordability filter that favors schools with lower tuition prices. We then considered how the school’s computer science and engineering programs ranked in US News & World Report. In case of a tie, the more affordable program received the better ranking.

Great Affordable Colleges for Computer Science and Engineering

#1 — University of California-Berkeley

Berkeley, CA

  • Tuition: $5,721/semester (in state); $5,721/semester + $14,877 in nonresident supplemental tuition (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

UC Berkeley‘s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Department offers two bachelor’s degrees and five graduate programs. The department boasts 190 active faculty members, two MacArthur Fellows, 14 National Academy of Sciences members, and 35 Association for Computing Machinery fellows. 

Research areas in Berkeley’s EECS include artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, signal processing, and operating systems and networking. 

The computer science BA requires computer architecture and engineering, software engineering, and introduction to robotics classes. The electrical engineering and computer science BS curriculum includes courses in data structures, multivariable calculus, user interface design and development, and linear integrated circuits. 

#2 — Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA

  • Tuition: $800/credit 
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Students can earn graduate and undergraduate degrees from Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at CMU. The largest department in the university’s College of Engineering, ECE awards 160 undergraduate electrical and computer engineering degrees annually. 

Accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, the BS in electrical and computer engineering includes classes like fundamentals of semiconductor devices, introduction to soldering, logic design and verification, and introduction to machine learning for engineers. 

Graduate degrees include an MS in electrical and computer engineering, an MS in software engineering, a dual MS/MBA in electrical and computer engineering, and a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering.

#3 — Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA

  • Tuition: $5,129/semester (in state); $15,685 (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom; Online

Georgia Tech offers about nine undergraduate and graduate computer science, computational science, or computer engineering degrees. 

Distance learners can earn an online MS in computational science and engineering or computer science. Required classes for the online master’s in computer science include high-performance computer architecture, advanced operating systems, and database systems concepts and design. 

The BS/MS in electrical and computer engineering allows students to complete both degrees in five years. Undergraduates can apply for the dual program as juniors. Through Georgia Tech’s research option, computer engineering bachelor’s students complete an intensive research experience and undergraduate thesis. 

#4 — University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL

  • Tuition: $8,674/semester (in state); $17,399 (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

One of the top low-cost colleges for computer science and engineering, U of I welcomes undergraduate and graduate computer science and engineering majors. 

The Grainger College of Engineering’s computer engineering BS focuses on computer systems, circuits, computer science, and electromagnetics. The curriculum includes computational aerodynamics, finite element analysis, data structures, and computer systems programming. 

The university’s BS in computer science’s required classes include discrete structures, numerical methods, programming languages and compilers, and probability and statistics for computer science. U of I students can pursue dual undergraduate degrees in computer science and another field, like anthropology, music, or philosophy.

Graduate students can pursue an MS in computer science or a master of computer science in computer science, a professionally oriented program.

#5 — University of Michigan  

Ann Arbor, MI

  • Tuition: $8,311/semester (in state); $26,072/semester (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

U-M’s internationally known Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department emphasizes diversity, inventiveness, and interdisciplinary teamwork. The department employs 72 tenured or tenure-track faculty members and 16 research scientists.

Accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, the computer engineering BS’s required courses include autonomous robotics design experience, parallel computer architecture, digital signal processing design lab, and advanced computer networks. The program offers tracks in computer-aided design, computer-based control systems, embedded systems, and robotics and vision.

Graduate students can pursue an MS, Ph.D., or M.Eng. in electrical and computer engineering. ECE considers all Ph.D. candidates for fellowships and graduate student research assistantships.

#6 — University of Nebraska Omaha

Omaha, NE

  • Tuition: $5,129/semester (in state); $15,685 (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom; Online

UNO’s College of Information Science & Technology offers undergraduate and graduate computer science programs, including an accelerated bachelor’s/master’s in computer science, a master’s in computer science education, and a bachelor’s in computer science.

UNO’s Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department offers a computer engineering BS accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. The four-year program requires classes like microprocessor applications, electrical and computer engineering fundamentals, applied linear algebra, and embedded microcontroller design. 

Computer engineering majors participate in research opportunities focused on robotics, metamaterials and plasmonics, and smart materials. The university’s student organizations include a robotics group, the student chapter of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, and Eta Kappa Nu.

#7 — Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

  • Tuition: $30,143/semester
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Among the top low-cost colleges for computer science and engineering, Cornell’s Engineering Department offers a BS in computer science and a BS in electrical and computer engineering. 

The computer science curriculum requires classes in embedded systems, data structures and functional programming, operating systems, and analysis of algorithms. The electrical and computer engineering program explores circuits, digital logic and computer organization, intelligent physical systems, and electronic device fundamentals.

Engineering majors choose from 20 engineering-specific minors including business for engineering students, engineering management, information science, or robotics. Departmental faculty research focuses on energy and the environment; bioengineering; advanced materials; and complex systems, network science, and computation.

Featured Programs

#8 — University of California, San Diego

La Jolla, CA

  • Tuition: $14,733/year (in state); $29,754/year (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

UC San Diego’s Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) and Electrical and Computer Engineering departments jointly host a BS in computer engineering. The curriculum includes classes in advanced data structures, the principles of computer operating systems, design and analysis of algorithms, and circuits and systems. 

A CSE honors program invites eligible undergraduates to complete a research project in close consultation with a faculty member. The CSE department also offers study abroad, volunteer, and job/internship opportunities. Funding options for computer engineering majors include fellowships, scholarships, and a CSE showcase. 

Graduate students can earn MS or doctoral degrees in computer science and computer engineering from CSE.

#9 — Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN

  • Tuition: $9,992/year (in state); $28,794/year (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Purdue’s computer engineering program requires core courses in Python for data science, microprocessor systems and interfacing, professional communications and diversity, and advanced C programming. Students complete a senior design project in their final year of the program. 

Purdue’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department also offers a 4+1 BS/MS program that lets students earn an accelerated master’s degree after completing their bachelor’s.

Scientists and engineers conduct research in emerging fields at Purdue’s Birck Nanotechnology Center. There may be other research opportunities at the Center for Wireless Systems and Applications, Integrated Circuits & Devices Lab, Parallel Distributed Processing Laboratory, and Ziaie Biomedical Microdevices Laboratory.

#10 — University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA

  • Tuition: $13,258/year (in state); $29,754/year (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences offers a computer engineering BS, computer science BS, and computer science and engineering BS. Samueli employed 192 full-time faculty members and counted 3,331 undergraduates and 2,185 graduate students in 2020-21. 

The computer science BS curriculum includes classes like methods and application of collaborative learning theory in life sciences, introduction to algorithms and complexity, operating systems principles, and principles and practices of computing. 

Departmental research areas include artificial intelligence, computational systems biology, network systems, and software systems. Student clubs include IEEE Women Advancing Technology through Teamwork, Queers in Stem at UCLA, and UCLA 3D4E (a network for 3D printing enthusiasts).

#11 — Columbia University

New York, NY

  • Tuition: $1,948/credit
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Columbia, one of the top low-cost colleges for computer science and engineering, offers a BS and MS in computer engineering jointly through the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Departments. The degrees focus on computer systems with digital hardware and software.

The BS in computer engineering degree requires courses like multivariable calculus, circuit analysis, data structures, and advanced programming. MS curriculum includes advanced logic design, the Internet of things, and wireless network and systems.

Columbia does not currently offer a Ph.D. in computer engineering and recommends that those interested apply to either the electrical engineering or computer science departments.

Research groups closely associated with the computer engineering program include the Computer Architecture Laboratory, Languages and Compilers Group, Wireless and Mobile Networking Lab, and Asynchronous Circuits and Systems Group.

#12 — University of Washington

Seattle, WA

  • Tuition: $12,076/year (in state); $39,906/year (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Students can major in computer science or computer engineering through UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering (CSE). The computer science BS focuses more on liberal arts and general education requirements than the computer engineering BS.

Learners get hands-on experience building hardware and software. They take classes in robotics, natural language processing, computer security and privacy, and human-computer interaction. 

Extracurricular opportunities at CSE include engaging in faculty research, becoming a teaching assistant, enrolling in a study abroad program, or completing an internship. Learners can join student organizations like the Association for Computing Machinery student chapter, Minorities in Tech, or Q++, a group to support LGBTQIA+ individuals in the Allen School.

#13 — University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

  • Tuition: $60,446/year
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

The USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering offers a BS in electrical and computer engineering and a BS in computer engineering and computer science. Both degrees are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. 

The computer engineering and computer science BS requires classes like introduction to algorithms and theory of computing, distributed systems for the Internet of things, computer systems organization, and introduction to programming.

USC’s accelerated progressive degree program lets students earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just five years. Exceptional undergraduates start taking graduate credits senior year and qualify for a reduced-credit master’s.

#14 — University of Wisconsin Madison

Madison, WI

  • Tuition: $469/credit (in state); $1,631/credit (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Counted as one of the top low-cost colleges for computer science and engineering, UW’s BA/BS in computer science program includes classes in artificial intelligence, computer architecture, programming languages and compilers, and computational biology. Faculty members continually update the curriculum based on new research, and computer science majors who meet GPA requirements graduate with honors. 

The School of Computer, Data, and Information Sciences hosts an annual computer science job fair where students network with potential employers from dozens of companies. The program also offers study abroad opportunities and the chance to join student groups like the Women’s Association for Computing Machinery and Coding for Good.

#15 — University of Maryland, College Park

College Park, MD

  • Tuition: $4,500/semester (in state); $18,341/semester (out of state)
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

UMD’s Department of Computer Science employs world-renowned faculty members who participate in 15 distinct computer science-related research areas, including algorithms and theory, databases and big data, and cybersecurity and cryptography.

UMD’s computer science bachelor’s degree offers general, cybersecurity, data science, and machine learning tracks. The program’s required classes include object-oriented programming, discrete structures, organization of programming languages, and calculus II.

The department also provides a combined five-year BS/MS computer science degree for learners with a minimum 3.5 GPA. Students can use up to nine credits taken as undergraduates toward the master’s degree. UMD computer science majors can study abroad, complete an internship, or participate in faculty research.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a degree in computer science and engineering?

A: As the world relies more on interconnectivity through computers, technology, and growth, the demand for computer science and engineering professionals will continue to rise. Businesses striving to keep up with ever-evolving technologies open up more job opportunities.

Typically, a degree in computer science and a degree in computer engineering will be offered through the same department. However, that isn’t always the case. Some schools separate the degrees into their own departments, i.e. the School of Computer Engineering or the School of Computer Science.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what the two programs typically encompass:

Computer Science

Like engineering, computer science is a broad field that enables graduates to create/produce computers and the programs and networks that run them.

A few sub-fields students could pursue include:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Science
  • Information Systems
  • Management Information Systems
  • Data Analytics
  • Digital Media
  • Software Development
  • Software Programming
  • Systems Engineering
  • Systems Analytics
  • Computer Engineering

Undergraduate students enrolled in computer engineering degree programs will take foundational coursework in mathematics and engineering fundamentals. After the general coursework is completed, students will move into more advanced topics, like programming languages.

Q: What are the types of degrees in engineering and computer science?

A: These are the most common types of degrees in this field:

Types of bachelor’s degrees:

  • Bachelor of Computer Science or Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (abbreviated BCompSc or BCS or BS CS or B.Sc. CS)
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering (B.Tech)

Types of master’s degrees:

  • Master of Science in Computer Science
  • Master of Computer Science (abbreviated M.C.S.)

Types of doctoral degrees:

  • Doctor of Computer Science (DCS, DCompSci, DSc.Comp, D.C.Sc.)
  • Ph.D. in Computer Science
  • Doctor of Science (D.Sc or Sc.D) in Computer Science

Q: Can I complete an affordable online bachelor of computer and IT degree program fully online?

A: Yes. Many online bachelor’s in computer and IT programs do not require in-person attendance. However, some programs may require minimal attendance for student orientation, networking, or proctored exams.

Q: How long does it take to earn a low-cost computer and IT bachelor’s online?

A: Typically, it takes four years to complete a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or information technology, but accelerated options can reduce this time significantly. In addition, students may seek out degree completion tracks or schools that offer credit for prior learning to further shorten the length of the degree program.

Q: Does my program need special accreditation?

A: No, not necessarily. You will want to make sure that your school has school-wide accreditation, but program-level engineering accreditation is not required for most engineering jobs. However, some programs are accredited by the ABET.

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