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Top School in San Diego for a Computer Science Degree

The San Diego area has a number of schools with programs in computer science. Find the best program for you by reading about schools' rankings, program offerings and tuition info.

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School and Ranking Information

There are several schools with computer science programs within a 25-mile radius of San Diego. The following schools are considered the top three based on rankings, computer science degree level options and tuition:

  • Winner: University of California, San Diego, located in La Jolla, is in first place for its top-40 ranking out of all universities in the country in 2014 and top-15 national ranking for computer science programs at the graduate level in 2010 from U.S. News and World Report. It also awards a substantial amount of computer science degrees and has a high undergraduate graduation rate.
  • Runner Up #1: San Diego State University in San Diego secured the first runner up placement for its tuition rates and multiple options for computer science degree programs.
  • Runner Up #2: University of San Diego, situated within San Diego, came in third place for its top-100 ranking for national universities in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report and its location.

School Comparison Chart

Category University of California, San Diego San Diego State University University of San Diego
Ranking(s) 39th for national universities in 2014*
14th for graduate computer science programs in 2010, nationwide*
152nd for national universities in 2014* 91st for national universities in 2014*
Location La Jolla, CA (11 miles from San Diego) San Diego, CA San Diego, CA
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $13,217 (in-state, undergraduate),
$36,095 (out-of-state, undergraduate); $12,734 (in-state, graduate),
$27,836 (out-of-state, graduate)**
$6,578 (in-state, undergraduate),
$18,236 (out-of-state, undergraduate);
$7,844 (in-state, graduate),
$17,390 (out-of-state, graduate)**
$39,970 (undergraduate),
$23,310 (graduate)**
Computer Science Degree Levels Offered Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees Bachelor's and master's degrees Bachelor's degree
Computer Science Degrees (all levels) Awarded in 2011-2012 275** 178** 5**
Most Popular Computer Science Degree in 2011-2012 Bachelor's degree (183 awarded)** Master's degree (123 awarded)** Bachelor's degree (5 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2006 Entering Class 86%** 66%** 76%**
Noteworthy Ranked 19th for programming languages, 11th for CS systems and 15th for CS theory in 2010 by U.S. News & World Report Largest university in the region and 5th largest in CA*** Roman Catholic university

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **NCES College Navigator, ***Schools' websites.

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Winner: University of California, San Diego

  • UCSD annually receives over 45,000 freshman applications
  • CS faculty includes recipients of the Fulbright Fellowship, National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award and Computing Research Association Digital Government Fellowship
  • 19:1 student-faculty ratio in 2012, according to the NCES

UCSD's Department of Computer Science and Engineering offers undergraduate students a bachelor's degree program in CS. Areas of study in this program include hardware design, programming languages and storage systems. It's preferred that students entering the program have a background in mathematics and statistics, and they're encouraged to take additional coursework in linear algebra, compilers, and programming languages. The flexible B.A. curriculum allows students to broaden their education with non-CS coursework, as well technical areas like Java and analytical geometry. Another undergraduate program in bioinformatics combines math and biology with CS.

The M.S. in CS program offers curriculum including computer architecture, operating systems, and CS logic. There are 14 concentrations, from which students may select topics such as communication networks, databases, or software engineering. The program requires students to complete a comprehensive exam, thesis, or comprehensive interdisciplinary plan. The doctoral program has eight different concentration options for research, and it requires a teaching assistantship and a dissertation.

Runner-Up #1: San Diego State University

  • SDSU ranked #1 in the state and #2 in the U.S. for the number of its students who study abroad (about 1,800), according to the university
  • Eight SDSU alumni are part of the Mars Rover 'Curiosity' program
  • Ranked 13th in the U.S. for bachelor's degrees conferred to ethnic minorities, according to the university

Students pursuing CS undergraduate majors at SDSU need to fulfill various requirements, including science and lower and upper division CS curriculum. Required courses are in physics, chemistry, or biology, with lower division requirements including calculus, statistics, linear algebra, and discrete mathematics. Within the CS upper division, students further develop their computer skills in system and programming languages, data structures, computer architecture, and computing issues related to legal, social and ethical matters. Different CS electives are offered, which may cover compiler construction, artificial intelligence, client-server programming, computer security, and database theory. Students interested in wider coverage of CS and mathematics may complete the minor program and GIS certificate offerings from the CS department.

Graduate students can further explore areas such as neural networks, robotics, computer signal processing, and numerical methods through the school's M.S. degree program. Students completing research projects have access to laboratories with up-to-date technology in graphics, microprocessors, and robotics. Graduates can pursue teaching at various institutions or seek advanced CS opportunities in private or government positions.

Runner-Up #2: University of San Diego

  • For the 2011-2012 school year, 79% of first-time undergraduates received financial aid, according to the NCES
  • The Princeton Review named USD a 'Most Beautiful Campus' in 2010
  • Student-faculty ratio of 15:1 in 2012, according to the NCES

The College of Letters and Sciences at USD offers a major and minor in CS. The major's requirements include lower division coursework in areas like computer programming, calculus, data structures, and assembly language. The upper division courses have students pursue more focused work on object oriented design, operating systems, software engineering, and formal languages. A senior project is required, with electives that may cover computer graphics, database management, neural networks, and an independent study. USD recommends that students pursuing a CS major should take a minor in an area such as business administration, engineering, mathematics, or physics.

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