Top University in Charleston, SC, for a Computer Science Major

School and Ranking Information

There are few schools in the Charleston area offering a computer science major. The following schools, all of which are 4-year institutions, are considered the top three based on rankings, tuition and degree level:

  • Winner: The Citadel in Charleston came in first place due to its top-5 ranking for institutions in the South in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report, low tuition rates and graduate-level computer science program.
  • Runner Up #1: The College of Charleston, located in Charleston, secured the first runner up spot due to its public institution type and number of master's degrees awarded.
  • Runner Up #2: Charleston Southern University in Charleston received third place for its multiple options for bachelor's degrees in computer science and its graduate success.

School Comparison Chart

Category The Citadel College of Charleston Charleston Southern University
Ranking (2014) 4th for regional universities (South)* 12th for regional universities (South)* N/A
Location Charleston, SC Charleston, SC Charleston, SC
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $9,195 (graduate, in-state); $9,200 (graduate, out-of-state)** $10,910 (graduate)** $21,440 (undergraduate)**
Computer Science Degree Levels Offered Master's degrees Master's degrees Bachelor's degrees
Computer Science Degrees (All Levels) Awarded in 2011-2012 3** 7** 4**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2006 Entering Class 66%** 69%** 38%**
Noteworthy 12th for best value schools in 2014* 4th for top public schools among regional universities (South) in 2014* N/A

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **National Center for Education Statistics

Winner: The Citadel

  • Ranked by U.S. News & World Report in 2014 as 1st for top public schools in the South
  • 90% of student body in 2012 was male, according to the NCES
  • ABET accredits the computer science program

The Military College of South Carolina, or The Citadel, was founded in 1842. The Citadel primarily offers a cadet undergraduate education, with emphasis on a cadet lifestyle during their four years on campus. The school does have non-military graduate and evening undergraduate degree programs available.

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Computer Science program is a joint offering between The Citadel's Graduate College and College of Charletson's Graduate School. The program requires 33 semesters hours, with completion of a core curriculum, an area of specialization, choice of electives, a research thesis or project thesis. The core courses cover object-oriented design, systems architecture, software engineering foundations, and data modeling. Specializations include computer science, software engineering, and information systems.

The engineering school also has a graduate certificate program. The 4-course certificate covering technical project management includes classes that can be substituted for required coursework in the M.S. program.

Runner-Up #1: College of Charleston

  • Computer Science one of six award-winning departments in the School of Sciences and Mathematics
  • Ranked 68th in Kiplinger's 'Best Values in Public Colleges' for 2012-2013
  • Ranked 5th in 2014 among up-and-coming schools and ranked by U.S. News & World Report

The College of Charleston, together with The Citadel, jointly offers an M.S. degree program in computer science and information sciences. The 33-hour graduate program's location is the Lowcountry Graduate Center (LGC). The LGC is a graduate educational center formed from a partnership among the College of Charleston, The Citadel, and other South Carolina institutions for the educational benefit of the state's coast area. In support of the working student, most classes are offered in the evenings.

Students pursue computer science-focused coursework or choose another specialization covering information systems or software engineering. Completion of the degree program has students select a non-thesis, project thesis, or research thesis option. The total number of required program hours can vary based on the option selected. For the two thesis program options, there are established time constraints, typically about two years, for program completion.

Runner-Up #2: Charleston Southern University

  • Graduates earn employment at noted institutions such as Microsoft, NASA, Intel, Disney, and the Pentagon
  • NCES statistics showed that 99% of full-time beginning undergraduates received financial aid in 2011-2012
  • CSU had an 82% acceptance rate for 2012-2013, according to NCES figures

Charleston Southern University offers its students two bachelor's degree programs in CS through its Department of Computer and Information Science and the College of Science and Mathematics. A 125-hour B.S. in Computer Science offering requires students to complete courses covering liberal arts, scientific methods, and computer science. The curriculum has students learn various computer science areas, including computer architecture, software design, applied networking, and systems analysis. For the students to graduate, a senior portfolio review is required.

CSU also offers a Bachelor of Technology (BT) in Computer Science, which combines a liberal arts education with the upper-division computer science coursework. The BT program is structured for students who have already earned an 89-hour associate's degree in computer science or related field, and it gives these students flexibility to customize their course selection based on completed coursework and interests. A Bachelor of Arts in Computer and Information Sciences is available with four track options, including human computer interface, networking, IT management, and systems.

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