Schools for Aspiring Computer System Analysts: How to Choose

Becoming a computer systems analyst requires a student to obtain a degree in a technical field. When selecting a school, students should look for strong programs in computer science and engineering. There are many undergraduate- and graduate-level computer science and technology programs around the U.S.

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The first thing aspiring computer systems analysts should do is figure out what type of degree they want to receive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, students should obtain at least a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field (www.bls.gov).

Top 10 Schools with Degrees in Computer Science and Engineering

The following institutes offer programs in computer science and engineering.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition* (2015-2016)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate $46,704; Graduate $46,400
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate $46,320; Graduate $45,729
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate $50,665; Graduate $40,625
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate: In-state $13,431; Out-of-state $38,139; Graduate: In-state $11,220; Out-of state $28,322
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate: In-state $15,054; Out-of-state $30,214; Graduate: In-state $15,023; Out-of state $28,213
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate: In-state $12,204; Out-of-state $32,396; Graduate: In-state $13,452; Out-of state $27,872
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate: In-state $13,856; Out-of-state $43,476; Graduate: In-state $20,638; Out-of state $41,688
University of Texas - Austin Austin, TX 4-year, Public Certificate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate: In-state $9,805; Out-of-state $34,676; Graduate: In-state $10,934; Out-of state $20,762
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate $45,390; Graduate $43,710
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate $49,116; Graduate $29,500

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

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School Selection Criteria

There are several things to consider when choosing a computer science and engineering school.

  • Students can consider a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science or Computer Engineering, or if they want to get more expertise, they can pursue a Master of Science in Computer Science and Engineering.
  • ABET is the recognized accreditor for programs in this field, so students might consider looking for a program that is ABET-accredited.
  • Students may want to consider the availability of extracurricular student groups and/or clubs offered through the program, as these can provide valuable experience and networking opportunities.
  • Students should consider the technical facilities offered by a school, like artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction and systems testing labs; this is especially relevant for those studying at the master's-level because many master's-level programs require exposure to or hands-on experience in research in the field.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

During a 4-year bachelor's degree program in computer science, students will develop a foundation in mathematics and statistics.

Through hands-on courses, students will develop an understanding of the practical issues of building and maintaining systems. Some programs may offer a combined degree in both computer science and computer engineering.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering

A bachelor's degree program in computer engineering combines the fields of computer science and electrical engineering. In addition to studying programming, students learn about how hardware and software are integrated. Students also have to spend time doing basic lab work as part of their required courses, which can include designing software programs or hardware devices.

Master of Science in Computer Science and Engineering

This graduate-level degree further solidifies a student's education in the field of computer science. It's a 2-year, full-time program that takes the education a student received as an undergrad and applies it to more advanced courses. Students also participate in hands-on research. Many programs culminate in a master's thesis that the student writes under the guidance of a thesis adviser. This program can show many potential employers that a student has received more extensive expertise in the field, thus possibly improving his or her job prospects as a computer systems analyst.

Degrees in computer science and computer engineering can be pursued at graduate and undergraduate levels at a number of public and private institutes throughout the United States. Those interested in a career as a computer systems analyst will need postsecondary training in one of these disciplines to prepare to enter this career field.

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