Computer Science

New Jersey’s Top Four Computer Science Colleges

New Jersey’s Top Four Computer Science Colleges
More than 10,000 tech companies are headquartered in New Jersey, including Audible, Panasonic, Verizon, and Samsung. Because NJ supports tech entrepreneurs, the state also host a thriving startup scene. Image from Unsplash
Christa Terry profile
Christa Terry October 6, 2020

Nestled amid New York City, Washington, DC, and other major tech hubs, the Garden State is well-situated to feed robust employment markets seeking savvy computer scientists. A degree from the schools profiled here should deliver a competitive edge in your job search.

Computer Science Programs You Should Consider

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New Jersey has long contributed tech innovations to the nation and the world. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb here. Bell Labs in Murray Hill contributed to developing the transistor, digital cellular technology, and C++. The RCA David Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton invented LCD technology and the electron microscope.

Jersey’s not singing “Glory Days” when it comes to its tech achievements, though; on the contrary, the state remains a leader today. Companies in NJ continue to drive innovation in software design, AI, and cloud computing, among other tech fields. This vital environment helps explain why the state was chosen as a primary testing ground for 5G broadband technology.

New Jersey ranks 14th nationally for total employment in technology and 11th in growth for new tech business establishment. The state also hosts some of the top CS degree programs in the country conferring highly desirable computer science master’s degrees. The question is: which is the right school for you?

In this article about the computer science colleges in New Jersey, we cover:

  • Eight reasons NJ is a great place to study computer science
  • The New Jersey colleges with the best computer science programs
  • Other notable universities with computer science programs in NJ
  • How much it costs to study computer science in New Jersey
  • What someone can do with a CS degree from the above schools

Eight reasons NJ is a great place to study computer science

Opportunity abounds for tech professionals in the Garden State, and students enroll in computer science colleges in New Jersey to be close to these emerging prospects. Here are eight more reasons they choose to study here:

  • More than 10,000 tech companies are headquartered in New Jersey, including Audible, Panasonic, Verizon, and Samsung. Because NJ supports tech entrepreneurs, the state also host a thriving startup scene.
  • The NY/NJ region is top-ranked in the nation for the employment of software and application developers__ and cybersecurity analysts.
  • The NY/NJ region is also top-ranked when it comes to total VC investment in the U.S. Several leading VC firms are headquartered in New Jersey; over $60 billion in VC investments have been made in the region in the past five years.
  • Northern New Jersey has 2.14 million square feet of data center space, representing one of the world’s largest concentrations of digital storage.
  • The technology landscape in New Jersey is diverse. There are NJ tech firms focused on artificial intelligence, communications, cyber security, Big Data, IoT, and digital health. The state is considered a fintech hub.
  • The New Jersey Big Data Alliance is advancing computing innovation in the state and across the globe. This influential group includes 16 higher-learning institutions known for their tech programs, including Stevens Institute of Technology and Rutgers University – New Brunswick.
  • New Jersey’s tech sector accounts for almost 200,000 jobs. The average wage for tech jobs in NJ is about $129,000, nearly double the statewide average for all jobs ($65,355).
  • NJ actively supports computer science education. Several state-powered initiatives make comp sci and STEM education more accessible. Newly minted CS grads frequently mentor younger students.

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The New Jersey colleges with the best computer science programs

US News & World Report ranks computer science colleges. It’s possible to drill down those rankings to find the top computer science schools in New Jersey with on-campus and online programs. According to the publication, four institutions in NJ stand out for the quality of their CS degree programs:

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Newark, NJ

The Department of Computer Science of the Ying Wu College of Computing Sciences at NJIT has the largest concentration of CS students of any greater New York/New Jersey area research university. NJIT offers BS, BA, MS, and PhD degrees in computer science as well as related graduate degrees in bioinformatics, computing and business, cyber security, data science, and software engineering.

Students enrolled in the Master of Science in Computer Science program (which can be completed entirely online) can choose from among five concentrations: bioinformatics, computer networking & security, database & data mining, image processing & pattern recognition, and software engineering. A four-course bridge program called Fast Track to Computing helps STEM students without CS backgrounds transition into the above programs. Top employers of NJIT MSCS graduates include BNP Paribas, Jni Consulting Corp., Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, and Prudential Financial.

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ

The Computer Science Department at Princeton ranks eighth in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. Famous alumni include Alan Turing (the father of computer science) and Alonzo Church (who helped lay down the foundations of theoretical computer science).

Undergraduate computer science students enjoy extraordinary freedom. The core curriculum mandates only a few required classes; beyond that, students design their own programs based on areas of interest like computer system design and algorithm theory. The same is true in the full-time, two year master’s in computer science program, though master’s students must also complete a thesis.

Undergraduate and graduate CS students at Princeton are encouraged to undertake independent research and product design. Research areas include computational biology, computer architecture, machine learning, natural language processing, and computational theory.

Rutgers University – New Brunswick

Piscataway, NJ

The Department of Computer Science at Rutgers offers both undergraduate and graduate computer science degrees. Undergraduate options include a BA, a BS, and a comp sci minor. Undergraduate students participate in cutting-edge research while benefiting from the school’s new collaborative computer labs and maker spaces.

Rutgers offers two graduate degree options: an MSCS and a PhD in Computer Science. Students in both are expected to possess foundational knowledge in most computer science disciplines. Each graduate student is assigned a faculty advisor who helps them design an individual study plan based on their background and interests.

The Rutgers name opens many doors in tech—especially on the East Coast. Some graduates end up working at the Big 4: Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. Many others take positions at prominent firms like Apple, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Two Sigma.

Stevens Institute of Technology

Hoboken, NJ

Students studying computer science at the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science can earn a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, pursue a computer science minor, or earn a cyber security degree. Options at the graduate level include an on-campus or online computer science master’s, computer science doctoral degrees, and several master’s degree programs related to comp sci, including an MS in Cyber Security and an MS in Machine Learning, plus graduate certificates in computer science.

Undergraduate students can choose from among many interest-driven elective options, including coursework focused on theoretical computer science, game design, distributed systems, computer programming, and service-oriented architecture. Graduate students at Stevens Institute of Technology choose from 10 focus areas that include visual computing and information extraction, mobile systems, and gaming and simulation. If they wish, they can complete a research thesis (though it’s not required). Stevens is ranked seventh in the nation on US News & World Report’s list of the best online degree programs for information technology at the graduate level.

Other notable universities with computer science programs in NJ

Fairleigh Dickinson University – Metropolitan Campus

Teaneck, NJ

The Gildart Haase School of Computer Sciences and Engineering confers a bachelor’s-level computer science degree, a Master of Science in Computer Science, and five CS certificates. Three combined five-year programs confer a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science plus a Master of Science in Computer Science, a Master of Science in Management Information Systems, or an MBA.

Montclair State University

Montclair, NJ

The Department of Computer Science at Montclair State offers several computer science degree programs, including a BSCS, an MSCS, a combined BSCS/MSCS, and several related degrees in computing areas like information security and applied information technology. Undergraduate students can choose from elective courses in robotics, data visualization, and web services. Undergraduates can also participate in research for credit in the school’s computer science research laboratories. Visiting specialists from the aerospace, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries regularly serve as guest lecturers in graduate-level courses. As a result, students learn not only computational theory but about the practical value of that theory.

Rutgers University – Camden

Camden, NJ

Undergraduate computer science students at Rutgers – Camden can choose either a BA or BS in Computer Science. The core computer science courses in these programs are the same>. However, the Bachelor of Arts pathway demands fewer natural science and mathematics requirements, giving students more chances to study topics outside of comp sci. At the master’s degree level, students can choose between an MS in Applied Computer Science with a business focus and an MS in Scientific Computing designed to prepare students to work in science, engineering, or finance.

How much it costs to study computer science in New Jersey

The per-credit cost of computer science colleges in New Jersey varies considerably from institution to institution. At NJIT, for instance, MSCS students pay $1,050 per credit, while those attending Stevens Institute of Technology pay $1,652.

Unsurprisingly, the programs at the best colleges in NJ for computer science are somewhat more expensive than programs at many other colleges and universities. Still, their degrees can lead to better-paying jobs right out of school and a higher lifetime earning potential. It’s also worth considering that students in prestigious computer science programs often have access to additional funding sources beyond loans, grants, and federal financial aid. Princeton University offers master’s degree candidates research assistantships and teaching assistantships that can fund the program’s full cost.

What someone can do with a CS degree from the above schools

Right now, there are thousands of unfilled computing jobs in the Garden State and not enough local comp sci graduates to fill them. With a master’s degree—or even a bachelor’s degree—from one of the above computer science colleges in New Jersey, you could launch a career as an application developer, IT manager, computer engineer, or software engineer. You could work for a large tech company or a small startup, in industries as diverse as agriculture, entertainment, aeronautics, and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

“We are a state of innovators,” says Governor Phil Murphy in <materials designed to attract both enterprise-level corporations and entrepreneurs to the state. “From the incandescent light bulb to ground-breaking cancer research, New Jersey has been and remains a place where human ingenuity flourishes.” If you choose a computer science college here, you’ll be poised to be a part of it all.

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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