What Is the Best Ivy League for Computer Science?

Computer science student working on computer hardware
October 18, 2023
4 min read


Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 10/16/23

Computer science is a fast-evolving and in-demand field that more and more students are entering. If you’re considering this field, set yourself up for success by learning about the best Ivy League for computer science.

Male and female computer science students working on coding

Ada Lovelace is considered to be the first computer scientist and a brilliant mathematician. In the 19th century, she created one of the greatest “could have beens” in the history of computer programming when she wrote about creating the Analytic Engine, which was essentially an early form of the modern computer.

While her invention was never created, she is widely recognized for envisioning the true potential of computers and making groundbreaking contributions to the field of computer science. Lovelace was largely self-educated, but one can only imagine how far she’d go if she’d had the opportunity to attend a school like Harvard or Cornell

Fortunately, in the 21st century, all aspiring computer scientists wishing to make their mark in the field can join these esteemed Ivy Leagues to gain a robust education, and the resources needed to actualize their greatest ambitions. To learn more about the best Ivy Leagues for computer science, read on!

Which Ivy League Schools Offer Computer Science Programs?

Every Ivy League school offers a computer science program, although some are ranked much higher than others! These rankings are based on a variety of factors, including faculty expertise and achievement, students outcomes, research outcomes, and their range of courses and experiences offered.

Princeton University campus

Consider the following table to compare the Ivy Leagues and see how they rank against each other:

School Overall Ranking Computer Science Program Ranking
Princeton University 1 8
Harvard University 3 (tie) 17
Yale University 3 (tie) 20
University of Pennsylvania 7 17
Dartmouth College 12 48
Brown University 13 31
Cornell University 17 7
Columbia University 18 14

Sources: USNews, USNews

While the ranking of the Ivy League varies, it’s important to understand why these schools are so sought after by students. These eight prestigious schools are known for their academic excellence, distinguished faculty, and cutting-edge research opportunities. 

They offer highly competitive and intellectually stimulating learning environments, powerful alumni networks, and significant resources to support these programs! With all of these factors combined, students that attend the Ivy Leagues are not only prepared for the field but have the connections and prestige to thrive in it!

What Is the Best Ivy League for Computer Science

While any of these schools would provide you with the education and resources to succeed in the field, the best Ivy League for computer science is Cornell University. It ranks the highest among all Ivy Leagues for its program and for good reason!

Cornell’s computer science department is one of the first of its kind. It offers several programs to students at different steps of their career journeys, including:

A Major or Minor in Computer Science

Students in any of the seven colleges at Cornell are able to minor in Computer Science. For those that wish to major in this subject, they have the option of doing so through the College of Engineering or College of Arts and Sciences. The department also offers numerous courses for students to explore their interests in the subject.

The program is broad yet rigorous, with intelligent course selection to set the stage for employment in any professional area. Students work closely with advisors to put together the most comprehensive and effective program of study that supports their aspirations.

Additionally, undergraduate students are uniquely offered extensive research opportunities in this program, through their Independent Study courses. Students work one-on-one with professors or research groups on topics of mutual interest. Students may even be able to complete paid research positions!

Master’s Programs

For students hoping to advance their computer science education further, you have the option of completing either a Computer Science Master of Engineering (MENG) program or Computer Science Master of Science program.

Both programs are small and highly selective but help students hone their research, writing, and teaching skills. Students in the MENG program have the opportunity to explore projects related to IT and develop their entrepreneurial ambitions.

Cornell’s MS program is perfect for students interested in teaching, as you will serve as a teaching assistant throughout your program and receive full tuition plus a stipend.

A PhD Program

The final program Cornell offers is its PhD in Computer Science which consistently ranks among the top six departments in the country! This program offers world-class research in all areas of computer science and allows students to deepen their research skills. 

The department has made successful contributions in numerous areas, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital libraries, graphics, you name it!

Female computer science student coding on multiple monitors

FAQs: Best Ivy League for Computer Science

In case you have additional inquiries about the best Ivy League for computer science, here are the answers to frequently asked questions about this program!

1. Why Ivy Is Easiest to Get Into for Computer Science?

None of the Ivy League schools are easy to get into. In fact, the Ivy Leagues have the most selective admission processes and lowest acceptance rates. However, out of all of the Ivy Leagues, Cornell has the highest acceptance rate of 7%, adding on to the list of reasons this school is the best Ivy League for computer science! 

If you’re interested in more safety schools to apply to, you’ll have to consider lower-ranking schools.

2. What University Is Number One in Computer Science?

Surprisingly, a non-Ivy League school, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has the best computer science program in the country. This school boasts of covering the full range of computer, information, and energy systems and bringing the world’s most brilliant faculty and students together!

3. What Are the Top Ivy League Schools for Computer Science?

Cornell University, Princeton University, and Columbia University are the top Ivy Leagues for computer science as they rank amongst the top 15 in the nation.

4. Are Ivy League Schools the Only Top Computer Science Programs?

No, there are many excellent computer science programs outside of the Ivy League, including public universities and other private institutions. The Ivy League schools are highly regarded for their academic excellence, but there are many other factors to consider when choosing the perfect program for you!

5. What Should I Consider When Choosing a Computer Science Program?

When choosing a computer science program, you should consider factors, such as the program's academic reputation, faculty expertise, research opportunities, location, cost, and student outcomes. You should also consider your own interests and career goals and ensure the programs you choose can match them!

6. Do I Need to Attend an Ivy League Program to Have a Successful Career In the Field?

Completing a program alone will not guarantee success in the field, regardless of how highly ranked it is! While attending a top-ranking program can provide you with certain advantages, including access to top faculty and resources, your own motivation, skills, ability to learn and adapt, and hard work will guarantee your success!

There are many successful computer scientists who graduated from less prestigious schools. They had the motivation to succeed, worked with the resources they had, and gave it their all!

Final Thoughts

Overall, while the Ivy Leagues can offer you the highest quality of education and esteem, what matters most when choosing the right program is the opportunities it provides for learning and growth and how well it prepares you for your career! 

Carefully consider the programs you choose to apply to based on these factors and your personal preferences. After all, there’s no telling what you’ll achieve with the right education and passion!

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