The top 10 graduate schools for tech talent

Here are the top 10 schools for technology education based on data from U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking of U.S. colleges and universities.

graduates graduation caps
John Walker (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

When tech talent is in short supply, the perceived value of graduate school shifts. For employers, the need to reach out and recruit graduate students before they sign elsewhere is greater, while fewer IT pros may see the need to go back to school to get ahead. But top engineering graduate schools offer a different equation, one where demand — whether for the degree or for those holding the degree — is always regardless of overall IT talent supply.

Here, we take a look at the top engineering graduate schools, according to U.S. News and World Report’s National University Rankings, which are determined by a mix of surveys and other objective data. U.S. News states that 77.5 percent of the results are based on hard data such as graduation rates and admissions data, while the remaining 22.5 percent is based on peer assessment surveys from the president, provost and dean of admissions at each school.

In those surveys, respondents are asked to rate programs they are familiar with in the school, including computer engineering. If you’re looking to go back to school to get a leg up — or hire new tech talent —these 10 schools can’t be beat.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Founded in 1861, MIT ranks No. 1 for both graduate and undergraduate computer engineering programs, according to U.S. News and World Report. Located in Cambridge, Mass., MIT has long been known as home to some of the strongest programs in STEM.

In fact, the school even chose its mascot — the badger — as a nod to the animal's "remarkable engineering and mechanical skills and its habits of industry." MIT also ranked 2nd for the best colleges for veterans and, if you want a top-notch education, it ranked 5th for best value schools.

According to U.S. Money, the tuition for MIT’s School of Engineering is $48,140 for the year. In 2016, more than 26,400 people applied to MIT’s graduate engineering programs, and only 13 percent were accepted.

2. Stanford University

Stanford comes in second on the list of best graduate engineering schools. Located in Palo Alto, Calif., Stanford encompasses seven undergraduate and graduate schools, with a total enrollment of 16,770 students. Programs span multiple disciplines, but Stanford is well-known for its dedication to STEM programs and research.

Tuition for Stanford’s engineering program is $50,424 per year for full-time graduate students.

3. University of California, Berkley

The University of California, Berkley, ranks third on the list of colleges with the best graduate computer engineering programs. Berkley is known for its STEM education, and is widely recognized as a very liberal college, gaining attention over the years for protests and student activism.

According to U.S. News, the University of California, Berkley, has 1,940 full-time graduate students and 136 part-time students. Tuition is $11,220 per year for in-state graduate students and $26,322 per year for out-of-state students.

4. California Institute of Technology

Best known as CalTech, the California Institute of Technology ranks at number 5 on the list of best engineering schools and 9 on the list of best computer engineering programs. The main focus of CalTech is science and engineering, with top rated graduate programs in engineering, chemistry, physics, mathematics, earth sciences, computer science and biology.

CalTech’s eight student houses are "self-governing living groups," which includes a longstanding tradition where student waiters serve family-style dinners each night. Tuition for CalTech is $47,577 per year with an additional $14,100 for room and board; enrollment is competitive with just a 9 percent acceptance rate in 2015 and an early acceptance rate of 13.6 percent.

5 (tie). Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University ranks 5th on the list of best graduate computer engineering programs. Located in Pittsburgh, the university was founded in 1900 by Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish American industrialist and philanthropist, best known as one of the richest Americans to live and also for his part in expanding the steel industry.

One of the more expensive universities on this list, tuition for Carnegie Mellon University is $43,000 per year. For part-time students, it’s $1,791 per course credit.

5 (tie). University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, also came in at No. 5 on the list of graduate computer engineering programs. The university is large, with a total enrollment of 43,651 and a campus size of 3,211 acres. It is best known for its quintessential "college town," according to U.S. News.

Tuition is $24,444 per year for in-state graduate students and $45,974 for out-of-state students.

7. Georgia Institute of Technology

No. 7 on the list, Georgia Institute of Technology, often referred to as Georgia Tech, is best-known for its STEM programs, and U.S. News reports the university is "classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a university with very high research activity."

In-state tuition for the Atlanta-based university is $13,452 per year for graduate students, while out-of-state is $27,872.

8. Purdue University, West Lafayette

Purdue University’s engineering program at its West Lafayette campus came in at No. 8 on the list of best graduate engineering programs. There are over 70 programs to choose from with over 600 different areas to research and study. Purdue also touts multiple organizations within its College of Engineering to help give students real-world experience.

In-state tuition for graduate students is $10,332 per year, while out-of-state students have a tuition of $29,134 per year.

9 (tie). University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, ranks No. 9 for best graduate computer engineering programs. The university also comes in at 44 on the list of best national universities and 27 on the list of best colleges for veterans. Notable alumni include the co-founder of YouTube, Seven Chen, and Marc Andreessen, co-creator of the first widely used web browser.

In-state tuition for the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, is $17,834 per year, while out-of-state tuition is $32,628.

9 (tie). University of Texas -- Austin

The University of Texas, Austin, comes in at No. 9 on the list of best computer engineering programs, tying with the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The university is also one of the biggest schools in America with a total of 50,950 students currently enrolled. This large university is also home to "one of the biggest Greek systems in the country, two of the largest student publications and more than 900 clubs and organizations for students," according to U.S. News.

In-state tuition for graduate students is $9,850 per year, while tuition for out-of-state students is $18,030 per year.

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