Discover new Tech with a Masters in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins

Choose from 120 instructors and 125 courses

Program: Computer Science


“The Masters of Computer Science program at Johns Hopkins focuses on the fundamentals of computer technology,” said Dr. Thomas Longstaff, the Program Chair of the Computer Science Masters at Johns Hopkins. “Where computer engineering focuses the architecture of existing solutions and how to optimize them; computer scientists are looking to design the next solution.”

Where is it: Elkridge, MD

Format: Online and On-campus

Prerequisites:  Computer science or related degree

Degree you get: Master of Science in Computer Science

Size of the Program: ~870 Students

Number of credit hours: 30 (10 Courses)

Thesis: Not required, Independent study optional

And that will take how long? 2-5 years

When to apply: Any Time

Fees: $35,000 – $40,000

Minimum Admission Requirements:

  • TOEFL 100+
  • Transcripts (GPA > 3.0)
  • Current Employer (often sponsors tuition)

Not Required

  • Resume
  • GRE
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Essay (statement of purpose)

Who should take it?

  • Those looking to Master a CS topic 
  • Experienced professionals
  • Professionals seeking to advance their careers

Claim to fame:

  • Focus on computer technology fundamentals
  • Breadth of the program (120 faculty teaching 125 courses each year 

When to Choose Computer Science over Computer Engineering

Dr. Thomas Longstaff is the Program Chair of the Computer Science (CS) Masters at Johns Hopkins. He is often confronted with the career question: What is the difference between Computer Science and Computer Engineering.

“The Masters of Computer Science program at Johns Hopkins focuses on the fundamentals of computer technology,” said Dr. Longstaff. “Where computer engineering addresses how to optimize the architecture of existing solutions, computer scientists are working to design the next solution.”

Dr. Thomas Longstaff, Program Chair of the Computer Science Masters at Johns Hopkins.

The result is that computer scientists and computer engineers are tasked with answering different questions about the future of computing. For instance, the engineer might try to identify the most effective language to solve a problem or the best way to incorporate human interaction into a solution. A computer scientist on the other hand, might be working towards addressing what comes after the IPhone and what is the next form of human interaction with computers.

Dr. Longstaff joked, “Computer scientists are taught to incorporate anything that might arise from the field. If one day the internet becomes a galactic enterprise then they will learn to handle it.”

The Benefits and Drawbacks to Online Learning

It might be a surprise that a computer science program in a school with such strong ties to online education wouldn’t offer all computer science courses online. However, Dr. Longstaff pointed out that there are advantages and disadvantages to both options, “Most education is based on face to face interactions in real time.  You gain information from your students and know right away if they get the concepts or not. Some faculty are more comfortable with this setting. Unfortunately, face to face education is slower to adapt to the latest education techniques and pedagogy. Online is where all the new and innovative work is being done to make the best education experience for the students.”

He isn’t wrong. Online education’s asynchronous nature is more convenient for students, allowing them to better plan their education schedules around their families and careers. However, at Johns Hopkins online education isn’t truly self-paced. Students have a work week and it is important work is done within that time.

“Unlike on-campus learning, you cannot hide from the professor online. There is no back seat to sit in,” warned Dr. Longstaff. “This is a new medium and hence demands a new approach. Part of your grade online will be based on engagement. We also don’t have traditional lectures online. Instead we have crafted an experience with modules, videos, notes, and activities. We found students love the engagement of online. In contrast, much of the on-campus education is left in the hands of the professors and faculty. In the end, the students are voting which format they prefer with their registrations.  Online has seen tremendous growth while on-campus registration is flat.”

There are other hidden advantages to learning online. Dr Longstaff added, “We found that online students tend to have better test scores and retention on the same exam. It may seem counter-intuitive, but we also get to know the online students better. We learn their writing styles, their backgrounds, and we converse with them more often.”

Planning to complete your Masters in Computer Science

Dr. Longstaff suggests that the students who fail to complete their masters are those who do not plan ahead. He notes that this isn’t a program designed for a quick upgrade for a student’s resumé. There is no easy way to pass, “Johns Hopkins is not a degree mill. The courses are designed to challenge the students. What you get out of it is a mastery of a subject that you didn’t have before. But it takes work. Plan how long you wish to be in the program and plan to take 1 or 2 courses at a time accordingly. Then set a block of time aside each week to do that work. What you put into the program you will get out of it, I assure you.”

This planning is also important because it is up to the student to decide what they intend to learn while in the program. A big benefit to the Johns Hopkins CS Master’s program is its breadth. The faculty consists of 120 instructors teaching 125 courses. Students need to spend the time to make the right selection from this broad range of topics.

“Pick any 5 students and you will find 5 distinct course selections. They might only have the foundation courses in common. But this breadth of courses isn’t the only thing we focus on at Johns Hopkins. Maintaining quality over time in a large program is an important challenge, but it is a focus I am proud of,” claimed Dr. Longstaff.

To add further flexibility, Johns Hopkins also offers degrees that are blended with other programs including:

  • Bioinformatics (Computer science and biology)
  • Telecommunications (Computer science and electrical engineering)
  • Data Science (Computer science and applied math)

One difficulty Dr. Longstaff notes about producing such a vast array of course options is figuring out when a topic is more hype than substance. It is rather safe to say that Big Data, for instance, will be important to the future of computer science. Any course on the topic now will sell out quickly. But a few years ago a Big Data course may have been more hand waving than information. This is also the reason why new courses at Johns Hopkins are only offered in one section. By limiting the engagement, the quality of the course can be assessed and improved before a wider release.

Though this caution with tech buzz words will help to ensure your proper education, it does mean that some of the more recent terms used in the tech magazines and papers may not have made it into the lectures quite yet. If you wish to ride the wave and become an early adopter, Johns Hopkins may not be the best option for you.

If you are wondering whether this degree might be right for you, ask yourself whether you are looking for a career change. If so, you are in Johns Hopkins target audience. Such students tend to have been working for 5-10 years, giving them a strong grasp of the topics. The Masters degree allows them to change their careers or search for new opportunities. As a general rule, students that have more experience will get more from the program.

Why wouldn’t you get a Master of Science in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins:

  • Courses you wish to take aren’t online at this time
  • You want to be an early adopter of a new trend in Computer Science

Johns Hopkins has sponsored promotion of their Master of Science in Computer Science on They have no editorial input to this post – all opinions are mine.  Shawn Wasserman

Written by

Shawn Wasserman

For over 10 years, Shawn Wasserman has informed, inspired and engaged the engineering community through online content. As a senior writer at WTWH media, he produces branded content to help engineers streamline their operations via new tools, technologies and software. While a senior editor at, Shawn wrote stories about CAE, simulation, PLM, CAD, IoT, AI and more. During his time as the blog manager at Ansys, Shawn produced content featuring stories, tips, tricks and interesting use cases for CAE technologies. Shawn holds a master’s degree in Bioengineering from the University of Guelph and an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.