Looking to earn a computer science degree? A new study from HackerRank analyzed over 1.4 million skills assessments to discover the best universities for a tech education in the United States (with a special appearance from one Canadian school).
According to HackerRank, its assessments were “administered by employers as a part of their tech hiring processes, were taken by students at 409 unique universities, spanning a total of 176 countries.” It continues:
Using data from those HackerRank assessments, we identified the 4 key technical skills employers need most in interns and new grads: problem solving, language proficiency, data structures knowledge, and computer science (CS) fundamentals.
As you see in the chart below, there’s no clear winner. Some universities, such as the University of Toronto, appear only once. (As an aside, it’s curious that schools that rank highly on proficiency in language knowledge (per the assessment tests) wouldn’t rank in other categories such as ‘CS fundamentals.’)
If you’re looking for a ‘winner’ in all this, it’s UC Berkeley; it’s the only school that ranks in every category. While it never ranks higher than third, the study positions it as the all-around best school for a CS degree. HackerRank chalks this up to “a combination of its CS curriculum and prominent developer culture.”
Academics at UC Berkeley “emphasize ‘large interdisciplinary real-world system projects’ as a core component of its program,” the study adds. “Outside of class, [students are] able to participate in their robust developer community through a wide variety of clubs.”
Stanford, MIT, and Princeton (all well-regarded schools for a computer science degree) were included in this study, which notes: “Student performance didn’t always align with university reputation.”
What’s behind this discrepancy between skills and reputation? “That’s because traditional university ranking lists focus on the university programs themselves—not the skills of the students that attend them,” the study continues. “In that, their methodologies focus on factors like teaching, citations, and research. In other words, traditional rankings focus on factors that would help them appeal to potential students.”
(We should point out the possibility that the results are skewed by activity. If Stanford wasn’t as active in HackerRank’s system as another school, it could cause the school to perform worse in these results.)
No matter what school you want to attend, this study makes one critical point: The schools that performed best had curriculum based on practical skills and real-world projects. Hands-on experience and building tangible apps, services, or products should drive your choice in which type of education to pursue.