How to Evaluate Computer Science School

Choosing a computer science program can be a difficult and time-consuming choice. At first you will need to make many decisions: whether you wish to pursue a degree or diploma; study on a full-time or part-time basis; what majors and areas of specialization interest you; how important special features such as co-op, international exchange, industry internship and so forth are to your decision; and the importance of cost, location and other similar factors. Once you have decided on these, you will still need to undertake a significant exploration and consultation to focus your interests and choice of a computer science program.

Here is a step-by-step process to help you evaluate each program:

  • Visit the university's, college's or program department's website. Most institutions offering computer science provide detailed information about their programs - i.e., which degrees or diplomas are offered, amount of tuition and fees, admission requirements and intake times, student demographics, faculty qualifications, industry experience and research accomplishments, and more! Often the institution's website will provide a "Q&A" or FAQ page which will answer the most common questions about its programs.


  • Visit the university or college. Many institutions offering computer science have "open days" where high school students are invited to tour the campus for a day. Campus visits allow you to learn things about the institution that might not be obvious from their marketing materials, such as facilities, campus lay-out, transportation and how it feels to be on campus. If the university or college is in your home-town or nearby, you can always take an informal tour on your own and visit the program department's office to ask questions. Even if the university or college nearest you is not the one you are considering, an information-gathering visit can help you get a sense of what you are comparing your other choices to.


  • Speak with an admissions counsellor or academic advisor: they have a thorough knowledge of the curriculum and study programs that can lend a perspective to your decisions, and sometimes lead you in new directions.


  • Research other sources of information. There is a wealth of things that you can do here:

    • If you know past graduates of the university, college or program, talk with them about their experiences while a student.

    • Search the Internet for information on awards and achievements bestowed on the institution and its computer science program -- competitions won, faculty honours, research grants, etc.

    • Confirm which organizations have recruited graduates in the past and talk with their human resources departments to determine their satisfaction with the institution's graduates and programs, whether they continue to recruit from the institution, and whether they value it over others on a regular basis.

    • Consult Facebook and other social networking sites that may provide testimonials and other student comments on specific computer science programs.

    Then match these facts and figures against the computer science programs you are evaluating.

    Check out CampusStarter's database of Canadian Computer Science Schools and Programs