Master of Computer Science

Deepen your computer science knowledge and accelerate your career with a top ranked degree program for computing professionals.

Join the ranks of leaders in computer science who have degrees from Illinois Computer Science, including founders and leaders of Malwarebytes,, Microsoft, Netscape, Optimizely, PayPal, Siebel Systems, YouTube, and Yelp. The Master of Computer Science, a graduate degree designed for professionals, consists of eight advanced courses in computing. Choose four core areas from which you’ll build expertise such as machine learning, data mining, software engineering, scientific computing, parallel programming, computer systems, and more. Students interested in a data science focus should consider the University of Illinois Master of Computer Science in Data Science, available on Coursera since 2016.

The Master of Computer Science is offered by Illinois Computer Science, a US News & World Report top five CS graduate program. Join our alumni network of entrepreneurs, educators, and technical visionaries, who have revolutionized the way people communicate, shop, conduct business, and are entertained. From the ILLIAC to Blue Waters, OpenMP to MPI, Mosaic to YouTube, and the first vectorizing compilers to LLVM, Illinois Computer Science has long been at the forefront of excellence in computing and in education.

Who is this degree for:

Designed for computing professionals, the Master of Computer Science is a graduate degree credential that builds skill and knowledge in advanced topics of computer science. The degree is suitable for students with a baccalaureate degree in a computing-related field as well as students who want to demonstrate computer science expertise in addition to a degree in another field.

Read our blog:

Sit in on an Illinois course:

Take one of these courses or Specializations to learn from Illinois MCS degree instructors and complete assignments that give you a head start on degree courses.


The Master of Computer Science assesses $19,200 in tuition for the 32 credit-hour degree. Tuition is charged as $600 per credit hour for all eight 4-credit hour courses, and is billed as each course is taken. Students can complete the degree in as little as one year taking three or four courses per term, while others will finish in two to three years by taking one course per term. Students that need to skip a term due to work, family, or other life interruptions do not pay tuition for that semester.

In addition to tuition, students are responsible for additional fees such as concurrent Coursera MOOC registration, online exam proctoring, and cloud programming platform fees. These costs are typically less than an additional $2,000 for the entire degree. Though Illinois Computer Science does not have any assistantships or scholarships available for this program, domestic students may qualify for Federal Student Aid. Like all Illinois degrees, the Master of Computer Science is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Office hours:

If you have any questions, please review our FAQ section below, or feel free to email us at

Watch recent admissions webinar:

Illinois Master of Computer Science Webinar: aired on May 3.

Learn more about the Master of Computer Science degree, admissions process and upcoming deadlines.

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  • 12 - 36 months
    Each course will require 10 - 12 hours per week, depending on the student’s background
  • 32 credit hours (8 courses)
  • $21,000
    Total Cost
  • Completely online

Start your application

The next cohort starts on January 21st, 2020.

Final Deadline:

October 15th, 2019

Applications are open three times per year, for cohorts starting in the fall, spring, and summer.

Want to learn more before applying?

After answering a few short questions, we’ll be able to help you find out if you’re qualified to apply and give you more information about the degree program.



The Master of Computer Science is a non-thesis degree that requires 32 credit hours of coursework. Students can complete the eight courses required for the Master of Computer Science at their own pace, in as little as one year or as many as five years. Students receive lectures through the Coursera platform, but are advised and assessed by Illinois faculty and teaching assistants on a rigorous set of assignments, projects, and exams required for university degree credit.

  • 32 credit hours (8 courses)
  • 12 - 36 months
    Each course will require 10 - 12 hours per week, depending on the student’s background

Some of your courses and projects may include:

Architecture, Compilers and Parallel Computing

Learn parallel programming to achieve peak performance from multi-core CPU and many-core GPU computer architectures, as well as the languages, compilers and libraries best suited for different parallel applications and platforms.

Artificial Intelligence

Build your knowledge of the statistical models and numerical optimizations of machine learning with application in computer vision, natural language processing and intelligent user interaction.

Database and Information Systems

Learn the basics of database systems and different data mining methods for extracting knowledge and insight both from structured datasets (e.g. for a sales recommendation system) as well as unstructured data (e.g. from natural language text).

Formal Methods, Programming Languages and Software Engineering

Discover the fundamentals of software engineering, including both function-based and object-oriented methods for analysis and design. Learn how to see a large software project from its original specification through its implementation, testing and maintenance. Additionally, you will learn how to manage large enterprise-level codebases.

Graphics and Human-Computer Interaction

Learn the fundamentals of interactive computing to promote an effective synergy between the computer and its human user. The Data Visualization course, for example, shows how to present and manipulate data to communicate understanding and insight to the public.

Systems and Networking

Learn how to network computers into distributed systems and ultimately build a cloud computing platform. Master ways to create applications that utilize cloud resources effectively.

Scientific Computing

Discover the fundamentals of numerical analysis and how it applies to accurate solutions to the large linear systems used for everything from simulation in scientific applications to optimization in machine learning to the physics of your favorite video game.

The degree experience is...


The same kind of courses you’ll find on campus, with the flexibility to learn when and where you want.


Collaborate with a global network of classmates, instructors, and alumni.


Innovative courses with lectures from some of the world’s best instructors and hands-on projects.


Practical courses designed to help you master skills that you can start applying to your career right away.

When you graduate, you’ll be able to:

  • Success

    Apply mathematical foundations, algorithmic principles, and computer science theory in the modeling and design of computer-based systems in a way that demonstrates comprehension of the tradeoffs involved in design choices

  • Success

    Analyze a problem and identify and define the computing requirements appropriate to its solution

  • Success

    Design, implement, and evaluate a computer-based system, process, component, or program

  • Success

    Apply design and development principles in the construction of software systems of varying complexity



Applicants for the degree program must have:

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • 3.0/4.0 undergraduate GPA or higher (from the last two years of bachelor’s degree coursework)
  • Sufficient background in object-oriented computer programming, data structures & algorithms (e.g. a “data structures” course or comparable knowledge)
  • Not already completed a graduate degree in computer science. (Those who already hold a graduate degree in computer science can complete the program to earn a Master’s Certificate that they can list alongside their existing graduate degree in CS.)


Applicants for the degree program are recommended to have:

  • A bachelor’s degree in a computing field
  • 3.2/4.0 undergraduate GPA or higher
  • Programming experience demonstrated by employment or a list of programming projects
  • Programming experience with C++ and/or Java

Application Process

All applicants must submit an application form, supplemental form, three letters of reference (not required, but highly recommended), a statement of purpose, resume, and official transcripts from all completed university coursework. TOEFL / IELTS scores may be required for international applicants. For additional details see here.

Start your application

The next cohort starts on January 21st, 2020.

Final Deadline:

October 15th, 2019

Applications are open three times per year, for cohorts starting in the fall, spring, and summer.

About University of Illinois

Since its founding in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has earned a reputation as a global leader in research, teaching, and public engagement. With our land grant heritage as a foundation, we pioneer innovative research that tackles global problems and expands the human experience. Our transformative learning experiences are designed to produce alumni who desire to make a significant societal impact. Consistently ranked among the top-5 computer science graduate programs in the United States, Illinois Computer Science has a global reputation for groundbreaking research across the spectrum of computer science.


Nobel Laureates


Global Alumni Network


Computer Science program in the U.S.


Ready to start your application?

The next cohort starts on January 21st, 2020

Final Deadline:

October 15th, 2019

Want to learn more before applying?

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Yes. Students admitted to the degree program, who complete all degree requirements, will earn a Master of Computer Science degree and diploma from the University of Illinois.

  • To earn the accredited degree, you must be admitted as a degree-seeking student through the Graduate College at the University of Illinois. However, you may begin taking courses and Specializations on Coursera at any time, including prior to admission into the program. For more information, visit here.

  • You may either apply and commit to the full Master of Computer Science program immediately, or start with a Data Mining or Cloud Computing Specialization on Coursera and build toward the full degree. If you’re sure you want to earn an accredited Master of Computer Science, apply for admission to the degree program. However, if you’re not certain that the full program is right for you, you can complete one or more Specializations prior to applying. If you decide to apply later, you’ll still need to complete the for-credit courses to earn your degree, but you won’t need to take the Specializations again.

    If you’re even a little bit interested in the full degree program, we suggest requesting more information by completing the form above. This option allows you to learn more about the application process and program requirements with no immediate commitment.

  • Coursera financial aid is available for the Specializations component of the program.

    Domestic students may qualify for Federal Student Aid, since the Master of Computer Science, like all Illinois degrees, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  • Yes, each course or Specialization is available separately.

  • To earn credit from the University of Illinois, you must be admitted as a degree-seeking student and registered for credit-bearing course(s).

  • We expect Masters-level CS students to be able to learn new languages in order to use the best tool to solve a problem, but we try to be flexible with languages when possible to allow students to program in the language in which they are most comfortable. Students should already be proficient in at least one compiled object-oriented programming language.

  • Sign up here to request more information. Additional details about applying to the Master of Computer Science are available at here.

  • No. You need to pay tuition when you enroll in each individual course. That means you’ll only pay for your courses as you take them.

Coursera does not grant credit, and does not represent that any institution other than the degree granting institution will recognize the credit or credential awarded by the institution; the decision to grant, accept, or transfer credit is subject to the sole and absolute discretion of an educational institution.