University of Illinois


Who is this degree for?

Master of Computer Science

This degree is for computing professionals who want to build skills in advanced topics in computer science, such as artificial intelligence, database & information systems, parallel computing, graphics, systems & networking, scientific computing, and more. This degree will accelerate your career and help you move into leading a team of engineers.

Masters of Computer Science in Data Science

The MCS-DS is a data science program grounded in a computer science masters degree that gives its graduates full programmable control of the instrumentation of big data as well as the full-stack understanding of how to process the data to discover new insights and optimize organizational decision-making. Students in this track earn the same MCS degree, but their curriculum concentrates on data science courses.


The next cohort starts Summer 2021

Application Deadline: February 15th, 2021

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

Admissions Requirements

Applicants for the degree program must have:

  • An eligible bachelor's degree (check to see if your degree is eligible)
  • 3.0 or higher undergraduate GPA (from the last two years of bachelor's degree coursework)
  • A strong background in object-oriented computer programming, data structures, and algorithms (this should include a "data structures" course or comparable experience). If you do not have graded and transcripted prerequisite CS coursework in these areas, consider enrolling in our Accelerated Computer Science Fundamentals Specialization that is designed to help you prepare for the Data Structures Proficiency Exam which can strengthen your application for admission.
  • Not already completed a graduate degree in computer science, computer engineering or a closely related field

Additional Admissions Recommendations

Applicants for the degree program are recommended to have:

  • A bachelor's degree in a computing field (or transcripted coursework in fundamental CS coursework, e.g. data structures)
  • 3.2/4.0 undergraduate GPA or higher
  • Programming experience with C++ or Java

Watch the admissions video and latest admissions webinar recording to learn more about the process and requirements.

Application Process

All applicants must submit an application form, the 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. Additional details about applying to the Master of Computer Science can be found here. All applicants must pay the application fee before their application can be reviewed. There are no exceptions.

In response to the temporary closings of testing centers in countries impacted by COVID-19, the Graduate College will temporarily accept Duolingo English Test examination results for tests taken between February 1 and August 1, 2021. Please refer to the Graduate College COVID-19 page for further details.

How to Select the Data Science Track

In your application, under the “Program Section,” you will be asked if you are interested in enrolling in the Data Science track. Select “Yes” if you would like to enroll in the data science track. Admitted students can decide later whether or not they will utilize the data science track as they work with program advisors on course selection.

Start your application now!

Tuition & Fees

Tuition: $670 per credit hour, for a total of $21,440 for the complete 32 credit hour degree.

ProctorU fees: Most courses require one or more exams. Exams are proctored online through ProctorU and are billed directly to the student when an exam is scheduled, at $8.75 (30-min. exam), $14.75 (1-hr. exam), $21.50 (90-min. and 2-hour exam), or $30.25 (3-hour exam).

Cloud Computing Service fees (e.g., Amazon Web Services): Vary, depending on the course. We often offer free credits for students as part of the class.

For the entire degree, you won’t be billed upfront. Instead, you’ll pay as you go. Every time you take a course, you’ll pay tuition for that course only. If you need to pause your coursework for a term due to work, family, or other responsibilities, you won’t be charged for that term.

For a sample tuition payment schedule, visit the “Program Length” section on the Academics page.

Financial Aid

To learn more about financing your degree, visit the Degrees Financial Resources Hub.

The Department of Computer Science does not offer research or teaching assistantships to students enrolled in online programs such as the Online MCS. However, the Online MCS program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and enrolled students are eligible for financial assistance. See the Office of Student Financial Aid for further information.

Employer Tuition Reimbursement

Students are encouraged to seek tuition reimbursement through their employer. If you work at a company that offers tuition benefits, speak with your manager or HR department to see what’s available to you. Many online MCS students are earning their degree at little or no cost to them through employer tuition reimbursement. Read our blog about employer tuition reimbursement.

Payment Plans

All students are eligible for university payment plans that allow you to break up your tuition into monthly payments. See University Student Financial Services & Cashier Operations for more information.

Student Loans

Student loan options are available through the University of Illinois for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and international students. Please refer to for more information.

Student Loan Options for U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents

Students also have access to non-need-based loan funding to cover expenses associated with their degree. The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan program is available to all U.S. Citizens and permanent residents who meet basic federal requirements (i.e. student has never defaulted on a Federal loan, is not currently involved in filing bankruptcy, registered for Selective Service etc). Students can choose either Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loans or private loans to supplement the Unsubsidized Loan annual maximum of $20,500. Students should research private education loan lenders to determine which option is best for their individual situation.

To apply for federal student loans, complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at

Read more about Federal Direct Loans at the Department of Education website. To qualify for federal student loans a student must be enrolled in at least 4.5 credits per semester.

Your total financial aid (scholarships, fellowships, and all education loans) cannot be more than the estimated expenses plus tuition and fees.

Additional Resources The Illinois Office of Student Financial Aid offers the following information on different ways to pay for your degree:

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.