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Master of Computer Science

University of Illinois

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Accredited master's degree

Offered by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

$21,440 USD

Competitively priced with pay-as-you-go tuition

Finish in 12-36 months

8 courses total, 10-12 hours per week

100% online learning

Hands-on learning from anywhere, no travel required

Application Information

Applications for the Fall 2023 cohort are now open! Students can start classes in August 2023.

Have questions? Please email the Illinois MCS team at


Master of Computer Science (MCS) The MCS 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 (MCS-DS) The MCS-DS degree 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.

Upcoming Deadlines

Fall 2023 Priority Deadline

Submit your application by April 1, 2023

Fall 2023 Final Deadline (August Class Start)

Submit your application by May 30, 2023

Application Information

Applications for the Fall 2023 cohort are now open! Students can start classes in August 2023.

Have questions? Please email the Illinois MCS team at

Application Requirements

The online MCS and MCS-DS degrees from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are designed for working professionals who reflect a commitment to excellence.
Admitted and enrolled students may transfer up to 12 credit hours of previous CS graduate coursework approved by the department. Credits must be no more than five years old at the time of the transfer request. Credits used to confer a previous degree are not transferable.

Why should you apply by the priority deadline?

  • Early Decision: Receive your admission decision by May 1, 2023.

  • Early Access: Get early access to the MCS onboarding course and a guaranteed seat in one course of choice – from Cloud Computing to Data Visualization and more.

  • Early Engagement: Attend a new student webinar and start meeting your classmates! Receive department newsletters and other MCS highlights in your inbox.

Minimum application requirements

Applicants must have been awarded (or are about to be awarded) a four-year bachelor’s degree equivalent to that granted by the University of Illinois to be eligible for the graduate programs at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Applicants whose undergraduate degree is a three-year program may not be eligible for graduate-level admissions consideration at the University of Illinois. Eligibility depends on the country in which the applicant received their degree; please see the Graduate College's list of eligible degrees. Applicants who already hold a master’s degree in computer science or computer engineering and whose degree requirements are equivalent to a Illinois Computer Science master’s degree are not eligible to apply for our Master of Computer Science (MCS) degree.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign policy requires applicants to hold at least a 3.2/4.0 or higher GPA in the last two years of their undergraduate study to be eligible for graduate studies on this campus.

Applicants who do not hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science must have sufficient background in computer programming, data structures and algorithms, computer architecture, and theory of computation.

Prospective students can take for-credit courses from an online extension program through colleges and universities or as a non-degree student at local community colleges, colleges, and universities.

If you do not have graded and transcripted prerequisite CS coursework in these areas, but have at least a 3.2 GPA and four to five years of relevant CS experience, consider enrolling in our Accelerated Computer Science Fundamentals Specialization. This series of courses is designed to help you prepare for the optional Data Structures Proficiency Exam, which can strengthen your application for admission. Admission preference is still given to those who have prerequisite coursework on their transcript.

Your professional resume should include personal information (name, address, telephone number, and email address), educational background, work experience (start and end dates for each position and a brief description of responsibilities), internship experience, educational training, professional associations, and leadership experiences. Technical resumes are not required. Please limit your resume to two pages.

Applicants must list in the online application each institution of post-secondary education from which they have earned credit. Applicants must also upload scanned copies of their transcript / academic record (and diplomas or certificates of degrees if the degree is awarded and not listed on the transcript) for each of these institutions to their online application.

Illinois Computer Science does not require submission of official transcripts during the initial applications review process. You may send unofficial transcripts, which may include such documents as marksheets and degree certificates. Transcripts must be provided for all schools that the applicant has attended.

If applicants are recommended for admission to the Graduate College at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, they will be required to submit official credentials (transcripts, academic records, diplomas, certificates of degrees, etc.). Applicants recommended for admission will be required to submit their official transcripts directly to the Graduate College.

The university's application fee is $70 for U.S. citizens and permanent residents and $90 for all other applicants. All applicants must pay the application fee before their application can be reviewed. There are no exceptions.

Applicants may qualify for an application fee waiver. For details, see Application Fee Waivers. Applicants who have questions about an application fee waiver may contact the Department of Computer Science at

Additional admissions recommendations

We recommend applicants hold a bachelor's degree in a computing field or transcripted coursework in fundamental CS coursework (e.g., data structures).

Applicants should have programming experience with C++ or Java. Those who do not hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science must have sufficient background in computer programming, data structures and algorithms, computer architecture, and theory of computation.

Your personal statement should be 750 to 1,000 words and double-spaced. This is an opportunity to tell the admissions committee more about your story and should not be a retelling of your resume.

You should specifically answer the following questions in essay format:

  • How do your personal and professional goals fit within Grainger’s commitments?
  • How will completing the MCS or MCS-DS degree help you achieve those goals?

The Academic Statement of Purpose is part of the online application form. This statement should include your goals and background as it relates to the field of computer science. It is good to include any past work history, your interests, and reasons for pursuing a graduate degree in computer science. Your statement will be evaluated for your conciseness, reasons for pursuing a graduate degree, leadership skills, and eloquence. Generally the Academic Statement of Purpose is between one to two pages.

Applicants must answer the following questions:

  • How has your academic and professional background, including any professional training, prepared you for graduate study?
  • How will our program help you achieve your intellectual and professional goals?
  • What are your academic interests and why do you wish to pursue graduate studies in this specific program?
  • (Optional) Are there any personal experiences, achievements, strengths, or circumstances you would like to include or that you believe will help you succeed in our program?

Applicants to the MCS program are not required to have letters of recommendation, but letters will be considered if included, especially if used to justify experience in lieu of required coursework, or other irregularities.

It is recommended that professional letters of recommendation be from academics. They can either be your faculty, advisors, or supervisors. If you have been away from academics for a significant amount of time, you may substitute non-academic references of your choice (e.g. immediate supervisors, etc.). The letters should address your academic abilities and your potential to be successful at graduate level academic performance. Find more details here.

TOEFL/IELTS scores may be required for international applicants. Additional information can be found here.

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, 2020 and August 1, 2023. Please refer to the English proficiency page for further details on how admissions requirements may have been impacted by COVID-19.