University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign


Computer Science Degrees Offered at University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign appears in our ranking of the Top 50 Master’s in Computer Science Degree Programs.

The University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has three main computer science undergraduate degree tracks along with multiple dual degrees. The College of Engineering offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree which requires 128 total credit hours. The core track consists of 16 classes including a series of advanced math classes, Ethical and Professional Issues in CS, Software Design Studio, and Computer Architecture. Students also have the opportunity to choose an area of emphases like Software Foundations, Intelligence and Big Data, Media, or Distributed Systems, Networking, and Security. There are two related bachelor’s degrees through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences which combine the computer science core with mathematics and statistics.

Since computing, algorithms, and technology now influence all disciplines, UIUC has developed a new, flexible program called the CS + X which combines computer science with previously unrelated areas of study. Currently, there are ten available programs in a variety of fields like linguistics, crop sciences, advertising, music, and economics. These programs feature a computer science foundation made up of 10 classes along with the core courses of the other topic. The CS + X track does not result in a double major; instead, these are hybrid majors combining the central aspects of each subject. For students who plan to pursue a graduate degree in computer science immediately after undergraduate study, UIUC offers an accelerated program so that students can finish both degrees in five years.

At the graduate level, there are three degrees available, the Master of Science in Computer Science, the Master of Computer Science (M.C.S.), and a Ph.D. program. The main difference between the first two is that the M.S. requires completion of a thesis project, whereas the M.C.S. consists solely of coursework. Both programs require 32 hours with at least one class from three different categories like artificial intelligence, graphics, systems and networking, programming languages, and scientific computing. The M.C.S. program is the only computer science degree that can be completed entirely online, and online students have the option of adding a data science emphasis to take advanced classes in the areas of machine learning, data mining, data visualization, and cloud computing. For their online courses, UIUC shares the Coursera platform, and students make use of the MOOC (massive open online course) lectures and exercises but are required to complete additional courses, projects, and assessments and have support from the University of Illinois faculty. Doctoral students can take courses from all of the above areas and need 96 credit hours to graduate. The entire Ph.D. program typically takes five years with the last two consisting primarily of research and thesis preparation.

About University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign

UIUC first opened in 1867 in Urbana, Illinois, as a land-grant school meaning that the federal government provided the land as long as the school focused on agricultural and engineering studies. In spite of this status, the first degree programs were built around a solid foundation in both liberal arts and technical subjects. This continues to be the case today, and the university now enrolls almost 50,000 students in more than 250 degrees across 15 divisions and is the primary campus of the University of Illinois University System. Professors help students see the connections between different fields and how to build on the expanding influence of technology. The university always led in computer science and engineering with researchers building a computer on campus as early as 1946. In 2019, UIUC has been recognized as the 5th best computer science school in the United States according to the U.S. News and World Report and is ranked #13 in their list of the 133 top public schools overall.

University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign Accreditation Details

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has provided regional accreditation to the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois since 1913, and the next recertification is due in 2020. This verifies that the university has continued to meet quality standards in both education and business-related aspects. Each review period lasts ten years and consists of peer reviews, self-studies, and other evaluations focusing on five categories, Mission, Teaching and Learning, Integrity, Evaluation and Improvement, and Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness. Regional accreditation is recognized by the educational community and government agencies as the gold standard for a university. While the HLC evaluates the school as a whole, other professional organizations also evaluate individual programs. For example, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has accredited a variety of programs at UIUC including the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and in Computer Engineering.

University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign Application Requirements

Freshmen applicants to the UIUC need to complete the online application including a list of high school coursework and grades, ACT or SAT scores, list of extracurricular activities, essay, and $50 fee. Before making final decisions, the admission board looks at all aspects of each application from the rigor of coursework and class rank to life experiences and desired major. For admission to the on-campus graduate computer science programs, applicants need to submit complete transcripts, three letters of recommendation, resume, and statement of purpose along with the application and fee. For the online M.C.S. program, applicants have similar requirements except that letters of reference are recommended but not mandatory. All graduate students need to have completed an undergraduate degree with a GPA of at least 3.0 and preferably above 3.2.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Undergraduate tuition for Illinois residents is about $20,000 per year with a non-resident rate of roughly $35,000. Full-time graduate students can expect to pay about $6000 or $14,000 per semester for in-state and out-of-state tuition, respectively. The online master’s programs cost $600 per credit hour in addition to fees for online exam proctoring and Coursera classes. UIUC offers various programs to help students pay for their education, and the application for admission for undergraduate students doubles as an application for university scholarships based on achievement. In addition, all students are encouraged to fill out a FAFSA to determine their eligibility for grant and loan programs. Jobs and work-study positions in the computer science department or elsewhere on the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign campus can both offset tuition costs and provide work experience.