Choose Illinois Computer Science

A Legacy of Excellence

Our history is, in part, the history of computing. From the ILLIAC to Blue Waters, OpenMP to MPI, Mosaic to YouTube, and the first vectorizing compilers to LLVM, Illinois CS faculty, students, and alumni have long been at the forefront of computing research, innovation, and education.

Companies that have been founded or led by Illinois CS graduates include, Malwarebytes,, Microsoft, Netscape, Optimizely, PayPal, YouTube, and Yelp.

The Mechanical Engineering Laboratory (left) and Engineering Hall (right).
The Mechanical Engineering Laboratory (left) and Engineering Hall (right).

With $35 million in annual research expenditures from both federal and corporate resources, our faculty and graduate students are pioneering computer vision and all of its possibilities, investigating the algorithms behind social media and exploring how it impacts the spread of information in critical situations, and harnessing the power of the Data Revolution. Illinois CS faculty and students are also bringing IoT to the battlefieldhelping define the post-Moore’s Law computing world, using algorithms to make the production of satellite imagery both faster and more clear, and confirming links between ALS and gene mutations. Much of that research cuts across disciplinary lines, both within our highly-ranked Grainger College of Engineering and beyond.

Illinois CS Research Overview

Grainger Engineering is home to 13 Top-5 ranked degree programs, including the No. 2-ranked Engineering Physics program in the country, the No. 3 Environmental Engineering program, the No. 5 programs in Materials Science and Engineering, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and Electrical Engineering.

Next door to the Department of Computer Science, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications offers the chance to apply high-performance computing to the world’s most serious, persistent, and inspiring challenges -- the study of distant objects in space, weather and climate science, feeding a growing global population, and information security.

The Blue Waters Supercomputer at NCSA, capable of completing more than 1 quadrillion calculations per second on a sustained basis and more than 13 times that at peak speed.
Blue Waters Supercomputer

Also nearby on campus, the Beckman Institute’s mission is to foster interdisciplinary research focused on integrative imaging, intelligent systems, and molecular science and engineering. And Illinois CS faculty can explore the relationships between people, information, and technology with colleagues at the top-ranked School of Information Sciences. The first-of-its-kind Carle Illinois College of Medicine offers the chance to break new ground in the application of engineering to medicine.

Or you can join faculty from across campus working to advance life science research at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. Or help shape the autonomous future of transportation, agriculture, health care, and more at the new Center for Autonomy. In all, the campus is home to roughly 100 research institutes, centers, and programs.

Located in the Department of Bioengineering, the Jump Simulation Center is part of the groundbreaking engineering-based Carle Illinois College of Medicine.
Located in the Department of Bioengineering, the Jump Simulation Center is part of the groundbreaking engineering-based Carle Illinois College of Medicine.

The University of Illinois System also is driving the development of the new Discovery Partners Institute, a collaborative research institute for faculty and graduate students in Chicago that will pool the resources of the state of Illinois, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and others. Research will be centered on computing and data, the environment and water, food and agriculture, and health and wellness.

The university also is part of the emerging field of quantum information science and engineering. The formation of the new Illinois Quantum Information Science and Technology Center was announced in late 2018. And the university recently became part of a joint effort with the University of Chicago and Illinois’ two national laboratories, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, to make the Chicago area a national leader in quantum technology.

Reconstruct's technology has been used during the construction of Sacramento's new NBA arena and to map Chicago's underground infrastructure.
Reconstruct's technology has been used during the construction of Sacramento's new NBA arena and to map Chicago's underground infrastructure.

Faculty also have the opportunity to commercialize their research. Companies recently founded by faculty include:

  • Runtime Verification, which produces tools to verify programs as they execute, to improve the safety, reliability, and correctness of software.
  • Veriflow Systems, which provides an advanced ability to secure online systems using a novel network verification tool.
  • Embeddor Technologies provides real-time structural health monitoring of bridges and other civil infrastructure.
  • Reconstruct’s visual data analytics platform improves efficiency and reduce risks in construction.
  • Cazoodle and its GrantForward use deep data-aware vertical web searching to find and recommend potential sources of grant funding.

U.S. News & World Report ranks Illinois Computer Science No. 5 in the country for graduate computer science. It is a top destination for undergraduates, too: applications have more than doubled to well over 5,000 a year over the past five years.

And the department is growing to meet that demand. Illinois CS has about 100 tenured, research, and teaching faculty, with expertise in almost any topic within the discipline. They are part of a cohesive, collaborative culture.

“The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is updating and reinvigorating a number of traditional majors by combining them with computer science. The reasoning is that liberal-arts, arts, and agricultural fields increasingly encompass data analysis that requires computer-science skills.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education

We are helping to define the future of computer science education. Our stable of CS + X degrees blend computer science with math, statistics, crop sciences, music, linguistics, advertising, and a range of other fields. And more are on the way.

Illinois CS is among the leaders in online CS education, including the first MOOC-based master’s degree in data science.

The department also has focused on the development of its teaching faculty, including cutting- edge research on teaching at scale, data discovery, technology as a tool to improve outcomes, and computer-based testing.

Illinois Computer Science students go on to drive technological innovation, lead the companies shaping modern life, and educate the next generation of technologists. At least 40 are currently faculty members at Top 25 U.S. computer science programs.

Gems campers

The department also is home to the largest Association for Computing Machinery student chapter in the world (founded in 1967) and a large number of other specialized student groups.

Illinois CS also is leading the way to a better, more diverse computing community. The National Center for Women & Information Technology recognized Illinois CS for its work to increase women’s participation in computing with the 2017 NEXT Award. We continue to build on that work. Some of our CS + X degrees, for instance, promise to draw even more women into the field: 57 percent of CS + Anthropology students admitted for the Fall of 2019 and 49 percent of all CS + Linguistics students are women.

Entrepreneurship is fully integrated across the curriculum, and supported in and out of the classroom and laboratory.

That includes resources like the Technology Entrepreneur Center and the Research Park, which provide training, support, working space, and experience to help faculty and students become successful entrepreneurs.

The department’s active Corporate Program also brings industry leaders such as Apple, Google, Intel, Facebook, and Nvidia to the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science for interaction with faculty and students. The Corporate Connection program, in particular, provides dozens of opportunities for students to connect with the companies they want to work for.

The Research Park also provides the chance for face-to-face interaction with more than 120 companies, from heavyweights such as Abbott Laboratories, Archer Daniels Midland, BP America, Capital One, Caterpillar, and Nvidia to the dozens of startups taking their first steps.

Entrepreneurship ecosystem at Illinois

The University of Illinois and the diverse, family-friendly cities of Champaign and Urbana provide an culture and entertainment hub set in a Midwestern college community.

Krannert Foellinger Great HallOur campus is home to Big 10 Division I sportstop-notch health and recreational facilities; and marquee theatrical performances and live music of all kinds at the renowned Krannert Center.

Beyond campus, you will find the annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival and a dedicated community of film lovers. There are more than 50 locally owned restaurants in downtown Champaign and Urbana, with dozens more elsewhere in the two cities.

Getting outside is easy, too. Both Champaign and Urbana have well-developed systems of parks, jogging paths, and sports complexes. The cities host the Illinois Marathon every spring, drawing many thousands of runners to two days of races, and the main event is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. And more than 30 Illinois and Indiana state parks and recreation areas are within 75 miles of campus.

Champaign-Urbana also is ranked by Business Insider as one of the best small cities for educated millennials, and it’s affordable – the average home price in 2018 was just under $175,000.

The campus also is within easy reach of city life in Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis, all under three hours away.

Urbana-Champaign amenities infographic