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Do you see yourself in a high-tech Computing Career or pursuing a Graduate Degree in Computing? Are you looking for a program that will provide you with the training to be successful?

If you have a bachelor’s degree in any field other than computer science, then the Illinois Computing Accelerator for Non-specialists (iCAN) program is designed especially for you.

iCAN’s mission is to broaden participation in computing through an accelerated program for non-computer science college graduates. Hands-on course work in computing fundamentals, individualized attention from world-class faculty, and academic and career mentoring empower iCAN students to make ground-breaking research contributions and technological innovations.

The iCAN program welcomes diverse college majors, such as English, business, marketing, architecture, political science, biology, creative arts, and aerospace engineering. Since iCAN students couple an additional area of expertise with computing, they bring a unique perspective that enriches computing. 

Is the iCAN Program Right For You?

iCAN is suitable for all non-specialists who want a deeper understanding of computers, algorithms, and programming in order to gain entry into a high-tech career or further their education in a graduate degree program. iCAN students come from all college backgrounds (English, business, marketing, political science, biology, civil engineering) and bring a unique perspective to computing. The program does not assume any experience with programming.

iCAN students possess many of the following transferable skills:

  • problem solving
  • creativity
  • synthesizing information
  • dealing with complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty
  • focus
  • meticulousness
  • resilience

About Illinois Computer Science

We’re a big campus — Big 10, to be exact — with $642 million spent on  research  and  development  in  a  typical  year.  We  have  15  schools  and colleges, including our internationally known Grainger College of Engineering, where the Department of Computer Science resides. This substantial breadth offers many opportunities for iCAN students to impact not only  computing  but  medicine,  business,  the  arts,  media,  or  whatever  defines your research and passion.

The demand for computer science education has exploded because computing underpins  just  about  every  aspect  of  modern  life.  The  arts,  science,  business,  medicine, and engineering all benefit from the computational power, modeling, and thinking found in computer science. Our students and faculty are bringing their expertise to bear on many of society's most challenging problems. Illinois Computer Science has a global reputation for developing revolutionary technology—where groundbreaking research addresses real-world problems.

Learn More About Illinois CS

iCAN Offers:

  • A hands-on program with carefully designed courses that focus on mentorship and meeting individual student needs.
  • A small program with the available resources of a large Research I University.
  • A culture of collaboration where the best minds tackle a myriad of 21st-century problems by developing cutting-edge data science techniques and harnessing the power of petascale computing.
  • Thousands of creative and driven alumni who are entrepreneurs, educators, and technical visionaries. Companies who have been founded or led by Illinois Computer Science graduates are among the biggest names in the high-tech arena, including C3 IoT, Malwarebytes,, Microsoft, Netscape, PayPal, YouTube, and Yelp.

iCAN logo

Admission Requirements

The iCAN program is a broadening participation program designed for college graduates without a background in computer science. Successful completion of the iCAN program results in a student receiving a Computing Fundamentals Certificate. Below are the admission requirements for the iCAN program.

  • A baccalaureate degree (or higher) in any field other than computer science.
  • High school algebra
  • Overall GPA of 3.0 or above.
  • Unofficial transcripts are accepted for application review.
  • Test scores: A GRE score is not required for admission into the iCAN program.

Application Process


The holistic iCAN application is designed to allow each applicant to provide a comprehnsive narrative of their personal and career experiences. Students will provide information not only about how a future in computing will benefit their own goals, but how computing will benefit from the richness of their own backgrounds and experiences. Below is the application process:

1. Complete the online application. Applicants will provide their current résumé, transcripts, contact information for two references, and eight short-answer questions. Sample questions include:

  • Why are you interested in the iCAN program?
  • Describe your skills (technical or non-technical) and experiences that would make you succeed in a computing path. What recent steps (if any) have you taken in this direction?
  • The iCAN program strives to broaden the participation of computing. Please share how your experiences, perspectives, skills, and talents will enrich computing.

2. Participate in a virtual interview with iCAN administration. The virtual interview will give the iCAN team a chance to meet the person behind the application and determine the applicant’s commitment level to the program. This will also be a chance for candidates to ask further questions to determine if the iCAN program is a good fit for their own goals.

Program Requirements

Completion of the iCAN program results in the Computing Fundamentals Certificate, which is completed in one year (fall, spring, summer) and consists of 20 credit hours. 

Semester 1 (7 credits)

  • Fundamentals of Computer Science I (3 credits)
  • Fundamentals of Algorithms (3 credits)
  • Excursions in Computing I (1 credit)

Semester 2 (7 credits)

  • Fundamentals of Computer Science II (3 credits)
  • Fundamentals of Algorithms and Computational Models (3 credits)
  • Excursions in Computing II (1 credit)

Semester 3 (6 credits)

  • Computing Fundamentals Capstone (3 credits)
  • 400-level course from the traditional CS curriculum  (3 credits)

The first two semesters consist of core computer science courses in programming, data structures, and algorithms. The curriculum also incorporates an innovative excursions component that provides students with breadth in the field through reading ground-breaking research papers, hands-on activities with core computing tools, and exposure to different programming languages and paradigms. 

The final semester consists of students working on an industry or research project to leverage what they have learned in previous semesters and taking a 400-level course from our extensive CS course catalog, which includes courses in data mining, machine learning, artificial intelligence, databases systems, etc.

Federal Financial Aid

Non-degree programs such as iCAN are currently not eligible to receive federal and state financial aid. For more information, visit Financial Aid at Illinois.


We have a substantial number of tuition scholarships available for the iCAN program. We work with corporate and philanthropic partners to provide scholarships to students in accordance with need and academic performance. No separate scholarship application is required.

Upcoming Events

Meet with members of the iCAN team to learn more about the program and see if it could be the right fit for you. All meetings are online via Zoom. Click each session below for information on how to join.


iCAN Q&A Webinar 1:00 PM

iCAN Q&A Webinar 1:00 PM

iCAN Q&A Webinar 1:00 PM

iCAN Q&A Webinar 1:00 PM

iCAN Q&A Webinar 1:00 PM

iCAN Q&A Webinar 1:00 PM

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