Illinois Computing Accelerator for Non-Specialists (iCAN)
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.
- 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.ai, Malwarebytes, Match.com, Microsoft, Netscape, PayPal, YouTube, and Yelp.
iCAN students possess many of the following transferable skills:
- problem solving
- synthesizing information
- dealing with complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty
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 Graduate Certificate in Computing Fundamentals. The admission requirements are:
- A baccalaureate degree (or higher) in any field other than computer science.
- College 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.
The holistic iCAN application is designed to allow each applicant to provide a comprehensive narrative of their personal and career experiences. Students will provide information about how a future in computing will benefit their own goals and how computing will benefit from the richness of their own backgrounds and experiences. To apply:
1. Complete the online application. When filling out the application through the University of Illinois Graduate College, you can choose between two programs of study: (1) “Computing Fundamentals—CERT” for our on-campus program and (2) “Computing Fundamentals (Online)—CERT” for our online program. 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 interview is an invaluable part of the application process as it allows the students to better understand and think about their fit into the iCAN program. The interview enables the admissions committee to get to know the person behind the application, and gives candidates the opportunity to ask their questions about how the iCAN program fits into their own goals. Applicants selected for an interview will receive more information about this process upon receiving an interview invitation.
iCAN is a one year (fall, spring, summer) program consisting of 20 credit hours. Students who complete the program earn a Graduate Certificate in Computing Fundamentals.
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, doing hands-on activities with core computing tools, and gaining 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 they take a 400-level course from our extensive CS course catalog, which includes courses in data mining, machine learning, artificial intelligence, databases systems, etc.
iCAN offers you a choice of two programs of study: (1) “Computing Fundamentals—CERT” for our on-campus program and (2) “Computing Fundamentals (Online)—CERT” for our online program. Tuition and fees for the iCAN Graduate Certificate in Computing Fundamentals program can be estimated using the Illinois Cost Calculator.
Estimating tuition and fees for Fall 2022 and Spring 2023: Please select your residency, “Graduate” student level, “Fall 2022” start term, term cost of interest (Fall 2022 or Spring 2023), program of study, and 7 credit hours. For the program of study, select “Computing Fundamentals—CERT” for our on-campus program. Or select “Computing Fundamentals (Online)—CERT” for our online program.
Estimating tuition and fees for Summer 2023: Currently, Summer 2023 rates are not available. For an estimated cost, answer the questions as above. However, select Fall 2021 as the start term, Summer 2022 as the term of interest, and 6 credit hours.
We have a 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. See past iCAN scholarship recipients.
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.