iCAN Application Process

Application Information 

The holistic Illinois Computing Accelerator for Non-specialists (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.

In the Graduate College application, applicants will see language about an application fee. This is not applicable to iCAN applicants as there is no application fee for the iCAN program.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general aptitude tests (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical) and subject test scores are not required.

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.

Please do NOT send additional materials (e.g. publications, photographs, videos, CDs, or portfolios). These items are NOT reviewed during the admissions process. Please do NOT email application materials to the iCAN team.  All application materials MUST be submitted through the Graduate College’s application form.

Click on each step for further details about the iCAN application process. 

If you have any questions as you complete your application, please email ican@cs.illinois.edu

  • Applicants must have been awarded (or are about to be awarded) a 4-year bachelor’s degree equivalent to that granted by the University of Illinois to be eligible for the iCAN program 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 where the applicant received their degree -- please see the Graduate College's list of eligible degrees.

  • The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign policy requires applicants to hold at least a 3.0/4.0 or higher GPA in the last two years of their undergraduate study to be eligible for graduate studies on this campus.

Applicants who already hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer engineering are not eligible to apply for the iCAN program.

Applications for the next cohort are typically open in November. As there are limited available program slots and scholarships, applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Admission and scholarships will be considered on a rolling basis.

  1. Create your account with the University of Illinois Graduate College Online Application.

  2. Start a new application.

  3. Select application type (2024 Graduate Application).

  4. Provide your personal and residency information.

  5. Select the program: 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.  

  6. Provide your academic history (past institutions attended).

  7. Test Scores: While this is part of the Graduate College application, no test scores are required for the iCAN program.

  8. Upload two references.  Note: the Reference section of the UIUC Graduate College application states no personal references. Given the nature of the iCAN program, the iCAN program requires one personal reference (who can speak to your character, achievement, commitment, etc.) and one academic/professional reference. 

Starting with applicants seeking entry in Spring 2017, and going forward, Illinois Computer Science will not not require submission of official transcripts during the initial applications review process. Applicants will be required to submit official credentials (transcripts, academic records, diplomas, certificates of degrees, etc.) only if they are recommended for admission to the Graduate College at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Applicants recommended for admission will be required to submit their official transcripts directly to the Graduate College.

To complete your application, please follow the instructions provided by the Graduate College:

“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.”


  1. Scanned transcripts must include all grade records and the grading scale used by the institution. (If the grading scale is on the back of the transcript, a separate scanned page should be included.) It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure uploaded copies are legible and of high resolution.

  2. Do not upload password-protected transcripts. If you receive password-protected transcripts from your educational institutions, please print them and scan to a PDF file before uploading.  Password-protected transcripts cannot be viewed by our Admissions Committee.

Submission of Official Academic Credentials (Graduate College policy)

“All credentials uploaded to the online application are considered unofficial. You will only be asked to submit official credentials (transcripts, academic records, diplomas, certificates of degrees, etc.) if you are admitted. These must be submitted during your first term of enrollment at the University of Illinois.

The University of Illinois reserves the right to require official academic credentials at any time during the admissions process, and to rescind any offer of admission made if discrepancies between unofficial and official transcript(s) are found.”

Applicants to the iCAN program are required to have two letters of recommendation. The purpose of the recommendation letters is to demonstrate applicants' personal and professional character. Applicants will supply the names of two people (and their contact information) for letters of recommendation. PLEASE NOTE: Although the Graduate College does not allow personal letters of recommendation, the iCAN PROGRAM DOES REQUEST A PERSONAL REFERENCE.

    • Reference 1: The applicant must supply a personal reference (e.g., friend, neighbor, clergy). That is, anyone (who is not a relative) that can speak to the applicant’s character, achievement, commitment, etc.

    • Reference 2: The applicant must supply the name of either an academic or professional reference.

 Please write 200-300 word responses to the following questions. Your responses assist reviewers in getting to know you, your interests, and your goals. Your responses should be specific and demonstrate self-reflection, maturity, and commitment to pursuing a graduate certificate degree in computing fundamentals.

    1. Why do you want to get a graduate certificate degree in computing fundamentals through the iCAN program? Where do you see yourself, career-wise, 5-10 years after completing the iCAN program?
    2. All applicants are welcome in iCAN. Since applicants have varied (a) life experiences and (b)educational attitudes and approaches, we would like to understand how that prepares you for pursuing a graduate certificate degree in computing fundamentals.  (a) Given your life experiences, discuss steps you have taken to pursue a computing fundamentals graduate certificate degree in the iCAN program. Examples include: previous programming exposure, previous algorithms and data structure exposure, affiliation with social groups related to computing, etc.  (b) Our CS 400, CS 401, CS 402, and CS 403 courses are the foundation for our curriculum. Please discuss your approach and attitude toward learning this material. 
    3. Describe your skills and experiences that best relate to your succeeding in a computing path. Please be specific.
    4. The iCAN program brings together students from different life experiences and levels of familiarity with math and computing fundamentals. How will your knowledge and experiences contribute to the iCAN program? Please be specific.
    5. The iCAN program strives to broaden participation by expanding access to computing fundamentals. Please describe ways you have contributed to increasing access and inclusion in your field and/or any unique challenges you may have faced and how you navigated those obstacles.
    6. For the fall and spring semesters, class times are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30-3:15 pm Central Time and Fridays from 1-2:15 pm Central Time. Classes are live online, which means students are expected to attend class lectures and discussions during these times.  Please discuss how the iCAN program will fit into your life, given the required class attendance on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays and the 30-hour per week time commitment outside of class. Address how you will manage the significant time investment given your obligations related to work, family, etc. Be specific.
    7. Academic performance in college is one criterion used to measure student success. Tell us whether your college grades indicate your ability to be successful in the iCAN program. Please consider addressing challenges, triumphs, life experiences, or lessons learned in your response.  
    8. (Optional)  The previous questions addressed the required information for your application. However, we recognize that there may be information you would like to provide that doesn’t fit what you have been asked. The iCAN program strives to be inclusive. If there is something else you feel we need to know about you, please feel free to provide that information. 

  • Your CV/resume is a part of the online application form.
  • Your CV/resume should address your education, job experience, research experience, remarkable achievements, publications, organizations, awards, and leadership experiences.
  • This information helps the admissions committee understand your background.

  • If your native language is not English, the TOEFL or IELTS Exams may be required for admission. This includes permanent residents of the United States (green card). Please carefully read about this requirement.
  • If your native language is not English, and you have applied to a graduate program (MS in CS, PhD in CS) where departmental financial aid is offered, you must submit a TOEFL iBT score for full consideration for financial aid. Please carefully read about this requirement.
  • If admission is offered, international applicants must submit the Declaration & Certification of Finances Form. This form does not need to be submitted with the application materials.

Please check your application in the Graduate College application portal to ensure all required materials have been submitted.

If your email address changes between the time you submit your application and the decision deadline, please send your updated email address to ican@cs.illinois.edu. Please include your old email address, your new email address, your first and last name, and your application reference number in the email message.