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Complete a Master’s degree at your own pace, at your own place! Busy professionals can complete a degree online while they continue to meet their current life and career obligations. Illinois Computer Science has partnered with Coursera to use its massive open online course (MOOC) platform to offer the MCS to students in a more flexible and affordable way than is possible on campus. Students can earn the Online MCS in as little as one year, or in as many as five years.

The Online MCS program is a non-thesis (coursework-only) degree that requires 32 credit hours of graduate coursework, completed through eight graduate-level courses each at the four credit hour level. The MCS requires that four of these eight courses are chosen from unique "core" areas of computer science, and that three of these eight courses must be at the advanced graduate level (500-level). The Online MCS currently offers coursework in the core areas of artificial intelligence, databases, human-computer interaction, software engineering, scientific computing and high-performance computing.

Students specifically interested in a data science focus should consider the University of Illinois Master of Computer Science in Data Science (MCS-DS) Track.

Application Information

Who may apply?  Applicants should hold a 4-year bachelor's degree (or equivalent). Students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than CS are encouraged to apply, but to succeed in graduate-level CS courses, they must have prerequisite coursework or commensurate experience in object-oriented programming, data structures, algorithms, linear algebra, and statistics/probability. Applicants without this can strengthen their application for admission by passing the optional Data Structures Proficiency Exam. The recommended undergraduate GPA for applicants applying to the Professional Master's program is a 3.2/4.0 or higher. The Department of Computer Science does not require GRE scores for any of its graduate programs. Applications for the MCS do not require letters of recommendation, but they will be considered if included, especially if used to justify experience in lieu of required coursework, or other irregularities.


Online MCS Degree Requirements

Printable version.
Note: Each Online MCS course is four credit hours.

Breadth Requirements

Must complete four courses (16 credit hours) each from a different area, from the following core areas with a grade of B- or higher.

Artificial Intelligence:

CS 498 Applied Machine Learning 
CS 445 Computational Photography 
CS 598 Deep Learning for Healthcare

Database and Information Systems: CS 410 Text Information Systems 
CS 411 Database Systems 
CS 412 Introduction to Data Mining 

CS 418 Interactive Computer Graphics  
CS 445 Computational Photography
CS 498 Data Visualization 
CS 519
Scientific Visualization

Parallel Computing: CS 484 Parallel Programming
Programming Languages & Software Engineering: CS 421 Programming Languages and Compilers 
CS 427 Software Engineering I 
Scientific Computing:

CS 450 Numerical Analysis 

Systems and Networking: 

CS 425 Cloud Computing Concepts 
CS 498 Cloud Computing Applications 
CS 498 Cloud Networking 
CS 498 Internet of Things

Advanced Coursework

Must complete three courses (12 credit hours).


Additional Requirements

  • All coursework must be taken through the Coursera MOOC platform.
  • Breadth coursework must have a letter grade of B- or higher. Any other course taken for letter grade must have a grade of C or higher.
  • Up to 12 credit hours of previous graduate coursework that is approved by the Department of Computer Science (including non-degree graduate courses completed within the Department of Computer Science) may be transferred and applied to the Professional MCS degree requirements.


(Subject to change)

Fall Semester:
CS 410 Text Information Systems
CS 425 Distributed Systems (Cloud Computing Concepts)
CS 427 Software Engineering I
CS 450 Numerical Analysis 
CS 498 Cloud Networking
CS 519 Scientific Visualization
CS 598 Foundations of Data Curation
CS 598 Practical Statistical Learning 


Spring Semester:
CS 411 Database Systems
CS 412 Intro to Data Mining
CS 418 Interactive Computer Graphics (starting Spring 2020)
CS 445 Computational Photography (starting Spring 2020)
CS 484 Parallel Programming
CS 498 Cloud Computing Applications
CS 498 Applied Machine Learning 
CS 498 Internet of Things (starting Spring 2020)
CS 598 Advanced Bayesian Modelling

Summer Semester:
CS 421 Programming Languages and Compilers
CS 498 Data Visualization 
STAT 420 Methods of Applied Statistics 
CS 513 Theory & Practice of Data Cleaning 
CS 598 Data Mining Capstone 
CS 598 Cloud Computing Capstone


Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition:  $670 per credit hour, for a total of $21,440 for the complete 32 credit hour degree. 
  • ProctorU fees: Most Online MCS courses require one or more exams. Exams are proctored online through the ProctorU service, which will be billed directly to the student when an exam is scheduled, at $8.75 (30-min. exam), $14.75 (1-hr. exam), $21.50 (90-min. and 2-hour exam), or $30.25 (3-hour exam).
  • Other fees: Some courses can require additional fees, such as the Amazon Web Services cloud programming platform used for the cloud computing courses.

Financial Assistance

The Department of Computer Science does not offer research or teaching assistantships to students enrolled in our online programs, including the Online MCS. The Online MCS program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and enrolled students are eligible for financial assistance. See the Office of Student Financial Aid for further information.

Get Updates

If you are interested in receiving updates about the Online MCS, please complete Coursera's Interest Form.