Online Master of Computer Science in Data Science

Complete a Master’s degree online in the hottest area of the new millennium! Learn about new statistical and computational methods that are transforming business and society from the Illinois faculty who are pioneering them. Illinois Computer Science offers a specialized track of courses that satisfy the MCS degree requirements, but with coursework that focuses on data science — the art of extracting new knowledge and finding meaningful information in a massive sea of data. 

The Master of Computer Science in Data Science (MCS-DS) track is a non-thesis (coursework-only) program of study that leads to the MCS degree using courses that focus on data science. The MCS-DS track requires 32 credit hours of graduate coursework, completed through eight graduate-level courses each at the four credit hour level. The MCS-DS includes required coursework in machine learning, data mining, data visualization and cloud computing.

Students receive lectures through Coursera's massive open online course (MOOC) platform, but are advised and assessed by Illinois faculty and teaching assistants on the more rigorous set of assignments, projects, and exams required for university degree credit.

Students who would like to take a more general set of courses should consider the University of Illinois Online MCS.

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 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 will be considered if included, especially if used to justify experience in lieu of required coursework, or other irregularities.

Admission for UIUC Graduates

If you completed any CS or CS+X major or a CS minor at Illinois with a GPA of 3.0 or better in the last two years of your undergraduate degree and a GPA of 3.2 or better in CS courses, you are guaranteed admission to our Online MCS or MCS in Data Science (MCS-DS) programs. 

MCS-DS Degree Requirements

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

Breadth Coursework

Must complete one course each (with a grade of B- or higher) from the four different areas of machine learning, data mining, data visualization and cloud computing.

Machine Learning:

CS 441 Applied Machine Learning 
CS 445 Computational Photography 
CS 447 Natural Language Processing 
CS 598 Deep Learning for Healthcare

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

CS 416 Data Visualization 
CS 519 Scientific Visualization  

Cloud Computing: CS 425 Distributed Systems (Cloud Computing Concepts) 
CS 435 Cloud Networking 
CS 437 Internet of Things
CS 498 Cloud Computing Applications

Advanced Coursework

Must complete three courses (12 credit hours).

* Prerequisites apply. Please see printable MCS-DS Degree Requirements document.


Not required, but available to use toward the eight courses required for the degree.

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.

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition:  Tuition rates are posted on the Office of the Registrar's website at
    • Please scroll down to "Graduate and Professional" section and then click "Tuition Rates" for the relevant semester.
    • Tuition rates for Online Computer Science in Data Science - MCS-DS and MCS Computer Science programs are listed under the "Grad Engineering & Engineering Related rate".
  • 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.