Applications Process & Requirements

Notes: Effective Fall 2018, current Illinois Computer Science graduate students must follow the same application process as all other applicants.

Current Illinois Computer Science undergraduate students applying to the five-year programs must check the degree links available here for information about the application process.


1. Review these general University and Department requirements:

  • 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 graduate programs 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 master’s degree in computer science or computer engineering whose degree requirements are equivalent to a Illinois Computer Science master’s degree are not eligible to apply for our MS or Professional Master of Computer Science (MCS) degree.
  • Applicants who do not hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science must have sufficient background in computer programming, data structures and algorithms, computer architecture, and theory of computation. We highly recommend applicants complete courses in these areas at a local university near them prior to submitting their application.


2. Plan to meet the application deadline

Visit our Application Deadlines page to review the deadlines for all of our Graduate Programs. All applications materials, including the application fee, must be received by the posted deadline. (Posted deadlines are for U.S. Central Time Zone). Late applications will not be accepted. In addition, incomplete applications will be subject to denial.

It is highly recommended to have all application materials submitted one month prior to the deadline to expedite admission decisions.


3. Complete the university's Online Application

Note: Please do not send additional materials (e.g. publications, photographs, videos, CDs, or portfolios). These items are not reviewed during the admissions process.


4. Pay the application fee

The university's application fee is $70 for US citizens and permanent residents and $90 for all other applicants. The fee must accompany the application by credit card payment with the web application. Application fees are non-refundable.

Application Fee Waivers: Applicants may qualify for an application fee waiver.  For details, see Application Fee Waivers.  Applicants who have questions about an application fee waiver may contact the Department of Computer Science at


5. Submit Unofficial Transcripts

Illinois Computer Science does 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.) If the original transcripts are not in English, native language transcripts and an English translation are required to be uploaded. 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.


6. Request Letters of Recommendation

  • Applicants to the PhD and MS with thesis programs are required to have three letters of recommendation submitted. Applicants to the MCS program are not required to have letters of recommendation, but letters will be considered if included, especially if used to justify experience in lieu of required coursework, or other irregularities.

  • It is recommended that letters of recommendation be from academics. They can either be your faculty, advisors, supervisors, or colleagues. If you have been away from academics for a significant amount of time, you may substitute non-academic references of your choice (e.g. immediate supervisors, colleagues, etc.).

  • The letters should address your academic abilities and your potential to be successful at graduate level academic performance.  If you are applying to our M.S. or Ph.D. program, your letters should also address your research abilities and potential.

  • Individuals writing letters of recommendation on your behalf should submit their letters through the online application system. Any recommendations that do not follow this process may impact timely application processing.

  • Please make sure recommenders complete the section on the “Recommender’s Form” that states “To what extent do you recommend this applicant for admissions as a graduate student in their proposed field of study”.


7. Write an Academic Statement of Purpose

  • The Academic Statement of Purpose is part of the online application form.
  • This statement should include your goals and background as it relates to the field of computer science. It is good to include any past work history, your interests, and reasons for pursuing a graduate degree in computer science.
  • Your statement will be evaluated for your conciseness, reasons for pursuing a graduate degree, leadership skills, and eloquence.  Applicants to our M.S. or Ph.D. program will also be evaluated according to their scientific research interests.
  • Generally the Academic Statement of Purpose is between one to two pages.


8. Write an (optional) Personal Statement

  • The Personal Statement is optional for Computer Science admissions purposes.
  • It is required for M.S. and Ph.D. applicants who wish to be considered for fellowship or scholarship opportunities funded by the Graduate College at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • The University of Illinois strives to cultivate graduates and future alumni to be responsible citizens and leaders who value knowledge, creativity, global awareness, and social and cultural understanding. Please use this Personal Statement to describe how your personal background and experiences influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree.  Provide insight on your potential to contribute to a community of inclusion, belonging, and respect in which scholars with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn and collaborate productively and positively together.
  • The Personal Statement must be within 500 words.


9. Create a CV/Resume

  • Your CV/resume is a part of the online application form.
  • Your CV/resume should address your education, job experience, research experience (M.S. or Ph.D. applicants), remarkable achievements, publications, organizations, awards, and leadership experiences.
  • This information helps the admissions committee understand your background. In addition, it helps when identifying M.S. or Ph.D. applicants for RA and TA assistantships.


10. General Record Examination (GRE) – Not Required

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general aptitude tests (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical) and subject test scores are recommended, but not required. In some cases, the scores may provide helpful supporting information. If you would like to submit scores, we recommend that you scan your official score report as a PDF file and attach it to your application. You do NOT need to submit official scores through ETS.


11. English Proficiency and International Requirements

English proficiency requirements.  This applies to all applicants whose native language is not English, including permanent residents of the US.

  • The minimum requirements for admission are as follows: Proficiency Requirements for Admission.
  • To be eligible department financial aid, such as a teaching assistantship, you must submit recent TOEFL iBT or IELTS scores and/or meet the requirements detailed here: Proficiency Requirements for Funding (summary).
  • All international applicants should make every effort to meet English proficiency requirements for funding.  Applicants that meet the proficiency requirements are given preference for admission. Applicants with TOEFL iBT speak scores below 22 have a low chance of admission.

If admission is offered, international applicants to the on-campus programs must submit the Declaration & Certification of Finances Form. This form does not need to be submitted with the application materials.


12. Data Structures Proficiency Exam for Online MCS

Applicants to the Online MCS or MCS in Data Science who already have a bachelor’s degree in an area outside of computer science and who do not have graded and transcripted prerequisite coursework in the areas of data structures, algorithms, and object-oriented programming can strengthen their application for admission by passing the Data Structures Proficiency Exam. Note that passing this Exam does not guarantee admission, nor is it required for your application. Read more.


13. Check the status of your application materials to ensure all materials have been submitted.

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, email your updated email address to Include your old email address, your new email address, your first and last name, and your application reference number in the email message.


14. Wait for admissions results

Admissions results will be sent to your email address by the posted decision deadline.

Any applicant can appeal the admission decision by submitting the CS Appeal Form. Fall term admission appeals for the PhD and CS MS programs must be submitted by April 15th and will be reviewed no later than May 15th by the CS Admissions Committee. Admissions appeals for the MCS (on-campus and online), MS Bioinformatics, BS-MS, and BS-MCS programs must be submitted within 14 days of the date when admissions decisions were released.

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