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Jenna Inouye | 23 Nov, 2022

Your Future in Data Science: The Online Illinois MCS-DS

Sponsored By Coursera

Data professionals are in incredibly high demand, thanks to the increasing number of businesses and organizations looking to move into data-driven strategies. In a 2016 study, McKinsey & Company predicted that the shortfall of data scientists may hit 250,000 by the year 2024 — even with an estimated yearly data science graduate increase of 7%. This increasing demand means that starting a career in this field can bring lucrative salaries on top of job security.

There are many ways to prepare yourself for a career in data science. You can self-study, learn from online courses, or join a bootcamp, but there’s nothing quite like a flexible, top-quality degree from a respected university.

Earning an advanced degree in data science can give you an edge over other applicants. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers one of the best online master’s degrees in data science through Coursera. With this degree, you can learn the vital career-ready skills necessary for success as a data scientist.

Want to learn more? Let’s take a closer look at the Master’s in Computer Science in Data Science offered by the UIUC.


What Is the UIUC Master’s of Computer Science in Data Science?

The MCS-DS offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a fully-online non-thesis degree program. Students can choose between the MCS or the MCS-DS track, which is essentially the same MCS degree following a data science-focused curriculum.

The MCS-DS is an online degree with flexibility to build career-ready data science skills taught by faculty pioneering the industry. To give you a better idea of its quality, Fortune ranked this program as the number one best online master’s degree in data science in 2022.

Enrolling in this program can teach you the core competencies in machine learning, data visualization, data mining, and cloud computing. And if you’re yearning for more learning, you can always jump into additional interdisciplinary courses from the UIUC Department of Statistics and the country’s top-ranking School of Information Sciences.


Learn With Flexibility With This Fully Online Program

Here's what you need to know if you’d like to get hands-on, applicable experience in the #1 Online Master’s in Data Science program from UIUC and Coursera.

The UIUC Master of Computer Science in Data Science program can take anywhere from 12 to 36 months to finish. The program comprises eight graduate-level courses at four credit hours each for a total of 32 credit hours. Completing the program earns you a degree accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Applications are open three times each year for cohorts starting in the fall, spring, and summer terms. Applications for the summer term beginning in May 2023 opened on October 26, 2022, with the deadline on February 15, 2023.


Learn More About the UIUC MCS-DS


What Can You Learn?

Choosing the MCS-DS track allows you to learn the MCS degree with a focus on data science. You’ll learn core competencies in data mining and visualization, machine learning, and cloud computing, and a few interdisciplinary courses beneficial to data science.

If you’d like to learn more about the coursework involved in this program, you can visit this link. You can also find out more about potential career outcomes here.


Admissions Requirements

To be admitted into the program, you’ll need to complete standard application requirements, such as transcripts, recommendation letters, the application fee, and more. However, like any graduate-level program, the UIUC MCS-DS has a few more requirements for admissions. Here’s what you need to know.

The first and most important requirement is an eligible bachelor’s degree. Although the program is open to international students, you must check if your bachelor’s degree is eligible by going to this link. To qualify for admission, you must not have already completed a graduate degree in computer engineering, computer science, or other related fields.

The GRE is not required, so you won’t have to worry about taking any standardized admission tests. The minimum GPA requirement is 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, though only the last two years of your bachelor’s degree performance and coursework are considered.

The MCS-DS program requires a strong background in data structures, object-oriented programming, and algorithms. Ideally, this would include a course in data structures or a similar experience. UIUC states that they give admissions preference to applicants with the prerequisite courses in their records.

If you don’t have transcripted computer science coursework in these areas, that doesn’t mean you can’t apply. As long as you have four to five years of relevant computer science experience and a 3.2 GPA, UIUC recommends you enroll in the Accelerated Computer Science Fundamentals Specialization on Coursera. It can help you prepare to take the Data Structures Proficiency Exam. Do well in it, and you might strengthen your overall application.

International students may need to submit their TOEFL or IELTS scores with their application. Alternatively, UIUC will temporarily accept Duolingo English Test Examination results if the TOEFL/IELTS are inaccessible due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Duolingo results must be from exams taken from February 1, 2020 to August 1, 2023.

It’s worth mentioning that if you have previous graduate coursework in computer science, you can transfer up to 12 credit hours into this program, though this is subject to approval. The credits must not be older than five years.


Cost and Financing

The Master of Computer Science in Data Science program at UIUC costs $670 per credit hour. At 32 credit hours, that means a total cost of $21,440.

You may run into other costs, such as:

  • ProctorU fees for online proctored exams, which are billed directly to you when exams are scheduled. Fees cost $8.75 for a thirty-minute exam, $14.75 for a one-hour exam, $21.50 for a ninety-minute or two-hour exam, and $30.25 for a three-hour exam.
  • Fees for Cloud Computing Services like AWS (Amazon Web Services), which may vary. UIUC may offer credits for free as part of the course or class.

If you’re worried about paying the full cost upfront, you don’t have to — you can pay as you go. You can pay for each four-credit-hour course as you take them. Additionally, if you need to pause your studies for any reason, UIUC won’t charge you for that term.

There are financial aid opportunities available for those who need them. And if you’d like to learn more about loans, payment plans, and more, you can check out this link for more information.


Earn a Top Data Science Degree to Jumpstart Your Career

The top-ranked Master of Computer Science in Data Science program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a fantastic way to learn the skills you need to jumpstart a career in the industry. The program is taught by pioneering faculty who can provide the guidance and mentorship you need for success.

Ready to get started? Learn more about the admissions process here.


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By Jenna Inouye

Jenna Inouye has been a full stack developer for two decades, specializing in web application design and development. For the last eight years, she has worked as a news and feature writer focusing on technology and finance, with bylines in Udemy, SVG, and The Gamer.

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Disclosure: is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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