University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Online Master of Computer Science in Data Science, Illinois

Why University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign?

The online Master of Computer Science in Data Science from the University of Illinois combines the well-known MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) system Coursera with the opportunity to earn a degree from a respected large public research university. Applicants to the program should hold an undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.20. They should have completed coursework in object-0riented programming, data structures, algorithms, linear algebra, and statistics and probability. Equivalent work experience can also be substituted for coursework, and this substitution will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Applicants can choose to demonstrate their qualifications by taking an optional Data Structures Proficiency Exam.  Submitting GRE scores is optional.

Program Snapshot

University Name University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Location Urbana-Champaign
State Illinois Grade A+
Name of Degree Master of Computer Science in Data Science
School or Department Administering Program Computer Science
Credits 32
Cost per credit $670
Tuition for Entire Program $21,440
Test Requirements Optional GRE
Minimum GPA 3.20
Prerequisite Courses and Skills
  • Coursework or equivalent experience in object-oriented programming, data structures, algorithms, linear algebra, and statistics/probability
  • Optional Data Structures Proficiency Exam
Campus Visit Required? No
Typical Time to Complete Two years
When Can Students Start the Program? Fall, Spring, Summer
Program Concentrations None
Synchronous Classes No
Required Courses One course in each of the core areas of

  • Machine Learning 
  • Data Mining
  • Data Visualization
  • Cloud Computing
Does the Program Include a Capstone? No
Does the Program Include a Practicum or Internship? No
Other Features that Make the Program Unique
  • Lots of practice using real-world tools
  • Coursera
  • Classmates from lots of different countries
  • Self-pacing
  • Easy to complete on mobile technology
  • Good for students who have full-time jobs
Program Objectives (quoted directly from the program)
  • Utilize cloud computing to scale up analysis and processing of big data
  • Visually and computationally analyze available data to inform critical decisions
  • Study data scientifically, and use it to form, prove, and defend hypotheses
  • The program effectively, using the right tools for the job
Program Description This 32-credit program offers a distinctive model in which courses are offered through Coursera, the Massive Open Online Course platform.  UIUC students complete a more rigorous set of assignments and evaluations than other Coursera students and are advised by UIUC faculty. The program requires students to take courses across core areas of machine learning, data mining, data visualization, and cloud computing.

What will I Learn?

The University of Illinois MCSDS program requires students to complete at least one course in each of the four core areas of machine learning, data mining, data visualization, and cloud computing.  Students are prepared to use cloud computing tools to scale up the analysis and processing of very large datasets. In addition, students learn to use visual and computational analysis to understand data and to inform critical decisions. The program emphasizes a scientific approach to studying data, teaching students to form, prove, and defend hypotheses. Students are also trained to program effectively and efficiently using industry-appropriate tools.

In addition to core courses, students take elective courses from the wide range offered through the Coursera platform. Elective topics include data cleaning, data curation, statistical learning, data mining, computer graphics, the internet of things, and applied statistics. Students may choose to take elective capstone courses in cloud computing or data mining.

How much will the program cost?

Students finish their degree within two years and pay $670 per credit for a total of 32 credits, or just under $21,500.

How does the program fit into my life?

All courses are asynchronous, meaning that instructors create learning materials such as lectures, activities, quizzes, assignments, and group discussions in weekly modules, and students are responsible for completing the module on their own schedule within the given week. The program is usually completed in 2 years. Students can begin the program in Fall, Spring, or Summer semesters.  The program is designed for students who have full-time jobs, and you can expect your instructors to be familiar with the challenges of the adult student. The Coursera platform is well-supported and tested by thousands of students, so that you can expect fewer technical hiccups than in some programs.


The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign MCSDS program may be very appealing to students who are enthusiastic about getting started on their data science degree with a minimum of technological barriers. Students can even sit in on courses through the Coursera platform to test out the experience. The courses offer ample practice in using real-world tools, and students attend the classes from their homes around the world. The program may be less appealing for students who are looking for more structure and a greater connection with a smaller group of classmates, all taking the same curriculum on the same schedule.