This top data science school unveils new hybrid computer science master’s program

BY Sydney LakeOctober 21, 2022, 1:10 PM

The Willis Tower rises above the downtown skyline, as seen in May 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Some of the fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. are related to the field of computer science. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that computer science jobs will grow 21% between 2021 and 2031. These in-demand jobs, though, typically require candidates to have a master’s degree. 

As a result, more top universities have decided to offer computer science master’s degree programs to meet the growing industry demand. Most recently, the University of Illinois at Urbana—Champaign, which Fortune ranks as having the best online master’s in data science program in the country, announced the launch of its professional master of computer science program (MCS) to be hosted in Chicago. 

“Given that so many high paying jobs in today’s society require computing skills, an education in a computing-related field is an excellent means for social mobility,” Nancy M. Amato, the Abel Bliss professor of engineering and head of the University of Illinois Computer Science Department, tells Fortune.

Students can choose to pursue the degree solely in-person or through a hybrid model in which they take some courses in Chicago. The school also offers a full-time, on-campus master’s in computer science degree program at its Urbana-Champaign campus and a fully online master’s in computer science through Coursera.

“We have consistently seen that demand for all Illinois computer science programs—throughout the University of Illinois system—far outstrips supply. Additionally, demand for computer scientists everywhere is skyrocketing; and Chicago is no exception,” Amato says. “We want to meet students where they are, and we can accomplish this through our new professional MCS program in Chicago.”

‘Demand for computer scientists is skyrocketing’

The new hybrid computer science master’s program at the University of Illinois is being hosted in partnership with the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), a unit of the University of Illinois System that’s focused on tech talent development, applied research and development, and tech business building. 

“The labor market is at its tightest in recent memory, and demand for computer scientists is skyrocketing,” Bill Jackson, DPI executive director, said in a statement. “The addition of this program creates a clear next step for UIUC graduates to stay in state and get another degree from one of the best computer science programs in the world.”

The partnership will support Chicago by providing more resources to address the demand for highly skilled computer science gradutes, Amato says. 

“This program will help us to retain elite computer scientists now in Chicago who oftentimes seek employment or graduate school on the coasts,” she adds. “Producing more graduates in this field across the UI System will bolster the state’s economy.”

How to apply to the University of Illinois computer science program

The program is cohort-style, and students must complete 32 hours of coursework to graduate, but the program does not include a thesis or dissertation assignment. The curriculum is the same across the university’s other MCS offerings and is taught by the same faculty.

Applications for the upcoming cohort, which starts in January, are due Oct. 31, 2022. The GRE isn’t required to apply. The cost per credit hour for the program is $3,220. Assuming the credit hour cost remains the same and students must complete 32 credit hours to graduate, the entire program will cost roughly $103,000.

See how the schools you’re considering fared in Fortune’s rankings of the best master’s degree programs in data science (in-person and online), nursing, computer science, cybersecurity, psychology, public health, and business analytics, as well as the doctorate in education programs and MBA programs (part-time, executive, full-time, and online).

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