5-year BS-MS Program

Admission Requirements

The 5-year program in Computer Science combines two degrees: a B.S. in Computer Science with an M.S. (with thesis) in Computer Science. This program is competitive and admission is based on overall academic performance, letters of recommendation, and statement of purpose.

  • Current Illinois Computer Science students enrolled in the College of Engineering with a junior standing (must have at least one year left of their undergraduate study after admitted into the program) who maintain a superior academic performance are eligible to apply for this program. Students admitted to this program will receive both degrees once all requirements for both degrees have been successfully completed. Transfer students entering the CS undergraduate program their junior year are also eligible to apply to this program.

Note: Students who are seniors follow the standard application process for the MS program.

  • Applicants must have a 3.5 or higher GPA. Applicants who are transferring in their junior year must have a 3.5 or higher transfer GPA.
  • BS-MS Degree Requirements

NOTE: Students who are in Liberal Arts and Sciences (CS/Math and CS/Stat) are not eligible for this BS/MS 5 year program. This joint program was negotiated between the College of Engineering and the Graduate College.

Application Deadline

Application deadline for the B.S./M.S. program is March 15th. This program only has a fall entrance. An informational session is held mid October for all interested undergrads to learn more about the program and the application process.

Applicants must submit their completed application by 4:45 p.m. on the deadline to the Academic Office, 1210 Siebel Center. All materials that are sent directly to the Academic Office must be received by the deadline. Applicants who do not have a completed application by the deadline will not be considered for that term's program entry.

Application Process and Forms

Applicants must submit the following applications materials by the deadline to be considered for the program. If there are any questions regarding the applications process, please contact Mary Beth Kelley at mkelley@illinois.edu or Kara MacGregor at kmacgreg@illinois.edu.

  • Complete the BS/MS Application Form.
  • Submit three Letters of Reference. The Letters of Reference form must be attached to each letter. Letters that are sent directly by recommender should be mailed to the address located on the Recommendation form OR emailed to Mary Beth Kelley at mkelley@illinois.edu. Letters of Recommendation do not need to be submitted at the same time the application is submitted, but must be submitted by the application deadline. Applicants submitting letters of recommendation must provide them in a sealed envelope with the writer's signature over the seal.
  • Complete a "Statement of Purpose" and include full name, Net ID, UIN, and date of birth on all pages. This statement should include applicant's goals and background as it relates to the field of computer science, including any past work history, interests, and reasons for pursuing a graduate degree in computer science. The statement of purpose will be evaluated for conciseness, scientific research interests, leadership skills, and eloquence. The statement of purpose should be no longer than two pages.
  • Updated Resume/CV which includes work/professional/internship experience, education, extracurricular activities, any publications, scholarships, other honors, relevant skills, etc.

Acceptance into the Program

Students provisionally admitted to the program:

  • are assigned a graduate academic advisor.
  • must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 through completion of the B.S. component of the program to remain in the program.
  • must secure their thesis advisor by the end of their fall semester of their senor year (the 1st semester in the provisionally admittance stage) and complete their M.S. thesis agreement form.
  • may register for graduate courses and earn graduate credit hours, with approval from their graduate academic advisor, if they have 12 hours or less to complete in their FINAL semester of their undergraduate studies. Please note that students cannot transfer more that 12 credit hours of coursework over to their M.S. degree, which includes the shared coursework.
  • must earn at least 120 hours of undergraduate credit, 9 hours of graduate credit (this is the "Breadth Requirement" of the M.S. degree), and satisfy all B.S. requirements to be officially recommended for admission to the Graduate College.

Upon successful completion of the B.S. component (including grades of B- or better in the "Breadth Requirement" coursework), and an overall GPA of at least 3.0 GPA, students

  • will be officially admitted into the Graduate College, with the application fee paid by the department.
  • will be issued letter of admission from the Graduate College Admission Office and the Department of Computer Science, at which time they will be considered graduate students and assessed graduate tuition the following semester. International students may be required to submit additional documentation at this time.
  • may apply or be considered for graduate research or teaching assistantships, tuition waivers, as well as fellowships and scholarships available to graduate students.
  • must continue to maintain a graduate GPA of 3.0 or better in order to remain in the combined program.
  • must complete all the remaining M.S. degree requirements within one academic year (spring-summer-fall or fall-spring-summer). Please note that if you finish your B.S. requirements in less than four years, you will not be given extra time to complete the M.S. degree requirements. You will just finish this joint program in less than 5-years and be able to start working sooner!

Students in the program are eligible to apply for the Ph.D. program (fall entry only) in Computer Science near completion of the M.S. component. If admitted, the combined degree will count as Stage 1 of the Ph.D. program, as if the student is admitted with a Masters degree.


BS-MS Degree Program Requirement Planning Form

B.S. Component: 120 hours plus 3 "Breadth Requirement" courses for 9-12 graduate hours

  • Same required courses as the traditional B.S. degree with the minimum hours required reduced to 120 hours.
  • Must complete 3 "Breadth Requirement" courses: three different courses, each from a different area, from the following eight core areas with a grade of B- or higher.
  • University undergraduate student minimum residence requirement satisfied.
  • Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher maintained through the completion of the B.S. component of the program.

M.S. Component: Minimum 16-19 additional coursework hours plus 4 hours of CS 599 thesis

  • Program is identical to the traditional M.S. program with the "Breadth Requirement" satisfied while still classified as an undergraduate.
  • Students who take the "Breadth Requirement" courses for 3 credit hours instead of 4 credit hours will need to complete a minimum of 19 additional coursework hours.
  • Students must satisfy the university's graduate student minimum residence requirement.
  • Students must complete remaining M.S. degree requirements in one academic year (fall-spring-summer or spring-summer-fall).
  • Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 through completion of the M.S. component of the program.

University Residency Requirements

Undergraduate residency requirements include a student spending either the first three years, earning not less than 90 semester hours, or the last year (two semesters or the equivalent), earning not fewer than 30 hours, in residence at the Urbana-Champaign campus, uninterrupted by any work in another institution. Graduate residency requirements include that half or more of the graduate hours applied toward the degree must be earned in courses counted for residence credit. Consult the University of Illinois Programs of Study book for addition details about university residency requirements.

Additional Information

Students may earn graduate hours for M.S. component "Breadth Requirement" taken during the third and fourth year, while a classified undergraduate. Students are required to perform and be graded at the (more advanced) graduate student level in those courses, or must register in the graduate level section of a course when offered.

Students who do not complete all 5-Year B.S.- M.S. degree program requirements may request by petition to have graduate hours earned, including the Breadth Requirement coursework, converted to undergraduate hours and applied toward a traditional B.S. in Computer Science degree. Students reverted back to the B.S. degree program must earn the minimum number of hours and satisfy all degree requirements of whichever version of the B.S. curriculum appropriate. Graduate credit not used to fulfill the B.S. degree requirements will remain on the transcript and may, at some future point, be considered for transfer to another degree program.

Students are strongly advised to seek faculty counsel about the 5-yr program to be sure they understand the pros and cons of pursuing a Masters degree via the 5-yr program. If their intention is to ultimately pursue a Ph.D., then it may be preferable to avoid the rapid pace of the 5-year program and instead invest time in research as an undergraduate. For admission to competitive Ph.D. programs, the expectation of publications and extensive research experience is higher for M.S. graduates. Therefore, as an alternative to the 5-year program, many top students may prefer to conduct research, possibly leading to a B.S. thesis, as a way to improve their admissions chances into top Ph.D. programs.