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Best Colleges In Illinois For Computer Science

Last Updated on January 8, 2023 by Omoyeni Adeniyi

Get more information regarding top universities in illinois for computer science, best colleges for computer science, best colleges for computer science online, best California colleges for computer science & best colleges in illinois for computer engineering.

Top Universities in Illinois for Computer Science

The demand for computer and information technology professionals continues to expand across the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an overall 13% increase in employment for these occupations from 2020-2030, and a hefty 22% increase for software developers during this same period. Illinois, recognized as a major financial, industrial, and research hub, offers unique opportunities for computer science graduates in areas such as software development, computer systems analysis, and computer programming.

The Illinois Technology Research Corridor that runs along Interstate 88 through the suburban counties northwest of Chicago has attracted the corporate headquarters and regional offices of several Fortune 500 companies who employ computer science specialists, technicians, and managers. Employment prospects expand beyond the Chicago metropolitan area to smaller cities and towns throughout the state, at colleges and universities, research institutions, healthcare facilities, and government offices.

Institutions within Illinois offer quality undergraduate and graduate degrees. The University of Chicago and Northwestern University — both private schools — have strong reputations for academic rigor. The University of Chicago is recognized nationally and internationally for its quality programs, while Northwestern University has garnered prestige for its programs in journalism, law, and medicine. UChicago offers a variety of online certificate programs and courses, and Northwestern provides online degrees and certificates.

Illinois is also home to many respected public universities, including the University of Illinois at Chicago. UIC provides quality instruction with an affordable price tag. Its medical school, engineering, and computer science programs are all highly regarded. The computer science program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also boasts a strong reputation. Both schools offer fully online undergraduate and graduate programs.

Principia College

  • location-marker icon Elsah, IL
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Founded in 1912, Principia College is a small, private liberal arts institution in Elsah, Illinois. The 2,500-acre campus hosts an average fall semester undergraduate enrollment rate of around 340 students.

Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science

Principia College offers two degrees in computer science: a bachelor of arts (BA) or a bachelor of science (BS). The intro level courses include hardware design, principles of modern software design, multiple programming languages, and building a computer from the ground up. 

Advanced computer science courses focus on web development, graphics, operating systems, algorithms, security, and AI (artificial intelligence). Students build a solar race car to compete nationally and can participate in the Mobile Apps Club. 

Learners in either the BA or BS program can choose a minor in management information systems. Coursework prepares students to work in business programming and focuses on studies involving database management and design, as well as complex computer software system development. 

Applying to Principia College

Admission requirements include an online application, official high school transcripts, a holistic assessment exam as an alternative to SAT/ACT scores, and references (e.g., school guidance counselor and/or additional academic or character references). 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $15,600 per semester for in-state and out-of-state students 
  • Program Length: The BS in computer science requires a minimum of 51 semester hours, and the BA requires a minimum of 40 semester hours.
  • Delivery Format: On campus

Illinois Wesleyan University

  • location-marker icon Bloomington, IL
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Illinois Wesleyan University, a private liberal arts institution in Bloomington, Illinois, was founded in 1850. Illinois Wesleyan is known for its small class sizes and exclusive bachelor-level degree programs. The average enrollment is approximately 1600 undergraduates.

Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science

The bachelor’s in computer science degree at Illinois Wesleyan includes courses on the basic principles of computing, applications of algorithms, linguistic abstractions, and hardware design. The program instructs students on diverse areas of applications in computing theory. 

Students can join the Association for Computing Machinery, an educational computing society.

Applying to Illinois Wesleyan

Admission requirements include the completion of 15 units of math, English, lab science, social science, and a foreign language with a “B” grade or higher; a personal statement; an academic letter of recommendation; and TOEFL scores for international applicants. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 
  • Tuition: $26,805 per term for in-state and out-of-state students
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 65%

Wheaton College

  • location-marker icon Wheaton, IL
  • 4 years
  • Campus

A private, Christian college, Wheaton began in 1960 and now offers over 40 undergraduate and 18 graduate programs in the sciences and liberal arts. Wheaton hosts an undergraduate enrollment of just over 2,000 students on its 80-acre campus. 

Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science

Wheaton’s computer science degree offers a problem-solving approach to the computer science field. A software development course comprises an extensive, full semester project, performed in a group setting. Students learn to build a significant software product early in the program. 

Students can join ongoing computer programming competition teams where they receive a list of problems to solve on a single computer. Learners can also participate in apprenticeships and international study abroad programs. 

Applying to Wheaton

Wheaton college has removed its requirement for ACT/SAT testing for the upcoming fall and spring semester. Prospective students submit an online application, a $300 advanced deposit, official school transcripts, and letters of recommendation (including a pastoral reference). Students can participate in an optional admissions interview. Students must also complete a medical history form and sign a community covenant.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $20,995 per term for 12-18 credit hours; $1,166 per credit hour for over 18 hours; $1,750 per credit hour for under 12 hours 
  • Program Length: 124 total semester hours
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 49%

Lake Forest College

  • location-marker icon Lake Forest, IL
  • 4 years
  • Campus

LFC in Chicago is a private liberal arts college established in 1857 by Presbyterian ministers and was originally named “Lind University.”

Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science

The computer science degree at LFC focuses on programming, web and software development, administration of databases, and other essential skills required to work in the high-tech field. Students can participate in internship opportunities in the nearby Chicago metropolitan area. 

Computer science students select a concentration based on their interests, including:

  • Business and finance 
  • Law and public service 
  • Creative arts and communication 
  • Science and health 
  • Build your own 

Applying to LFC

Admission requirements include an application, official high school transcripts, a letter of recommendation, standardized ACT/SAT test scores, and an optional phone or in-person interview with an admissions counselor. 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $25,050 per semester for full-time students
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 73%

Augustana College

  • location-marker icon Rock Island, IL
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Augustana is a Lutheran, liberal arts and sciences institution, established by Swedish colonists in 1860. The 100-acre campus ‌in Rock Island enrolls approximately 2,500 undergraduate students each year. 

Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science

The computer science degree at Augustana focuses on data structures, network design, information processes, AI, global internet, computer architecture, and database management. Students with an interest in computer science and liberal arts can enroll in special classes, such as the artful computing course that combines creative design with mathematics and computer coding.

During their second or third year, all computer science major students engage in a semester-long software development team project. A senior capstone project involves a software development design implementation and testing project that incorporates ethical and social considerations. 

Applying to Augustana

Admission requirements include an application, official high school transcripts with a GPA of 2.75, a college preparatory course of study, and submission of official ACT or SAT scores (optional). 

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission and the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET
  • Tuition: $46,039 per academic year for full-time in-state or out-of-state students 
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On-campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 67%

Computer Science Careers in Illinois

Computer science graduates may pursue many lucrative career options, though some occupations are in higher demand. According to the BLS, the computer systems design and software publishing industries employ the highest concentrations of computer and mathematical professionals. The data processing and hosting industry closely follows. These national trends are reflected in the Illinois computer science industry. The most popular computer and mathematical occupations in Illinois are computer systems analysts and information security analysts.

The largest number of computer science professionals in Illinois are located in the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights area. There, computer science professionals earn an average salary of $94,400, according to the BLS.

Computer Science Employers in Illinois

  • IBM: IBM is a manufacturer and marketer of computer technology. They hire computer science graduates who specialize in engineering and programming, and also employ researchers in the computer science field.
  • J.P. Morgan Chase & Company: This multinational bank is a top employer in Illinois, and hires systems analysts and data scientists to ensure the secure functioning of business processes. Many large banks are making heavy investments in machine learning, which requires computer science specialists.
  • United Airlines: Based in Chicago, United is one of the nation’s largest major airlines. The company employs computer science professionals to manage its infrastructure of computer and information systems.

How Much Do Computer Scientists Make in Illinois?

EMPLOYMENTAVERAGE ANNUAL SALARY
Illinois370$115,210
United States30,220$130,890

Computer Science Programs in Illinois

Students in computer science programs in Illinois can customize their degrees to fit their career goals. The University of Chicago, which is among the best computer science schools in Illinois, offers a bachelor’s in computer science that includes specializations such as programming and web design.

UChicago’s master’s program balances theory with applied technical experience.

Even students who do not reside in the state can earn a computer science degree in Illinois. Online programs are ideal for distance learners or busy students balancing professional or personal responsibilities. Flexible online programs may be self-paced or accelerated.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a fully online master’s in computer science program, which is taught asynchronously through Blackboard. Though the program usually takes three years to complete, part-time learners can take up to five years. This level of flexibility makes earning an online computer science degree in Illinois the ideal option for many students.

When researching prospective computer science degrees, Illinois students should look for regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. However, computer science programs may also hold field-specific accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Types of Computer Science Degrees

Illinois offers several options for studying computer science. Students exploring online computer science programs in Illinois can pursue associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. While many entry-level positions require only an associate degree, employment possibilities, earning potential, and opportunities for career advancement increase with a four-year or graduate degree. Students interested in teaching or research careers require at least a master’s degree or doctorate.

Associate in Computer Science

An associate degree in computer science introduces students to the basic procedures and languages to program and maintain computers and computer systems. While some students view this as a terminal degree before entering the job market, many online learners enter an associate program to complete most of the general education requirements required to transfer into a four-year school. An associate degree may appeal to students just beginning to explore career prospects in computer science. It also provides a desirable credential for students eager to enter the workplace with marketable skills without spending four years in an undergraduate program.

An associate degree requires 60-66 credits and typically takes two years to complete. While each online program differs in its requirements, all degrees offer courses in computer programming, database management, operating systems, and networking. While some positions may require a bachelor’s degree, graduates of online associate programs often find employment in programming, systems analysis, software development, cybersecurity, and network administration.

Bachelor’s in Computer Science

A bachelor’s in computer science, viewed by many employers as the minimum-level credential for their open positions, ensures that job applicants possess the specialized training to move beyond entry-level tasks. Industry, government, education, and healthcare rely on well-trained computer science professionals to design and apply computer hardware and software. These professionals must also have the problem-solving skills to maintain and protect these systems. For students seeking higher-level research, teaching, and supervisory careers, a bachelor’s also provides the academic foundation for graduate training at the master’s and doctoral level.

An online bachelor’s typically requires 120 credits of coursework, and is usually completed within 3-5 years. While undergraduate programs do not share a common curriculum, coursework generally equips students with a knowledge of operating systems, programming languages, database management, and system architecture. Graduates can expect to earn higher than average salaries, especially in high-demand careers such as hardware engineering, software development, and network administration.

Master’s in Computer Science

Designed for math- and science-proficient students, as well as working professionals already employed in computer technology or engineering fields, an online master’s in computer science opens numerous career opportunities in technological development and research. Employers in high-demand and high-paying fields like software development, information security, and database administration increasingly hire professionals with master’s-level training. These professionals create and perfect emerging technologies and applications, and manage and protect computer systems and networks.

Several online computer science degrees in Illinois have designed master’s programs that feature flexible schedules and convenient course delivery formats. These may be particularly appealing to computer science and engineering professionals with three or more years of experience who seek career advancement, or who desire to transition into more challenging and better compensated fields.

Most programs require 30-45 credits and take 1-2 years to complete. Coursework and concentrations vary by program, but they usually emphasize core areas like computer language theory, applied algorithms, data structures, database systems design and management, and network administration and security.

Computer Science Ph.D.

As the most advanced educational credential in computer science, a Ph.D. requires an exceptional academic and technological background, and a predilection for independent study. The online format provides an ideal platform for the self-directed research demanded by most Ph.D. programs.

An online Ph.D. in computer science can open doors to the most professionally prestigious and financial rewarding positions. Popular careers for graduates of doctoral programs include hardware and software engineers, network architects, and business intelligence analysts. Many Ph.D. graduates establish research-based or consulting companies that provide services to government, education, and corporate clients. Additionally, most universities require a Ph.D. for faculty positions. Professors seeking tenure or a promotion in rank must have completed a doctorate.

Online Ph.D. programs require 72-90 credits in foundational courses and specialized fields such as machine learning, robotics, human-computer interactions, and graphics and visualization. In addition to rigorous coursework, the majority of programs require a dissertation. Most students finish the degree in 4-5 years.

Professional Computer Science Organizations in Illinois

In a constantly changing field like computer science, students and graduates must stay apprised of the latest developments. Professional organizations provide opportunities for members to network and share the latest industry news. Many organizations provide resources such as webinars, annual conferences, and job boards to help members develop professionally and advance their careers.

  • Association for Computing Machinery: Based at the University of Illinois, this 50-year old student organization has hundreds of members. It sponsors several special interest groups in areas such as game building, mobile development, robotics, artificial intelligence, and security. ACM publishes a weekly newsletter and maintains a resume book to connect students entering the job market with major corporate recruiters.
  • 1871: The Chicago-based professional association 1871 recently absorbed the Illinois Technology Association. 1871 supports growth-stage and corporate innovators, offering opportunities for C-suite executives to network and share strategies. The nonprofit connects Chicago’s tech and entrepreneurship community to help members share ideas and grow their businesses.
  • Illinois Digital Educators Alliance: IDEA aims to connect and inspire Illinois’ educational community. The organization aspires to use technology to make changes in teaching and learning. Members access professional development opportunities, networking opportunities through regional chapters, annual events like IDEAcon, and financial aid opportunities.

Best Universities for Computer Science

In this technological and digital age, we’ve seen a rise in the importance of expanding the computer science workforce.

With the demand for skill sets, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, as well as software developers, web developers, and video game development, a computer science degree provides a basis for many opportunities.

Securing a place at one of the best computer science schools or universities will ensure you get access to the best jobs to start your career.

Computer Science Grad Opportunities

As online threats increase from the military to business sectors, there will be a continuous need for people with cybersecurity backgrounds.

Whether focusing on penetration testing or cybersecurity in general, small and large businesses must protect their data, especially as they move to the cloud.

There are also roles forming with the continuous development of search engines and platforms such as Facebook and Google. And there are numerous opportunities in technical SEO.

The possibilities to enter different career fields are constantly evolving. So, if you want to work for a large company or create your own, there are opportunities.

I’ve compiled a list of the best computer science schools for different budget levels and available time, so you can consider what would be the right fit for you.

Top Universities For Computer Science

National Universities

Here are some of the best computer science schools across the U.S.:

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts (in-person)

Listed as a top school across numerous sites, MIT is a renowned school where you can complete your computer science degree. While MIT only offers in-person degrees, there is online educational content through MIT OpenCourseWare and MITx Courses.

The first offers educational resources to help you expand your knowledge, and the latter provides courses people can take.

In addition, if you would like a certificate to show that you completed the course, you can get one for a small fee.

2. Stanford University

San Jose, California (BCS in-person and online masters)

Another world-renowned school, Stanford ranks high among the list of top computer science universities. They have an exceptional computer science program and incorporate a sense of community and history on their campus.

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You will have a well-rounded undergrad experience between fountain hopping, their unique mascot, and the historical Hoover Tower.

Stanford also offers free classes and an entirely online graduate degree in Computer Science. Taking these free classes or earning your master’s online through Stanford provides the experience of learning from experts in the field.

3. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (in-person)

At Carnegie Mellon University, you can go from a bachelor’s to a doctorate program in Computer Science. Not only can you take a track at the same university through degree levels, but you would be accomplishing this at one of the top schools known for science and engineering programs.

Pittsburgh is a hot spot of entrepreneurship, with a great deal of investment in a growing autonomous vehicle sector in the area. Over the last decade, 400 startups with links to Carnegie have raised more than $7 billion in funding.

4. University of California Berkeley

Berkley, California (in-person)

Known as one of the most intense programs in the country, the Computer Science program at the University of California Berkeley is a thorough route that will offer you many research and learning opportunities.

They offer two routes of study at UC Berkley, the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences route, which lead to a Bachelor of Science and is gauged for those who want to enter engineering-based jobs.

And the College of Letters and Science route is for people who want a more diverse course base and can move to the L&S Computer Science route after completing the core classes.

5. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, Georgia (in-person)

At Georgia Institute of Technology, they aim to offer classes with professors from diverse backgrounds in computer science. As we discussed earlier, there are many routes after earning a degree in computer science.

Their vision states, “The School of Computer Science (SCS) will become the thought leader in all aspects of the computing environment.”

If you’re unsure what aspect of computer science interests you, this school would be an excellent place to explore the subject.

6. University of Washington

Seattle, Washington (in-person)

Under the College of Arts and Sciences, students can earn their way to a Bachelor in Computer Science at the University of Washington. In this program, you will get a mix of hands-on learning and foundation aspects.

Some interesting facts about the University of Washington are that vinyl, synthetic rubber, and bubble gum were invented at the school and the approach that created color television.

7. Southern New Hampshire University

Online

Students can earn an online bachelor’s degree in computer science at Southern New Hampshire University.

Attending school fully online offers you the flexibility to fit it into your schedule at a more affordable rate per course.

This program will teach you all the basics and programs such as Python, Java, and C++. If you already have credits from another school, you can transfer up to 90 credits.

This can be helpful if you want to cover some of your core classes at a community college and then switch to this online program.

8. Rasmussen College

Several locations (in-person and online)

Noted as one of the best online programs to obtain a bachelor’s in computer science, Rasmussen College offers an affordable way to obtain your degree. This fast-paced program allows you to get your degree in 18 months.

You’ll learn essential and unique skills such as quality assurance in software development, SQL, and advanced Java.

They also have in-person classes in Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. So, if online courses aren’t for you, have another option without transferring schools.

9. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, Texas (in-person)

The University of Texas at Austin offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in computer science. If you’re going for your undergrad, they offer three paths to find the one that best fits your needs.

If you already have a bachelor’s in computer science and want to complete your master’s online, they offer a program for that route.

The University Library is the seventh largest college library in the U.S. and offers close to 10 million volumes for significant book lovers.

10. University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida (in-person and online)

The University of Florida offers in-person and online options to get a bachelor’s in computer science. Both routes provide a competitive path into the computer science career field.

If you plan to attend in person and are interested in writing and computer science, you can try out for The Independent Florida Alligator. It’s the largest student-run newspaper in the U.S.

Another interesting fact is that a team of scientists created the formula for Gatorade at the University of Florida.