Computer Science Programs in Illinois

The field of computer science is growing quickly, with plenty of employment opportunities awaiting graduates. Opportunities for computer science professionals are growing nationwide, including positions in areas such as software development, computer systems analysis, and computer programming.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of software applications developers in Illinois to increase 26.2% by 2024, compared to 18.8% nationally. Graduates of computer science schools in Illinois enter a growing field with opportunities for high earning potential and career advancement.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of software applications developers in Illinois to increase 26.2% by 2024, compared to 18.8% nationally.

Higher Education in Illinois

Illinois institutions 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, and 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 and is known for its medical school and engineering and computer science programs. 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.

Computer Science Careers in Illinois

Computer science graduates pursue many lucrative career options, though some occupations are in higher demand. According to the BLS, software developers and programmers are the most common computer and mathematical occupations in the nation, followed by computer user support specialists and network and computer systems administrators. These national trends are reflected in the Illinois computer science industry.

The largest number of computer science professionals in Illinois are located in the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights area, where computer science employees average salaries of $88,870, according to the BLS.

Median Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree

Bachelor's Degree

Senior Software Engineer $104,720
Software Developer $65,692
Software Engineer $76,707

Master's Degree

Senior Software Engineer $112,193
Software Developer $77,201
Software Engineer $90,191

Computer Science Employers in Illinois

  • IBM: IBM is a manufacturer and marketer of computer technology and hires computer science graduates who specialize in engineering and programming. IBM also employs 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 currently investing in machine learning, which requires computer science specialists.
  • United Airlines: Based in Chicago, United is one of the nation’s most extensive major airlines. The company needs computer science professionals to manage its infrastructure of computer and information systems.

How Much do Computer Scientists Make in Illinois?

The salary of computer science professionals depends on factors including experience, education, and geographic location. A state’s population and demand for computer science professionals impacts graduates’ earning potential. The mean wage for computer science employees in Illinois is barely below the national average.

Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Illinois 177,360 $41.03 $85,340
United States 4,165,140 $42.25 $87,880

Source: BLS

Computer Science Programs in Illinois

Students in computer science programs in Illinois 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 where to earn a computer science degree, Illinois students should look for regional accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. However, computer science programs may also hold field-specific accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

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Types of Computer Science Degrees


There are many types of degrees students can choose when pursuing education in computer science: associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate degree. In general, further formal education within a field results in a higher salary. In addition, some positions require a certain level of degree. For instance, many research positions or teaching positions at the university level require at least a master’s or doctorate degree. The table below features descriptions and basic data about each degree type.

Associate in Computer Science

 

An associate in computer science provides students with foundational knowledge in computer languages and programming. In addition to learning about computer systems, students will emerge with general education courses usually required by four year colleges. Graduates with an associate degree qualify for entry-level computer science positions in the job market.

Average Program Length – 2 Years
Median Salary – $32,897

Bachelor’s in Computer Science

 

A bachelor’s in computer science provides students with knowledge of operating systems, a variety of programming languages, database management, and computer systems and architecture. These programs typically require 120 credit hours of coursework and a capstone project. Many employers in the industry are increasingly hiring individuals with a bachelor’s degree.

Average Program Length – 4 Years
Median Salary – $60,835

Master’s in Computer Science

 

A master’s in computer science provides students with a deeper understanding of computer systems, design, and programming languages. Some master’s programs may provide specializations for those who wish to concentrate further in a specific area. Individuals with a master’s degree typically earn a higher salary upon graduation than those with a bachelor’s.

Average Program Length – 1-2 Years
Median Salary – $104,269

Computer Science Ph.D

 

A doctorate degree in computer science is designed for individuals who wish to pursue research in the field. These intensive programs often require students to narrow their field of study and design and carry out a specific research project that culminates in a dissertation. Graduates with a Ph.D in computer science often go into academia as computer science professors.

Average Program Length – 4+ Years
Median Salary – $126,744

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What Schools Offer a Computer Science Degree in Illinois?


The database below includes all accredited computer science programs in Illinois. Along with regional accreditation, many of these programs are accredited by ABET. With many of the computer science colleges in Illinois offering programs in online and on-campus formats, you’re sure to find a program that fits your goals and lifestyle.

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Professional Computer Science Organizations in Illinois

In a constantly changing field such as computer science, students and graduates must stay apprised to 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: The ACM student chapter at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign includes special interest groups. Members host workshops and events and complete self-directed studies in computing technology.
  • Illinois Technology Association: Founded in 2005, ITA serves fledgling tech companies, creating a culture of collaboration. ITA hosts the annual Chicago Tech Summit, which brings together veterans and newcomers in the technology field.
  • Illinois Computing Educators: ICE comprises educators dedicated to bringing computer science and technological literacy programs to children of all grade levels. ICE holds an annual student showcase event.

Additional Computer Science Resources in Illinois

  • CS for All Teachers: This virtual resource is for educators interested in teaching computer science. The organization provides a virtual community featuring online events and peer support.
  • Illinois Educational Technology Leaders: This organization transforms student learning by fostering technological literacy and is an important resource for computer science students pursuing a career in education.
  • U of I computer sciences department: The University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign’s computer sciences department fosters research and provides internship opportunities for students and recent graduates.
  • UIC computer science department: The University of Illinois at Chicago’s computer science department maintains a state-of-the-art research lab and provides scholarship and internship opportunities.