Online MCS Entrance Exam

The Online MCS Entrance Exam is designed to provide a pathway to admissions for prospective applicants to the Online MCS or MCS in Data Science who already have a bachelor’s degree but who do not have graded and transcripted prerequisite CS coursework in the areas of data structures, algorithms, and object-oriented programming. Prospective applicants interested in taking the Online MCS Entrance Exam should double-check that they meet the other application requirements for the Online MCS or MCS in Data Science.

The Online MCS Entrance Exam assumes prior knowledge of basic object-oriented programming, the ability to analyze asymptotic algorithmic run times, e.g. whether a program runs in O(n) or O(n log n) time, and to implement basic data structures including arrays, hash tables, linked lists, trees, heaps and graphs, as well as algorithms for traversals, rebalancing and shortest paths. For those needing a review, the Advanced CS Fundamentals Specialization offered by Illinois on Coursera covers these topics.

Exam Details

  • The exam is hosted on PrairieLearn (a University of Illinois online assessment platform) and is proctored by ProctorU (an online third-party proctoring service).  
  • The exam is 2 hours long. 
  • A grade of B+ on the exam (in addition to a minimum 3.2/4.0 GPA in the last two years of the undergraduate degree) is required for the application to be considered in the admission process.
  • A minimum of 30 calendar days' learning period is required between any two consecutive exam attempts.


The exam must be completed and grade report uploaded to your application for admission, which must be submitted by the application deadline.  Application deadlines for the Professional Online MCS are posted here.

How to Schedule and Take Your Exam

  • Due to maintenance, the Entrance Exam cannot be scheduled on Thursdays between the hours of 4 am and 12 pm central time, effective starting on August 22, 2019.
  • An Illinois, Gmail, or Microsoft Exchange email account is required to access PrairieLearn. If you do not have an appropriate email address, please create a Gmail address for the purpose of the exam. The email address used for the exam must match the email address associated with your application for admission. Please update the email associated with your application, if necessary, by logging back into your application to change the email address.  You must use the same email address each time that you take the exam.
  • Pay the ProctorU fee of $21.50 for the 2-hour Entrance exam. This is the standard rate for a 2-hour exam.
  • Schedule your exam appointment at least 72 hours prior to your appointment time, or an additional late fee of $12 will be charged. 
  • Google Chrome or Firefox Browser are required to take the exam. 
  • ProctorU Chrome Extension or ProctorU Firefox Extension are required.

Additional Resources: