The only online Ivy League master’s degree in Computer Science designed for students without a Computer Science background.
The online Master of Computer and Information Technology degree (MCIT Online) is an online masters degree in Computer Science tailored for non-Computer Science majors. Offered by the University of Pennsylvania, this new program brings the long-running, established on-campus MCIT degree online. The MCIT Online program empowers students without computer science backgrounds to succeed in computing and technology fields. MCIT Online students come from diverse academic backgrounds ranging from business and history to chemistry and medicine.
Computer science might not be in your past, but it will be in your future. Technology has an immense impact on our lives, and is creating fields and positions that didn’t exist five years ago. Equipped with a competitive computer science degree, MCIT Online graduates will be uniquely positioned to fill roles in finance, healthcare, education, and government, as well as in the core software development industry. Exposure to real-world projects throughout the program will prepare students to utilize skills that positively impact society.
This program fosters a rich and inclusive community for students, granting access to core university services that support their well-being and future career goals. This support, combined with a strong alumni network and career services, prepares students to succeed even if they are new to the tech industry. Upon completion of the degree, on-campus MCIT alumni have gone on to earn jobs with competitive salaries at leading technology companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Bloomberg.
What makes this degree unique?
Ivy League Quality
It’s a first-of-its-kind program that offers an Ivy League master’s degree in Computer Science designed for non-CS majors.
Built Around Your Schedule
The coursework is 100 percent online. You’ll benefit from the same high-quality instruction as on-campus students and graduate with the same degree. The diploma does not indicate whether the degree was earned online or on-campus.
At $26,300 for tuition and fees, the cost of the MCIT Online degree is significantly less than on-campus alternatives and most online master’s degrees in Computer Science.
You’ll get access to world-renowned instructors through discussion forums and live office hours.
Try before you apply
Penn Engineering offers an online Computational Thinking for Problem Solving course on Coursera to help you decide whether the program is the right fit before you apply.
Real-world, project-based learning
Core courses and electives blend computer science theory and applied, project-based learning. You’ll have the chance to use real-world tools and environments such as TensorFlow and Amazon Cloud.
Are there any guidelines/prompts/tips on Letters of Recommendation?
Yes – there is a Letters of Recommendation section on the Penn FAQ page.
Can I earn Penn credit without applying to the degree program?
No, but there is a Computational Thinking for Problem Solving course to help you decide whether the program is the right fit before you apply.
Can you point me to Penn’s most recent Clery Act Report?
Here is a link to Penn’s Clery Act and Crime Reporting information.
I’m not interested in a full degree. Can I take a few courses?
Yes! There is a Computational Thinking for Problem Solving course to help you decide whether the program is the right fit before you apply.
If I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, is this program right for me?
MCIT Online is intended for students with little or no recent CS experience. Applicants who have recent undergraduate degrees in CS or a related field may not find value in this program. If you would be able to test out of more than two core courses, it is likely that you are over-qualified. Penn’s goal is to create a diverse cohort of students and during their evaluation process, they will consider whether an applicant’s background and experience make them an ideal fit for their program.
Is the MCIT Online degree a Master of Science?
No. The online Master of Computer and Information Technology degree (MCIT Online) is a Master’s degree but not a Master of Science degree. MCIT is its own unique credential that has earned an excellent reputation on Penn’s campus over the last 18 years. It is considered a STEM degree by the US government and the knowledge gained is comparable to a Master of Science in Computer Science.
Is the program accredited?
The University of Pennsylvania is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Learn more about accreditation here.
What career options will I have with this degree?
Graduates of MCIT have gone on to pursue careers in diverse industries including electronics and robotics, consumer technology, biotechnology, automotive, aerospace, nonprofits, education, chemical and biomedical engineering, computer graphics and game technology, electrical engineering, nanotechnology, embedded systems and more.
Are students expected to be proficient in a particular programming language?
No, no prior knowledge of computer science is required.
Are there any prerequisites?
MCIT Online was founded on the belief that rigorous computer science courses designed for people with non-technical undergraduate degrees can prepare graduates for rapid entry into the computing industry or improve and strengthen their working knowledge as an industry professional. There are no required prerequisite courses. However, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school or university.
Can I be accepted into the MCIT Online program if I don’t have an engineering background?
Absolutely! The MCIT Online program was designed for students without a STEM background. You’ll learn everything you need to know. That being said, the program needs to see evidence of your quantitative abilities in your application. For example, they will take note of grades that you received in math, science, and engineering courses. If you have not taken courses in these areas, or if you received low grades in the past, there are other ways that you can demonstrate your quantitative abilities. The GRE is one option, as well as earning online certificates in STEM, computing or data science courses.
Can I send unofficial documentation or does it have to be official documentation?
You may submit unofficial transcripts (translated to English if necessary) with the application. Official transcripts must be submitted before matriculation if an offer of admission is made. All other official documentation must be received before the application deadline in order to be considered (i.e., letters of recommendation, and, if applicable: GRE and TOEFL).
Do I have to submit official transcripts to apply?
You may submit unofficial transcripts (translated to English if necessary) with the application. Official transcripts must be submitted before matriculation if an offer of admission is made.
How will I receive a decision?
You will be notified by email that a decision is available to be viewed online. You will need to log into your application to view the actual decision.
I have been admitted but I would like to defer my admission. What should I do?
The first step is to accept the offer and pay the deposit. Next, send an email to the MCIT Online program which includes the specific reason for the deferral and the term that you are planning on attending.The deadline to request a deferral is the last day before classes begin for your first graduate semester. If approved, you can defer for up to two semesters (one academic year) at a time, and for a total of four semesters (two academic years).
If I have an undergraduate engineering degree, is the MCIT Online the right degree for me?
Yes! In fact, the quantitative skills gained from your undergraduate degree will be useful as you progress through the MCIT Online curriculum.
Can you confirm that my application is complete and my documents have been received?
You can check the status of your application by looking at the application checklist. When your application is complete, it will say “Ready for Review.” Your application status will remain “Ready for Review” until you receive an admissions decision.Penn will reach out to you if they require any additional documents or information.
How do I check the status of my application?
(aka guide to your checklist)To check the status of your application, please look at your application checklist. If your checklist reads “Materials Needed,” that indicates that Penn has not yet received one of the required documents: a letter of recommendation or official TOEFL test scores.Your checklist status will say “Ready for Review” when they consider your application complete. Your checklist will remain as “Ready for Review” until you are sent an admissions decision.
Do I need to wait to submit my application until my letters of recommendation are in?
No! In fact, it’s better if you submit your application as soon as possible. Penn is only able to link letters of recommendation and English proficiency requirements to your application after it is submitted.
Is the GRE required for admission?
No, the GRE is optional. If submitted, exam results will be taken into consideration in the evaluation process and can have a favorable impact.
What are the application requirements?
A bachelor’s degree from an accredited school or university;A personal statement;Two letters of recommendation from industry or academia;Unofficial transcripts (translated to English if necessary) from all institutions where course credit was earned; official transcripts will be required if an offer of admission is made.Your resume;TOEFL scores for international applicants and non-U.S. citizens/permanent resident applicants if English is not your native language.GRE scores are optional. If submitted, exam results will be taken into consideration in the evaluation process and can have a favorable impact.
Where and when should I send my official transcripts?
If you receive an offer of admission, you must submit your official transcripts before matriculation. Penn must receive an official, final transcript from each institution where you earned course credit. You must also send a graduation verification certificate, if it is not stated on the final transcript from your degree granting institution. If you are admitted to the MCIT Online program, Penn will contact you with instructions on how to submit your official transcripts.
Am I eligible for a student visa?
No, the program is not able to sponsor visas for online students since the entire degree is online.
Can international online students get OPT/CPT after they graduate from this program?
No. However, this is available with the on-campus MCIT program.
Can international students take the program part-time?
What are the requirements for English proficiency?
All international applicants, non-US Citizens, and non-US Permanent Resident applicants for whom English is not their native language must submit official scores for the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) will not be accepted in place of the TOEFL.The institution code for the TOEFL exam is 2888 (2926 will also work). The CS Major Code is 78.Penn must receive your official TOEFL score directly from ETS by the application deadline.Test must have been taken within 2 years of application submission.A minimum score of 100 is recommended but it is not required.This requirement can be waived if the candidate has completed a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree where the medium of instruction at the institution is English, by the time of matriculation. Applicants are required to submit documentation of the medium of instruction along with the waiver. Applicants will have the opportunity to apply for a waiver upon submission of their application.
What is needed with international transcripts?
Unofficial transcripts (translated to English if necessary) from all institutions where course credit was earned are required for admission. Official transcripts must be submitted before matriculation if an offer of admission is made.
Will I need to visit Penn/US at all in order to get this degree?
Can current Penn students apply to the MCIT Online program?
As a dual degree?
Current Penn students may not transfer into the MCIT Online program. Current master’s students interested in MCIT Online should consider applying for the on-campus dual degree program instead.
Can current Penn students submatriculate into MCIT Online?
Current Penn students may not enroll in the MCIT Online program while they are simultaneously enrolled in a degree program on-campus. On-campus students can apply to submatriculate into the on-campus MCIT program.
Can current Penn students take one or just a few MCIT Online courses without applying to the program?
Only students who have been admitted to the MCIT Online program are permitted to take online courses for credit. There is a non-credit Computational Thinking for Problem Solving course that is open to all learners. Penn will also offer more computer science MOOCs on Coursera down the road, although they will not be for credit.
Can current Penn students transfer into the MCIT Online program?
Current Penn students may not transfer into the MCIT Online program. Current master’s students interested in MCIT should consider applying for the dual degree program instead.
Can I start the program on-campus and finish online?
Or start online and finish on-campus?
In order to maintain the cohort experience and for capacity planning purposes, transferring between the on-campus and online MCIT programs is not permitted.
I am currently an undergrad/master’s/PhD student at Penn. Can I take an MCIT Online course?
Only students who have been admitted to the MCIT Online program are permitted to take online courses for credit.
Can I take my exams online or do I need to come in person?
All exams and coursework are completed online.
Can MCIT Online students continue through the CIS/MSE dual degree?
Currently this is not an option for MCIT Online students.
Does MCIT Online require a thesis?
No, this is not available for MCIT Online students.
If I take classes from another university, how many of them can I transfer?
You may transfer up to two courses taken prior to matriculation at Penn, subject to faculty approval. Please see the Penn Engineering Graduate Handbook for further details.
What is the difference between MCIT Online and a Computer Science master’s degree?
The MCIT Online curriculum is designed so that students can quickly build a strong CS foundation and then be prepared to take graduate-level electives which are exactly the same as those taken by students in traditional CS Masters programs.Many of the courses provide students with opportunities to engage in applied, industry-relevant projects that prepare them for the current CS job market, and that are built on a rigorous theoretical underpinning that ensures that they will be able to adapt along with the field as it changes over the years.The main difference between a traditional CS Masters and MCIT Online is that MCIT Online students take more core courses, whereas traditional CS Master’s students can often take more electives which allows them to go deeper into a particular subject area or broader across various topics in their coursework.Despite this, however, and as shown through Penn’s recent Career Services reports, the job placement results of MCIT Online students has been comparable to that of students completing Penn’s traditional CS Masters in terms of the types of companies, starting salary, and other compensation.
What programming languages will be taught?
What topic areas are available?
All students are required to take the following courses:Introduction to Software DevelopmentMathematical Foundations of Computer ScienceIntroduction to Computer SystemsData Structures & Software DesignComputer Systems ProgrammingAlgorithms & ComputationAdditionally, you’ll complete four electives in areas such as machine learning, data science, and computing systems.
Does Penn offer any scholarships?
Penn does not plan to offer scholarships at this moment. Should they decide to do this in the future, such opportunities will be made known to prospective and enrolled students.
If accepted into the program, how much will the enrollment deposit cost?
Applicants who are admitted and decide to join the program will need to submit a non-refundable $300 USD enrollment deposit, which will be applied towards tuition.
Is financial aid available?
Online students who are enrolled at least half-time (at least two courses) will be eligible to apply for federal student loans. International students’ eligibility may vary depending upon their international status.Two federal funding options specifically allocated for graduate students are the Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan and Grad PLUS loan.Please be mindful of the FAFSA deadlines in relation to the application deadlines.
Is the MCIT Online program eligible for Penn employee tuition remission benefits?
Yes! This program is tuition remission eligible for Penn employees. You can learn more at the Penn Benefits website: https://www.hr.upenn.edu/PennHR/benefits-pay/tuition
What is the cost of the program?
The total cost of tuition and fees for the program is $26,300. You will pay per semester based on the number of course units you are taking. For example, if you take one course in Spring 2020, you will pay $2,630 ($2500 tuition + $130 fees). For payment options please visit the Student Registration & Financial Services website.
Am I able to work full-time while enrolled in the MCIT Online degree program?
Yes. MCIT Online is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate the needs of adult learners and working professionals. For example, there are no required synchronous (real-time) sessions.The program is made up of 10 courses and will take 20-40 months to complete.
Can I attend on-campus office hours if I live in or near Philadelphia?
The majority of interactions with faculty will be virtual, e.g., during the weekly office hours via video conference. That said, the program will likely schedule a few in-person meet-ups for local folks involved with MCIT Online as well.
Can I take a leave of absence?
Yes. For details, see the Penn Engineering Graduate Handbook.
Can online students work as TAs?
Yes. The online application will be available here once the first cohort has completed their first semester.
How is the course content accessible to those with disabilities?
You can find information about Coursera’s accessibility policy here.
How do I self-identify a disability with the University?
Admitted students can use the Self-ID form on the Student Disabilities Services website to voluntarily register a disability with the University.
What can I do to prepare for the program?
Penn highly recommends their course called Computational Thinking for Problem Solving which will teach you some basic Python programming. Reviewing basic algebra, probabilities, and statistics would be helpful as well.
Am I over-qualified for this program?
MCIT Online is intended for students with little or no recent CS experience. Applicants who have recent undergraduate degrees in CS or a related field may not find value in this program. If you would be able to test out of more than two core courses, it is likely that you are over-qualified. The program's goal is to create a diverse cohort of students and during the evaluation process, they will consider whether an applicant’s background and experience make them an ideal fit for the program.
What can I do to improve my application?
Admission to MCIT Online is extremely competitive and you’ll want your application to be as strong as it can be. The program looks for applicants who are likely to succeed in, benefit from, and contribute to the MCIT Online program and your application should emphasize those things as much as possible.
Although the GRE is optional for MCIT Online, very high scores, especially in the Quantitative section of the exam, will help demonstrate that you have an aptitude for quantitative subjects. If your undergraduate degree is not in a quantitative subject, or if you did not take or do well in many quantitative courses, then achieving a high GRE score will help your application.
Of course, you can’t go back and change things in your past like your undergraduate GPA, but if there are grades that you are not particularly proud of, address them in your personal statement and explain how you have learned from those experiences and why you’ll still be able to succeed in the MCIT Online program.Your personal statement should also make it clear that you understand the MCIT Online curriculum and how it matches your career goals, explain your reasons for applying to the program, and give specific examples of things that you’ve done in the past that show that you will succeed in the future. You should also describe the ways in which you will contribute to the program and to the MCIT Online community.Additionally, it is helpful to demonstrate that you have experience completing online courses because the online learning environment is unique and requires commitment, flexibility, and organizational and time management skills. If you have taken any online courses (regardless of subject area), please include them on your resume and/or in your personal statement and mention the platform (e.g., Coursera, edX, Blackboard, Moodle, etc).Although you will not write your letters of recommendation, of course, Penn suggests that you speak to your letter writers about your motivation for applying to the program and what you consider your strengths to be, and ask your writers to reflect those in their letters.Last, although MCIT Online does not have any specific prerequisites in terms of coursework or CS knowledge, taking and doing well in one or two introductory CS courses (whether online or on-campus at another institution) is a good way of showing interest and aptitude. If you’re looking for an online course to help you get ramped up, the Computational Thinking for Problem Solving course is a good place to start.
What advice do you have about letters of recommendation?
Can I edit a recommender?
There is an “Edit/change this recommender” option under the “Action” button. You can select this option if you would like to add an alternate email address or change to a new recommender even if your application has already been submitted. This action cancels the existing request and issues a new one. This option is only available until the recommender starts the form. Edits cannot be made once a recommender has started to fill out the letter of recommendation.
Can I re-use letters of recommendation?
The letters should be in reference to the MCIT Online program so it is not recommended that you use letters that you may have used to apply to another program.If you are re-applying to MCIT Online, you may use the same letters again if you wish but the letters need to be resubmitted by your recommenders.
Can I send my recommendation letters via email or mail?
The letters of recommendation are collected exclusively online through the application portal.
How can I add another recommender?
Applicants can only initiate recommendation requests within the application form, so if you only send two requests before submitting the application, you cannot add a third. You do not have to send them all at once, but you do have to send them before submitting the application. The program cannot add recommenders after submission.
Is it beneficial to have more than two letters?
The program recommends soliciting three letters in case one of them is unable to submit their letter before the deadline. The more evidence you can provide that you will succeed in and benefit from MCIT Online, the better.
Is it possible to waive letters of recommendation?
Letters of recommendation are an important part of the evaluation process, and it is in applicants’ best interests to have strong letters supporting their application. Therefore, the program does not allow applicants to waive the letters of recommendation.
How can I contact the program?
If you have any questions, please contact the MCIT Online Admissions Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-573-0655.