IT School to Watch: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign not only teaches IT, it uses IT to teach. In its Illinois Internet Masters of Computer Science program, remote students visit the campus electronically, tapping into classes that are recorded and delivered via RSS feeds. Coursework requirements are the same as for on-campus students, and students may concentrate on security, networks and distributed systems, information systems, software engineering or system software.

Students in the e-learning program are IT professionals, ranging from programmers to managers, who typically have three to five years' experience, says Mehdi Harandi, director of the 10-year-old program. About two-thirds are from the U.S., and some could attend local schools but chose the UIUC Internet program because it can be accessed from the convenience of their homes or offices, he says.

The program is firmly grounded in the real world, Harandi says. For example, GE Healthcare supplements its internal software training program with UIUC courses. The university gives GE access to all of its core computer science courses and also pulls in online courses in bioinformatics from Northwestern University.

"I was employed full time during my study in the program," says Derwin Chow, a software engineer at WMS Gaming Inc. "The flexibility of the program allowed me to pursue the degree without putting a halt to my career development, and the impact on my work schedule due to coursework was minimal. My boss at that time was very supportive in helping me by proctoring my exams, but I never had to take time off to travel for school."

This version of this story appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

Next: University of Pennsylvania: Program is designed to draw students from a variety of backgrounds.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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