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Prerequisite Coursework and the Placement and Proficiency Exams

The Prerequisite Courses CS 201, 401, and 402

CS 201 (Accelerated Introduction to Computer Science), CS 401 (Introduction to Advanced Studies I), and CS 402 (Introduction to Advanced Studies II) are taken by Master's students who need to strengthen their Computer Science background because they lack prerequisite coursework. (Note: The old prerequisite courses CS 200 and CS 403 are no longer being offered.)

In general, a student may be required to take CS 201, 401, and 402 (in that order), or CS 401 and 402, or just CS 402. The determination of which classes a student should take is begun at admission time, when an applicant's transcript is analyzed, and is finalized before the beginning of classes, using the CS 201/401 Placement Exam and CS 401 and 402 Proficiency Exams.

CS 401 as a Prerequisite Course

New graduate students who fulfill the following criteria may be asked to take CS 401 as a prerequisite course:

  • Degree-seeking graduate CS students without an undergraduate degree in Computer Science.
  • Non-degree graduate CS students without an undergraduate degree in Computer Science.
  • Non-CS IIT graduate students who are planning to transfer to the CS department and would like to register for CS courses.

Students who have taken two semesters of programming courses (including a Data Structures course equivalent to CS 331: Data Structures and Algorithms) from an accredited university and passed then with a grade of B or better are generally considered to have completed the equivalent of CS 401.

The CS 201/401 Placement Exam

Students who are required to take CS 401 and have not already taken CS 201 are required to take the department's CS 201/401 Placement Exam to determine whether or not they should take CS 201. The exam tests knowledge of basic programming skills and can address C, C++, or Java. The exam can have three outcomes:

  • Students with very strong programming skills can skip CS 201 and take CS 401 and 402 (concurrently, if they wish).
  • Students with good programming skills can skip CS 201 and take CS 401 and 402 as a two-semester sequence.
  • Students without significant programming skills must take CS 201, 401, and 402 as a three-semester sequence.

Students who have taken CS 201 at IIT and earned a grade of B or better are considered to have good programming skills and may take CS 401 and 402 in sequence. Students who earned a grade of A in CS 201 are considered to have very strong programming skills and may take CS 401 and CS 402 concurrently.

The Placement Exam is given during registration week, before the start of classes. In the fall, the exam is given at 1 pm on the Monday before classes start (when classes start on Monday).  In the spring, the exam is given at 1 pm on the Wednesday before classes start (when classes start on Monday). The location of the exam will be announced. The exam is closed-book and closed-notes.  Reservations are required (contact the department). Students who are required to take the Placement Exam but do not do so will be allowed to register for CS 201 but not CS 401.

The CS 401 and 402 Proficiency Exams

Students who have significant work experience covering the content of CS 401 or 402 may apply for a proficiency/waiver exam in that course. A student must have written approval from a graduate advisor and from the Department Chair to take a CS 401 or 402 Proficiency Exam. The request must clearly describe the student's work-related experience as it pertains to the course content. The form to request the exam is available in the CS department office and online.

An exam date will be scheduled if the student is approved to take the exam; the course will be waived upon passage of the exam. Proficiency Exams are given during registration week, before the start of classes. They are closed-book and closed-notes.

Only one Proficiency Exam can be taken per semester and it must be taken during the semester that the student is to take the required course. All Proficiency Exams must be taken before the start of a student's third semester in the CS Department at IIT.

Grade Requirements for Prerequisite Coursework

Students who are required to take CS 201, 401, or 402 must earn a grade of B or better before taking the next course in the sequence. Students who do not earn such a grade are required to repeat the course before taking the next course in the sequence. Each course can only be repeated once. Credits from these courses cannot be applied towards a graduate degree.