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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 if you lack prerequisite coursework. Determining which classes you should take is begun at admission time when your transcript is analyzed.  This determination is finalized before the beginning of classes, using the CS 201/401 Placement Exam and CS 401 and 402 Proficiency Exams.

In general, a student may be required to take CS 201, 401, and 402 (in that order), or CS 401 and 402, just CS 401, or just CS 402. All three courses are accelerated: CS 401 combines introductory programming and CS 331 (Data Structures and Algorithms).   CS 402 combines CS 350 and CS 351, covering computer organization, assembler language programming, and systems programming.  CS 201 is the prerequisite for CS 401, and can be skipped by passing the CS 201/401 Placement Exam.  People with two semesters of introductory programming coursework rarely need to take CS 201.  CS 402 has CS 401 as its prerequisite. Generally you do not need to take CS 402 if you have taken a hardware internals course.

If you live in the Chicago area, you may take courses at various local colleges and transfer credit as prerequisite coursework. If you live outside the Chicago area and wish to take courses local to you, please contact Dr. Sasaki for advice.

CS 401 as a Prerequisite Course

You may be asked to take CS 401 as a prerequisite course if:

  • You are without an undergraduate degree in Computer Science.
  • You are a non-degree graduate CS students without an undergraduate degree in Computer Science.
  • You are a non-CS Illinois Tech graduate student planning to transfer into the CS department and would like to register for CS courses.

If you 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, you are generally considered to have completed the equivalent of CS 401.

The CS 201/401 Placement Exam

You are required to take the department's CS 201/401 Placement Exam to determine whether you should take CS 201 if you are required to take CS 401 and have not already taken CS 201. The exam tests your ability to code in Java on a PC in a computer lab.

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

If you have taken CS 201 at Illinois Tech and earned a grade of B or better, you are considered to have good programming skills and may take CS 401 and 402 in sequence. If you earned a grade of A in CS 201, you 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 p.m. on the Monday before classes start (when classes start on Monday). In the spring, the exam is given at 1 p.m. 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 and can be made by contacting the department. If you are required to take the Placement Exam but do not, you will be allowed to register for CS 201 but not CS 401.

The CS 401 and 402 Proficiency Exams

If you feel you have significant work experience covering the content of CS 401 or 402, you may apply for a proficiency/waiver exam in that course. You 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 your 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 you are 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 you are 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 Illinois Tech.

Grade Requirements for Prerequisite Coursework

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