All FAQs

Am I qualified for the MCIT Online program?

MCIT Online welcomes applicants from all backgrounds. Admittance to MCIT Online is competitive. However, no background in computer science is required, the only qualification to apply is a bachelor’s degree in any field. While cohort sizes are limited, if you have a strong interest in computing and are looking to start or advance a career in this area, then you are qualified to apply to MCIT Online!

I am writing a letter of recommendation for an MCIT Online applicant. What guidelines should I follow?

Format:

Letters of recommendation should be written according to the following guidelines:

  • must be written in English
  • on official letterhead of the writer’s organization or institution whenever possible
  • include the writer’s signature/name and organization
  • range from 500 to 1,500 words

Content:

Letters should reference the MCIT Online program and cannot be reused from a different program.

Letters should be written by individuals who have evaluated the applicant and can write objectively about their aptitudes and capabilities in an academic or work setting. Please note- recommenders should not be friends or family members.

The Questionnaire:

You can answer the questionnaire by interpreting the questions through an industry lens. For example, instead of “How many students do you supervise?”, you can answer as if the question was, “How many employees do you supervise?”, etc. You can also leave the questionnaire section blank.

Due Date:

All letters of recommendation are due by the application deadline. Late letters of recommendation will not be considered and may disqualify the applicant from the admissions process. Please be mindful of the application deadlines!

Will there be a graduation ceremony?

Yes, MCIT Online students will be invited to campus to participate in Penn’s Commencement ceremonies in May. Attendance is optional.

What will the proctored exams look like?

Our exams will be online and proctored through a third-party company, ProctorU. You will be monitored throughout the exam via webcam.

What is the definition of part-time vs full-time?

Part-time status for MCIT Online is defined as taking 1-2 courses in a semester. Full-time status is defined as taking 3-4 courses per semester. It is easy to switch back and forth between part-time and full-time status. View sample schedules for full-time and part-time status.

Can international online students get OPT/CPT after they graduate from this program?

No. However, this is available with our on-campus MCIT program.

Can MCIT Online students continue through the CIS/MSE dual degree?

Currently this is not an option for MCIT Online students.

I have been admitted but I would like to defer my admission. What should I do?

The first step is to accept our offer and pay the deposit. After enrollment, you will receive additional information about selecting your start term. You will be able to submit your 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 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 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.

Advice regarding quantitative ability

MCIT Online is designed for people without a background in computer science. That being said, we need to see evidence of your quantitative abilities in your application. For example, we 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 or GMAT is one option, or you can earn online certificates in STEM, Computing, Data Science, or Math courses, as well as taking additional college level math courses to show your quantitative ability.

Do you offer any scholarships?

Penn Engineering Online does not offer scholarships, but we encourage you to explore external scholarships / fellowships.

What is the cost of the program?

Tuition and fees are based on the number of courses you are taking per semester. For details about costs, see Tuition & Financing.

Can I do an internship as an online student?

Internships are not a part of the MCIT Online curriculum, but our career services team can help prepare you for a successful internship search.

As an online student, can I work as a TA or a research assistant?

Yes! To apply for a teaching assistantship review current openings

If you’re interested in being a research assistant, we encourage you to reach out to a faculty member who’s working in a field of interest. These positions are typically not posted publicly.

How much time will I need to spend on the program each week?

It depends on the course topic, your background, your learning style, and the particular assignments in a given week. In general, you can expect each course to require 15-18 hours per week. Some courses will take less time, while for others you might need to spend 25 hours on a particularly challenging programming assignment. 

Every student in this program will have a different level of familiarity with the content in the MCIT Online core courses. Therefore, the 15 hours per week per course that our students have reported, are only an average estimate. In reality, these courses could take a little less or a lot more time than estimated based on your prior education or work experience. Not only that, one course can vary week to week: one course could take 10 hours one week and way more in the next!

A good thought exercise before the semester starts is to map out the extra time you typically have in your week and whether you can dedicate 15 hours of that time to your class. What if it was more than 15? Think critically about what would happen if you have a challenging assignment that took you 20-25 hours to complete. Be aware that some of our students spend this much time every week for one course

Can I transfer between the MCIT Online and the on-campus program?

No, students are not allowed to transfer between the on-campus and online MCIT programs.

What services are available to online students?

As an MCIT Online student, you’re a full member of the Penn community with broad access to everything from virtual career advising to online libraries and learning resources. For details, see our Student Services page.

Does MCIT Online require a thesis?

No, MCIT Online students are not required to write a thesis.

Does this degree qualify me for a PhD?

It’s possible to go on to a PhD program, but you would likely need to supplement your studies with research to be prepared for a PhD program.

What programming languages will I learn?

The MCIT Online curriculum includes Python, Java (including data structures), C and C++.

You will also learn fundamental concepts that allow you to quickly learn many other languages – including Rust, Go, JavaScript, etc. – even though they are not explicitly taught in our curriculum.

Are online electives different from on-campus options?

Specific course options may vary, but MCIT Online electives are comparable to the on-campus version. Course topics reflect the most popular areas of interest. 

I'm not yet interested in a full degree. Can I take a few courses?

Yes! We’ve partnered with Coursera to offer a wide range of affordable online open courses, from Aerial Robotics to Computational Thinking for Problem Solving. We also offer open course series that lead to credentials in programming, software development, and robotics.

How long is the program?

The MCIT Online program requires the successful completion of ten courses. The program was designed for working professionals, so a part-time schedule allows students to take 1-3 courses at a time. Depending on how many classes you take each semester, you can complete the program in 16 to 40 months.

Can I keep working while earning the degree?

Yes! MCIT Online is flexible enough to accommodate the needs of working professionals, and you can choose to take 1-3 courses at a time. There are no required synchronous (real-time) sessions, but students should dedicate time each week to watch lectures, complete assignments and participate in office hours or group sessions with professors, TAs, and fellow students.

Where is the MCIT Online degree recognized?

The online Master of Computer and Information Technology program is offered by the University of Pennsylvania, which is authorized to confer degrees and certificates conferring academic credit under applicable laws of the United States. If you live in another country, we encourage you to investigate your jurisdiction’s treatment of foreign online programs to ensure that the program will meet your objectives.

Is your program accredited?

Yes, the University of Pennsylvania is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Is the MCIT the same as a master’s degree in computer science?

The MCIT is not a master of science degree, but it covers comparable material. Our curriculum begins with a strong CS foundation and goes on to graduate-level electives that are exactly the same as those taken by students in traditional CS master’s programs.

 Our graduates’ career outcome results are comparable to those of Penn’s traditional master’s in CS in terms of the types of companies, starting salary, and other compensation. See Penn’s most recent Career Services reports for details.

Does an MCIT Online degree carry the same weight as an on-campus degree?

Yes! You’ll enjoy the high-quality instructors that Penn Engineering’s on-campus program is known for, and you’ll graduate with the same degree and same diploma.

What career options will I have with this degree?

Graduates of MCIT go on to rewarding careers in aerospace, consulting, education, finance, healthcare, and technology, to name a few. For details, see Alumni Outcomes.

Do I need to be proficient in a particular programming language?

No, the program is specifically designed for students with minimal or no prior computer science experience.

I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Is this program right for me?

MCIT is intended for students with little or no recent CS experience. If you would be able to test out of more than two of our core courses, you are probably overqualified.

How will my tuition be billed to the VA?

We bill the VA each semester based on the number of credits you’re registered for. We cannot bill the VA for the entire program all at once.

Can I use my military education benefits for this program?

Yes. MCIT Online students are eligible for VA education benefits.

What requirements do international students need to meet?

In addition to the standard requirements for admission, you’ll need to provide English-language transcripts from every institution where you’ve earned course credit. If English is not your native language, you’ll also need to submit official TOEFL scores. See Application Process for details.

Can I get a student visa through this program?

No, we cannot sponsor visas for students because the entire program is online.

If I am not accepted, may I reapply?

Yes, but you’ll have to wait for the next admissions cycle. To reapply, you’ll need to submit the standard application materials along with answering an additional essay question. For details, see Application Process.

How do I check the status of my application?

Review the application checklist. If your application status is “Ready for Review,” that means your application materials have been received and we are evaluating them. “Materials Needed” indicates that your file is missing one or more of the required materials such as an official TOEFL score or a letter of recommendation. In order for your application to be fully evaluated, all required materials must be submitted prior to the application deadline. Incomplete applications will not be considered during the evaluation process.

I am currently an undergrad/master’s/PhD student at Penn. Can I take an online MCIT course?

Only students who have been admitted to the MCIT Online program are permitted to take online courses for credit. We are offering a Computational Thinking for Problem Solving course on Coursera that is open to all learners. We also offer a multi-course open enrollment specialization Introduction to Programming with Java and Python.

Can I reuse letters of recommendation from previous applications?

Your letters should focus on your qualifications for the MCIT Online program, so we encourage you not to reuse letters from a different program. If you’re reapplying to MCIT Online, you may reuse letters, but your recommenders will need to resubmit them through the application portal.

Can I send my recommendation letters via email or mail?

No, letters of recommendation must be submitted online through the application portal.

Can current Penn students transfer into the MCIT Online program?

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.

The questions on the questionnaire do not apply to my recommenders. What should they do?

Your references can leave a section blank or approach the questions through a broad lens. For example, your recommender can respond to “How many students do you supervise?” by writing about your role in supervising employees.

I’ve submitted the application. Can I make changes to my list of recommenders?

Once you’ve submitted your application, you can not add recommenders. But so long as the recommender has not started to fill out the form, you can make changes – for example, adding a new email address or replacing one recommender with another. To make changes, go to the application portal, click the Action button, and choose “Edit/change this recommender.” This action cancels the existing request and issues a new one. 

How can I check on the status of my letters of recommendation?

You can see the status of your letters of recommendation by looking at your application checklist. You can even send your recommender a reminder by clicking the Action button next to the status.

Do letters of recommendation need to be submitted by the application deadline?

Yes. All required documents, including a minimum of two letters of recommendation, must be submitted by the application deadline.

Would it be helpful to have more than two letters?

Yes, while we only require two letters, we recommend asking three people to write such letters in case one of the letters does not arrive before the deadline. The more evidence you can provide that you will succeed in MCIT Online, the better.

Do I have to submit official transcripts?

You do not need to submit official transcripts with your application. However, if you attended an international university, consider using a service such as Certifile or WES as this makes international documentation easier for our admissions team to evaluate. 

Every for-credit course that you have taken needs to be represented on a transcript that includes all of the following: course name, credits received, and grade. If you submit a transcript that includes transfer credits without the listed grades earned, such as T for Transfer, you will also need to submit the transcript from the original institution that contains the actual grades received.

If you are accepted into the program, you’ll be required to submit your official transcripts before matriculation.

How should my references format my letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation should be written according to the following guidelines:

  • written in English
  • include the writer’s name, organization and signature
  • range anywhere from 500 to 1,500 words

What is the process for getting letters of recommendation?

As part of the online application, you’ll provide contact information for your references. The system will then send each reference a unique link to the application portal, where they will answer a few questions and upload their letter. 

Who should I ask to write letters of recommendation for me?

Your letters of recommendation should be written by people who have evaluated you and can write objectively about your aptitudes and capabilities in an academic or work setting – for example, current or former advisors, instructors or supervisors. 

The title or position of the recommender is not as important as his/her ability to comment knowledgeably and specifically about you. If you do not have an academic reference or direct supervisor, consider clients (if you own a business), military personnel or community leaders.

What do you look for when evaluating applications?

Admission to MCIT Online is very competitive. We look for applicants who are likely to succeed in, benefit from, and contribute to the program. For tips on how to strengthen your application, read “5 Tips to Strengthen Your MCIT Online Application from the Program Director.”

Where and when should I send my official transcripts?

If you receive an offer of admission, you must submit your official transcripts before matriculation. We must receive an official, final transcript from each institution where you earned course credit. If your graduation date is not included on your transcript, you will also need to submit a graduation verification certificate. If you are admitted, we will contact you with instructions on how to submit your official transcripts.

Official documents must be translated to English, if applicable. Offers of admission and matriculation into the program are not binding until academic records are verified. If there are discrepancies between the self-reported academic work and official records, your offer of admission may be withdrawn or you may be removed from the program.

Do I have to submit official transcripts?

You do not need to submit official transcripts with your application. However, if you attended an international university, consider using a service such as Certifile or WES as this makes international documentation easier for our admissions team to evaluate. 

Every for-credit course that you have taken needs to be represented on a transcript that includes all of the following: course name, credits received, and grade. If you submit a transcript that includes transfer credits without the listed grades earned, such as T for Transfer, you will also need to submit the transcript from the original institution that contains the actual grades received.

If you are accepted into the program, you’ll be required to submit your official transcripts before matriculation.

Do I need to wait until my letters of recommendation are in to submit my application?

No! We encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible. However, please note that an application is not considered complete and ready for review until at least two letters of recommendation have been submitted.

How do I apply?

In addition to the online application, you’ll need to submit a personal statement, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and a resume, along with TOEFL scores if you’re an international applicant or a non-U.S. citizen/permanent resident. For details, see Application Process

Is there an advantage to applying to the early deadline?

Yes, applicants who apply before the early deadline have a slight advantage in admissions. There is also the benefit of receiving a decision earlier. 

Can I transfer courses from another university?

After being accepted to the program you may transfer up to two courses, subject to faculty approval. Please see the Penn Engineering Graduate Student Handbook for further details.

Do I have to take the GRE?

No, the GRE is optional. But there are a few scenarios in which we strongly recommend taking the GRE:

  • You have not taken any quantitative courses (such as math or physics).
  • You feel the grades that you received in your bachelor’s program do not represent your current abilities and are lower than you would like them to be.
  • You received your undergraduate degree 15 or more years ago.

Do I need to meet any prerequisites for the MCIT Online program?

No, there are not any prerequisite courses. At a minimum, you need to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school or university. In addition, ideal candidates will have a strong quantitative aptitude.

If your undergraduate degree is not in a quantitative subject, or if you did not take or do well in many quantitative courses, we recommend taking a math course (e.g., algebra or calculus) or the GRE. If you don’t have experience with online learning, we recommend taking one of our introductory CS courses.

Do I have to submit official transcripts to apply?

You may submit unofficial transcripts (translated to English, if necessary, and uploaded as PDFs) with the application.  If you only have official transcripts, you can upload them as PDFs with your application.

If admitted, you will be required to provide official transcripts of all previous academic work to verify the information provided in your uploaded application documents. (Note: Official documents must be translated to English, if applicable, via WES or Educational Perspectives). Offers of admission and matriculation into the program are not binding until academic records are verified. If there are discrepancies between the self-reported academic work and official records, your offer of admission may be withdrawn or you may be removed from the program. Details regarding the process for submitting official transcripts will be sent to admitted students.

Is the GRE required for admission?

Although the GRE or GMAT are optional, there are several scenarios in which we recommend that applicants take the GRE or GMAT to strengthen their application:

  1. You have not taken any quantitative courses (such as math or physics).
  2. You feel the grades that you received in your bachelor’s program do not represent your current abilities and are lower than you would like them to be.
  3. You received your undergraduate degree 15 or more years ago.

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.

What are the requirements for English proficiency?

All international applicants, non-US Citizens, and non-US Permanent Resident applicants for whom English is not the 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.

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.