UIUC vs UCI for Computer Science (undergraduate)

I double checked the UIUC webpage just now and it says that I was “accepted into the Computer Science program at Grainger College of Engineering.” I took that to mean that they admitted me for CS major. Was I right?

Anyways, I didn’t get into any of the other top CS universities (like MIT).


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Yes, that’s correct. Congratulations :slight_smile:

Do YOU have a preference?

Uiuc is a reference in the industry. There will likely be more employers from the entire country at UIUC, summer internships are common and well paid, and students have access to postgraduation positions only offered to a rarefied group.
However you have to be ready: the program is faster-paced and goes more in-depth than at UCI, you won’t be the big fish anymore, and while the overall UIUC Midwestern vibe is laid back and down to earth, the CS program is full of competitive superstars.
If you’re not passionate about CS or are okay with any job after graduation, any degree in CS will serve you well. All CS graduates have jobs. At thzt point it becomes staying close to home/family or living independently in a college town.

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Since cost is not a factor go where the best CS program is. If you are really interested in a certain track that will help. Back “in the day” all you needed was an ability to code, but leading companies today look for much more and typically use code tests as validation tools.

Many people talk about the myth that there is a single new grad salary that everyone gets (even within a given company) and that’s not the case. Increasingly, companies are paying premiums for certain CS specialties, and only a handful of schools have the depth and breadth to graduate these specialties. Example: pick any FANG and the pay package of a new gram hired in to “bug fixing” group will be vastly different than a new grad hired into a research group (the debug group is larger with more jobs though).


Thank you for that detailed reply.

Nobody has said there’s a single “new grad salary.” It is true that different job classifications will mean different pay, which others, including me, have mentioned. What will not happen is being offered a higher salary simply because you went to a particular college.

That’s why my recommendation is to always go for the better program. While going to a given school may not result in a larger offer, going to the school the strongest program may get you that offer what ever it is. And, schools with the stronger programs typically offer more depth in key specialities.

I disagree. Go to the school and program with the best fit for the individual. Cost is also an issue. Many state flagships have very good reputations for CS, but you’ll likely find yourself sitting in introductory programming classes with several hundred students. I would argue that many students will do better at a small school without any kind of reputation because it may only have 20 students in an introductory programming class.

People here on CC may think prestige and ranking are the end all and be all, but most employers don’t think like that.

We can disagree, that’s OK :smiley:

I have to disagree as well - I spent a year in a small engineering school with small classes and very good reputation and fantastic employment record.
And, unfortunately, the student body was very average, as was the resulting education.
I transferred to Big Red, ended up a small fish - much larger classes, but the student body was
superb, as was the level of the coursework / homework / projects. As a result I thought the education was WAY better and the name has stayed with me my whole career.
(and opened up those elusive front office jobs)

That would be a very good point, but UCI is not a small school. There will be hundreds of students in first-year lectures, too - just not at the same level as UIUC.
OP may not be ready for the challenge, or may not want to leave home, but that’s another issue than small v. large.

I’ll disagree as well. Have worked and interviewed at CMU startups. There is a pecking order. It’s not necessarily about salary. It’s about opening doors for opportunities. Look at a company like Google and where the executives went to school. Look at VC companies and where they invest in startups. It’s the top schools including UIUC.

“Better” colleges for CS commonly show higher pay levels for graduates.

It is likely due to their graduates more likely getting “better” (more technically demanding) jobs, because they are more likely to impress in technical interviews. There is probably some level of recruiting bias among some types of employers (e.g. Wall Street) as well. It is less likely that an employer will pay more for a school name when hiring new graduates to similar jobs.

How much of getting “better” (more technically demanding) jobs is due to selection effect (the graduates were stronger students to begin with in order to get admitted, since the “better” colleges for CS are typically more selective, at least for CS) versus treatment effect (where the same student would learn more CS or to greater capability at the “better” college for CS) can be a matter of controversy.

Determining whether there is a treatment effect difference between any two different colleges’ CS majors would require a detailed review of the course syllabi, assignments/projects, and exams, as well as the overall curriculum and course offerings. Perhaps it is not surprising that many assume or hand-wave that the more selective college is “better” in this respect, whether or not that is actually true.

Of course, if there is a treatment effect, so that a given student would learn more at one college versus another, the workload would likely be higher as well. This is not a bad thing, unless the workload exceeds the student’s capability to handle it.

You are of course right there.

I believe that MOST schools have the faculty that can teach to as advanced a level as it takes. The important question is - can the student body handle it? So if a “good” school
pre-selects a more capable student body, the faculty will respond with material at a better level.

I firmly believe that the quality of education is the function of the peer group. And maybe it is
the case these days that given the selectivity of the CS major, the peer groups across many colleges equalized (as opposed to when I was in school).

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My perspective comes from having transferred from a large school of 50,000 to a small one of 3000. The CS program at the small school was just starting up, and I was in the first graduating class. It was a very basic, bare bones CS program, but the small classes made all the difference in the world to me. So that’s why I say it depends on personal fit. And I did fine, career-wise.

I would replace “will” with “can”. It does not always happen, and may occur in some departments but not others. There were past threads where a poster @bernie12 compared biology and chemistry courses at various universities; the content and rigor levels were not necessarily correlated to the universities’ admission selectivity. There was also this thread where a student at a highly selective university was disappointed with the math and physics courses there, compared to their brother’s “equivalent” courses at a different university: Should I transfer out of WashU?

So while it may be more accurate to say that a department’s course content and rigor will be held back if the students in the major are academically weak, it is not necessarily the case that the department’s course content and rigor will rise to the optimal level* with an academically strong cohort of students in the major.

*The optimal level would be that which maximizes learning without overwhelming the students with excessive workload or difficulty for them.


Calling a school “good” because of the students is like calling a truck good because their drivers are the most experienced. It’s completely backwards. Berkeley attracts students, most of which already know how to code. This means that the graduates are applying for jobs that aren’t even entry level, because these kids are already past that point. Hence, the higher salary. It has nothing whatever to do with the school. If you graduate with zero experience, you’re going to get an entry level job for graduates with zero experience, nothing more. Otherwise you hire an experienced professional.

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