University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Pre Engineering Program .... YAY OR NAY?

We’re trying to figure out which is the best route to go. My son did not get accepted into the CS program at Grainger Engineering (Illinois) but did get into his second major choice…Math.

He’s been encouraged to consider going the PREP route at UIUC. When I called admissions, I was told me his application was flagged for being an ideal candidate for the program.

In hindsight, computer science was probably not the best to have selected if seeking to get into Grainger …had no idea how competitive it is. My son kind of picked it quickly without a ton of thought. He chose math as a second major choice which subsequently he got accepted into.

Now we’re trying to figure out what’s best to do. Should my son go the PREP route w/ the ultimate goal being to transfer into the engineering program at some point? He’s a bright kid … w/ high test scores (nearly a perfect math SAT @ 790 - 1450 overall) and nearly all A’s throughout high school taking the most difficult classes offered (lots of AP), chess team, math team…

Ultimately, he’s not sure what he wants to do in life. He is confident though he wants it to be in engineering.

Should he stick with his acceptance into the math program in the LAS or go the PREP route?

Sorry, I know this isn’t what you wanted on this thread, but I am in the exact same situation as your son at the moment. Has he made a choice? I was wondering if there was any one decision that swayed his opinion or anything that could help me make mine.
In particular I was trying to decide if the PREP route was worth the time. I have found some research that implies the program is primarily just so UIUC can say “Look at all the people we accepted”, even if they don’t really accept them into what they wanted. In other words, the program was to weed out the people who they didn’t really want, with intense rigor of courses and very little reward.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, and I hope that maybe something I said helped. describes the UIUC DGS pre-engineering program (PREP).

How difficult it is to get into an engineering major depends on the major. Fortunately, they are rather transparent about it. On that page, click “major capacities”. You will see a table of GPAs (overall and technical) and majors.

3.75 to apply to competitive admission: bioengineering, CS, mechanical
3.75: computer engineering, electrical
3.50: aerospace
3.25: civil, industrial
3.00: agricultural & biological, engineering mechanics, engineering physics, materials, nuclear, systems

Chemical engineering is in LAS, and has a separate process to change into that major:

I’m a senior in computer science here. A couple of things to note:

  • It’s an open secret at Illinois that if you’re trying to do PREP to transfer into CS, don’t come here. Go somewhere else where you got the direct-admit major.
  • transferring into CS, BIOE, or Mechanical is NOT a guarantee with a 3.75. Admissions now practices holistic review for those majors. This has been posted on our Piazza (an open forum where CS students and CS faculty/administration interact), so I know this for a fact.
  • I think ECE (CompE, Electrical) has also switched to holistic review. Any other major is fair game, although 3.5+ in engineering (particularly if you have to take our Calculus, Physics, or Chemistry sequences) might be hard to get.

@asianfang I was recently admitted to Grainger as an Industrial Engineering major. How difficult is it to transfer into other engineering majors (ECE, bioE) from within Grainger? Do i have advantages over those who are not already majoring in engineering?

Happy to report that my son Evan just received word (literally a few hours ago) that his application to transfer into the Grainger School of Engineering at the UIUC for his first major choice Computer Science has been ACCEPTED!!
He just finished up his sophomore year in Champaign where he had a very successful, fun year.

My daughter, Emily, will be a freshman in Champaign come the fall. She too will be looking to go the PREP route although now they refer to it as something different. Same as my son Evan, she also didn’t get accepted directly into Grainger (where she applied to study Bioengineering) but didnso into the Math program at UIUC. She too will look to switch over after year #2.

Excited to have two Illini come August!


That’s great news. Thanks for the update, which should help other students wondering if they can major in CS without the direct admit.

it looks like UIUC has banned transfers to cs this year, so you wont be able to transfer into cs but any other major, including cs+x, can be