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Aspire Illinois
 Photo of student.

Supporting diversity in graduate education requires outreach and recruitment that connects prospective students with academic programs and faculty. One of the ways the Graduate College assists programs in attracting and enrolling students from underrepresented racial/ethnic minority (URM) populations is through our Aspire Illinois program.

What is Aspire Illinois?
This early application and decision program connects prospective students with academic units while introducing them to UIUC and the application process. This year it includes a virtual campus visit on October 12-15.

How does Aspire Illinois work?
Each year we reach out to thousands of prospective URM graduate students from institutions throughout the contiguous U.S. and its territories. Rising seniors and masters-level students, who are interested in enrolling in graduate school and learning about the various programs offered within their field of study at Illinois are eligible to participate.  

Throughout the summer, Aspire Illinois participants are guided through the application process and introduced to the University of Illinois and its many resources using a virtual platform. Central to the Aspire Illinois program is the responsibility of each student to identify graduate programs and faculty members of interest using resources such as Illinois Experts, Illinois graduate programs’ websites, faculty members’ curriculum vitae and publications, etc. A major benefit to Aspire Illinois participants who have applied and are admitted to one or more of our graduate programs is the potential to receive a fellowship, exclusively earmarked to support Aspire Illinois participants.

What can faculty do?
We strongly believe that allowing departments and programs to act as early as possible in making admission decisions gives our graduate programs a competitive edge over other campuses that are vying for the same students in the national arena. Aspire Illinois also offers an early round of the Graduate College Fellowship competition to participating departments that nominate Aspire Illinois students who have been admitted to their graduate programs, an additional incentive for recruitment.

We encourage graduate faculty to view the Aspire Illinois applications and work with your program’s Directors of Graduate Study (DGS) to identify prospective graduate students who are good candidates for your program. Aspire Illinois students are interested in meeting with our programs and learning more about them. DGSs can access the 2021 Aspire Illinois applicants in Slate, including the student’s interest in graduate study, research, and graduate programs. 

If you have questions about Aspire Illinois or other Graduate College diversity initiatives, please contact i-aspire@illinois.edu.

Fellowship & Grant Competition Schedule

The Graduate College is pleased to announce the 2020-2021 competition schedule for fellowships and grants. Learn about nomination deadlines, dates by which we anticipate announcing results, and a complete list of the fellowships and grants we offer. 

Graduate Student Appreciation Week: October 26-30
 Grad Student Appreciation Week

Mark your calendars for October 26-30! Throughout the week we'll be appreciating our inspiring, impactful, and dare we say, super-powered graduate students. More details are coming soon to our Graduate Student Appreciation Week website.

Nominations Sought: Graduate Student Leadership Award
Do you know a graduate student who has exhibited outstanding service that has positively impacted the campus or their communities? The winner will receive a $500 award and be announced during Graduate Student Appreciation Week. We invite nominations by Sep 27, 2020.

Support for Your Students
 Leaves made of fabric on a string.

Schedule a Customized Workshop
Faculty can request Graduate College workshops for use in courses, department seminars, and research group meetings. These virtual workshops introduce grad students to important topics related to their professional and career development, including job seeking and fellowship proposal-writing.

One-on-One Support for Your Students
We offer one-on-one coaching and support to graduate students as they navigate their time in graduate school. Students can schedule virtual appointments for career coaching, external fellowships advising, academic problem-solving, support for underrepresented students, and thesis process guidance.

Collaborate with Us
We invite faculty to collaborate directly with us to incorporate professional development resources into your programs. We would be happy to talk about opportunities to work together this year. Email gradsuccess@illinois.edu to connect with us.

Fall is Fellowship Season
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National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
Share our 2020 information session about this fellowship with eligible students. The presentation features Dr. William Hahn, former Director of the NSF-GRF program, as well as, advice from Ken Vickery and current NSF fellows. Please note our office is available for student One-On-One Advising for the NSF-GRF and other external fellowship applications.

Writing Effective Fellowship Applications
Crafting a compelling funding proposal can reap a lifetime of rewards. Our Fall Funding Workshops are offered multiple times throughout the semester. 

  • Writing Personal Statements for Funding Proposals
  • Writing Effective Fellowship Proposals in STEM
  • Writing Effective Fellowship Proposals in the Social Sciences & Humanities

These workshops help students identify funding opportunities, write personal statements, and hone their grant writing proficiency.

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A behind-the-scenes look at the graduate experience


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GradMENTOR is distributed monthly to graduate faculty and department contacts who work with graduate students. Please see our website for submission information

If you will need disability-related accommodations in order to participate in any of the programs or events listed in GradMENTOR, please email the contact person for the event. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet your access needs.


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