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Considerations for the Coming Admission Cycle
 Alma Mater sculpture

Now is the time of year that many programs are starting to review applications for the coming academic year. As review committees begin their evaluations and make decisions to extend offers for Fall 2021, it is important to consider several factors from this past year that may affect decisions for the coming year. 

For example, the pandemic and changes in visa regulation and availability may have impacted AY 20-21 enrollment in your program. While graduate enrollment increased overall so did the number of deferrals, especially by international students intending to pursue master’s degrees. Many prospective students will have unorthodox academic profiles due to alternative grading options implemented by their universities during COVID, others may not have had access to standardized tests such as the GRE. Below are some questions to consider when making admissions decisions for your program.

Do you know if your deferred students intend to enroll?
If your program has students who have deferred, reach out to those deferred applicants to foster your connection with them and increase the likelihood that they will enroll. Prospective and newly admitted students want to connect especially with faculty. And you will want to know how many of your deferred applicants intend to enroll in a future term.

What is your program’s capacity?
If you have deferrals who will begin their studies in the fall, can your program accommodate a larger than usual cohort or will you extend fewer offers? Likewise, if you have offered funding to an applicant who deferred, be sure funding is still available. If you will make fewer offers, how will you adjust your evaluation process to increase your selectivity? No matter what the right choice is for your program, you’ll want to make sure you are prepared to accommodate the size of your incoming class and have a fair and equitable evaluation process.

How will you evaluate transcripts with pass/no pass or credit/no credit grades?
Due to the pandemic, you are likely to see more transcripts from applicants that use alternative grading options such as pass/no pass or credit/no credit. The Graduate College supports holistic admission practices that do not penalize students for adoption of alternative grading options. 

Will you require GRE scores?
If your program uses GRE scores in its admission process, be aware that many students may not have been able to take the GRE. In order to avoid disadvantaging applicants who could not take the test, you may want to consider making it optional or not requiring it. The GRE is not required by the Graduate College. Whether or not to use the GRE as part of the admissions process is the decision of individual programs.

Please see additional COVID-19 related information for applicants and newly admitted students on the Graduate College website. 

Celebrate our Doctoral Graduates
 blue and orange gradient with "I" and "doctoral celebration"


Saturday, December 19, at 2 p.m. (CST). No registration needed. Everyone is welcome.

While we cannot celebrate with our doctoral degree recipients at our traditional hooding ceremony, we do want to celebrate their impressive accomplishments. Please join us for a virtual celebration that will air on Facebook Live and the Graduate College Website

We will have remarks from campus leaders and recognize graduates by name from each College and School. We will invite graduates to an in-person ceremony in the future when it is safe to do so. For more information see our website.

Funding Your Students
Minimum Days for Waiver-generating Appointments for Spring 2021

Waiver-generating assistantship appointments are defined as those ranging from 25 percent through 67 percent time (based on a 40-hour week) for at least three-quarters of the academic term. Because the revisions to the academic calendar for Spring 2021 reduce the number of days in the term, the minimum days needed for a graduate student appointment to generate a tuition waiver will be reduced from 91 days to 83 days. This change is being made to align the policy with the shortened Spring term and applies only to the Spring 2021 semester.


The Graduate College offers several fellowship and grant programs to recruit and support University of Illinois graduate students, many of which have January nomination deadlines. Visit our website for details including nomination deadlines for Spring 2021.


To help graduate students locate external funding sources, we maintain a searchable database that contains information on over 1,100 graduate-level grants and fellowships. We encourage students looking for funding to search our Fellowship Finder database; it is an excellent place to start. In addition to the database, we provide resources and services to help students pursue external fellowships. 

Credit/No-Credit, Drop Deadline, and Other Grading Options for Fall 2020

In response to advice and input from our students and approval by the Academic Senate, the University has implemented academic policy modifications for the Fall 2020 semester. These changes acknowledge the unique and challenging pandemic-related circumstances and the additional stress it has caused for students. Provost Cangellaris sent a massmail regarding emergency academic policy modifications for Fall 2020 and the Graduate College sent additional information about grading options specific to graduate students, including dropping and withdrawing procedures and deadlines, Credit/No-Credit requests, and use of Incomplete. Please take a moment to review the policies and work with students to help guide them through available options.

CITL Winter and Spring Faculty Workshops

The Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning (CITL) has a library of online resources and workshops planned for faculty to get an early start on Spring. Check out the workshops on course development, LMS training, and Zoom open hours. 

Spring Building Access for Graduate Students

Between January 15 and January 24, the Safer Illinois App and Boarding Pass will be reset for the Spring term, at which time building access for students will be shown as denied until they receive two negative on-campus COVID-19 test results. It is possible that some students who have research or work duties may require access to campus buildings during this time, but their Safer Illinois App and Boarding Pass will show a denied status. 

This form has been created for units who wish to incorporate it into their building access procedures and for students who may need to provide documentation of approved building access. Beginning January 25, students can use the Safer Illinois app or the Boarding Pass for building access. Please see additional information on the campus COVID-19 website about Spring 2021 Return to Campus for Students.

Additional Publications from the Graduate College

A weekly e-bulletin for graduate students


GradLIFE Blog
A behind-the-scenes look at the graduate experience


Biweekly job postings for graduate students


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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