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Achieving Excellence Through Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Diversity Equity Inclusion

Our programs and initiatives improve educational access, encourage a sustainable student experience, and promote successful outcomes for traditionally underrepresented communities. The work of diversity, equity, and inclusion is critical to fostering the inclusive climate and culture necessary to achieving excellence at Illinois.


Sustainable Experiences

Mentoring underrepresented student experiences for achieving excellence


Spring Campus Visit for Newly Admitted Students

The Community of Scholars (COS) unites newly admitted students with their admitting graduate programs and with prospective peers during this spring campus visit program. Visiting students attend research presentations in an area of study and also ask current Illinois scholars about graduate student life. Through networking and gaining a better sense of the Illinois campus, students are able to better understand how graduate study at the University of Illinois can support their short and long-term goals.


The Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring at Illinois is one of eight UCEMs funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. It is designed to broaden participation in advanced engineering, physical and mathematical science careers, and to strengthen the talent pool in these fields while increasing equitable opportunities in the U.S. The grant targets underrepresented racial/ethnic minority students: defined by Sloan as U.S. citizens who are African American, Latina/Latino, and American Indian/Alaskan Native in eligible departments. In addition to financial support, Sloan UCEM scholars receive guidance from a team of mentors.


Early Orientation and Research Experience

The Summer Predoctoral Institute (SPI) is a nine-week program for incoming graduate students who have accepted their offer of admission to an Illinois program. SPI provides an advanced opportunity to become quickly prepared for the rigors, culture and expectations of graduate school during the summer prior to the start of their graduate studies. The Institute offers an orientation, a series of seminars, and time to work with a research adviser in the student’s academic unit. Participants receive a stipend, housing, meals, and academic credit.


To expand connections across campus communities, SPI Mentoring offers workshops, seminars, and reading groups that promote research synergies, inclusion, and the retention of Summer Predoctoral Institute (SPI) students during the academic year. The mentoring programs offers knowledge and experience that support the needs of underrepresented graduate students.


Improving Access

Recruiting excellent underrepresented students


Research Experience for Rising Seniors

The Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) at Illinois brings highly competitive undergraduate students from across the U.S. and its territories to campus for a nine-week introduction to graduate study. Participants conduct research under the mentorship of a faculty member in their chosen field of study, explore careers in research, attend workshops, and take part in team activities that prepare them for graduate study. Participants receive a stipend, housing, meals, and academic credit.


Showcasing the Exceptional Talents of the Next Generation of Scholars

The Illinois Summer Research Symposium (ISRS) brings students enrolled in SROP, SPI, McNair, and several partner summer research programs together to present their work. Presentation format varies and include posters, roundtable discussions, and panel presentations.


Fall Campus Visit and Early Application Program

ASPIRE is an early admission program that brings prospective students to campus in the fall during the application process. Prospective students can experience the dynamic community of underrepresented scholars on the University of Illinois campus and visit with graduate programs. Prior to the visit, students participate in a series of webinars designed to assist them with the application process and prepare them for their visit to Illinois. After the visit, we encourage participants to submit applications for admission to their graduate program of choice in order to be considered for Graduate College fellowships.


Successful Outcomes

Fostering inclusivity for excellent underrepresented student outcomes


Graduate College Fellowships (GCF) increase the enrollment of outstanding students from populations historically underrepresented in graduate study. The awards provide 1-3 years of support ($20,000-$25,000 per year) for incoming doctoral students and 1-year ($12,000) of support for incoming master’s students. These fellowships require nominations and applications from admitting departments. New prospective graduate students must be offered admission to graduate departments in order to be eligible for fellowship funding.


The Office of External Fellowships assists Illinois graduate students in competing for external grants and fellowships, helping to lessen any financial barriers that graduate study may present.

Celebrating diversity, recognizing excellence

The Graduate College hosts an annual recognition ceremony for our graduating SPI fellows, fellowship recipients, and students recognized by their programs for scholarly work, teaching, and service.


Resources for Faculty


The Graduate College has made addressing the limited pool of students from populations historically underrepresented in graduate study a priority by offering opportunities for visiting, newly admitted, and current graduate students at the University of Illinois. Exposure to graduate school practices, as well as opportunities to network with other students and faculty will better equip underrepresented students for graduate achievement. BPGE offers recruitment ideas, best practices, National Name Exchange data, and other resources to enhance departmental recruitment efforts.

For more information about these programs and initiatives contact the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Office at