Skip to main content

For information related to the COVID-19 outbreak, visit:

Underrepresented Domestic Applicants

The Graduate College Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Office provides resources to assist applicants from U.S. populations underrepresented in graduate programs at Illinois with the graduate application process. The office also offers opportunities that will help underrepresented students gain the kind of knowledge and experience that leads to success in graduate school.

Preparing for Graduate School

Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP)

The Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) at Illinois brings highly competitive undergraduate students from U.S. populations underrepresented in Illinois graduate programs 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.

ASPIRE - Fall EArly Application and Visit Program

ASPIRE is an early application and admission decision program that brings prospective underrepresented students to campus in the fall during the application process. Prospective students are given an opportunity to experience the dynamic and diverse community of scholars on the University of Illinois campus and visit with graduate programs of interest. Prior to the visit, students participate in a series of webinars designed to assist them with the early application process and prepare them for their visit to Illinois. After the campus visit, participants are encouraged to submit applications for admission to their graduate program of choice.  Early applicants may then be nominated to receive an ASPIRE or other Graduate College fellowships.

Trio McNair Scholars Program

Established on the campus in 1990, the Illinois TRIO Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program (McNair Scholars Program) is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The program provides research, mentoring, advising, and graduate school preparation opportunities for eligible sophomores, juniors and seniors to promote their academic excellence and pursuit of a PhD. TRIO McNair Scholars engage in rigorous research with faculty mentors, attend relevant workshops and seminars, and commit to preparing themselves for doctoral studies following the completion of undergraduate studies.

Resources for Applying to Graduate School

BIG Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) FreeApp

The BTAA FreeApp is designed to increase access to graduate education for students who possess qualities and experiences that enhance the diversity of the intellectual, cultural, and social environments at Big Ten Academic Alliance universities. Through this program, prospective students can request a graduate application fee waiver for Ph.D. or Master of Fine Arts programs at any of the participating universities.

Additional Resources for Applying to Graduate School

Resources for New and Current Graduate Students

Summer PreDoctoral Institute (SPI)

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 offers 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. SPI 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.

Fellowship Support

Graduate College Fellowships (GCF) increase the enrollment of outstanding students from populations historically underrepresented in graduate study. The awards provide 1-year ($12,000) of support for incoming master’s students and 1-3 years of support ($20,000-$25,000 per year) for incoming doctoral students.

Competing for External 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.