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Aspire Illinois


ASPIRE Illinois offers an opportunity for traditionally underrepresented students in graduate education to explore and consider graduate school at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Toward this aim, we provide preapplication supports and host campus visits.


Preapplication Supports

We offer a series of webinars that guide students through the process of selecting a graduate program and submitting competitive applications. In addition, the program supports ASPIRE-applicants by facilitating direct contact with Directors of Graduate Studies and faculty as well as through campus visits. We have found that these preapplication actions—early application guidance, program-specific connections, and campus visits— empower students throughout the submission process and eases the transition to graduate school for successful applicants who ultimately decide to attend graduate school at Illinois. In addition, many ASPIRE-candidates could be eligible for one of our prestigious Graduate College Fellowships. We believe that this synergy between the Graduate College, graduate programs, and ASPIRE-applicants enhances the quality of the candidate pool and facilitates the diversification of graduate education at Illinois.


Webinar Series

The 2022 ASPIRE Illinois Summer Webinar Series will be held Thursdays from June 30, 2022, to August 11, at 7 p.m. (central time). There is no cost to participate.

June 30
Webinar I: The Aspire Illinois Application “Navigating the Aspire Illinois Application in Slate”
Elaina Mullins, Recruitment and Admissions Systems Coordinator

July 7
Webinar II: Writing Personal Statements
Carolyn Wisniewski, Director of the Writers Workshop

July 14 
Webinar III: “Recommendations that Work”
Lisa Abston, Assistant Dean for Graduate Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

July 21

Webinar IV: “What Skills Do You Need to Succeed?”
Derek Attig, Assistant Dean, Career & Professional Development and Mike Firmand, Assistant Director for Employer Engagement, Career Development

July 28
Webinar V: “Values-Based Academic & Career Decision-Making”
Derek Attig, Assistant Dean, Career & Professional Development and Mike Firmand, Assistant Director for Employer Engagement, Career Development

August 4
Webinar VI: Funding Graduate School “What You Need to Know About Financing Your Graduate Education” 
Ken Vickery, Director of Fellowships

August 11
Special Topic: “Expanding Horizons: A Discipline-Based Discussion for Psychology Majors”
Lissette Piedra, Graduate Faculty Fellow for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion




Campus Visits

The ASPIRE Illinois campus visit program offers an opportunity for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students to explore our graduate programs, tour our campus and facilities, and learn about the culture and community at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Participants will meet with faculty in their research area of interest, interact with current graduate students, and learn about the resources offered through the Graduate College.

This year, the campus visit will take place on October 20-21 at the I Hotel & Conference Center.

There is no registration fee or cost to participate in the program; applicants must be at least a rising senior or have already graduated from a bachelor’s program.

The ASPIRE Illinois 2022 Application is now closed.

If you have questions about the ASPIRE Illinois program, please contact us at