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Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Graduate Education

Recruitment Ideas

Reach Out to Potential Applicants

Develop relationships with faculty at minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and with students from populations underrepresented in graduate education.

  • Initiate conversations at professional conferences (e.g., visit poster sessions).
  • Present at conferences targeting underrepresented students, such as McNair conferences or the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in the Sciences.
  • Visit minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and talk with faculty and students about your research and opportunities at U of I. (You may apply for Broadening Participation in Graduate Education funds from the Graduate College).
  • Participate in the Illinois Partners for Diversity Summit.

Call prospective students and personally encourage them to apply to your program. Convey confidence in their ability to thrive in the program, explain why the program is a good fit (e.g., specify projects, faculty, and courses of interest), and outline funding opportunities. Alert Ph.D. and MFA students about application fee waivers.

Serve as a summer mentor to students in the SROP, REU, or McNair programs.


Respond to Competitive Applications Aggressively

Call students and notify them of acceptance as soon as possible. 

  • Convey confidence in students’ abilities to thrive in your program.
  • Discuss why the program is a good fit and provide all available funding information.
  • Invite students for a campus visit (see Community of Scholars information).
  • Help students find additional information (e.g., housing, childcare - 
  • Ask a U of I graduate student with similar interests and life circumstances to contact the student.

Follow up with a personalized letter outlining details and next steps.  Again, emphasize program fit.

Pursue funding possibilities on behalf of students (e.g., Graduate College Fellowships).

Stay in touch with students to answer questions and encourage enrollment.

Promote Summer Predoctoral Institute participation among students who enroll in your program.


What Departments Can Do

Admit underrepresented minority applicants as early as possible.

Invite applicants to visit your department in conjunction with the Community of Scholars Campus Visit Program. Showcase your vibrant community (e.g., hold a reception and/or research symposium).

Utilize National Name Exchange data to identify talented students.

Recognize and reward faculty efforts to broaden participation in graduate education.


Resources for Departments and Faculty Members

BADGE (Building Alliances to Diversify Graduate Education) Funding for Recruiting

is a cost-sharing program that provides faculty and staff with funds for travel related to the recruitment of U.S. students historically underrepresented in graduate education. The program encourages faculty and staff to visit Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and other institutions invested in educating students traditionally underrepresented in graduate studies.

National Name Exchange:

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a member of the National Name Exchange Consortium whose goal is to inform students from populations underrepresented in graduate study of the many opportunities to pursue advance degrees. As a member of the consortium, the most talented students are made available to our Illinois graduate programs. To request access to the list, email Units then are encouraged to provide them with information about their programs and encourage them to consider applying to Illinois.


Resources for Your Students

Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) at Illinois

SROP at Illinois offers undergraduates an opportunity to explore careers in research. SROP helps students strengthen their knowledge, skills, and understanding of graduate school through a paid, eight-week research and mentoring program. SROP at Illinois attracts talented undergraduates from institutions across the U.S. and its territories.


ASPIRE is a recruitment initiative designed to address the limited pool of students from populations historically underrepresented in graduate programs at Illinois. This program provides talented underrepresented students from across the nation with the opportunity to visit the campus early in the application process, while simultaneously allowing departments at Illinois to showcase the quality and strength of their programs. The ultimate goal is to recruit these students to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Community of Scholars (COS) Campus Visit Program

COS introduces newly admitted graduate students to their graduate program, to prospective students in other units, and to current Illinois graduate students across campus. Occurring over a three-day period, these interactions enable admitted students to gain a stronger sense of the dynamic community of underrepresented scholars on our campus.

Summer Predoctoral Institute (SPI)

SPI provides incoming graduate students with a paid, eight-week orientation and research experience during the summer prior to the start of their graduate program. Students participate in a series of seminars on research methods and work with a faculty mentor in their department.

Graduate College Fellowships

Graduate College Fellowships strengthen the institution by increasing the enrollment of outstanding students from populations historically underrepresented in graduate study. The Graduate College offers awards for incoming master's and doctoral level students.

External Fellowships Office

The Office of External Fellowships helps Illinois graduate students compete for external grants and fellowships. The office offers a comprehensive fellowship database, which includes dozens of opportunities specifically for underrepresented students. The office also offers workshops and one-on-one grant writing support for all Illinois graduate students.