The University of Illinois recognizes and embraces the power in diversity—it is invaluable to the innovation and excellence of our scholars. Traditionally, graduate-level enrollment of ethnic and racial minorities, as well as women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines has not properly reflected the demographics of contemporary society. Addressing this critical need, the Graduate College has taken the initiative to broaden participation in graduate education by offering resources and opportunities to students from historically underrepresented populations. The initiative strives to inspire students from diverse backgrounds to join our dynamic community of scholars and to help make their graduate experience more rewarding. By utilizing these resources, students at all junctures of graduate school will be better equipped to realize their full potential.
Talented students with diverse experiences are recruited to the University of Illinois by offering them opportunities to engage in our campus and their field of study, while building meaningful relationships.
The Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) at Illinois brings highly competitive undergraduate students from across the U.S. and its territories to campus, for 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 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.
As students embark upon this next phase of career development, adjusting can be challenging. The University of Illinois is dedicated to supporting a transition that is personally, socially, and academically profitable.
Community of Scholars (COS) - SPRing campus visit program
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 Summer Pre-Doctoral 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.
The Graduate College provides additional resources that reach beyond assigned academic research.
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.
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.
To expand connections across campus communities, SPI Mentoring offers workshops, seminars, and reading groups that promote research synergies, inclusion, and the retention of Summer Pre-Doctoral Institute (SPI) students during the academic year. The mentoring programs offers knowledge and experience that support the needs of URM graduate students.
Fostering Alliances beyond Illinois
To further enhance educational opportunities for underrepresented students, the Graduate College launched Illinois Partners for Diversity (IPD), a recurring summit connecting administrators and faculty of Minority Serving Institutions throughout the U.S., including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Fostering inter-institutional collaboration, IPD aims to develop innovative strategies to bridge cohorts of URM students into graduate programs.
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 Educational Equity Programs Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.