Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 questions asked about UIC's graduate programs in ECE
1. Should I choose CE or EE?
- Should I choose CE or EE?
- Should I apply to PhD program or Master's program?
- What are the factors in admission and financial aid decisions?
- How to calculate my GPA?
- When do I expect to hear from you about my application?
- What is my chance of getting financial aid?
- What is the work load for students receiving financial aid?
- How many years of financial aid do I expect to get?
- How should I select which courses to take if I am a PhD student?
- How should I select which courses to take if I am a Master student?
We offer PhD degree in ECE and Master of Science degree in ECE. Students need to choose between CE and EE when they apply to our department. If you have a background in CE, it is natural that you choose graduate study in CE. If you have a more EE related background, then you should choose graduate study in EE. However, some may prefer to have a change in graduate study. You should make sure that you have adequate background (required course work) and sufficient preparation for the field of graduate study you choose to apply for. Your chance of getting admitted will be reduced if you cannot show adequate background and sufficient preparation.
2. Should I apply to Ph.D. program or Master's program?
For graduate admission to UIC, we consider only your GPA for the last 60 credit hours of course work at the undergraduate level. To be considered for PhD admission, normally you are required to have a GPA of 3.5/4.0 or higher. For master's admission, you should have a GPA of 3.2/4.0 or higher. We strongly recommend that you apply for our PhD program if your GPA is higher than 3.5/4.0 since that will guarantee a consideration for financial aid.
3. What are the factors in admission and financial aid decisions?
Our admission as well financial aid decisions are made according to the following factors:
4. How to calculate my GPA?
- Your GPA
- Your ranking in your class/school
- The strength of the program/school from which you received your degree(s)
- Your publication record (where available)
- Your GRE and TOEFL (when required)
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal statement and cv
GPA (grade point average) is calculated as your total quality points divided by the total credit (semester) hours. Here is an example. Assume that you have taken the following courses:
- Course 1: 3 credit hours, you got C (pass);
- Course 2: 2 credit hours, you got B (good);
- Course 3: 3 credit hours, you got B (good);
- Course 4: 3 credit hours, you got A (excellent);
- Course 5: 4 credit hours, you got A (excellent);
- Course 6: 5 credit hours, you got A (excellent).
Note some schools may also use A-, B+, B, B-, C+,C,C-, etc.
Your total number of hours is 20=3*3+2+4+5.
The quality points for each course are calculated as number of hours times the scale used. Most schools use A=4, B=3, C=2, and D=1 while others use A=5, B=4, etc. For the above example, if we use A=4, B=3, C=2, and D=1, we have:
- Course 1: 3 credit hours, C=2 (pass); your quality points=6;
- Course 2: 2 credit hours, B=3 (good); your quality points=6;
- Course 3: 3 credit hours, B=3 (good); your quality points=9;
- Course 4: 3 credit hours, A=4 (excellent); your quality points=12;
- Course 5: 4 credit hours, A=4 (excellent); your quality points=16;
- Course 6: 5 credit hours, A=4 (excellent); your quality points=20.
The total point you have achieved is 69=6*2+9+12+16+20.
Thus, your GPA is 3.45=69/20.
Since we have chosen A=4, now you can say that your GPA is 3.45/4.0. That is what we use at UIC.
Note: This is what we use for universities in China:
- 85 to 100 -> A
- 75 to 84 -> B
- 60 to 74 -> C
- 0 to 59 -> E
Note: This is what we use for universities in India:
5. When do I expect to hear from you about my application?
- 73 to 100 -> A
- 53 to 72 -> B
- 33 to 52 -> C
- 0 to 32 -> E
Here is what you can expect from us:
- Last week in January: Fellowship nominations.
- February 1 - May 10: Research assistantship awards.
- First week in March: Teaching assistantship awards.
- March 1 - March 31: MS admissions.
It is very important that we have your correct email address so that we can contact you for financial aid offers and I-20 form.
6. What is my chance of getting financial aid?
Our policy is that we will only offer financial aid to full-time PhD students. Only in a few exceptional cases, financial aid will be offered to Master's students. We offer Fellowships, TAs, RAs, and TFWs to new and existing PhD students. Your chance of getting financial aid will be significantly improved if you can show a strong potential of research accomplishments (e.g., prior publications, prior degrees from reputable universities).
It is very important that we have your correct email address so that we can contact you for financial aid offers.
7. What is the work load for students receiving financial aid?
Fellowship holders are not required to do any work. Teaching assistantship recipients are required to work for 10-20 hours as a lab/teaching assistant. Research assistantship recipients are required to work for 10-20 hours on a research projects under the supervision of a professor. Graduate assistantship recipients are required to work for 10-20 hours on campus for other departments. Tuition and fee waiver recipients are not required to do any work. In all cases of financial aid, there are requirements for minimum number of course credit hours to be registered.
8. How many years of financial aid do I expect to get?
Our past data have shown that our PhD students typically spend 4-5 years in the department before they finish and defend their PhD dissertations. Your financial aid will be guaranteed for 4-5 years if you are a good PhD student who can produce satisfactory research results. The support you may get will be a combination of fellowship, TA, RA, and GA. The combination may vary depending on your advisor.
9. How should I select which courses to take if I am a Ph.D. student?
If you have a prior Master's degree, you are required to take 7 courses. A minimum of 4 out the 7 courses must be ECE 500 level courses. If you do not have a prior Master's degree, we require you to take 13 courses. A minimum of 9 out the 13 courses must be ECE courses and a minimum of 6 of them must be ECE 500 level courses. Always talk to your PhD advisor about course selections. As a PhD student, each semester, you can take 2-3 ECE 400/500 level courses plus 0-8 credit hours of ECE 599 (PhD Thesis Research). The courses you take in your first two semesters should be decided based on your areas of choice for your PhD qualifying exam (Note: The exam will be in your second or third semester). We have a list of recommended courses for PhD qualifying exams posted on the web. Course selections are primarily based on your needs of PhD qualifying exam and future PhD dissertation research. Again, always talk to your PhD advisor about course selections. Students should make sure that non-ECE graduate course work would count for graduation credit. Courses in some departments, such as IDS, are generally not accepted for ECE credit. ENGR 400-403 do not count for ECE credit. Most of the non-ECE courses taken by ECE students are in CS, Physics, Mathematics, and Statistics. Credit is allowed only if these courses are at 400 or 500 level and these course are neither cross-listed with ECE courses nor do they have substantial overlap in course material with ECE courses. Additional restrictions may apply. For instance, some 400-level courses in other departments may be at a level comparable to ECE courses at 300-level or below, e.g. CS 450 (ECE 333) or Stat 401 (ECE 341) and these will not be accepted for credit. Students may be allowed to take courses in other Engineering departments, e.g., robotics-related courses in MIE, at the recommendation of the advisor.
10. How should I select which courses to take if I am a Master student?
Course only option:
(1) you are required to take 10 courses. (2) Among these 10 courses, 8 of them must be ECE 400/500 level courses. (3) At least 4 of these courses must be ECE 500 level courses. (4) Up to 2 graduate courses can be taken outside the ECE Department (approval required) or can be transferred from other university. (5) There are no other restrictions. (6) Talk to your advisor if you do not understand these answers.
(1) you are required to take 7 courses. (2) Among these 7 courses, 6 of them must be ECE 400/500 level courses. (3) At least 3 of these courses must be ECE 500 level courses. (4) Up to 1 graduate course can be taken outside the ECE Department (approval required). (5) You need to talk to your advisor for your courses selection to see which courses are more useful to your Master's thesis research.