What question is asked most frequently?
It's a tie. For incoming students, the most common question is, "Can I get some financial assistance?" This is covered in some detail below, but the bottom line is that students receive financial assistance when they are sponsored by a professor, the department does not offer assistance directly. For current students, the most common question is, "Can I make an appointment to have a form signed?" This is covered below as well, and the bottom line is that you should always start by giving the form to Iris Torres.
What are my chances of being admitted to the program?
We do not review documents of potential applicants. However, these are general guidelines for admissions standards for applicants with degrees in engineering:
- For the MS programs we admit most applicants with a "UIC-equivalent" GPA of 3.00 or above. The UIC-equivalent GPA is calculated by the university admissions office.
Since the MS programs are coursework-based, we are generally not limited in the number we can admit.
- For the PhD programs, we accept a much smaller number of students. Their undergraduate GPA's are usually higher (3.5+), but that is not the primary factor in the decision. The primary factor is whether the student would be a good fit with a research lab in the department. Since the number of open positions in our labs is limited each year, we are unable to admit many qualified applicants to the PhD program.
- All international applicants must also pass the English proficiency requirements, which are listed in detail here.
I have questions about the status of my application. Whom may I contact?
Graduate admissions paperwork is handled by the Graduate College and the Office of Admissions and Records, not by the department. For any questions concerning application status, it is best to start with the Graduate Admissions FAQ
. There may be a delay of 4-6 weeks between the department's initial provisional acceptance letter and the official determination from the Graduate College.
Can recommendation letters be submitted online?
Yes. All documentation must be submitted online. We no longer accept letters or other materials by mail.
What other documents does the department require, and can I submit them electronically?
All documentation must be submitted electronically
. The department does not require any documents in addition to those submitted directly through the university admissions website.
Do I have to take the GRE?
The GRE is required for international applicants. It is optional for domestic applicants, but highly encouraged, especially if the student wishes to be considered for university-level fellowships.
What kinds of financial assistance are available to graduate students?
There are several types of financial support available to graduate students:
- Research assistantship (RA): An RA receives a stipend and works for a professor doing research. Tuition fees are waived.
- Teaching assistantship (TA): A TA receives a stipend and has duties connected to a course, usually grading and office hours. Tuition fees are waived. A TA is supervised by the course instructor. However, the course instructor is often NOT the sponsoring professor. A TA usually also works for the sponsoring professor, doing research.
- Tuition and fee waiver (TFW): A student can receive a waiver of tuition fees but no stipend. Again, the student on a TFW usually works doing research for the sponsoring professor.
- General Assistantship (GA): This is the one form of financial assistantship that the student seeks directly. A GA student works for twenty hours a week, usually on something that is not related to thesis research. There are GA's sponsored by many departments, but they are rare in Engineering. I suggest that graduate students talk to their more senior student colleagues about seeking GA's. This is a common kind of financial assistance for Master's students.
- There are a few fellowships available from the Graduate College. Information on these fellowships can be obtained from the Graduate College website. They tend to be quite competitive and successful candidates have outstanding academic records. Nominations for these fellowships are usually made by the department; students do not usually nominate themselves.
How can I receive an assistantship?
All incoming students must fill out the "Application for Graduate Appointment" form if they seek an assistantship. However, this is simply an administrative requirement. Students are nominated for TA, RA, and TFW positions by individual professors to support those students while they conduct research. Almost all TA and RA positions are held by PhD students, not MS students. Therefore, the best way to get an assistantship is to find a professor who is willing to let you join their research group.
If you are taking a coursework Master's, your academic advisor is not expected to help you to obtain funding.
What are my chances of receiving an assistantship?
The department cannot assess your chances of receiving an assistantship. You may contact individual professors to enquire if they have openings.
Can I take a course from the ENER program for my ME degree (MS or PhD)?
No, MIE students may not take ENER courses at this point. In the past MIE students have sometimes been permitted to take ENER courses, and the dept. will honor those credits. (2010-08-26, per Bill Ryan and MJS)
Can I take ME594 Nuclear Engineering for my ME degree (MS or PhD)?
No, MIE students may not take Nuclear Power Generation -- it should be an ENER course, but is temporarily mis-named. (2010-08-26, per Laxman Saggere and MJS)
Administrative Details and Paperwork
Can I make an appointment with the DGS to have this form signed?
In general, the answer to this question is no. When a form is purely administrative in nature, please give it to Iris Torres in the main office. She can obtain the DGS's signature in the most timely manner. Iris will let you know if it is necessary for you to discuss the form with the DGS.
How does course advising work for coursework Master's students in ME and IE?
When you are admitted to the program you are assigned a temporary academic advisor. Your academic advisor signs your course registration form each term; the office will then remove your
registration hold and allow you to register for courses. If you are a new student, you probably will not meet your advisor in person, but may communicate with them by email.
There are several aspects to course selection, and two are particularly important. The first is that you must take courses that fulfill the requirements. Your advisor can help you with this, but you should review the requirements for your degree in the official catalog. Links to the catalog entries for the different programs are on the MIE Graduate Programs webpage
. The second is that you should take classes that you will find interesting and useful. Your advisor can give you general advice about this, but students who have taken the classes before can give you much more specific (and often more useful) advice.
Whether you meet with your advisor in person or communicate by email, you should review the requirements in the catalog before you meet. You should also check the online schedule of courses and decide which classes you think you might want to take. Your advisor will not select courses for you; you should have a list of courses you are considering before you contact your advisor. You should also prepare a list of your questions for your advisor, but please make sure that the answers to those questions are not readily available on the university website. At the very least, check the Frequently Asked Questions list on the MIE Graduate Program website.
With regard to course selection, I always give the same four pieces of advice:
1. Master's students need to take 400- and 500-level courses; to graduate, ME students must have a total of at least four 500-level courses, with at least three of them in the department. IE students also need a total of four 500-level courses, but only two need to be in the department. Both ME and IE courses usually count as in the department for both majors, but you may check with your advisor about particular course. There is no core set of classes that all Master's students take. IE grad students cannot take IE471 for credit.
2. You should seek advice from students who have taken the courses before, they have a much better idea of what courses are good ones. If you are a foreign national, the student association from your home country is a good place to start.
3. You should shop around for courses -- attend class in many courses the first week, then decide which you want to take. Pay attention to the add/drop day, which is always the Friday of the second week of classes. In general, graduate classes do not get overenrolled and you do not need to worry about being locked out of them.
4. If you want to conduct research with a particular professor, take a class with them and impress them (this is not a guarantee, but it is a good starting point!).
I am a new student and I need to select courses for the fall. My advisor isn't returning my emails. What can I do?
Most important, don't panic! It is completely fine for you to select your courses the week before classes begin, or even during the first week of classes. It is a good idea to attend all classes you may be interested in during the first week of class and then make a final decision about which ones to take for the entire semester.
Professors often have significant research and travel commitments during the summer, and may not respond quickly to requests for advising. If your advisor does not reply to your request within a week, you may email the Director of Graduate Studies directly.
My TOEFL or IELTS score is almost good enough, I am just missing a point or two from one subscore. Can I get an exception?
We will admit students with marginal TOEFL or IELTS scores (up to two points off on a subscore) on a limited basis. These students must retake and pass the exam within the first semester of the program. The requirement to retake the exam cannot be waived, though we will usually grant an extension through the end of the first year for any student who requests it.
Where can I get answers to my questions that are not covered here in this FAQ?
Answers to many questions are available online. The UIC Graduate Catalog gives specific degree requirements, for example. If you do not find the answers to your questions online, you may contact Iris Torres in the main office. She can answer most questions about the graduate program, and can refer you to the DGS if the question is best answered by the DGS. You may also always contact your academic advisor with any questions.