Frequently Asked Questions

We are delighted that you are looking for answers to your questions. Whether you looking to apply or finalizing details for graduation, you can find answers to commonly asked questions here.

Admissions FAQ

Grad Programs FAQ

CPT (Curricular Practical Training)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is for international graduate students.

Please see The Grainger College of Engineering published policy on CPT.

Students should submit the following information to MechSE GPO ( ) prior to submitting the online CPT request to ISSS:

  1. What course will you register for (599 Thesis Research or ENG 510)?
  • This depends on whether the thesis is directly related to your dissertation/thesis research, in which case you would register for 599 thesis research.   If it is not directly related to your dissertation/thesis research, then you would register for ENG 510.
  • If registering for 599, please provide a brief, detailed statement of what skills/knowledge the internship is providing that will assist you in your research and writing your dissertation.
  • If registering for ENG 510, Provide a statement explaining how the internship will assist you in future coursework and/or in future research
  1. Please see the Grainger CPT website
  2. What semester or semesters will the internship take place?
  3. How many hours per week will you work? (less than 20? 20? More than 20?)   ***No full-time (20 hours or more) CPT is allowed in the last semester without special approval from The Grainger College of Engineering.

Teaching Assistantships (TAs)

To be eligible to TA at University of Illinois, students for whom English is not their first language must pass a test of spoken English. This can be the TOEFL IBT (with a minimum score of 24 on the speaking portion) or the IELTS (with a minimum score of 8 on the speaking portion). Current students may take the Illinois on-campus English Proficiency Interview (EPI) (with a minimum score of 4CP/5). Scores on a TOEFL or IELTS are valid within two years of admission to the graduate program.

Find more information on the EPI exam.

Admissions FAQ

The application process and minimum requirements are explained at this page. Additional FAQ are provided below. Please review the website for the answer to your question prior to contacting the department.

  1. Can I get an idea about my chance of being admitted and receiving financial aid prior to submitting an application and supporting documents? No. It is not possible for anyone to appraise an applicant’s chances for admission and financial aid without a complete application.
  2. As an international applicant, do I have to submit my proof of funding documents with my application? While it is preferred to have proof of funding documents with the application, this is not required for admission consideration. If you are not able to provide this documentation when you are submitting your application, you can upload a blank document that explains you will provide it later.
  3. I have been previously enrolled at UIUC as a degree seeking graduate student. Do I have to fill out a new application to come back? If you were previously enrolled in the MechSE department, you do not have to reapply. You will need to follow these instructions for re-entry. Once you have completed these forms, submit them to the Graduate Programs Office. The paperwork will be reviewed in the same way an application is reviewed. A recommended decision will be made, but final approval will come from the Graduate College.
  4. I am enrolled at UIUC, but in a different department. How to I transfer to MechSE? If you have a RA commitment from a faculty member and would like to be a MechSE student, you may apply via a Graduate College Petition. Submission of a petition is not an automatic acceptance into MechSE. If you do not have a RA commitment from a faculty member, you will need to apply to MechSE as a new applicant, and follow all application instructions (including posted deadlines) explained at our Applying to MechSE page.
  5. Are only PhD applicants considered for funding such as fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships? Both MS and PhD applicants are considered for fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships.
  6. Do I need to send any hard copies of my application to the department? No. The committee will use the documents submitted electronically in the application. Please, do not resend duplicate copies of documents that are part of the online application. Doing so can delay the processing of your application.
  7. Can I make changes to my application after submission? Yes. Please revisit your application status page to upload additional documents. Please be aware that full consideration of these documents is not guaranteed if uploaded after the application deadline. You are welcome to email to let us know you have uploaded additional documents. 
  8. When are admissions decisions made? A committee will begin reviewing the application as soon as possible. Admission decisions for spring entry are usually emailed in November. Admission decisions for fall entry are emailed in the January-March timeframe.
  9. Is there any advantage to submitting the application early? Yes, the sooner your application is submitted, the sooner we can begin processing your application.
  10. How will I know whether or not my application file is complete? Applicants can check their application status at any time by logging in at: You will log in with your email address and date of birth as used in the application portal. 
  11. Should I contact the faculty members to discuss research opportunities? Only admitted applicants should contact faculty members. Applicants should not contact faculty prior to receiving an offer of admission.

Graduate Programs FAQ

  1. Does my name automatically get added to a degree list? No. You must add your name to the electronic degree list by logging in to the student self-service system ("Enterprise") and clicking on the “Graduation” tab, and choose the term you wish to add your name to. You must also submit a hard copy application for degree to the Graduate Programs Office via email ( You must do both of these to be considered on the degree list.
  2. What happens if I don’t make my thesis deposit? Will I automatically be added to the next degree list?  Yes, as long as you are within your time-to-degree, there is no problem with having to move to the next degree certification period. Your name would be moved automatically. If, however, you have reached your time-to-degree, a graduate petition must be filed (see here) to request an extension of the program. When a program extension is requested, an "Academic Plan of Completion" must also be included with the petition, and this must be signed by your advisor. 
  3. Is a Degree Audit necessary? If so, who do I speak to about having an audit done , and at what point should I request an audit? Yes, it’s very important that a student know for sure where they are at in the program as far as completion of requirements. The “DARS for Grads” online degree audit is not set up to take certain things into account and could likely provide an incorrect picture of your requirement completion. If you look at the audit and see something that does not look correct, you should contact the Graduate Programs Office to make an appointment for a degree audit. MS students should have a reliable audit done no later than when you are ready to register for your last semester. PhD students are automatically audited for coursework completion when they submit their request to take the Prelim Examination.
  4. What are the steps to arranging a Prelim and Final Exam?  Refer to the MechSE website (click on either PhD in ME or PhD in TAM).
  5. Do I have to be enrolled to take a Qualifying, Prelim, and Final Exam?  Yes.  UIUC rules require enrollment the semester you take a prelim and a final exam.  MechSE requires enrollment the semester you take a qualifying exam.
  6. Is there a time limit to deposit after taking the Final Exam?  Yes.  You must deposit by the third semester after the final defense. 
  7. The PhD Exit Interview – what is this? The PhD Exit Interview is an approximately 15 -20 minute interview with the Department Head prior to Ph.D. students leaving campus. This is scheduled by the Department Head’s secretary and can be scheduled as soon as the Final Defense has been passed. You do not need to wait until you deposit your thesis to schedule the interview – but you do need to have passed the Final Defense. This is an opportunity for the Department Head to hear from the graduating students concerning how they feel about their time at UIUC, what they liked, what could have been better…and a time for students to reflect on the fact that a major life goal has been achieved.
  8. Do I have to be enrolled to deposit my thesis/dissertation? Students are not required to be enrolled to deposit.
  9. What are the steps to depositing my thesis? The department format review must be done before the thesis can be uploaded to the graduate college. When you are ready for the format review, you should email a PDF version of your thesis/dissertation to Graduate Programs Office at . Before initiating the document review, an approved TDA (Thesis Dissertation Approval Form) must be received by the Graduate Programs Office.  For PhD students, the doctoral committee chair is instructed to send an email notice to the Graduate Programs Office once the committee has approved the document for deposit.  MS students will need to have their advisor sign the TDA form (you will find the form at The Graduate Programs Office will provide the TDA form for PhD students in their defense packet that is given to their Doctoral Committee Chair before the exam. The committee chair will send an email to the Graduate Programs Office after the exam, confirming the exam result. The department format review cannot be done until signed/verified TDA forms have been submitted, as this indicates the Advisor/Doctoral Committee will have no further changes to request. You will be emailed once the format review is complete, telling you what changes are to be made, if any. You will receive email from the department format reviewer once all changes are accepted. You will be told to upload the thesis to the Graduate College so they can complete their review.  Once you make any changes the Graduate College may require, you will receive an email from them stating that the thesis/dissertation has been accepted as deposited. The Graduate Programs Office will be copied on this notification. 
  10. Where can I find deadlines concerning graduation? You will find the Graduate Academic Calendar, which lists all important dates, by logging on to the Graduate College Homepage, click on “current students,” “campus calendars.” The MechSE Graduate Programs Office also sends out e-mail to students at the start of each semester to give them key dates and deadlines for graduation.