Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Can I make changes to my application after submission? Due to the volume of applications, we cannot guarantee this, but you are welcome to email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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.
- Is there any advantage to submitting the application early? Yes, the sooner your application is submitted, the sooner we can begin processing your application.
- 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: https://my.mechse.illinois.edu/gradstat. You will log in with your email address and date of birth as used in the application portal.
- 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
- 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 (166 MEB). You must do both of these to be considered on the degree list.
- What happens if I don’t make my thesis deposit? Will I automatically be added to the next degree list? As long as you are within your time-to-degree, there is no problem with having to move to the next degree certification period. You do not, however, get automatically put on any degree list, ever. You must go through the process outlined in #1 to re-add your name to the list for the next degree certification period.
- 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.
- 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 e-mail a pdf version of your thesis/dissertation to the Graduate Programs Supervisor. Before initiating the format review, you will need to bring your signed TDA form (Thesis Dissertation Approval Form) to the Graduate Programs Office, 166 MEB. MS students will only need to have their advisor sign the TDA forms (you will find the form at https://grad.illinois.edu/forms under “STUDENTS"). The Graduate Office will provide the TDA form for Ph.D. students in their defense packet that is given to their Doctoral Committee Chair before the exam. The committee will sign the form at the end of the exam. The Graduate Programs Supervisor will not do the department format review until signed TDA forms have been submitted because this indicates the Advisor/Doctoral Committee will have no further changes to request. You will be e-mailed once the format review is complete, telling you what changes are to be made, if any. You will receive e-mail from the department format reviewer once all changes are accepted. You will be told to upload the thesis to the Graduate College so that they can complete their review. Once you make any changes the Graduate College may require, you will receive an e-mail from them stating that the thesis/dissertation has been accepted as deposited.
- The Ph.D. Exit Interview – what is this? The Ph.D. 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.
- Do I have to be enrolled to deposit my thesis/dissertation? No. Domestic MS students are not required to enroll once they have satisfied all coursework/hour requirements for the degree. However, you should remember that if you are not enrolled, you may not hold an appointment. Domestic PHD students must be enrolled (at least for 0 hrs of thesis research – ME 599/TAM 599) the semesters they take their Prelim and Final defense. They do not have to be enrolled to deposit. International students must maintain enrollment in order to keep their student Visa status (F1 Visa). However, if all coursework and hour requirements are met, they can enroll for 0 hrs of ME 599/TAM 599 thesis research. International students should always consult ISSS, as they are the primary source of information concerning these issues.
- 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.