Multicultural Engineering Recruitment for Graduate Education (MERGE) Program
Fall 2023 Events
Virtual event: September 22
On-campus visit: October 26-27
Grainger Engineering is one of the world's top-ranked engineering colleges. Our students, faculty, and alumni set the standard for excellence. We drive the economy, reimagine engineering education, and bring revolutionary ideas to the world.
Each fall, the MERGE Program provides an opportunity for students with diverse experiences and goals, and who come from many educational, socio-cultural, geographic, and familial backgrounds to explore and consider Grainger Engineering graduate programs. MERGE supports prospective students through pre-application seminars, program-specific connections, and campus visits.
Virtual event: Friday, September 22 at 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm CST
- Live virtual visit for all participants
On-campus visit event: October 26-27
- A select group of MERGE participants will be invited to attend an on-campus follow-up visit, sponsored by The Grainger College of Engineering.
All MERGE participants are eligible for an application fee waiver when applying to a Grainger Engineering graduate program.
MERGE participants who enroll in a Grainger Engineering graduate program will be eligible for $700 of professional development funds unless they participated in the sponsored MERGE campus visit in 2023.
I really liked how I was able to ask the department that I was interested in my questions and get feedback specific to what would strengthen my application. It was also really nice to be able to speak to the graduate students currently within the department to have a glimpse into what it feels like within the lab environment.
Lisa B., 2021 MERGE Participant
MERGE was a great experience to learn about life and academics at UIUC. The meetings with the faculty of the related departments was particularly helpful in getting to know more about how to apply and how the programs work. I found the financial knowledge aspect of the event particularly insightful.
Carlos M., 2021 MERGE Participant
Want to hear about upcoming MERGE events?
Contact us to be notified of future events, or to ask questions about the program.
- U.S. citizens or permanent residents
- Currently enrolled in or recently completed an accredited curriculum in engineering, computer science, or physics
- Minimum GPA of 3.2 (on a 4.0 point scale)
- Persons with diverse experiences and goals, who come from many educational, socio-cultural, geographic, and familial backgrounds
- A resume or CV
- An unofficial transcript
- An academic statement addressing your plans for graduate study, including research interests, career goals, relevant coursework completed, and other educational experiences (up to 1,000 words)
- A personal statement addressing both of the following prompts (up to 1,000 words):
- Please describe any experiences and/or challenges that may have shaped your intellectual and personal development.
- Provide insight into your potential to contribute to a community of inclusion, belonging, and respect in which scholars with diverse perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn and collaborate productively and positively.
Grainger Engineering Five-Year Ph.D. Funding Guarantee
Grainger Engineering Ph.D. students in their first five years of enrollment are guaranteed a funded appointment for fall and spring that includes a full tuition waiver, a partial fee waiver, and a stipend. Students are also eligible for summer support. Students must remain in Good Academic Standing and successfully perform the duties of their assistantships. Learn more.
Unique "Micro-Urban" Community
Urbana-Champaign is on an accelerated development track, emerging as a leading example of a "micro-urban" community—a population center of less than 250,000 with a set of highly desirable attributes commonly found in larger cities. Our vibrant arts/culture/nightlife scene, internationally diverse population, strong technology base, and commitment to societal issues coupled with a world-class university make this an ideal place to live, study, and work.
True Interdisciplinary Spirit
We're home to numerous research centers, multidisciplinary research efforts, and many advanced laboratories. Interdisciplinary discovery is a topic of conversation at every university today. At Illinois, it isn't just talk. It's a way of life. Here it's possible to redefine success, and invent new ways of working with colleagues from across campus in almost any field, for almost any reason.
Take a Photo Tour of Grainger Engineering
Check out our snapshot slideshow to get a peek inside a few landmark locations, classrooms, labs, and hangout spots on the Grainger Engineering campus.
Take a Photo Tour of Grainger EngineeringFreshman Launch groups Saturday, August 24, 2019. Students test their VR skills in CS 498: Virtual Reality at the VR Lab at Siebel Center for Computer Science in Urbana on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. Ganpath Karl, an Electrical Engineering major, works on soldering in the Advanced Power Applications Lab at ECE on Monday, March 4, 2019. Karl is involved with a sustainability project and has been active with Innovation, Leadership & Engineering Entrepreneurship (ILEE) and iVenture Accelerator. Students gather to study and work in the Grainger Library overlooking the Bardeen quad on November 29, 2017. The sun's rays stream through the large windows of Geoffrey Yeh Student Center at Newmark Hall as students review classroom work in bright surroundings in Urbana on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. The Civil Engineering student seen here is working on his master's degree, which he will receive in the summer of 2020. Students in ME 370 test their robots one last time, challenging them with rough terrain, during their finals at the Materials Science and Engineering Building in Urbana on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. Members of the Concrete Canoe team row against strong winds as they use wooden boats for practice during their Paddling Team Meeting at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. Project manager, Darren Liu, a senior in CEE, is determined to help his team reach nationals in spring 2019 with this year's design. Last year they took fourth place in regionals. The top two teams in regionals go on to compete in nationals. Last year's concrete canoe, featuring a pirate theme, is pictured docked at Crystal Lake during a paddling team meeting. Illinois students, faculty, staff, and the Marching Illini celebrate The Grainger Foundation's generous gift at Electrical and Computer Engineering Building in Urbana on Thursday, May 2, 2019. Students walk through the Siebel Center for Computer Science on November 1, 2017. Three students sit and work at Loomis Laboratory on November 2, 2017. Students observe a lecture taught by Professor Tim Stelzer at Loomis Laboratory on November 2, 2017. The exterior of the newly renovated Everitt Lab is seen here in Urbana on July 27, 2018. Students walk along the sidewalks of Bardeen Quad at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on November 31, 2017. Grainger Engineering students, and students across the Midwest, don glow-in-the-dark jewelry as they solve web design puzzles under black lights at Caterpillar's Code in the Dark. The event was part of the 36-hour HackIllinois at ECEB in Urbana on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. The Association for Computer Machinery at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign oversees HackIllinois each year. The Off-Road Illini SAE Baja team spend part of their Saturday building vehicles for competition while at Engineering Student Projects Lab in Urbana on Oct. 6, 2018. Computer Science Engineering students proudly wear their tee-shirts. Incoming freshmen and transfer students enjoy food, games, and mingling with Engineering professors and other students at Bardeen Quad during Launch! in Urbana on Saturday, August 25, 2018. Undergraduate students with Women in Engineering work together at the Mechanical Engineering Lab's Innovation Studio in Urbana on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. Picture from left are: Ashley Mitchell, Delanie Steinweg, Michelle McCord, and Jamie Milota. Craig Zilles, associate professor of Computer Science, teaches CS 225 Data Structures at Grainger Auditorium at ECEB in Urbana on Monday, Feb. 4, 2019.
I had a fantastic time, learned much, and felt more welcome by The Grainger College of Engineering than I have in both of my undergraduate colleges in 5 years.
Jared Canty, 2022 MERGE Participant
MERGE helped me directly connect with professors and PhD students in their labs. I felt welcomed into the communities at UIUC and I am excited to learn even more as I begin the application process. The MERGE programming also helped me connect with students in different disciplines sharing my interests in research and passion for access and inclusion. It was great to not only connect with people in my field but form relationships with people across engineering disciplines!
Alice Zhang, 2022 MERGE Participant
Graduate Program Rankings
The graduate engineering program at The Grainger College of Engineering is ranked #11 overall in the U.S. News & World Report (published April 2023). The following list includes our ranked graduate engineering degree programs and specialties. Note: U.S. News & World Report does not include Computer Science graduate degree programs in their rankings.
- Ranked Degree Programs
- #7Aerospace Engineering
- #4Agricultural Engineering
- #19Biomedical Engineering
- #12Chemical Engineering
- #2Civil Engineering
- #5 Computer Engineering
- #4 Electrical Engineering
- #4 Environmental Engineering
- #15 Industrial Engineering
- #2 Materials Science and Engineering
- #5 Mechanical Engineering / Theoretical and Applied Mechanics
- #8Nuclear Engineering
- #9 Physics
- Ranked specialties
- #5 Computer Science - Artificial Intelligence
- #3 Computer Science - Programming Language
- #4 Computer Science - Systems
- #5 Computer Science - Theory
- #13 Physics - Atomic / Molecular / Optical
- #5 Physics - Condensed Matter
- #5 Physics - Living Systems
- #6 Physics - Nuclear
- #12 Physics - Quantum
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