Multicultural Engineering Recruitment for Graduate Education (MERGE)

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.

Apply by August 15, 2024. 

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MERGE 2024

Virtual event: Friday, September 20, 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm CST

  • Live virtual visit for all participants 

On-campus visit event: November 7-8

  • 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 2024.


Application Information

Eligibility Criteria

  • 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


Application Requirements

  • 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):
    1. Please describe any experiences and/or challenges that may have shaped your intellectual and personal development. 
    2. 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.

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.

Explore Graduate Programs

  • 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


Get a Bird's-Eye View

Take a drone tour through the Grainger Engineering campus.

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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.


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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.

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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.