PROGRAMS  |  PHD PROGRAM

Admission to the PhD Program

The following is for admission of students not currently attending graduate school at the University of Illinois.

If you are already in graduate school at the University of Illinois and would like to transfer into the Informatics PhD program, the admission process is a bit simpler. See Internal Transfer Admissions.

Similarly, if you have previously been enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Illinois (but are not currently a student) you need to apply for re-entry even if it is a new program (vs. submitting a new application online).

Application Deadline

Application deadline is December 15 for the following Fall admission.

We strongly recommend that you and your recommenders do not wait until the deadline to submit your application or letters of recommendation, as server traffic may cause technical difficulties. It is highly recommended to have all application materials in one month prior to deadline to expedite admissions decisions.

Application procedures

Applicants to the PhD program must have been awarded (or are about to be awarded) a 4-year bachelors degree equivalent to that granted by the University of Illinois.

To apply, use the Graduate College Online Application. All parts of the application, including application fee, must be received by the application deadline.

Late applications will NOT be accepted. Also, incomplete applications will be subject to denial.

Important Notes
  • When entering in your previous degree history, the name of the institution must be entered as it appears on the official transcript.
  • Illinois Informatics requires students to submit original or attested transcripts by the deadline in order to have your application reviewed. This requirement takes precedence over the Graduate College requirement to submit scanned transcripts. Also, Illinois Informatics does not require international applicants to submit the financial documents or passport information at the time of application.
  • Please do not send additional materials (e.g. publications, photographs, videos, CDs, or portfolios). These items are not reviewed during the admissions process.
  • Please note that all admissions decisions will be communicated via email to the email address provided in your application. If your email address changes between the time you submit your application and March 15, email your updated email address to info-phd@illinois.edu. Include your old email address, your new email address, your first and last name, and your ApplyYourself PIN number in the email message.
Fees
  • The university’s application fee is $70 for US citizens and permanent residents and $90 for all other applicants.
  • The fee must accompany the application by credit card payment with a web application.
  • Application fees are non-refundable.

Note:   Please do not send the application fee to the department. This will delay the payment process. If processed past the application deadline, this will cause the review of your application to be postponed until the next admission period.

Transcripts
  • Applicants must send official transcripts for all completed university course work and certification of degree (for international students only) for all completed degree programs directly to the department, and they must be received by the application deadline.
  • Official transcripts may be sent by the applicant and be considered as official if received in a sealed/signed envelope and does not say “issued to student.”
  • Please note that submitting scanned transcripts with the application does not replace the requirement to submit official transcripts directly to Illinois Informatics. Applicants will not have a “complete” file until official transcripts are received.

Note:  For International mail, we suggest you send through a delivery service that can track your shipment.

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants are required to have three letters of recommendation submitted.

It is recommended that letters of recommendation be from academics. They can either be your faculty, advisors, supervisors, or colleagues. If you have been away from academics for a significant amount of time, you may substitute non-academic references of your choice (e.g. immediate supervisors, colleagues, etc.).

The letters should address your academic and research abilities and your potential to be successful at graduate level academic performance.

Individuals writing letters of recommendation on your behalf should submit their letters through our online application system. Any recommendations that do not follow this process may impact timely application processing.

Please make sure recommenders complete the section on the “Recommender’s Form” that states “To what extent do you recommend this applicant for admissions as a graduate student in their proposed field of study.”

Financial Certification

Please note that the financial form does not need to be submitted by the application deadline. It will be required if admission is offered along with supporting financial documentation.

CV / Resume
  • Your CV/resume is part of the online application form.
  • Your CV/resume should address your education, job and research experience, remarkable achievements, publications, organizations, awards, and leadership experiences.
  • This information helps the admissions committee understand your background. In addition, it helps when identifying applicants for RA and TA assistantships.
General Record Examination (GRE)
  • The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general aptitude tests (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical) and subject test scores are recommended, but no longer required. In some cases, the scores may provide helpful supporting information.
  • A photocopy of the scores may be sent directly to the department if the applicant wishes to have them considered.
Personal statement

The Personal Statement (sometimes also called the Applicant Statement) should include your goals and background as it relates to the field of informatics. It is good to include any past work history, your interests, and reasons for pursuing a graduate degree in informatics. Your statement will be evaluated for your conciseness, research interests, leadership skills, and eloquence. Generally the Personal Statement is between one to two pages.

The Personal Statement is part of the online application form.

Research statement

Applicants must also complete the Research Statement, which is different from the Personal Statement.

The Research Statement is designed to give you the opportunity of exploring a problem, question or issue that interests you, and that you might like to pursue in your doctoral work. Of course, we realize that your interests may change once you are in the doctoral program, but you should discuss a problem that is of sufficient importance to be considered suitable for doctoral level work. You should specifically address the question of why you have chosen the Informatics PhD program at Illinois in which to pursue your doctoral research.

As you discuss the problem, question or issue, clearly describe it and why it is of interest to you. Why is it important? What fields, departments, or disciplines have contributed or might contribute to work in this area of research? Why do you think it has not been addressed sufficiently beforehand? Why should others be interested in it? How might you go about investigating it in order to come up with results that would further our understanding it?

In evaluating your Research Statement, the committee will look for how well you have conceptualized the question or problem and explained its implications. They will also consider the appropriateness, rigor, and creativity associated with how you propose to go about finding answers or solutions. The Research Statement should be no more than two pages (about 800 words).

Where to submit the Research Statement on the online application:

On the Statements page of the online application, you are asked for the personal statement and resume. Then you are given options for a few program-specific statements. There is one dedicated to a writing sample and another two are listed as program-specific statements. Please upload your Research Statement in the program-specific section. There will be a pop-up for this.

Your research interests
  • Select your Area of Interest (from the Research Areas) under Concentration.
  • Suggest up to three faculty members you might be interested in working with. Participating faculty affiliates are listed under each of the Research Areas, or you can suggest other Illinois faculty.
    Note: This is VERY important, so please make sure you do this!
TOEFL and IELTS Exams Requirements

This section is for all students whose native language is not English, which includes those permanent residence of the United States (green card). All TOEFL test scores should be reported through ETS to Institution Code 1836. A Department code is not needed, however, if one is required, please use “78”.

  • International applicants may check to see if they are exempt from this requirement based on their country of citizenship. Please be sure to carefully read the admissions requirements and the financial aid requirements.
  • International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL testing if, within five years of the proposed term of enrollment, he or she has completed at least two academic years of full-time study as defined by the home institution, or completed a graduate degree in a country where English is the primary language and in a school where English is the primary language of instruction. For financial aid requirement, see below.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must meet English Proficiency Requirements for admissions for University of Illinois.
Applicants who reapply

Applicants who are not recommended for admission may re-apply for a future term entrance by following the application procedure listed below.

  • Complete the standard Online Application. Please make sure to include your updated resume within the application.
  • Pay the standard application fee.
  • Submit an updated Personal Statement online.
  • Submit a new Research Statement to Illinois Informatics.
  • Submit three new letters of recommendation online.
  • Provide updated transcripts (if applicable). Please note that transcripts are only on file for one year.
  • Submit TOEFL scores if you are an international applicant who did not attend an English speaking institution. Please note that TOEFL scores cannot be more than two years old from date of exam.

Note:  The admissions committee does not generally encourage re-applications unless there has been significant change in an applicant’s credentials.

Financial Aid and English Language Profiency
  • To be eligible for all forms of financial aid awarded by Illinois Informatics, a TOEFL iBT score (Speaking section only) must be submitted, regardless of eligibility of waiver for this requirement. If currently working on an academic degree in the US or country whose official native language is English (not medium of instruction), this requirement supersedes the waiver of the TOEFL by the university.
  • This requirement is regardless of naturalized U.S. citizenship or permanent residency and is for financial aid consideration, specifically the award of a Teaching Assistantship, a common form of financial aid for incoming informatics graduate students at Illinois. Non-submission of these scores will restrict the department from giving full financial aid considerations.
  • A passing score on the TOEFL iBT (spoken portion of the exam only) is 24/30. And, a passing score on the IELTS (on the spoken portion of the exam only) is 8.
  • SPEAK scores taken on a US campus other than Illinois are not eligible to fulfill the requirement at Illinois. The department has no authority to waive this requirement. A passing score does not guarantee an assistantship offer.

Admission decisions

Admissions and financial aid decisions are coordinated by Illinois Informatics.

Admission decisions are typically announced by March 15 for fall admissions. In some cases, however, decisions may be reached much earlier.

Decision process
  • Applications are carefully evaluated by members of the Admissions Committee.
  • Please note that applications lacking required credentials will not be forwarded to the Admissions Committee for review until they are complete.
  • All admission decisions will be communicated via email to the email address provided in your application. Additional certification or documentation may be sent to applicants who are recommended for admission by the department and admission has been finalized by the Office of Admissions.
  • Applicants who are recommended for admission may need to submit an official final transcript (which shows completion of all course and degree awarded) upon final review by the Graduate and Professional Admissions Office.
Inquiries and visits
  • Please do not call or email the department or Graduate and Professional Admissions Office. No information concerning an applicant’s file or admissions decision can be given to telephone or email inquiries.
  • To inquire about campus visits and meeting with faculty and current graduate students, please contact Karin Readel at kereadel@illinois.edu.

Application checklist

Before the application deadline, we strongly encourage applicants to go through the check list below to ensure all applications materials have been submitted. Most are submitted online.

  • Application submitted online.
  • Application fee paid online with credit card.
  • Three letters of recommendation submitted to Illinois Informatics
  • Area of Interest specified online Specialization.
  • Submit three new letters of recommendation online.
  • Three faculty members you might be interested in working with suggested, listed online on the Application Information page.
  • Scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL or IELTS) online. Note: Copies are acceptable pending official scores.

Any additional information can be sent to:

Graduate Admissions

Illinois Informatics

NCSA Building

1205 West Clark

Urbana, IL 61801

FAX:  217-333-5878

Email:  info-phd@illinois.edu

If you have any questions with the application process and submitting your materials, please contact info-phd@illinois.edu. Please allow at least 48 hours from the time the Academic Office receives your materials to be processed and updated in the system.

After the admissions deadline, please allow two to three weeks for materials to be processed and updated in the system due to the large volume of mail received. Please note that our offices are closed during the Christmas and New Year holidays, which may cause further delays.