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University of Illinois Graduate College - Sloan Scholarships, Rounds 1 & 2

  • Anticipated 1/2021 ( Previous deadline 1/15/2020 )
  • Anticipated 2/2021 ( Previous deadline 2/19/2020 )

This program operates by departmental nomination only.  Students do not apply directly.  

The Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a three-year grant-funded program that will advance the Sloan Foundation's goal of broadening participation in advanced engineering, physical and mathematical science careers, thereby strengthening the talent pool in these fields while increasing equitable opportunities in the U.S. Through the UCEM, the Sloan Scholarship program supports underrepresented racial/ethnic minority students (URMs), defined by Sloan as U.S. citizens who are African American, Latina/Latino, and/or American Indian/Alaskan Native. During the grant period, 50 scholars (25 Sloan Scholars and 25 Illinois Sloan Scholars) will be recruited, and they will each be funded with waiver-generating departmental assistantships and/or fellowships as well as supplemental support as provided by Sloan Scholarships.


  • Students must have been offered admission to a doctoral program in one of the following Sloan-participating departments/units:
    • College of Engineering (14 programs):
      • Aerospace Engineering (10KS4048PHD)
      • Agricultural & Biological Engineering (10KS5163PHD)
      • Bioengineering (10KS0408PHD)
      • Civil & Environmental Engineering (10KS0106PHD & 10KS0231PHD)
      • Computer Science (10KS0112PHD)
      • Electrical & Computer Engineering (10KS1200PHD)
      • Industrial & Enterprise Systems Engineering (10KS0127PHD & 10KS3846PHD)
      • Materials Science & Engineering (10KS0130PHD)
      • Mechanical Sciences & Engineering (10KS0133PHD & 10KS0242PHD)
      • Nuclear, Plasma, & Radiological Engineering (10KS5183PHD)
      • Physics (10KS0240PHD)
    • College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (9 programs):
      • Astronomy (10KS0333PHD)
      • Atmospheric Sciences (10KS0334PHD)
      • Biophysics & Quantitative Biology (10KS5414PHD)
      • Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (10KS0300PHD)
      • Chemistry (10KS0335PHD & 10KS0337PHD)
      • Geology (10KS0336PHD)
      • Mathematics (10KS0439PHD)
      • Statistics (10KS0329PHD)
  • The Sloan MPhD Program requires that students must self-identify as African-American, Hispanic, or American Indian/Alaska Native, and be U.S. citizens. (Permanent residents do not qualify. In addition, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders do not qualify.)
  • Students who are seeking first-time PhD-level admission to UIUC in fall 2020 are eligible for spring 2020 nominations.  Currently-enrolled UIUC graduate students who have completed their MS in AY19-20 and are transferring to the PhD program by fall 2020 will be also be considered.  
  • * Continuation of the Sloan scholarship competitions is contingent on successful grant renewal.


There are two levels of scholarship funding possible, and the university's Sloan Scholarship Board decides which level to award a nominee based on the overall merit of the nomination packet. The two levels are:

  • Sloan Scholars. These awardees will receive a total of $40,000 from the Sloan Foundation in three stages: 1) during year of matriculation, 2) after qualifying exam completion or unit-approved benchmark, and 3) after successful completion of preliminary or doctoral candidacy exams. $10K of the $40K must be used for professional travel to national and international conferences and laboratories of collaborators or mentors, conference registration costs, and conference lodging and meals. The remaining $30K can used for academic development and be taken as a stipend, in addition to the institution’s funding package. See the FAQs for details on allowable expenses.   
  • Illinois Sloan Scholars.  These awardees will receive a total of $10,000 from the University of Illinois in two stages: 1) during year of matriculation and 2) after qualifying exam completion or unit-approved benchmark. Funds may not be used for living expenses. Instead, funds may be used for academic and professional development and other expenses that will aid in degree completion. See the FAQs for details on allowable expenses.


As a condition of the scholarship, recipients will be required to participate in academic and professional development activities directed by the Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM) at Illinois.  Additional details and requirements of the Sloan Scholarships can be found in the FAQ sheet.

The Sloan UCEM Program and scholarships have only fall start dates.

Scholarships are not transferrable to another institution.


Funding Commitment: The department must commit to providing a waiver-generating appointment of at least 50% to the student for the duration of the PhD program, provided the student is making satisfactory academic progress toward the degree.  This appointment may be through an assistantship, a fellowship, or a combination of the two.

Financial Contribution: Nominees are eligible for the $40k award if their sponsoring program 1) has already contributed $5k toward a $10k award or 2) contributes $5k toward a future $10k award either in the department or toward a collective contribution for Illinois Sloan programs and/or future awards.

Campus Visit: Admitting departments are expected to invite nominees to visit campus through the Community of Scholars (COS) Campus Visit Program or a department-sponsored visit.

Summer Predoctoral Institute (SPI): Scholarship offers issued to doctoral students include an invitation to apply to SPI administered by the Graduate College Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office. Departments are expected to support a student’s SPI application, should the student choose to participate.

Admissions Data: department/unit will share current admissions data with the Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM) office on requested due dates:  the number of applicants, offers, accepts by domestic/international, male/female, and non-URM and underrepresented minorities URM (African American, Latina/o, Native American)


Selection Criteria: The Scholarship Board comprising STEM faculty and a Graduate College administrator will decide on whether to offer a $40K scholarship, a $10K scholarship, or no scholarship based on the overall merit of the complete nomination packet and eligibility of the candidate for the Sloan scholarship program. The nomination letter should comment on the student's:

  • Overall academic achievement

  • Research experience

  • Potential, persistence and passion for scientific research

  • Sustained personal engagement with communities that are underrepresented in the academy and an ability to bring this asset to learning, teaching, and scholarship at the college and university level.


  • The unit’s record and plans for recruiting, retaining and mentoring URM students toward PhD degree completion.


Before making a Sloan scholarship nomination, units must:

  1. Be on the list of Sloan-eligible units (see above).
  2. Assign a faculty member or senior staff member to serve as a diversity advocate on the Graduate Admissions Committee. The role of the Diversity Advocate according to OAE guidelines is to help guide the committee to make certain that the process
    • Is free of bias or stereotyping of applicants in verbal or written communication
    • Ensures that candidates are evaluated fairly
    • Includes a campus visit that provides similar opportunities for each candidate and follows interview procedures which treats all applicants consistently
    • Works to ensure diversity of the applicant pool
    • Note: In order for diversity advocates to be effective, they must have access to applicants’ files, be creative and innovative in outreach efforts to underrepresented groups, assist with retention and climate in the unit, and know diversity statistics for the unit.
  3. Verify that all Graduate Admissions Committee members have read at least one of the recommended reading materials by December 15 and before review of admission applications. Links to the reading materials and online verification are available at
  4. The Sloan UCEM office will confirm with the department/unit graduate program office when the pre-nominations requirements have been completed.


Departments must nominate students for Sloan Scholarship through SLATE.  Please note that to nominate a currently enrolled UIUC master’s student seeking admission to a doctoral program, the student must prepare a new and complete application within Slate and submit new materials (personal statement, transcripts, letters, etc.). Materials submitted previously for admission to the master’s program will not suffice.  

Please find instructions for starting a nomination (similar to GCF) through Slate in the Slate Fellowship Nomination Quick Guide 

On the Slate Nomination Form, the department/unit must certify all the following:

  • Adherence to the funding commitment (explained above)

  • The unit’s commitment to contributing $5k toward a $10k award and/or $5k toward a future $10k award.

  • Intention to invite the nominee for a campus visit

  • Support the nominee's SPI application

  • Share admissions data with the Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM) office on requested due dates

Departments/Units must submit the following materials through SLATE:

  • Nominator Information. The nominating official must be the Department Head, Director of Graduate Studies or designee approved by the aforementioned.

  • Ranking. Indicate the rank of the nominee, if the department is nominating multiple students in this round. Explain the rationale for the ranking and the award level preferred for the nominee ($40K, $10K or either).

  • Nomination Statement. Explain why the nominee is extraordinary and should be considered for the scholarship. See “Selection Criteria” mentioned above.

  • Unit URM Recruitment and Retention Record and Plans. Describe your unit’s record and plans for recruiting, retaining and mentoring URM students toward PhD degree completion.

  • Offer Letter. In Slate, departments will also need to insert text copied from the letter offering admission to the nominee. The letter must indicate that the department will provide the student an assistantship and/or fellowship that offers a standard stipend, tuition waiver, and partial fee waivers (in addition to the potential Sloan award).

All other materials (the nominee’s Personal Statement, transcripts, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation) will be assembled automatically by Slate.  Again, please note that to nominate a currently enrolled UIUC master’s student, the student will need to complete a new application in Slate, i.e., the materials submitted in years past for admission to the master’s program are not acceptable.

Confirmation of Nomination: Slate will send email confirmations for all nominations that have been successfully submitted.  Departments not receiving confirmation can assume that their nominations have not been submitted and should contact the Sloan UCEM Office or 217-300-4436. 


Ellen Wang Althaus, Ph.D.
Director of the Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring at Illinois
The Graduate College
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


  • Deadline for Round 1:  January 15, 2020 at 5 pm.
  • Deadline for Round 2:  February 19, 2020 at 5 pm.


Categories: Sciences/Engineering/Math; US Citizens, Nationals, or Permanent Residents; Early Years of Doctoral Program; Fellowship/Grant; University of Illinois Students; Underrepresented Students

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