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Fellowship Finder

University of Illinois Graduate College - Illinois Distinguished Fellowships, Round 1

Deadline: Anticipated 1/2020 ( Previous deadline 1/15/2019 )

Nominations are due at 5:00 p.m. on the deadline day. 

The Graduate College's Illinois Distinguished Fellowship program is intended to help the University of Illinois recruit exceptional applicants into its doctoral programs. Only students of the highest caliber who represent extraordinary recruitment opportunities will receive these fellowships.  Approximately 20 awards will be made given sufficient funding, and each award provides three years of support.


  • Illinois Distinguished Fellowships are intended as campus recruitment fellowships, and they are intended only for students being offered admission into a doctoral program.  To that end, only those students who are seeking first-time graduate-level admission to UIUC are eligible, i.e., currently-enrolled UIUC graduate students are not eligible. 
  • Students of any nationality or citizenship are eligible.  
  • Only those students intending to enter during the 2019-20 academic year are eligible.  However, for students intending to enter in Spring 2020, their fellowship will not begin until Fall 2020.  
  • Students in approved cost-recovery or self-supporting programs are not eligible for nomination. The list of such programs can be found here

Award Amount: The fellowship provides three years of support and includes the following: 

  • $25,000 stipend per 12-month academic year.
  •  Waiver of full tuition, service fee, AFMFA fee, library/IT fee, and health service fee. 
  • Basic dental and vision coverage.
  • Partial payment of the graduate student health insurance fee. 


  • The award offers flexibility in that fellows can defer two years of the fellowship funding during the five-year period that begins with the 2019-20 academic year and ends with the 2023-24 academic year. All active years will have an August 16 start date.
  • Fellows are required to be registered during the terms in which they receive the award (and this includes being registered for at least four weeks during the summer).  
  • Concurrent assistantship support of up to 50% or supplemental fellowship support is permissible.

Evaluation Criteria:  The Fellowship Board will conduct a holistic assessment of the nominee's academic record, achievements, and promise of scholarly success.  Evaluation criteria include undergraduate grade-point average, quality of undergraduate preparation, letters of recommendation, and the nominee's personal statement. If the departments requires and uses the GRE in its evaluation of candidates, the Fellowship Board will do likewise and take the applicant’s GRE scores into account.  Otherwise, the Board will not take GRE scores into account.  Slate allows departments to check whether or not they want the Fellowship Board to take the applicant’s GRE scores into account.  Performance in graduate work is also evaluated for those nominees who have taken graduate courses.  Critical to the evaluation is also the department’s Nomination Statement, through which the nominating official (either the Director of Graduate Study or the Executive Officer) explains why the department considers the applicant worthy of an Illinois Distinguished Fellowship. 

The Fellowship Board will also take into consideration the level of financial support the department is offering to the student, as specified in the department’s admissions letter to the student.  The Board will view the level of financial support offered as an indicator of the department’s interest in and level of commitment to the student.   

The Fellowship Board will also take disciplinary distribution into account, i.e., the Board aims to distribute fellowships fairly and equitably to departments across campus. 

Award Limitations per Department: The Graduate College will pay for a maximum of three Illinois Distinguished Fellowships, total, in a given department in any single year. This limitation applies not the number of IDFs won in any given year but instead to the total number of IDFs that students in a given department may have in any given year. On the Nomination Form, departments must certify that they will cover the IDF stipend ($25,000) up to the full three years of the award period in cases where nominations result in accepted offers that take the departmental total over the maximum of three.  The department should take this award limitation into account when deciding how many IDF nominations to submit each year.


Departments must nominate students for Illinois Distinguished Fellowships through Slate.  Please find instructions for starting a nomination through Slate in the Slate Fellowship Nomination Quick Guide 

In Slate, departments must certify adherence to the award limitations (explained above), explain the rationale for the ranking (if more than one nomination is submitted), and explain in the "Nomination Statement" section why the nominee is extraordinary and should be considered for the fellowship. 

Nominating officials (either the DGS or Head) should pay particular attention to the guidelines found in Slate regarding the Ranking Statement and the Nomination Statement.  For additional guidance on preparing those two statements, watch the 10 Minute Tips video entitled “Preparing Effective Nomination Statements for Graduate College Grants & Fellowships.”

In preparing the Nomination Statement, the nominating official should keep in mind that the Fellowship Board is multidisciplinary and consists of representatives from the sciences, humanities, engineering, social sciences, fine arts, and professional programs. Board members will rely on the Nomination Statement to explain what counts for intellectual merit and academic achievement within the discipline, and they will use the statement as a key resource in their attempt to compare the department’s nominee with other nominees from across campus. It is therefore best to explain, in detail, why the department wishes to recruit this student, and it is best to use concrete, quantified measures whenever possible to characterize the nominee’s accomplishments. If there are any oddities or weaknesses in the applicant’s record, it’s best to address those directly.

In Slate, departments will also need to insert text copied from the letter offering admission to the nominee (see paragraph under "Evaluation Criteria" above regarding role of the admissions letter).

All other materials -- the nominee’s Personal Statement, transcripts, GRE scores (if applicable), and letters of recommendation -- will be assembled automatically by Slate. 

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 Ken Vickery directly at or 217-333-3464. 

Rounds: Students may be nominated for both Round 1 and Round 2, but departments must submit all nominations for Round 2 via Slate, including those that were unsuccessful in Round 1.  In other words, nominations that were not successful in Round 1 must be submitted again via Slate for Round 2. 

For further information contact the Graduate College Fellowship Office at 217-333-0036 or

Deadline in the Graduate College for Round 1: January 15, 2019.

Deadline in the Graduate College for Round 2: February 18, 2019.



Categories: Annual stipend of at least $10,000; Social Sciences; Sciences/Engineering/Math; Professional Programs; Fine Arts; Humanities; US Citizens, Nationals, or Permanent Residents; International Students; Fellowship/Grant; University of Illinois Students

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