Graduate Study
Prospective PhD Students

Almost all full-time PhD students in mechanical engineering who are making satisfactory progress toward their degrees secure continuous financial support for the duration of their studies. Aid is available in the form of fellowships, research assistantships, or teaching assistantships; each covers tuition and provides a stipend.

New PhD applicants will be automatically considered for fellowship support; no separate application is necessary for financial aid.


Fellowships are available to students intending to pursue a PhD program. The Walter P. Murphy and Royal E. Cabell Fellowships are endowed fellowships that enable outstanding students to pursue their first year of graduate study with no teaching or research obligations. Terminal year Cabell Fellowships are available on a competitive basis for students completing their PhD studies to enable them to focus entirely on their dissertation during their final year.

Fellowships for underrepresented minority group members are available for new and continuing students, both as part of the Murphy Fellowships and through external awards such as the Illinois Minority Graduate Incentive Program.

Research Assistantships

Research assistantships are offered to PhD students. A few MS students (but usually not entering students) are able to find positions as paid research assistants, but these RAs do not include tuition waivers. Research assistantships are funded by grants or contracts secured by individual professors.

Research assistants work closely with their advisers, and the majority of their efforts are devoted to thesis research. Some new students and most continuing students are supported through research assistantships.

Teaching Assistantships

Teaching assistantships are offered to well-qualified graduate students. These are usually temporary assignments requiring about 20 hours per week of student contact, recitation, and grading. New and continuing students may be considered for teaching assistantships.

Students whose native language is not English must score a minimum of 50 on the Test of Spoken English (TSE) and 65 or higher on the Versant English test, to be considered for a teaching assistantship.

External Fellowships

Mechanical engineering graduate students are eligible for a variety of externally supported fellowships. If you meet the requirements for any of the following fellowships, we recommend that you apply for them.

Not only do they provide income during your graduate study, potentially allowing more freedom during your research endeavors, but they are also an honor to receive and make an excellent addition to your resume.

Some of these fellowships are small stipends only, while others provide up to full tuition and stipend. All are excellent opportunities. Apply if you are eligible. Note that for the majority of these fellowships, you must apply during your first year of graduate school.