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Spotlight on Illinois Engineering

Prodigy Finance - December 14, 2018

Ready to learn everything you need to know about engineering and STEM masters degrees at the University of Illinois’ College of Engineering? You're in the right place!

Prodigy Finance spotlight on Illinois engineering

Although you’d think that the University of Illinois’ first campus would have been located in the Chicago, it’s a couple of hours away in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign. (Although the university lists Urbana first, the locals usually say Champaign-Urbana as Champaign is actually the larger town.) Whichever way you call it, this isn’t a bad spot to call home for a year or two.

You might call it a campus of duality. The university is in the middle of farmland, but the campus and its surrounds don’t feel rural. There’s a sincere academic demand, both from incoming students and those who are already on campus, but students also know how to cut loose and enjoy their down times.

Whatever factors you use when choosing the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for your MS engineering programme (rankings, cost, location, size, reputation, research aims), you’ll feel right at home as soon as you arrive on campus. 

U Illinois Urbana-Champaign fast facts

Public university

University enrollment: 49,339

Living alumni: 450,000+

Graduate students: 15,666

Engineering grad students: 4096

Engineering masters students: 2167

Full-time international grad students: 66.8%

Countries represented: 110+

Most represented countries in engineering: China, India, South Korea, Iran, Taiwan (China)

Where is the University of Illinois?

City: Urbana and Champaign, Illinois (IL)

City population: Champaign: 87,432; Urbana: 41,989

Region: Midwest

Climate: winters are cold (Jan avg low: -8.5°C/16.7°F) with some snow between December and February; summers are warm to hot (Jul avg high: 29.4°C/85°F)

  • Nearest airports: Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
  • Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)
  • Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)

Time zone: CST from November-March (GMT -6); CDT from March to November (GMT-5)

What can you study at UIUC Engineering?

High rankings according to U.S. News & World Report are only a few of the accolades this school receives. Although there aren’t a lot of specialised degrees - you can still tailor your degree within each department. 





MS in Aerospace Engineering


MS in Agricultural and Biological Engineering

$79,125 avg salary for masters grads


MS in Bioengineering

MEng in Bioengineering


MS in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

2 civil  / 3 enviro

MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering

$111,800 avg salary for masters grads


MS in Computer Science

MS in Bioinformatics Program

$88,791 avg salary for masters grads


MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering

MEng in Electrical and Computer Engineering


MS in Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering


MS in Materials Science and Engineering


MS in Mechanical Engineering

MS in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics


MS in Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering

MEng in Energy Systems



MS in Physics

Engineering at Illinois UC job placement

With such high rankings, and a reputation for ensuring students are prepared for the work environment, you can understand why recruiters are keen to look as UIUC grad engineering students

And, they are. 

Grads aren’t only sought after, they also tend to earn top salaries, which is a great way to make the most of your OPT visa extension (or your H-1B visa). 

The engineering department hosts its own career fairs, but you’ll also find there are university-wide opportunities to meet potential employers. With private apps and an Engineering Career Support (ECS) department, you’ve got the tools to succeed. 

As an international student, it’s a good idea to check-in with the ECS sooner rather than later as business interactions and recruitment might be handled differently in your country. 

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average starting salary for MS Engineering grads
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of engineering masters are employed in the US
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upper quartile salary for MS Engineering grads
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What's it like to live at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign?

The twin cities of Champaign and Urbana are a far cry from big city life. Indeed, in China, this campus is known as the university in the corn. But, you shouldn’t make the mistake of believing there’s nothing to do this far from Chicago (about two hours drive) or any other major city; this area is thriving. That’s thanks, mostly, to the university. That means there’s plenty to do and see both on and off campus. And that’s both within and outside of the engineering department.

But, first, you’ll need to find a place to live. While there are graduate-level dorms and some family apartments on campus, most grad students choose to rent an apartment off-campus as the rents are substantially cheaper - especially if you prefer living on your own.

Off-campus living, however, becomes a balancing act between proximity to the campus and bus lines versus cheaper accommodation. You’ll need to look closely at whether apartments are furnished or not, and find your own roommate. (HINT: your department can likely assist you with that.) But, it’s absolutely doable - and without a car.

Most grad students use the campus bus system, and this is usually the easiest until you want to travel further away, at which point, renting a car isn’t a bad idea. Getting a US driver’s license is also a good idea if you have the time as it’s the most used form of ID in the US.

And, if you are staying off-campus, you’ll likely prepare your own meals, though there a meal plans available that cater to off-campus students. Wherever you live, be certain to make use the of university’s services which will help you find a reliable and safe place to live - and be sure to register your address with the international student office as soon as you have one. 

How to get into Engineering at Illinois

At the undergraduate level, admission to the University of Illinois is fierce - and they definitely expect a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA). The same applies at the graduate level, where the competition increases.

Currently, the acceptance rate for engineering masters candidates is just over 28%. Depending on the individual department, it may be even more intense. For example, in the very popular Computer Science department, the acceptance rate may be closer to 10%.

So, what can you do to improve your chances of admission. For a start, consider your numbers - both your undergrad GPA and your GRE scores. With such a high number of applications for the seats available, you can bet that you’ll need to have something that really stands out if you don’t meet the minimums.

And, even when your scores are in order, take the time to ensure that your Statement of Purpose essay, along with every other submission is as polished as it can be. You’ll also want to keep these numbers in mind:

  • Average GRE scores: 155 verbal, 166 quantitative, 3.7 analytical writing
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0

Engineering at Illinois admissions details

Admission deadline: varies by department; some spring admissions are available

Application fee: $90

Resume: required

SOP essay: required

Recommendations: 3, completed online

GRE test: required, min scores may vary by department

GPA: 3.0/4.0 min specified

Language test: required for all non-native English speakers; waivers may be given in certain circumstances; TOEFL and IELTS scores are accepted

  • Min TOEFL score: 102 iBT, 610 pBT
  • Min IELTS score: 6.5

Illinois engineering cost of attendance for 2018

Tuition: $34,762

Fees: $4124

Room and board: $13,710

Books and supplies: $1800

Other expenses: $3090

Estimated CoA for 1 year: $57,486

TIP: While every specific engineering department has their own set of criteria for admissions, you can use these details as a guide. But, be sure to check out the deadlines and requirements for your intended course as soon as possible to give you as much time as possible to prepare.

Does Engineering at Illinois offer scholarships to international students?

Yes, they do. But, there are only a few general scholarships that apply across the entire field of engineering - and most are for specific nationalities or doctorate level students.

But, there is better news, individual departments at Illinois also offer scholarships to talented students, and there are a number of assistantship programmes available as well. Of course, both of these funding options are immensely popular and you should expect strong competition. Get your programme application in early and spend time looking at the requirements for each scholarship or assistantship before that.

And, never stop looking for other options. You may qualify for a scholarship from your home country that the University of Illinois doesn’t even know about.

Prodigy Finance international student loans for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Prodigy Finance offers loans for international masters students at the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Students from supported countries pursuing masters programmes that can be completed in less than 2 years are eligible to apply.

  • Maximum loan amount: up to 100% of the school-provided cost of attendance (tuition plus living expenses)
  • Minimum loan amount: $15,000
  • Repayment period of 7 or 10 years, depending on your programme and application
  • All loans disbursed directly to the university according to due dates

Prodigy Finance also supports loans for University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students pursuing masters degrees in these schools:

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Ready to transform your future with a MS degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign?

Prodigy Finance provides loans to international masters students pursuing their masters degrees at the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

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