Access to Excellence Fellowship
The 2023 recruitment competition is open and the stipend has been increased to $30,000!
Overview Heading link
The goal of the Access to Excellence Fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago is to increase the number of students from historically underrepresented groups in graduate education who enter careers as researchers and college faculty.
Formerly the Abraham Lincoln Fellowship, the Access to Excellence Fellowship (AF) has a streamlined application and retains the two rounds of applications: recruitment and retention.
Details Heading link
Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States who come from groups that have been historically underrepresented in graduate education. Historically underrepresented groups include: Black, Latinx, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islanders. Applicants must be (a) US citizens or, per the Illinois RISE Act, (b) undocumented (DACA) residents of the State of Illinois and a member of an historically underrepresented group listed above.
There are two rounds of competition. The first is for recruitment. It is primarily for graduate students new to UIC. Students previously admitted to the UIC Graduate College may be eligible for recruitment competitions IF they are being actively recruited to a new graduate program (transitioning from a master’s to a PhD program in the same department does not meet this criterion; however, being recruited from an MA in political science to the PhD in sociology, for example, would meet this criterion). Applicants must already be admitted to the nominating program.
Retention applicants must be currently enrolled as a degree-seeking student in the doctoral or terminal master’s program at UIC that is nominating them. Continuing terminal master’s and doctoral students who are advanced in their academic studies may be nominated for the retention award; “advanced” is defined as beyond the first semester for master’s students and successful completion of the preliminary examination(s) for doctoral students by the application deadline.
For this competition, UIC’s terminal master’s programs are: Architecture (MArch; MS); Architecture in Health Design (MS); Art (MFA); Biomedical Visualization (MS); City Design (MCD); Civic Analytics (MS); Design Criticism (MA); Graphic and Industrial Design (MDes); Environmental & Urban Geography (MA); Forensic Science (MS); Forensic Toxicology (MS); French and Francophone Studies (MA); Health Professions Education (MPHE); Latin American & Latino Studies (MA); Museum and Exhibition Studies (MA); Occupational Therapy (MS); Spanish (MAT). Students in professional programs and/or programs not under the auspices of the Graduate College are ineligible.
Regardless of FTE, an individual with an Academic Professional (AP or BA), a Civil Service (CS), or an Extra Help (HP) position at the time of appointment is ineligible. Recipients of the recruitment fellowship as well as of the PIF are ineligible for the retention round.
Selection criteria for all Access Fellowships (AFs) will be based on academic achievement and promise.
Applicants must be nominated by their departments.
Outstanding student applicants for University and Access recruitment fellowships will be considered for the Pipeline to an Inclusive Faculty (PIF) Program.
Terms - Recruitment
The first AF competition is for recruitment. The recruitment AF is a two-year package for master’s students and a four-year package for doctoral students.
Both master’s and PhD students who receive the Access for Excellence Fellowships will be awarded $30,000 in the first year of the fellowship, or $2,500 per month in the first year of the fellowship. PhD recipients are eligible for an additional year of support when they begin their dissertation research (after completing their preliminary examination, but not before their fourth year or after their fifth year of study), providing they meet the following criteria: (1) The student must be making good progress in the program; (2) The student must have received a minimum of two years of support from their department. The Graduate College must be informed by April 1 of the year before the renewal year that students have passed their preliminary examination and plan to renew–and are not past the student’s fifth year.
In the second year (for a master’s recipient) and the second and third years (for a doctoral recipient), the student’s academic program must provide, minimally, a nine-month, 50% FTE appointment as fellow, teaching assistant, and/or research assistant. Academic/research/faculty hourly positions are not permissible in conjunction with any fellowship. Stipends must be equivalent to those provided to other students in the same department. Students with a 50% teaching or research assistantship will have their stipends topped off up to $30,000 or by a maximum of $6,000, paid over the summer by the Graduate College. If a doctoral graduate program has a mechanism for financial support for students during years one and two, the Access Fellowship could be deferred to years three and four, provided the student has met the progress requirements described above and the program has communicated with the Fellowships and Awards Coordinator.
During the years of the fellowship fully funded by the Graduate College, recipients may accept part-time employment. The Graduate College discourages on-campus employment in GA- (assistantship) and HG- (grad hourly) class positions exceeding 50% FTE for fellows. (Academic/research/faculty hourly positions are not permissible in conjunction with any fellowship.) Recipients may not hold the Access Fellowships simultaneously with the Dean’s Scholar or University Fellowship, nor any external award where it is prohibited by that external funding agency. Other awards may be held simultaneously; however, they must be approved by the Graduate College. It is the student’s responsibility to know and understand the regulations of the Access Fellowship and those of any other award (see Policies below).
Access Fellowship recipients also receive a full tuition and partial fee waiver from the Graduate College. The waiver covers all tuition (including differential, if any) service fee, health service fee, academic facilities maintenance fund assessment, library and information technology assessment, and part of the cost of coverage for Fall and Spring Semester towards CampusCare, if applicable. All other fees are the responsibility of the student.
Students supported by these fellowships are required to complete at least 9 semester hours each semester unless expressly authorized by the Dean of the Graduate College to carry a reduced course load. (The registration requirement was lowered from 12, effective Fall 2021.) Fellows are not required to register for the summer session by the Graduate College; however, individual departments may require summer registration. Effective Fall 2021, fellows who register in the summer must enroll in 3-5 hours to be eligible for a summer tuition waiver. Fellows should check with the department to ensure that summer registration is not required for the degree program.
Students may not receive more than two years of Access Fellowship funding from the Graduate College, i.e., one cannot win both the recruitment award and later the retention award.
Terms - retention
During the second competition, terminal master’s and doctoral students currently enrolled at UIC may be nominated for a one-year retention award.
The general terms are largely the same ($30,000 + tuition and partial fee waiver); however, there is only one year of support from the Graduate College and the nominating department has no financial obligations to the recipient in conjunction with the one-year fellowship. Continuing terminal master’s and doctoral students who are advanced in their academic studies may be nominated, which is defined as being beyond the first semester for master’s students and successful completion of the preliminary examination(s) for doctoral students by the application deadline.
Students may not receive more than two years of Access Fellowship funding from the Graduate College, i.e., one cannot win both the recruitment award and later the retention award. Similarly, recipients of the Pipeline to an Inclusive Faculty fellowship are ineligible.
Fellowships, Student Loans, and Taxation
The stipend portion of the award may be taxable income; however, per guidelines set by the Internal Revenue Services (IRS), the University is not responsible for withholding or reporting income taxes on fellowship payments.
Fellows do not receive a Form W-2 on their fellowship income nor does the University report the fellowship payment as taxable income to either the state or federal government. However, the University is required to report fellowships to the IRS for informational purposes only on Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement. Taxability of the fellowship payment is a matter between the Fellow and the IRS.
More information on taxation of fellowships can be found in IRS Publication 970: Tax Benefits for Education (PDF), or by calling 1-800-829-3676.
Students who are obtaining federal loans from Financial Aid: Obtaining a fellowship WILL significantly affect your financial aid eligibility. Check with the Office of Student Financial Aid on eligibility requirements and for further information.
The Application for Graduate Appointment is no longer required. Follow the requirements for the correct competition.
Programs should refrain from submitting nominations that are clearly not competitive. Programs may submit up to 15% of their total fall graduate enrollment. Programs in which 15% of the graduate enrollment is fewer than two students may nominate two students. Programs in which 15% of graduate enrollment is greater than 10 students may nominate a maximum of 10–or 15%; whichever is the smaller number. Enrollment data can be found by visiting the “Faculty & Staff Resources” section of the Graduate College website (grad.uic.edu). Go to the “Data Resources Tab,” select 2020 & Later, and then find your program’s enrollment data.
To be considered for nomination, applicants/students need to submit the following documents to the nominating department/program’s Director of Graduate Studies well in advance of the deadlines. Carefully follow the maximum word limits, where noted.
Incomplete applications will not be considered.
Recruitment Nominations Retention Nominations Transmittal and Statement of Financial Support Form Transmittal and Statement of Financial Support Form DGS Nomination Letter (if applicable, explain why candidate would be outstanding for the Pipeline to an Inclusive Faculty Program) DGS Nomination Letter Personal Statement (document used for admission to your program; if PIF eligible AND if not addressed in the personal statement, attach applicant’s career goals (1p.)) Statement of Research Plan (max. 300 words) Student Statement on Alignment with Goals of the Fellowship (max. 300 words). The essay expands on their research plan by describing (a) the contributions they intend to make to their academic field, and (b) the broader society. In addition, students are required to expand on the personal and professional reasons for choosing their current path of study. Students may articulate any personal and professional commitment to give back to historically underrepresented communities in the U.S. upon completion of their studies. Student Statement on Alignment with Goals of the Fellowship (max. 300 words). The essay expands on their research plan by describing (a) the contributions they intend to make to their academic field, and (b) the broader society. In addition, students are required to expand on the personal and professional reasons for choosing their current path of study. Students may articulate any personal and professional commitment to give back to historically underrepresented communities in the U.S. upon completion of their studies. Three Letters of Recommendation Three Letters of Recommendation CV (maximum 3 pages) CV (maximum 3 pages) Transcripts of Post-secondary Degrees (copies of official) UIC Transcript (from Banner or copy of official) (Intentionally left blank - requirement removed.) Copy of the successful Preliminary Examination Report or a legible screenshot of Banner screen SHATCMT showing successful completion of the prelim (if applicable).
Click the link below for the Transmittal and Statement of Financial Support Form
Winners are selected by the Diversity Committee, which is composed of elected and appointed faculty from across UIC’s disciplinary colleges.
The Director of Graduate Studies reviews the application package that was electronically submitted to the program by the student. The DGS completes the Transmittal Form (fillable PDF), adding it as the cover page. Save the forms/documents listed above as one single PDF per nominee using the following naming convention: AF_AwardType_YearofCompetition_DepartmentName_NomineeLastNameFirstInitial.pdf
Do not use spaces in the pdf name.
Here is an example of Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable’s recruitment application from History: AF_Recruitment_2023_Hist_PointeDuSableJ.pdf.
Here is an example of Shirley Jackson’s retention application from Physics: AF_Retention_2023_Phys_JacksonS.pdf.
The PDF file must be emailed to the Graduate College using the relevant secure Box folder.
- Arts & Humanities and Behavioral & Social Sciences: AF_Recr.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences & Life and Health Sciences: AF_Recr.email@example.com
- Arts & Humanities and Behavioral & Social Sciences: AF_Rete.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences & Life and Health Sciences: AF_Rete.email@example.com
*NOTE: The department/program has to review all student requests prior to submitting the documents to the Graduate College by the deadline.
frequently asked questions
Currently unavailable. Please address questions to Benn Williams, Fellowships and Awards Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recruitment Fellowships: 4 p.m. (CST) on February 1, 2023. Round one winners will be announced by March 1.
Retention Fellowships: 4 p.m. (CST) on April 3, 2023. Round two winners will be announced by May 3, 2023.
Deadlines Heading link
Recruitment Fellowship Deadline: EXTENDED to NOON on February 6, 2023
Retention Fellowship DEADLINE: 4 PM on April 3, 2023