Generally, quarter-time and half-time appointments are available for MS or PhD students. Assistants with appointments ranging from 25 to 67 percent time are exempt from paying tuition and service fees, but not the insurance and health center fees. For assistants holding such appointments in the Spring semester, the exemption extends through the Summer session unless they hold summer appointments of more than 67 percent time. Recipients of assistantships must be registered during the term of employment, including during the summer term.

Assistants (other than research assistants who hold calendar-year appointments) are not entitled to vacations other than official University holidays during the term of their appointment. In particular, the period between semesters when classes are not in session is not vacation time for assistants employed for the academic year. The Spring and Thanksgiving breaks are not vacation time for assistants. Research assistants employed for the calendar year are eligible for vacations of twenty-four workdays (or one calendar month) each year with a maximum accumulation of forty-eight workdays. Scheduling of the vacation is arranged to accommodate the convenience of the assistant and the director of the research project employing the assistant. All assistants are eligible for thirteen days of non-cumulative sick leave each appointment year.

Assistants are entitled to raises based on academic progress throughout their studies. When reaching the milestones of depositing the MS thesis, passing the qualifying exam, and passing the preliminary exam, a pay increase of approximately 3% is awarded. Assistants passing the qual for direct PhD and MS/PhD are at the same pay level.

For students in the MS/PhD program:

Milestone Pay increase (%)
MS Thesis ~3
Pass the Qual ~3
Pass Prelim Exam ~3

For students in the direct PhD program:

Milestone Pay increase (%)
Pass the Qual ~6
Pass Prelim Exam ~3

The M.Eng in ECE is a self-funded program where students are responsible for paying their tuition and fees. Students in this program are not eligible for Board of Trustee (BOT) tuition-waiver-generating assistantships at the University of Illinois.

For a current listing of available Internships, Co-ops, TAs, RAs, and hourly positions in the ECE department, see our Jobs Postings.

Teaching Assistants

Teaching Assistants are appointed by the Department, usually for the academic year. In some instances, teaching assistantships may be renewed for an additional semester, but appointments for the fourth semester and beyond are possible only in exceptional circumstances. Very few teaching assistantships are available for summer sessions.

Typical duties assigned to teaching assistants include teaching laboratory courses or discussion sections of courses taught in the lecture-discussion format, preparation of materials such as problem sets, quizzes, examinations, and solution sets, grading homework, quizzes, and examinations, and aiding in the development of new courses or laboratory experiments. Teaching assistants are also expected to schedule time for office hours each week for each class or section taught. A half-time assistant should expect to spend about twenty hours each week in carrying out the assigned duties. Satisfactory performance of duties is determined by the faculty instructor in charge of the assignment and the Associate Head of the Department.

Although assistants on academic-year appointments are not entitled to vacations, the Department permits teaching assistants to be absent during Spring Break and Thanksgiving Break, or when classes are not in session between semesters, provided that their teaching duties have been completed.

ECE is committed to maintaining a high level of quality with our teaching assistant (TA) appointments and program. Students have to meet the following requirements in order to be eligible for a TA appointment in ECE:

  • Must have a passing SPEAK score: 24+ TOEFL iBT; 8+ IELTS; 5+ on EPI (University’s SPEAK Exam).
  • Must be in good academic standing in their graduate program.
  • Must complete the ECE Assistantship Planning Document by the stated deadline.
  • All first time TAs must attend the ECE TA orientation the week prior to the start of classes and enroll in ECE 590TL seminar course.
  • Returning TAs who did not receive a satisfactory evaluation from their faculty supervisor for their previous TA appointment will be allowed one semester to improve performance. In addition, they will be required to complete the ECE 590TL seminar.
  • TAs cannot switch from a TA to an RA appointment after July 15st for fall term and November 30th for spring term.

The primary contact person to inquire about TA appointments is Jen Merry.

Research Assistants

Research Assistants have appointments in the Department, Laboratory, Center, or Institute that administers the research project that they assist, and are responsible to the members of the ECE Graduate Faculty who direct the research project. Research assistant appointments may be for the academic year, for the academic year and summer session, or for a summer session only. In some instances, research assistants may hold calendar year (that is, twelve-month) appointments. Research assistantships are renewable subject to satisfactory academic progress and satisfactory performance of the duties of the assistantship, to the continued need for services, and also to the availability of funds.

The director of the research project providing a research assistantship assigns the duties. In most instances, the work required of a research assistant is tied directly to the thesis research, and in such instances it is not possible to determine absolutely the number of hours of work expected of the assistant. Where the work is not related to thesis research, a half-time assistant should expect to spend twenty hours each week in carrying out the assigned duties. The director of the research project employing the research assistant and the Head of the unit administering the project determine satisfactory performance of duties.

Research assistants having appointments for the academic year or summer session or any portion thereof are not entitled to vacations other than the official University holidays which occur during the term of their appointments. Summer appointments are for a maximum of two months, and the third summer month is the (unpaid) vacation time for assistants employed for the academic year and summer session. Any time taken off during the period of appointment must be with the consent of the director of the research project employing the assistant.

Registration Requirements

All fellows and assistants must register for twelve hours each semester and 6 hours during each Summer II session. Registration during Summer II session is only required if the student will have an assistantship during that session. These requirements also apply to students holding tuition and fee waivers from the Graduate College. In most cases, it is recommended that assistants satisfy the 12 hour registration requirement by registering for two courses (typically 8 hours total) plus an additional 4 hours of credit in ECE 599.

Students must also maintain satisfactory academic progress to retain their assistantship positions.