General Questions

Applying to join the program

Being in the program

After the program

What is IGERT?
IGERT is an acronym for Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeshep. IGERT is an NSF program to support PhD students  in conducting interdisciplinary training and research.  Our program, ESP-IGERT, receives funding from IGERT to support PhD students having research and study interests in Electronic Security and Privacy.

  • Knowledge
    • At ESP-IGERT you will gain extensive knowledge on the technological aspects of electronic security, including computer systems, networks, and their vulnerabilities. You will learn about human factors and how to design usable solutions to security and privacy problems. You will gain an understanding of the business management perspective so that any solutions that address security and privacy can be easily adapted and deployed by enterprises. Finally, you will gain an understanding of principles and mechanisms of public policy and law that regulate electronic security and privacy.
  • Stipend and funding for Fellows
    • Thanks to the support of NSF, ESP-IGERT Fellows receive a stipend of $30.000/year plus full tuition and fees waivers for two years. That is around one third more than the average stipend of a normal PhD student. You will receive support when traveling to conferences, workshops and other professional meetings. Support includes also purchase of books and equipment necessary for your research.
  • Internships
    • During the summer, you will have the opportunity to work in paid internships with our industrial partners and with our international associates in Italy and Singapore. 
What is the difference between a Fellow and an Associate?
A Fellow is a student who is funded by the program for two years. Eligibility requirements for Fellows are stricter than those for Associates including in addition: 1) the time to completion of the PhD degree, which must be at least two years and, 2) US citizenship and permanent residency requirements. 
An Associate is a student who is interested in the concentration in ESP that our program offers, takes our classes, and participates in the colloquia and research projects. Associates may be PhD students who want to learn more about security and privacy and think their PhD dissertation may be in this area, international students who are not eligible to apply for the fellowship but are interested in security and privacy, or first year PhD students who are planning to apply for the ESP-IGERT Fellowship in their second year and wish to know more about our program. 

Does my PhD advisor have to be somebody from the ESP-IGERT faculty?
No, your advisor does not have to be somebody from the ESP-IGERT faculty. However, you will be expected to work on research projects involving electronic security and privacy, therefore you may need mentoring and guidance from our faculty in addition to your advisor. If you have not chosen a permanent advisor yet, we encourage you to consider choosing a member of our faculty. If you already have a permanent advisor, we suggest you choose a co-advisor from our faculty to guide you in your projects.

Who is eligible to apply?
Any prospective or current PhD student at UIC with strong research and learning  interests in the areas of electronic security and privacy can apply to join the program as an Associate. To apply for a fellowship, however, students must be at least two years from graduation at the time the fellowship is awarded. In addition, NSF requires that students who apply for the fellowship be US citizens or permanent residents (green card holders). 

How do I apply?
The application procedure is different depending on your status. If you are currently a PhD student at UIC, you will need to submit a statement about your research and interests in electronic security and privacy, transcripts and recommendation letters. Check our page about current PhD students for more details. If you are planning to start your PhD at UIC, you will have to concurrently apply to your department of interest and to ESP-IGERT. Check our page for prospective PhD students for more details.

When should I apply?
We accept applications throughout the year. However, the committee reviews the applications during the months of April and May for the Fall semester and during the months of September and October for the Spring semester. To receive maximum consideration and a timely application review, we strongly encourage you to apply by April 1st if you intend to join the ESP-IGERT in the Fall semester and by September 1st if you intend to join the ESP-IGERT in the Spring semester. 

Can I apply again at a later time if I am not awarded the Fellowship?

This depends on your home department. Our courses are graduate-level courses, and they are cross-listed in the core departments participating in the program. This means that the ESP-IGERT course is like any other course in those department, therefore it is valid towards their PhD degree requirements. Other departments at UIC require PhD students to take a certain number of credits in elective courses, which can be used to accommodate the ESP-IGERT courses. Since this depends on your home department, we encourage you to contact us at if you are in doubt. 


No. You cannot work at other places or accept other assistantships (TA, RA, GA) while being an IGERT Fellow. 

I just joined the program. What happens now?
Once you are accepted, you will receive an offer letter to join the program as a Fellow or as an Associate. You must sign this offer letter and return it to our program coordinators. Offer letters are renewable every semester based on satisfactory progress towards the fulfillment of the program's requirements. In practice, this means successfully completing the courses offered at our program, actively following the weekly seminars and colloquia, and working in the research projects assigned to you. If progress is deemed unsatisfactory, your funding may be suspended or stopped for the following semester if you are a Fellow, or your status as an Associate may be jeopardized.

No. NSF requires students to be funded only for two years under the IGERT grant.

This depends on how long you have left until you satisfy the PhD degree requirements in your home department. Most likely, you will be done with classes and have only the PhD dissertation in front of you. If you are done with the dissertation by the end of the fellowship, congratulations. If you are not done with the dissertation, you will need to find funding in the form of Research, Teaching, and Graduate Assistantships or other scholarships and our faculty and staff will be happy to assist you in this. The fellowship is not renewable (see below).