Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate Program

Do I have to have an engineering undergraduate degree to do engineering in grad school?

  • No. You can take prerequisite courses at the beginning of your PhD program under guidance of your advisor.

What should I consider when picking a grad school?

  • Location
  • Financial support (tuition waiver, stipend, Health insurance)
  • Teaching opportunities
  • Research facilities
  • Professional Development
  • Opportunities for jobs after graduation
  • Connections to industry/national labs/internships/ etc.
  • Advisor-student relationship
  • Feedback from Prospective advisor's current grad students
  • Support for graduate students such as graduate student Union, graduate student organizations, designated office/person to support/mentor/advise graduate students.

When do I have to submit my plan of study?

  • See the road maps page for information pertaining to your department.
  • The plan of study requires advisor/co-advisor signatures, so plan on reaching out to these people and get the necessary signatures before submission.
  • You can find the form for plan of study here at the registrars office.

When do I take my Qualifying Exam and what paperwork do I need to submit for it?

  • MSE: January of your first year. No paperwork is necessary. The department will contact you if you have qualified to sit for the qualifying exam. You must have a minimum 3.0 GPA at the end of the fall semester. You must take 3-3 credit courses, two of which must be core courses.
  • BME: You take the qualifying exams after two years in the Ph.D. program.
  • ENVE: You take the qualifying exam usually in your second year after you've taken the 4 core classes that are covered in the exam. It's usually offered in January and in May and you have two opportunities to pass.
  • See the road maps page for more information pertaining to your department!

Do I have to go into teaching if I get a Ph.D.?

  • No.
  • Many students end up going into industry or work in national labs.
  • I highly recommend teaching if you want to become a professor.
  • Nothing is set in stone; the Ph.D. gives you a way to stand out amongst other applicants in jobs within your field (industry or academia). For industry, it’s helpful to tailor your resume/CV to the job and broaden your experience at UConn (join SoE organization, such as SAGE, John Lof Leadership Academy, Graduate chapters of any organizations, etc.)

When do I do my proposal defense?

  • At least 6 months before your desired graduation/dissertation defense. See the road maps page for more information pertaining to your department!
  • MSE: I recommend sooner rather than later but highly dependent on your advisor.
  • ENVE: You should do it in your 3rd or 4th year. The purpose is to get feedback from your committee ahead of time and talk through your timeline for finishing. Doing this early avoids surprises with the committee disagreeing with your final thesis/dissertation and ensures that you are on track to complete your program.

Is there a target number of publications required before the proposal defense/by the time you defend your thesis?

  • Yes and no. This is dependent on your department’s requirements in the year in which you started. Check those to be sure.
  • BME: Requires 2 publications before graduation.
  • Usually depends on your work and your advisor, but MSE encourages at least one publication before the final defense.
  • The School of Engineering requires 3 published papers for all Ph.D. students. They however do not all need to be published by the time you graduate. You need (at a minimum): 1 published paper, 1 paper submitted and soon to be published, and 1 paper under review.

What is the relationship between my assistantship work and my academic work for my program?

Many students in the School of Engineering are fortunate to received paid Graduate Assistantships (GAs) that provide funding, heavily subsidized health insurance, and a tuition waiver to graduate students while they hold the assistantship.  The paid GA work may involve research (a research assistantship or RA) or teaching (a teaching assistantship or TA).

To ensure that graduate students make timely progress towards their degree GA positions are always part-time.  Thus, a “full GA” position requires an average of 20 hrs/week and a “half GA” position requires an average of 10 hrs/week.

The research tasks for which an RA is responsible may or may not be closely aligned with a student’s thesis or dissertation topic.  In cases where the RA duties are closely aligned with the student’s thesis or dissertation topic, the student benefits from being compensated to complete research work that also may advance them towards their degree. However, only in extraordinary circumstances would the hourly commitment associated with an RA position (whether for 10 or 20 hrs/week) be sufficient to complete the academic requirements for an advanced degree.

Degrees are earned or conferred only after all academic requirements are met including both coursework and original scholarly research. The type, quality, and quantity of original research required (including number of first-authored publications) is a standard set by the student’s advisory committee and major advisor in consultation with the student and in accordance with the common practices of the department and the scholarly expectations of the particular field or research area.


When should I have my committee by?

  • MSE: Determined when ready for dissertation proposal.
  • You need to have your committee by your proposal defense. It can change between your proposal defense and your dissertation defense, but you must submit paperwork to approve the change.

Who should be on my committee and how many members?

  • The final committee must have 5 people but only 3 of them need to be core to your project. One will be your advisor, another will likely be a collaborator (within your department), and another must be from an outside department.
  • MSE: Advisor and 4 others. Had a discussion with my advisor about who would be good options based on their research and our relationship.

How often should I be meeting with my committee?

As often as you feel is necessary. It is helpful to meet with them individually or as a group to talk through your project before you start it and talk through your data as you get it. Talk to them before your proposal defense and before your final dissertation/thesis defense. More is better than less.

Student Life

What mental health resources are available?

Information regarding mental health resources is available at the Student Health and wellness website. Students may schedule a screening by phone (860-486-4705) or online and should be prepared for the appointment by being in a quiet and private location. Please call us for any specific requests or accommodations.

What resources are available for the international students?

  • The International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) supports the greater internationalization of the University of Connecticut through the development and delivery of services and programs that help international students and exchange visitors accomplish their academic and professional goals at UConn.
  • Email:
  • Telephone: (860) 486-3855

How is the College of Engineering responding to anti-racism?

  • Members of CoE (graduate students) have written a proposal to develop counter spaces for BIPOC students/visitors, guidelines for faculty/staff/student behavior (consequences and accountability), and a system to encourage anti-racist behavior.
  • An Inclusive Excellence Program was established from this proposal and aims to train faculty and staff on diversity training and learning how to incorporate inclusive teaching practices.
  • Vergnano Institute for Inclusion offers many workshops and community conversations on race-related topics.
  • Vergnano Institute for Inclusion created a Collaborative Action Network (CAN) for undergrad and grad students to come together with the CoE deans to create change on race-related issues.
  • John Lof Leadership Academy (JLLA) created an anti-racist book club.
  • An effort to establish environmental representation and counter spaces for BIPOC.
  • students are underway.
  • Many departments have started their own programs such as ENVE has an Action Team dedicated to evaluating diversity in the department.
  • A task force was established to determine how UConn represents BIPOC students across media.

What resources are available for BIPOC students?

  • Graduate NSBE Chapter
    Vergnano Institute for Inclusion
  • Cultural Centers

Funding and Fellowship

Where can I get help for applying to fellowships?

What is the NSF-GRFP?

What fellowships can I apply to?

    GEM Fellowship
  • NIH F31
  • Ford Fellowship
  • Hertz Fellowship
  • Check out Profellow to search for other fellowships:
  • Sign up for Graduate Fellowship Listserv
  • Graduate Programs site updates often when new fellowship opportunities pop up.
  • Check out daily digest from The Graduate School and weekly digest from School of Engineering on Thursday afternoons.

Filing Taxes

Are grants and fellowships taxable?

  • Yes, unless used for qualified educational purposes for weird tax situations for fellowship recipients and for questions like  "do I owe income tax on my fellowship."
  • Many fellowships will not deduct taxes from your monthly or biweekly deposit and therefore you might need to submit estimated taxes or be subject to a tax withholding charge. Doing the estimated taxes also helps avoid the large sum due at the time of filing. If your fellowship/grant doesn't take out taxes, this can be up to $2000 owed at the time of filing.