Types of Funding
There are three types of graduate assistantships on campus: teaching, project, and research assistantships. Programs use their own internal processes to award assistantships to students.
Fellowships are grants that you do not have to pay back. Unlike graduate assistantships, fellowships generally involve no work obligations. There are both campus/departmental and external fellowships.
Traineeships are supported by federal training grants from agencies like the NIH and NSF. Benefits typically include tuition/fee remission, stipend, and health insurance. To inquire about traineeships, check with your graduate program coordinator.
The Office of Student Financial Aid provides information and assistance to prospective, new, and enrolled graduate students about federal work study and student loans.
The UW–Madison Student Jobs Center has listings of open positions both on campus and off campus in Madison and the surrounding areas. Keep in mind that only 33% and higher graduate assistantships provide tuition remission.
Research and travel grants
This Graduate School competition includes awards for international and domestic travel for eligible UW–Madison graduate students who are traveling to present at a conference or conduct research supporting their dissertation, thesis, or final project.
Funding for international students
U.S. citizenship is a requirement for some fellowships, but there are others for which international students are eligible, including University Fellowships and some departmental fellowships. Adequate financial resources are required for applicants.
Cost of attendance (COA) is an estimate of what it will cost to cover the expenses of attending UW-Madison. Your COA is more than just tuition and fees – it includes cost of housing, books, supplies, health insurance, and other living expenses. Although the actual cost of attending UW-Madison varies depending on your particular spending habits, the university bases your financial aid award on your COA. Visit the Office of Student Financial Aid website to learn more.
Graduate students with assistantship appointments of 33.3% or higher receive multiple benefits including monthly stipend,
remission of both resident and non-resident tuition, and
eligibility for health insurance. Students also build professional competency through assistantship experiences.
Understanding the funding process
Admissions and funding decisions
At UW–Madison, admissions and funding decisions are made by the specific graduate program(s) to which you apply rather than by a centralized cross-campus process. Because of the diversity of graduate programs available on campus, graduate programs differ in how they make admissions and funding decisions. For example, some graduate programs only admit students if they can support them financially with assistantships, traineeships, or fellowships, while other graduate programs admit students without a funding offer.
Graduate programs at UW–Madison also differ in the timing of their admissions and funding decisions. Some graduate programs make admissions and funding decisions at the same time while other programs make admissions decisions first and funding decisions later. As a result, you should always start your search for information about funding by contacting your intended program(s). Program staff will be able to tell you how, when, and to what level funding is typically awarded to incoming students. Likewise, if you have been admitted to a program, but have not received an offer of funding, you should contact the program to inquire about the timing of their funding decisions.
You may receive a funding offer from your graduate program. A funding package is an offer of financial support put together by your program for a specified number of years. A funding package may include a combination of different types of appointments (e.g., TA positions, program assistantships, or fellowships).
The terms and conditions of those appointments, including your stipend, may vary from year to year or from term to term. Remember that fellowships do not require you to work, but graduate assistantship and student hourly appointments do. Therefore, it is very important that you take the time to understand the funding package you are offered. The funding letter sent to you by the program should outline all the components of the package being offered. For each appointment, you should ask for the following information:
- type of position (e.g., research assistantship, teaching assistantship, fellowship);
- start and end dates;
- percentage of the appointment/number of work hours required (e.g., a 50% appointment is 20 hours);
- stipend amount;
- tuition coverage;
- payment of segregated fees, if applicable;
- eligibility for health insurance; and
- additional benefits, if any (e.g., travel funds, professional development funds, priority for graduate student housing, etc).
If you have any questions about your funding package or about the information in your funding letter, contact your graduate program.