Types of Funding Available

Teaching Assistant, Aneesh Karve, instructing a computer sciences course

You can learn how students in your program are typically funded by looking in the "Funding Data" section of the Program Data Profile. The profile contains a wealth of other information about the program including: admissions data, enrollment, diversity, time-to-degree, and degree completion rates.

The most common types of funding for graduate studies at UW–Madison include:

Types:  There are three types of graduate assistantships on campus:

  • Teaching Assistantships (instructional positions that include such duties as lecturing, grading papers, supervising laboratories, leading discussion sections, or developing course curriculum).
  • Program/Project Assistantships (project-related assignments such as coordinating programs, organizing events, analyzing data, or supporting student services).
  • Research Assistantships (research under the guidance of a faculty member).

Benefits of Assistantships:  Graduate assistantships listed at 33.3% or higher (>13 hours/week) provide multiple benefits:

  • monthly stipend; stipend levels vary (see chart below for details)
  • remission of both resident and non-resident tuition; students will still need to pay segregated fees (roughly $550/semester); and
  • eligibility for health insurance; health insurance options for a reasonable premium are among the country’s best group health insurance plans.

Stipend Rates for Teaching Assistants, Project/Program Assistants, and Lecturer (SA) positions

Stipend Rates for Research Assistants
  2015–16 Rates 2016–17 Rates
  Academic Annual Academic Annual
33.3% $11,807 $14,430 $12,043 $14,719
50% $17,712 $21,648 $18,066 $22,081

Finding and Applying for Graduate Assistantships

The vast majority of graduate assistantship positions are not posted publicly or available to all graduate students. Instead, they are “owned” by particular graduate programs and are reserved for students in those programs. Programs use their own internal processes to award assistantships to students. To find out how your program awards assistantships, you should contact your program.

A smaller number of graduate assistant positions are not reserved for students in particular programs, and any graduate student can apply for those positions. Those positions are usually listed as they become available on the website of the Student Job Center. Generally, the positions are posted relatively close to the time they will start, so positions that start in the fall semester will usually be posted in July or August.

Fellowships are grants that you do not have to pay back. Unlike graduate assistantships, fellowships generally involve no work obligations.

Types of Fellowships

Campus/Departmental Fellowships

There are numerous merit-based Graduate School and departmental fellowships that are awarded to graduate students, including fellowships designed to enhance diversity on campus.   Nominations and/or selection of most fellowship awards for incoming students are made by the particular graduate program(s) to which students are applying.  To inquire about eligibility and application procedures, you must contact your graduate program.

The Dickie Fellowship competition is administered by the Graduate School and supports graduate students who were residents of Sauk County at the time of matriculation at UW-Madison and are enrolled in science, math, or engineering graduate programs. This fellowship also gives preference to returning adult students. This is either a 9-month or 12- month fellowship.  Students can apply directly for this fellowship by going to Scholarships@UW.

The Straka Fellowship competition is administered by the Graduate School and supports dissertators pursuing a course of study in one of the fields of engineering, physical or biological sciences, mathematics or economics (concentrating on the advantages of the free-enterprise profit system).  Applicants will also need to be able to demonstrate how they qualify as "gifted" and how they are representative of a middle-class, middle-income group.  This is a 12-month fellowship. Students can apply directly for this fellowship by going to Scholarships@UW. 

The Kemper Knapp University Fellowship is administered by the Graduate School and provides one-year fellowships to incoming PhD, DMA-, or MFA-bound underrepresented students, such as students of color and low-income first-generation students, and students in underfunded areas, such as the arts and humanities.  Academic programs may nominate incoming PhD, DMA-, or MFA-bound students who will begin enrollment in a graduate program in Fall 2017.

The Mellon-Wisconsin Summer Fellowship competition is administered by the Graduate School and supports dissertators in the College of Letters and Science conducting research in the humanities or humanistic social sciences.  The competition typically opens early in the Spring semester each year and decisions are announced by the end of March.  Students apply directly to the Graduate School for these fellowships.

External Fellowships

You are encouraged to identify and apply for fellowships from federal agencies, professional organizations, and private foundations. Please be aware that each particular fellowship will have its own unique set of benefits and responsibilities. You should make sure you understand the terms and conditions of any fellowship/scholarship for which you are applying: award/stipend amount, tuition coverage (if any), other supplemental funds (e.g., travel funds, research funds, conference presentation funds). Follow these links for more information.

  • Selected Federal/Private Fellowships are supported by the Graduate School through the provision of tuition support and health insurance. Students apply directly to the agency or foundation for these fellowships and, if an award is made, should contact the Office of Fellowships and Funding Resources.
  • Sampling of other major fellowship opportunities: These lists of fellowship opportunities are organized by major discipline and maintained by the Graduate School.
  • Grants Information Collection:  This UW–Madison center maintains a website with information and links to help you explore funding opportunities across a wide range of disciplines.  (Current UW–Madison students have additional access to on-line database subscriptions).
  • Searchable funding databases: A number of publicly available databases can be used to help you find opportunities for financing your education from sources outside UW–Madison.
  • International Fellowships Office: This site provides information about funding opportunities for students interested in studying abroad or specific languages.

Traineeships are positions linked with federal training grants from such agencies as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). UW–Madison has a variety of training grants that provide coordinated training for graduate students and/or postdoctoral scholars in particular areas of research (typically in the sciences). To inquire about such opportunities, check with the Graduate Coordinator in your program. You can look through a list of NIH training grants on campus. Traineeships provide remission of tuition and segregated fees, a monthly stipend, and eligibility for health insurance.

The Student Job Center has listings of open positions both on campus and off campus in Madison and the surrounding areas. Keep in mind that only graduate assistantships involving 13+ hours/week will provide tuition remission. For other positions in the community, you may also consult employment databases such as Jobs in Madison or Monster.

The Office of Student Financial Aid provides information and assistance to prospective, new, and enrolled graduate students about federal work study and student loans.

Fellowships & Grants Competitions Closing Soon

Grist Fellowship Program
Application Due July 31, 2017

Deborah A. Hobbins Graduate Student Award in Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice
Application Due August 1, 2017

Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award
Application Due October 2, 2017

Future Faculty Development Program 
Application Due October 1, 2017


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