Graduate School Funding Resources

Teaching Assistantships

Research and Project Assistantships and Traineeships

The Department guarantees five continuous years of funding to all admitted students, starting in the fall of 2011. Our graduate students receive support toward their graduate studies through research assistantships, project assistantships, teaching assistantships, lectureships, traineeships, and fellowships (from outside agencies or from the university).

There are a variety of positions that provide funding, which carry different titles and include different stipends and benefits. In general, however, appointments are offered at levels that include full tuition, health insurance, and stipends. See the Graduate School's Costs and Funding page for current support levels. (Please note that the university pays your tuition in addition to the stated award level.) A recent tax ruling has made all graduate assistant appointments exempt from the Social Security tax as long as the student is enrolled full time. None of these positions are awarded on the basis of financial need; all are awarded on the basis of academic promise and the fit between your interests and qualifications and the particular position or program. A "research assistant" works on a research project as part of his/her educational training, and does his/her thesis or dissertation as part of the project. A "project assistant" works on a research project that is not directly related to his/her own educational program. A "teaching assistant" runs discussion sections and grades papers for a course taught by a professor. A "trainee" is paid to learn research, and will be assigned to work in particular projects as part of the traineeship as well as be required to take certain courses. 

Special Note for admitted International Students: Recent changes in immigration law have made it very difficult in most cases for us to provide the guarantees that would make it possible for you to get a student visa without external funding or financial resources of your own. Please contact the director of graduate studies to discuss your particular case individually.

Applicants also are encouraged to seek out and apply for outside sources of support. 

Following are brief descriptions of some of the types of funding available.

Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (AOF) Program: This financial support program was established by the Board of Regents and the State of Wisconsin to expand the graduate education opportunity for minorities. Members of any one of the following minority groups are eligible for nomination: African American (Black); American Indian, Alaskan native; Mexican American/Chicano, Puerto Rican; or Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hmong, or Laotian. Preference will be given to Wisconsin residents. Recipients must be U.S. citizens or have permanent resident status and be admitted or enrolled in a University of Wisconsin graduate department. Awards may be for an academic year and/or a summer. 

Project Assistantships: These assistantships require that recipients be able to perform services requiring professional or academic training through the baccalaureate level but below the doctoral level and that they be registered graduate students during the academic year. Graduate students must be appointed as project rather than research assistants whenever the activities for which they are being paid are not part of their own thesis/dissertation or pre-thesis/dissertation research. 

Research Assistantships: These are intended for students who are able to combine work toward a degree with research assistance given to a professor. The work involved varies depending on the needs of the professor and the nature and stage of the project. Also, the number of available research assistantships varies considerably from year to year. 

Teaching Assistantships: These stipends normally require part-time teaching, either conducting weekly discussion sessions with small groups of students who are taking large lecture courses or, in the case of statistics courses, conducting laboratory sessions. Other teaching assistant duties depend upon the requirements of the particular course. It is highly unusual for entering students to be offered teaching assistantships. 

Lectureships: Each semester there are a few teaching positions as lecturers in lower level undergraduate courses for which graduate students who have completed all requirements for the doctoral degree except the dissertation may apply. Lecturers are responsible for the entire content and activities of the course. 

Traineeships: A limited number of traineeships are available in the Center for Demography and Ecology, and the Center for Demography of Health and Aging. 

University Fellowships: Fellowships are awarded by the Graduate School to a few outstanding entering students and dissertators; these pay a substantial stipend for the academic year.