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Financial Support

Generally, students are supported for their careers at UW through a mixture of research assistantships (RAs), teaching assistantships (TAs), and fellowships. We are all but certain to have assistantships for all entering and continuing graduate students. These positions all provide a stipend and a tuition waver.

RAs are funded through the research grants held by members of the faculty. Students holding such positions participate in specified research projects; the total time commitment is 20 hours a week.

TAs are employed by the University to assist faculty in their teaching activities. TAs teach undergraduate labs for four hours per week. They also grade homework and exams, design learning exercises, and meet with students during office hours; the total time commitment is 20 hours a week.

Although all our students usually have access to TAs and RAs administered directly by our Department, there are also a variety of very attractive optional fellowship programs that may be of interest to students enrolled in the Department. Some of our graduate students have held or currently hold a variety of fellowships, including the Astronaut Fellowship, the Dorothy Danforth Compton Fellowship, the NASA Graduate Student Researchers Fellowship, Space Grant Fellowship, the Harriett G Jenkins Predoctoral Fellowship, and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. We pursue such support with vigor for all entering students.

In addition, the Theodor Jacobsen Fund, named after a department Chair and member of the department from 1928 to 1971, was set up to support the research activities of UW graduate students. Applicants can request small grants from the Jacobsen Fund in order to subsidize professional travel, training, or publication costs. The departmental front office will accept completed applications until the first Friday of every quarter. Applications are available in pdf format.

Financial support cannot be guaranteed, since the funding is partially based on research grants. However, support has been continuously available to all students making satisfactory progress toward their degrees during the normal academic calendar for as long as we can remember. Summer support is more limited, but has been available as needed in the recent past. Graduate students in the early years of the program are also encouraged to take summer positions at other institutions, in order to round out their education and make outside research contacts.

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