students whirr past the camera, which is at floor level, at the Robin's Nest cafe on the second floor of Nancy Nicholas Hall. Some students sit at tables studying nearby.

Funding, Employment, and Finances

An Overview of Graduate Funding

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Types of Funding

Graduate Assistantships (Research / Teaching / Project)

  • Paid positions in which the University hires a graduate student to assist with research (RA), teaching (TA), or project (PA) activities
  • A faculty mentor must serve as Principal Investigator on the grant under which funds are awarded
  • Appointments of 33.3% FTE or higher include a full tuition waiver
  • See the Grad School’s Graduate Assistantships page for more information

Fellowships

  • Awards that support a student’s education (they are not an employment relationship with the University)
  • A faculty mentor may or may not need to serve as Principal Investigator on the grant under which funds are awarded
  • Award amount and expectations for the student can vary greatly, depending on the funder and the terms of the award
  • Often provide a lump sum stipend for the student and additional funds for fringe benefits, tuition, and research-related expenses
  • See the Grad School’s Fellowships page for more information

Dissertation awards

  • Awards that support research expenses during the dissertation stage of a student’s graduate education
  • Typically medium-sized awards ($3,000-$12,000) to offset costs for doing dissertation research (i.e., supplies, data collection, transcription, data analysis, travel, publication, etc.)

Scholarships

  • Awards made to students based on merit or need
  • Often smaller amounts (i.e., $500-$3500)
  • Few, if any, requirements in how funds are used

Graduate School Funding Policies

SoHE TA/PA Responsibilities, Rights, Communication, and Evaluation Plan

The following worksheets have been developed to assist supervisors and teaching assistants (TA) and project assistants (PA) in creating a plan for TA/PA responsibilities, supervisor-TA/PA communication, and evaluation of the TA/PA’s performance.

Finding Funding

To help you find resources to pay for costs related to graduate education, the Graduate School provides a comprehensive overview of the funding process on campus as well as descriptions of the types of funding available, sources of funding, minimum stipend rates and benefits, and links to applicable human resources policies (e.g. GAPP) at:

Tax Information for International Students

Most international students are required to have a Glacier account before they receive funds through UW Madison payroll. You may also receive any additional funds (such as scholarships) through payroll as an international student.

Scholarships & Fellowships

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Academic Year Scholarships

Scholarships open from September 15 to December 15 in the Fall and January 15 to May 15 in the Spring. Awarded on a rolling basis until annual funds are depleted.

Student Financial Hardship Funds

    • Maximum Award: $500
    • Eligibility: Full-time MS, MFA, or PhD Human Ecology graduate student in good standing
    • Application Link

 For additional financial hardship resources, please see here.

Conference Travel Scholarship

    • Maximum Award: $650 ($750 for international travel)
    • Eligibility: Full-time MS, MFA or PhD Human Ecology graduate student in good standing

PhD/MFA First Conference Travel Scholarship

    • Maximum Award: $500
    • Eligibility: First-year Human Ecology PhD and MFA students. Second-year students may also apply for the 2022-2023 Academic Year.
    • Application Link

Note: Half of all conference travel scholarship funds are awarded each semester. If there are remaining funds at the end of the spring semester, an additional call will be sent to applicants whose requests were not fulfilled in the fall call.

Fall Scholarships

Scholarships open from September 15 to December 15. Applications are reviewed by a committee of faculty and decisions are communicated by the end of January.

NOTE: Your applications will be reviewed by a committee of faculty from across the School of Human Ecology. As such, please ensure that your materials are comprehensible to a broad academic audience, NOT only those within your discipline.

Graduate Student Research Mentoring Fellowship

This pilot program provides funding and mentorship training for two Human Ecology graduate students to mentor one or more undergraduate student(s) in research during the Spring 2024 semester. It is designed as a stepped mentorship opportunity in which a SoHE faculty member provides mentorship to a graduate student who is providing mentorship to an undergraduate student.  

    • Award Amount: $1500
    • Eligibility : Human Ecology MFA or PhD graduate student in good academic standing 
    • Application Link

Graduate Student Scholarship for Research, Outreach, and Training on Cooperatives

    • Examples of cooperative associations: credit unions, artists cooperatives, cooperative groceries, farm co-ops, and housing ops. Up to 3 awards each year.
    • Maximum Award: 
      • Research, outreach, and other scholarship on cooperatives – $4,000
      • Conference travel or professional development on cooperatives – $1,000
    • Eligibility: MS, MFA or PhD graduate student in good standing
    • Application Link

Donor Information:

Ann Hoyt Award for the Study of Cooperative Associations
Barbara and Thomas Lyon Award

Spring Scholarships

Scholarships open from January 15-March 1. Applications are reviewed by the Graduate Program Committee and decisions are communicated by the end of the Spring Semester.

Excellence in Graduate Student Peer Mentorship Award

    • Maximum Award: $500
    • To self-nominate or nominate another graduate student, please follow the nomination process outlined in the PDF. Upload letter of nomination to this BOX folder.
    • Eligibility: MS, MFA or PhD Human Ecology graduate student in good standing
    • Application Link

Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching Award

    • Maximum Award: $500
    • To self-nominate or nominate another graduate student, please follow the nomination process outlined in the PDF. Upload letter of nomination to this BOX folder.
    • Eligibility: MS, MFA or PhD Human Ecology graduate student in good standing
    • Application Link

Read about the 2023 recipients of the SoHE Teaching & Mentorship Excellence awards here

Bridget and James Coffing Fund for Family Advocacy

    • Maximum Award: $2,000
    • Eligibility: SoHE MS, MFA, or PhD graduate student in good academic standing and making satisfactory progress; Students who participated in a Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program; OR Students from the following racial/ethnic groups: a) African American or Black; b) American Indian or Alaskan Native; c) Hispanic/Latino; d) Cambodian, Vietnamese, Laotian, or Hmong; e) Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; OR Economically disadvantaged students who are: a) first-generation college students who  participated in one of the following TRIO programs: Upward Bound, Talent Search, Educational Opportunities Centers, or Student Support Services; b) first-generation college students who graduated from the PEOPLE Program; or c) UW–Madison bachelor’s degree recipients who were in the FASTrack or BANNER programs OR From another socially disadvantaged group. If students are apply under this criterion, the will need to clarify what the disadvantaged group. Priority will be given to students who have not yet received SoHE STAR funds or Bridget and James Coffing funds.
    • Application Link

The Schurch Thomson Graduate Research Excellence Award

    • Maximum Award: $3,500
    • Eligibility: MFA or PhD Human Ecology Student in good standing; students may also apply for the Dissertation, MS Thesis, MFA Project Awards but are not eligible to receive both 
    • Application Link

PhD Dissertation, MS Thesis, or MFA Project Award

    • Maximum Award: $3,500
      Eligibility: Full-time MS, MFA or PhD Human Ecology graduate student in good standing
    • Application Link

Summertime Academic Research (STAR) Award

    • Maximum Award: $2,500
    • Eligibility: Full-time MS, MFA or PhD Human Ecology graduate student in good standing
    • Application Link

Dissertation & Teaching Fellowships

Equity & Justice Network (E&J Net) Dissertation/Project/Thesis Fellowship

Applications are accepted during the standard Fall and Spring calls (September 15-December 15 and January 15-March 1)

    • Maximum Award: 12 month academic year and summer fellowship (2024-25 annual rate: $32,396)
    • Eligibility: 
      • SoHE MS, MFA, or PhD graduate student in good academic standing and making satisfactory progress;
      • Students who participated in a Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program;
      • OR Students from the following racial/ethnic groups: a) African American or Black; b) American Indian or Alaskan Native; c) Hispanic/Latino; d) Cambodian, Vietnamese, Laotian, or Hmong; e) Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander;
      • OR Economically disadvantaged students who are: a) first-generation college students who participated in one of the following TRIO programs: Upward Bound, Talent Search, Educational Opportunities Centers, or Student Support Services; b) first-generation college students who graduated from the PEOPLE Program; c) UW–Madison bachelor’s degree recipients who were in the FASTrack or BANNER programs;
      • OR From another socially disadvantaged group (if students apply under this criterion, they will need to clarify what the disadvantaged group is);
      • OR students whose research is centered around issues of equity and justice
    • Application Link

Human Ecology Mentored Teaching Fellowships

Students should complete just one application and will be considered for both named teaching fellowships. Applications are accepted during the standard Spring call (January 15-March 1).

    • Maximum Award: 50% Teaching Assistantship (academic year appointment)
    • Eligibility: Incoming or continuing full-time MFA or PhD Human Ecology graduate student in good standing
    • Application Link 
    • Past Robin A. Douthitt Fellows:
      • 2023-24: Veronica Pham & Esther Cho
      • 2022-23 Fellow: no award
      • 2021-22 Fellow: Yiling Zhang
      • 2020-21 Fellow: Allison Hellenbrand
      • 2019-20 Fellow: Travis Moore
      • 2018-19 Fellow: Dakota Mace
    • Past Jane Hampton Ausman Fellows: 
      • 2023-24: Quinn Kinzer
      • 2022-23: Cristin Sutliff
      • 2021-22: Vivien Ahrens
      • 2020-21: Leonard Kin-Chong Chao
      • 2019-20: Henry Obeng
      • 2018-19: Garret Zastoupil

Department Scholarships

Funding opportunities for graduate students within each program are available and made possible, in large part, by generous donations to the School of Human Ecology and individual departments/graduate programs. In addition to the SoHE scholarships and fellowships made available to all graduate students, each graduate program is allocated scholarship funds specifically for the graduate students in their program/department. These can be used to fund research, conference travel, creative exhibitions, and/or professional development opportunities for graduate students. The departmental Graduate Program Committee (GPC) within each program/department determines how the awards are made and distributed in each year. Note: The program scholarships are funded separately from SoHE school-wide scholarships. Graduate students are welcome and encouraged to apply for funding from both sources.

 

Civil Society & Community Studies

Civil Societies and Community Studies department scholarship funds are divided and distributed evenly among CSCR PhD students in the Spring semester of each academic year. Students are required to submit their ARGS report in order to receive the CSCS department scholarship.

Consumer Science

All Consumer Behavior & Family Economics (CBFE) PhD students may apply for conference travel funding if they have been invited to present at an upcoming conference (paper, poster, or discussant; must be listed on the conference program).

The department will fund students up to $1,200 for domestic conferences and $1,500 for international conferences. Students in their final year of the program are eligible to receive funding to attend multiple conferences. Students not in their final year may receive funding for one conference per academic year.

Design Studies

This Design Studies graduate program scholarship is a means of funding expenses directly related to your graduate education that have occurred or will occur during the current academic year. Please see this document for details about application materials.

    • Open Application Period: October 10 – November 10; March 1 – April 1
    • Application Link

Human Development & Family Studies

The Human Development & Family Studies Graduate Program Committee has set aside a portion of this year’s funds to support HDFS PhD students’ conference travel, summertime academic research (STAR) awards, and other school-wide awards. HDFS students may apply to the relevant SoHE scholarships to be considered for both SoHE and HDFS department funds.

MS Human Ecology

A small portion of the MS program scholarships for the 2023-2024 academic year have been set aside to supplement SoHE’s Student Financial Hardship Funds. If SoHE is unable to provide the full amount requested by a Master’s student, the MS program scholarship may be used to supplement the allocation.

The remainder of the funds will be distributed to students early in the spring semester to be used for scholastic expenses including books, other necessary materials, professional development, etc.

Guidance for Writing Thank-You Letters to Donors

Some graduate student scholarships are funded by one generous individual or family’s contributions to the School; for these awards, recipients are required to compose thank-you letters to the donors that are sent by stewards at the Wisconsin Foundation. These notes are required by June 1st of each year; if a student fails to submit a thank you letter by June 1st, they will be ineligible for any Human Ecology scholarships until it has been received. See additional details and directions below:

Accept the Award

  • Click the link in your award notification email from WiSH OR go directly to the site at www.scholarships.wisc.edu to log in and accept your award. 
  • In the award email or offer letter, it will tell you the donor who made possible the scholarship or fellowship

View Donor Biographies

  • There are donor information pages about each of our donors that can be found in this BOX folder.
  • Identify the donor(s) of your scholarships or fellowship and read more about them and their gift to the School of Human Ecology.
    • Note that some awards require letters to multiple recipients; please carefully review the biographies to determine if this is the case for your award and act accordingly.
  • Use the information so that you can adequately thank them and/or their designee(s) for their gift.

Write Thank You Note

  • The following guidance has been prepared for you as you write your thank you note:
  • Be sure to indicate the impact that the scholarship or fellowship has had on your graduate career.
  • Be mindful to properly address the thank you to the correct person(s), as it may not be the donor or who the scholarship or fellowship is named after.
  • You may need to write more than one thank you letter. Should you have questions about this, please contact graduate program administration at gradprog@sohe.wisc.edu.
  • Additional guidelines from the UW Writing Center: Advice for Students Writing Thank You Notes to Donors.

Upload Your Note To Box

  • All thank you notes can be uploaded to this BOX folder.
  • The thank you notes will be sent directly to the donor and/or designee once they are uploaded to BOX.
  • A cover letter from the School of Human Ecology may be added as needed.

Guidance for Expressing Thanks for All Other Awards

Other graduate student scholarships are funded not by one donor, but by accounts with countless contributors over the years; for these scholarships, it makes the most sense to express gratitude to a more general audience. If your offer note on WiSH indicates that you have received one of these awards, please complete this short google form to show your thanks. A photo of the work which the award has allowed you to pursue and a few sentences about the impact it has had on your career is ideal. 

At the end of each academic year, graduate program administration will compile your responses into a special-edition newsletter and social post to share with donors and the broader community to demonstrate the impact of donations on supporting student research, scholarship, and professional development. Your contributions to this effort are incredibly important to ensuring that our programs continue to receive funding for these awards year after year, so thank you in advance for your cooperation. 

Please note that this approach is being piloted in the 2023-2024 academic year as an alternative to requiring thank you letters for all awards, so any feedback on how it compares to previous years is welcome; please send your feedback to gradprog@sohe.wisc.edu.

Fellowship & Dissertation Grants

Important Reminder for Students Considering Applying for Fellowships or Grant Funding

Applying for grant funding is a crucial part of graduate education and professional development. We want to support graduate students in their efforts to apply for funding to help fund their graduate education and research or dissertation-related expenses and gain experience applying for grant funding.

Graduate students applying outside of the School of Human Ecology for competitive funding for their education or research (fellowship or other research grant awards) should first discuss the opportunity with their graduate advisor, and if a decision is made to submit an application, contact Sarah Marcotte (sarah.marcotte@wisc.edu) with as much lead time before the deadline as possible. All funding awarded to a student or to UW on behalf of a student in support of the student’s graduate education or research activities will require a budget compliance review prior to the application being submitted.

If a grant or fellowship award is made and the budget was not reviewed before the application was submitted, there is a chance the award cannot be accepted by UW on the student’s behalf.

Click here to read the July 2022 memo on this topic.

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Searching for Fellowships & Dissertation Grants

School of Human Ecology Resources

UW Resources

Databases to Search for Funding

Applying for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP)

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP) is a prestigious fellowship program for those graduate students pursuing full time research based master’s and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) or in STEM education. The NSF-GRFP website lists the the detailed eligibility requirements.  Graduate students may apply the year before they attend graduate school or in the first year of the graduate program. The fellowship provides three years of full funding for graduate study which includes a $37,000 stipend, plus a $12,000 cost of attendance stipend. Interested applicants should review the full program announcement from NSF.Deadlines for applications are typically in October each year for funding the following academic year. Each fall the UW-Madison Graduate School hosts various workshops for graduate students to prepare NSF-GRFP applications. Workshop materials and recordings from previous years are also available on their website. Additionally, Graduate School staff member, Jeff Cary (offr@grad.wisc.edu) is available for support with the application and any questions you might have along the way. The UW-Madison Writing Center is also a great resource for students preparing fellowship applications.

Previous CBFE Graduate Student Application Materials (broader impacts workshop guide, application review rating sheet, sample personal statement, sample research statement) are available upon request from Human Ecology: CBFE PhD student, Quinn Kinzer (qkinzer@wisc.edu)

FAQs

What types of organizations offer the above funding opportunities?

Many federal agencies (i.e., National Institutes of Health [NIH], National Science Foundation [NSF]), private foundations (i.e., Ford Foundation, Mellon Foundation), non-profit organizations, professional societies (i.e., American Educational Research Association, American Sociological Association), and for-profit companies support graduate students in various capacities.

Can I have both a PA/TA/RA position and a fellowship at the same time?

It depends. Some fellowship programs are intended to fully fund a student and other sources of support are not allowed. Many programs allow fellows to hold concurrent appointments and in those cases, UW policy regarding maximum student appointment levels must be followed.

How do I apply for a fellowship or dissertation grant?

You must discuss any potential fellowship or grant opportunity with your faculty advisor. It’s also critical to read the funding opportunity announcement to see what is required to apply and plan your timeline. Many fellowships require a business official from UW to submit the application on your behalf, and awards are then made to UW to administer the funding for you. However, some organizations and agencies will award directly to the student. Contact Sarah Marcotte with any questions about applying for non-UW fellowships or dissertation awards.

Can I apply to more than one fellowship program, in case one of them doesn’t get funded?

Most likely, yes. However, be sure to read the sponsor’s funding announcement carefully for any restrictions or conditions of the award.

Additional Resources