Financial Aid

Teaching Assistantships & Dissertator Fellowships

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Long-term teaching assistant positions (automatically considered upon admission)

Newly admitted M.A. students are considered for teaching assistantships guaranteed for two consecutive years and newly admitted Ph.D. students are considered for teaching assistantships guaranteed for four consecutive years. (Current M.A. students matriculating into the Ph.D. program may apply for guaranteed funding to support their studies the Ph.D. program.) The graduate committee ranks all newly admitted students eligible for financial support (including current M.A. students accepted into the Ph.D. program) and makes awards based on this ranking. Among the primary considerations for ranking students are:

  • Academic record as reflected in the student’s application for graduate study
  • Preparation and potential for success in teaching
  • Previous teaching experience and/or performance, if any
  • Background in specific course content

Refer to Grad School page for information on payment and benefits for Assistantships

Short-term teaching assistant positions (annual request to Graduate Committee)

Students enrolled in one of the graduate degree programs without a financial support guarantee or whose guarantee has run out and who are in good standing are eligible to apply for short-term teaching assistantships in our annual funding pool. Calls for applications go out during the spring semester. The graduate committee ranks the applicants based on:

  • Satisfactory progress and good standing (GPA, credits toward degree, outstanding incompletes)
  • Preparation and potential for success in teaching
  • Background in specific course content
  • Previous teaching experience and/or performance, if any
  • Research-related activities
  • Professional development activities
  • Students selected for short-term teaching assistant positions must apply again if they are interested in filling similar positions in subsequent semesters.

International TAs (College Requirement and Graduate Committee decision)

The SPEAK English language test is required for any non-native English speaking student who is offered a TAship and for continuing students who express interest in TAing for us. Doing well on the SPEAK test does not guarantee a TA position, as the Graduate Committee uses a number of criteria to make those decisions.

  • For new, incoming TAs the test must happen as soon as or before they arrive in Madison. If they do not score 45 or better, they cannot TA on that first semester.
  • The Graduate Committee may also decide to do an extended interview with an applicant to determine English proficiency.
  • For continuing students it must happen before they can be offered a TAship.
  • Students who have scored 26 or better on the Speaking portion of the TOEFL or students who have completed an undergraduate degree in the US are exempt from the SPEAK test.
  • New international TAs must take the ESL 370 course in their first or second semester. This professional development course will expose students to pedagogy in the US classroom setting and offer opportunities to practice teaching with ample feedback and support.

Project/Research assistantships (Individual faculty decision)

The availability of project and research assistantships depends primarily upon faculty funded research programs. Faculty members and students negotiate these positions on an individual basis. Faculty look for specific skills and expertise when hiring PAs and RAs.

Department dissertator fellowships (students apply to Graduate Committee)

Ph.D. students with dissertator status (attained after successfully completing preliminary exams and defending a dissertation proposal) may apply for one-year fellowships to support completion of the dissertation. A call for applications goes out in early spring for awards disbursed in the following academic year. The graduate committee will rank all applicants considering:

  • Time in status as a dissertator
  • Scholarly productivity and potential
  • Previous SJMC financial support
  • Recommendations from faculty advisor or other letters of support

Assistantships in other departments

Students who do not receive financial support through the School of Journalism and Mass Communication may apply for assistantships in other departments or seek project assistantships and program assistantships in other campus units. These opportunities are posted on the UW Student Job Center website under UW.

Other Sources 
of Financial Support

A student peer advisor works with an incoming freshman as she registers at student orientation, advising and registration.Watch for reminder emails on the department grad list-serv and through the Graduate School Newsletter on funding opportunities as they arise. All graduate students are automatically subscribed to the GradConnections Weekly.

Travel Funds for Conference Presentations

If you are presenting a paper or moderating a panel, you can apply for funds to travel to the conference. ***NOTE to dissertators: You must apply to the Graduate School before you can apply to SJMC for conference presentation funds.

Step 1: Student Research Grants Competition (SRGC). Apply through the Graduate School. If they do not award you funding or if it is not enough to cover your conference costs, then go to Step 2. Funds may be awarded in advance or as a reimbursement, depending on the timing of your conference.

Step 2: School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC). We will award up to $1,000 per year to each student. If you are co-presenting, then the two of you will split the $1,000. You must show evidence that you have applied for funds through the Gradaute School before you are eligible to request funds through SJMC. Funds are awarded as a reimbursement and you must provide receipts.

Research Funds through SJMC

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication provides up to $1,000 annually to support research for students who have taken at least 12 credits of coursework on the UW–Madison campus. Priority is given to students who have a well-articulated research project and have not received previous research support.

External Fellowships

Memorial Library Grant Information Center

The Grants Information Collection, located in the reference section on the 2nd floor of Memorial Library, offers a wealth of information on grants and awards. With time and creative searching, you may be able to find funding sources. There is a large number of grants available to graduate students engaged in research. Books and databases are available for all UW–Madison students to search. Many of these databases can be accessed from anywhere on campus. Visit the Research Guides website to connect to these databases.

Contact the Grants Librarian for an appointment.