Financial Aid


Graduate students are eligible for a range of financial support, including teaching assistantships, project assistantships and dissertator scholarships. All applicants (both domestic and international) who are admitted for graduate studies are automatically considered for support. No separate application is required. However, because resources are limited and the number of qualified applicants exceeds the amount of available funds, only a subset of admitted students is guaranteed financial support. For general information about funding resources available for graduate students at UW–Madison, please visit Graduate Student Funding.

The most common form of financial support for graduate students is teaching assistantships, which are allocated on a long-term guaranteed basis or a short-term yearly basis with no presumption of support the following academic year.

1. 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 are also considered for guaranteed teaching assistant positions.)

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

2. Short-term Teaching Assistant Positions (annual request to Graduate Committee)

  • Students enrolled in one of the graduate degree programs without a financial support guarantee but in good standing are eligible to apply for short-term teaching assistantships. 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.

3. International TAs (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 they arrive. If they do not score 45 or better, they cannot TA.
  • 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 are exempt from the SPEAK test.

4. 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.

5. Department Dissertator Scholarships (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 scholarships 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 scholarship 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

Other Sources 
of Financial Support

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 announced on the grad student list-serv, and on the UW Student Job Center website, under “University Positions.” International Students may want to learn about employment opportunities listed by International Student Services.

Student Research Grants For Conference Presentations and Research Travel (Formerly known as Vilas Travel Grants) ($600 – $1200) 

  • All graduate students may apply.
  • See Graduate School website for more information.

External Fellowships (Students must apply)

  • Link to Grad School webpage list of external fellowships for Social Sciences and Education
  • Check for annual deadlines and application information
  • Some of the External Fellowships are supported by the Grad School  (i.e. GS does payroll and subsidizes difference between award and costs) –
  • International Fellowship Office – for international research grants and scholarships
  • NSF grants are broader than science and may offer opportunities for students in the social sciences.


Additional financial information can be found on the ISS website for International Students.

Watch for reminder emails to the department grad list-serv and through the Grad School Connections Newsletter on funding opportunities as they ariseSubscribe to the GSC’s GradConnections Weekly for valuable weekly updates.

Students should understand the terms and conditions for external fellowships. Contact Mary Butler, Assessment and Funding Coordinator for the Graduate School, 231 Bascom Hall, (608) 262-9597 for assistance.

Memorial Library Grant Information Center (students must apply)

  • 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 you might otherwise have never discovered. There are an especially 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 this website to connect to these databases.
    • RSP Funding for Graduate Students: This database contains grants that require very specific characteristics in order for applicants to be eligible. It is important to take the time to thoughtfully answer questions and create your profile. Grants opportunities will be sent to you via your wisc email account.
    •  COS Pivot is potentially the most useful database, according to the grants librarian. You must create an account using your wisc email address as your username. There are funding opportunities for international students here. You can create and save lists and can email funding opportunities to anyone.
    • SPIN includes private, governmental and international funding agencies and can be accessed from off campus with a UW Madison NetID.
    • Grant Forward features funding opportunities from foundations and federal funding agencies.
    • Consult the grants library page for details about each database. Click on workshop materials.

    Make an appointment with the Grants Librarian who can point you to resources and help you get started at or Ellen Jacks at .

    We have an excellent writing center that offers grant writing workshops and will help students craft their applications.

    And more…..