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Financial Aid

Graduate Research Assistantships

The department awards graduate research assistantships covering tuition but not fees to qualified students for the nine-month academic year commencing with the fall semester. However, the department may award several assistantships at other times during the year due to attrition or initiation of new research projects. Approximately 40 to 50 assistantships are active during any given semester. As with most forms of financial aid, more applications are received than are awardable, so the selection process can become quite competitive. Approximately 25 percent to 33 percent of the total number of active assistantships become available for each year. Decisions for fall semester generally are made during the previous spring semester when the availability of research funds for the upcoming academic year has been established.

Graduate research assistantship stipend amounts vary according to the applicant’s level (M.S. or Ph.D.) and advancement within that level. Upon recommendation by their advisor, M.S. applicants may reach level two after successful completion of one year of graduate work. Advancement of Ph.D. applicants depends on their advisor’s satisfaction with research, progress and preliminary examination results.

Graduate Research Assistantship Stipends*
(Academic Year 2017-2018)


Monthly Rate
Aug 16 – May 15 May 16 – Aug 15
50% Time 75% Time
MS I 2,281.67 3,422.50
MS II 2,334.54 3,501.81
PhD I 2,392.59 3,588.89
PhD II 2,535.18 3,802.77

*See Tuition and Fees, Section IV B. Twelve-month stipend assumes three-quarter time GRA during summer, half time GRA during academic year. Rates above apply to students entering the program after Aug. 1, 2016.

The M.S. program is designed so that students can complete the course and thesis requirements within 24 months. Awarded M.S. students generally receive their stipends for a period of two years. However, given special circumstances, advisors or the Department Head may elect to extend them up to one semester.

Students on part-time graduate research assistantships are expected to work a minimum of 20 hours per week on their research. However, such students should not conclude that their research obligations may be satisfied by working a certain number of hours per week, nor that they are being paid to work a fixed number of hours and no further effort is necessary. They are working toward a degree; and by virtue of the availability of faculty-generated research projects that provide for reimbursed student participation, are being afforded an opportunity for financial support while acquiring a graduate-level education. The more rapidly they advance in their work, the sooner they will obtain their degrees and seek gainful employment.

Graduate Fellowships and Other Funding Opportunities

A variety of fellowship opportunities are available to outstanding applicants. Many students in our department have received fellowships from the American Meteorological Society (AMS), National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We encourage all students to consider applying for one or more of the following fellowships. Please note that some of these fellowships are only available to students entering their second or later years of study.