University Based Funding

The Department of Sociology guarantees five continuous years of funding to all admitted students. This funding covers full tuition, subsidizes health insurance, and provides a stipend for living expenses.  The guarantee is contingent on a student’s satisfactory progress as defined by UW-Madison and department regulations governing graduate study as well as adherence to the American Sociological Association (ASA) code of ethics and all relevant University policies and regulations.

Our graduate students receive support toward their graduate studies through a variety of positions: teaching assistantships, project assistantships, research assistantships, traineeships, lectureships, and fellowships.  Each position comes with a slightly different stipend, has different enrollment requirements, and requires different types of work.  None of the positions is awarded because of financial need; all are awarded on the basis of academic promise and the fit between a student’s interests and qualifications and the particular position or program.  Some applicants also seek and apply for external sources of support (e.g. National Science Foundation grants, Fulbright awards).

Types of Funding Available

Teaching Assistantships: Teaching assistants lead weekly discussion sections with small groups of students who are enrolled in large lecture courses or, in the case of statistics courses, conduct weekly laboratory sessions.  They attend lectures, plan classes, meet with students during office hours, and evaluate homework assignments, papers, and exams.  Other duties depend upon the requirements of the particular course.  TAs typically have a half-time appointment for a fall or spring semester.  They must be enrolled at least half time during that semester if they are not yet dissertators and enrolled in three thesis credits if they have attained dissertator status.

Project Assistantships: Project assistants are often employed to assist with research, training, or administration of academic programs or projects.  Their work may involve data collection, data analysis, writing and editing, outreach, and/or program support. The activities that PAs engage in are not expected to be directly related to their own thesis or dissertation research.  PAs typically have a half-time appointment for either nine months or twelve.  They must be enrolled at least half time during the academic year if they are not yet dissertators and enrolled in three thesis credits if they have attained dissertator status; they do not need to enroll during the summer.

Research Assistantships: Research assistants work on a faculty member’s grant-funded project and thus must have the methodological skills required to achieve the goals of grant.  The tasks involved vary depending upon the needs of the professor and the nature of the project.  Often there is a good fit between the faculty member’s research interests and those of the RA, so RAs are able to combine work toward a degree with assistance given to a professor.  Ideally, the activities that RAs engage in benefit their course of study and are directly applicable to their thesis or dissertation research.  RAs typically have 12-month appointments.  They must be enrolled full-time during the academic year and enrolled in two credits (three thesis credits if they are dissertators) during the summer.

Traineeships: Trainees collaborate with CDE- and CDHA-affiliated faculty on NIH-funded research.  They must be student affiliates of CDE/CDHA, have a commitment to a career in demography, and, because their positions are federally funded, be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.  Trainees have 12-month appointments.  They must be enrolled full-time during the academic year and enrolled in two credits (three thesis credits if they are dissertators) during the summer.  Trainees are expected to pursue a career in demographic research and must submit annual research updates to the CDE/CDHA directors for 15 years following completion of the Ph.D.

Lectureships: Lecturers provide classroom or laboratory instruction—effectively engaging students, delivering material, and evaluating work—and are responsible for the organization, content, and all activities of the course.  If they are in charge of a large lecture course that has several discussion sections or labs, lecturers are also responsible for supervising teaching assistants.  Lecturers have teaching experience, strong teaching evaluations, and expertise in the area the course focuses on.  Graduate students are usually appointed as lecturers only after they have reached dissertator status.  They typically have a 40% appointment for either a fall or spring semester and must be enrolled in three thesis credits.

Fellowships: Fellows focus on their own coursework, research, and writing.  Because they do not have teaching or service obligations, they have the freedom to pursue their degree full-time. UW-Madison offers two types of fellowships to incoming students:  Advanced Opportunity Fellowships, for under-represented minority and economically disadvantaged students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and University Fellowships, for outstanding admitted students.  Both are two-year awards.  Students generally use the first year of the award during their initial year in the program and use the second year of the award after they have attained dissertator status.  Fellows typically have nine-month appointments and must be enrolled full-time.

External Awards:  Students are encouraged to seek out and apply for external (i.e., non-University) sources of support (e.g., grants, scholarships, dissertation fellowships).  These awards may substitute for one or more of the five years of funding the departments guarantee, or they may provide support after the funding guarantee has ended.


Below are the stipend levels that have been established for 2022-2023.

Note that some appointments are for the academic year (9 months) while others are for annual positions (12 months); bear in mind, too, that the University pays a student’s tuition in addition to roughly 90% of the health insurance premium along with the stipend.

Teaching Assistant stipend:

$21,115 (academic-year [nine-month] rate for a half-time appt)

Project Assistant stipends:

$21,115 (academic-year [nine-month] rate for a half-time appointment)

$25,808 (annual [twelve-month] rate for a half-time appointment)

Research Assistant stipends:

$21,115 (academic-year [nine-month] rate for a half-time appointment)

$25,808 (annual [twelve-month] rate for a half-time appointment)

Trainee stipend:

$26,352 (annual [twelve-month] rate)

Lecturer stipend:


Fellowship stipend:

$22,909 (academic-year [nine-month] rate for a University or Advanced Opportunity Fellowship)

$28,000 (annual [twelve-month] rate for a University or Advanced Opportunity Fellowship)

See the Graduate School’s stipend page for current support level updates.

A recent tax ruling has made all graduate assistant appointments exempt from the Social Security tax as long as the student is enrolled full time.

Additional Information for International Students

Information for international students can be found here:

Note that the Graduate School will ask international students to provide proof of funding.  International students are required to have sufficient funds to cover expenses completely while attending UW-Madison.  The financial documentation must be verified before an I-20 or DS-2019 form can be issued.  Changes in immigration law have made it difficult for departments to provide a funding guarantee that will make it possible for students to obtain a visa unless they have funding beyond that guaranteed by the program.  Students usually must have external funding or financial resources of their own—e.g., savings, family support, funding provided by an employer or the government of the student’s home county.

Information about loans, scholarships, and grants available to international students is here:

Funding Sources for the Application Process

Funding Sources for the Application Process

Application Fee Grants
The Graduate School at UW-Madison offers a limited number of application fee grants to qualified targeted applicants.

GRE Fee Reduction Certificates
The Educational Testing Service (ETS) fee reduction program offers a limited number of GRE Fee Reduction Certificates to applicants meeting income eligibility requirements. (Note: these certificates are issued from an applicant’s undergraduate’s institution.)