Financial Support

Plant Imaging Lab

Financial support is available to qualified graduate students in the form of teaching, research and project assistantships and fellowships. Typically, there are approximately 35 graduate students who hold assistantships or fellowships in the Botany Department.  In addition, graduate students are eligible for a number of intradepartmental awards and grants.

Graduate students who have a teaching, research or project assistantships of at least a 33.3% appointment (approximately 13.3 hours per week) for a Fall or Spring term are eligible to receive remission of full tuition. Fellowships or traineeships that are payrolled through the university and that carry stipends equivalent to at least a 33.3% research assistantship also qualify for remission of non-resident tuition. Tuition remission is conditionally awarded at the start of the semester based on the expectation that actual earnings during the semester will be at least 33.3% of the full-time rate. All students pay segregated fees. The only exception is that fellowships paid through the Graduate School have segregated fees waived in addition to tuition. 

Assistantships and fellowships also provide eligibility for an excellent health insurance program, an extremely valuable benefit that provides single or family coverage that is more comprehensive than individuals can usually purchase on their own.

Teaching Assistantships

The most common source of support is a teaching assistantship. Historically, stipend rates for teaching and project assistants are governed by the Teaching Assistant Association (TAA) bargaining unit.

To receive a teaching assistantship, candidates for admission must meet the following requirements:

  • evidence (usually from the undergraduate transcript) of an appropriate background in the relevant subject matter of the course(s) to which appointment is being considered; 
  • evidence (usually from letters of recommendation or verbal communication) of the candidate's potential as a teaching assistant;
  • an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above (on a 4.0 scale); and
  • for students whose native language is not English, evidence of competence in spoken English through the SPEAK test that is administered by the UW.  International applicants should note that a TA appointment is not normally possible during the first year of graduate study. 

Current students, who apply for their first teaching assistantship, are also subject to the above criteria, as well as their performance as a graduate student. Reappointment as a teaching assistant depends upon satisfactory progress as a graduate student, satisfactory performance as a teaching assistant, and completing the Equity/Diversity TA Training.

Teaching assistants may be eligible for University teaching awards, including the UW-Madison Early Excellence in Teaching Award, UW-Madison Exceptional Service Award, UW-Madison Innovation in Teaching Award, UW-Madison Capstone Ph.D. Teaching Award, and the College of Letters & Science Teaching Fellow. 

Research or Project Assistantships

Research and Project Assistantships are made possible by grants awarded to individual professors for particular research programs. Recipients are selected by the individual professor concerned.  Availability of research and project assistantships varies.

Advanced Opportunity Fellowships

Advanced Opportunity Fellowships (AOF) are granted to the UW-Madison’s Graduate School by the State of Wisconsin and are combined with other graduate education funds to support the recruitment and retention of highly qualified underrepresented students in UW-Madison graduate programs.  Fellowships are competitive and merit based.  AOF funding is intended to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the graduate student population, as well as to support economically disadvantaged and first generation college students.  AOF fellowships are paid through the Graduate School by the College of Letters & Science’s Community of Graduate Research Scholars (C-GRS) program.

External Fellowships

Fellowships from professional societies and outside agencies provide another important source of aid for which students may apply either before or after commencing graduate work at UW. If necessary, external fellowships can often be supplemented with University funds up to prevailing University fellowship rates.

All qualified students who are US citizens, nationals or permanent resident aliens of the US are urged to apply to the National Science Foundation for the pre-doctoral fellowship competition. Students apply directly to NSF; the closing date is usually in early November. Please check the NSF website: http://www.nsf.gov for the application instructions and deadline.

Intradepartmental Fellowships and Awards

Intradepartmental Fellowships 

The Botany Department historically has provided a number of fellowships to its graduate students.  The number of fellowships offered each year depends on the availability of funds. Typically, a given fellowship can be offered every year or every other year. The following are intradepartmental fellowships that have been offered in the past 5 years. 

  • The O.N. and E.K. Allen Graduate Fellowship provides one to two semesters of support and is awarded on the basis of merit and service, typically to students nearing completion of the Ph.D. program.  The O.N. and E.K. Allen Graduate Fellowship honors Oscar and Ethel Allen who were international authorities on rhizobial associations. 
  • The Flora Aeterna Fellowship, which was first awarded in the 2011-12 academic year, provides up to 12 months of support plus research funds to a graduate student whose research has potential to directly and positively impact the long-term survival of plants native to the United States.

Intradepartmental Awards and Grants 

The Botany Department has also provided a number of research and travel support to its graduate students.  Support offered each year depends on the availability of funds.  The following have been offered in the past 5 years.

  • The Eldon and Joy Newcomb Research Support provides research support comparable to 2 months of a research assistantship during the summer plus flexible research funds.  Support is based on merit and identified need of funds for research support.  Dr. Eldon Newcomb is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, an eminent authority on plant structure, a distinguished teacher, researcher, and mentor, and past Chair of the Department of Botany. He and Joy have long been active in the life of the University.
  • The Davis Research Support provides research support comparable to 2 months of a research assistantship during the summer.  Support is based on merit with some preference given to graduate students with substantial teaching service and other service in the department.  The Davis Research Support honors John Jefferson Davis, who after retiring from medicine, became curator of the UW Herbarium and was a leading authority on parasitic fungi until his death in 1937.
  • Davis Travel Support provides funding to offset costs of field studies and travel associated with research. Graduate students in the ecology and systematics sections of the department are eligible to apply. Preference is given to students in their first two years of study.
  • The Judith Croxdale Scholarships for Women in Science are awarded to a female graduate student in the Botany Department and are based on merit and need.  This scholarship honors the memory of Dr. Judith Croxdale who was a professor in plant morphology in the Department of Botany and a mentor to many female graduate students.
  • Raper Travel Support defrays costs for graduate students to attend national and international scientific meetings. Preference is given to students making presentations. The Raper Fund commemorates the late Dr. Kenneth Raper, Professor of Botany and eminent mycologist.
  • The Hugh H. Iltis Field Research Support provides funding to offset costs of graduate student fieldwork in the area of plant taxonomy.  Students are expected to collect and deposit specimens into the Wisconsin State Herbarium.  Preference is given to students working in Latin America.  Dr. Hugh H. Iltis is a professor emeritus of the Department of Botany and former director of the Wisconsin State Herbarium (1955-1993).  Dr. Iltis has devoted his life to land stewardship and conservancy.
  • The Demeter Research Support provides research support comparable to 2 months of a research assistantship during the summer to a graduate student working in the areas of botany or plant ecology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. The intent of the award is to support student training and research in the areas of plant ecology and biological aspects of conservation.  Support is based on merit and identified need of funds for research support.
  • The Eldon Newcomb Teaching Award honors a senior graduate student who has distinguished him/herself as an outstanding Teaching Assistant based on student evaluation scores and history of service.