Funding Your Graduate Education

Students accepted into the Biology and Wildlife graduate program are generally supported through a combination of Research and Teaching Assistantships.  Both of these funding sources provide a stipend, health insurance, and up to 10 credits of tuition waiver per semester.

Assistantship Stipends

  • Research Assistantships (RAs) are typically paid by research grants or contracts and are administered by the institute that handles the grant. For biology and wildlife students, that  is usually the Institute of Arctic Biology or the UA Museum of the North. An RA could be arranged through your major advisor or by another member of faculty who needs assistance with research. If your thesis research question aligns with the grant supporting your RA, the RA may pay you to do your thesis research, although you may have other duties relating to the needs of the larger project. You should discuss the expectations of your RA with your advisor to ensure your expectations align. In general, open lines of communication with your advisor about financial and academic issues are important throughout your time as a graduate student. RAs are typically assigned on a semester-by-semester basis.
  • Teaching Assistantships (TAs) are paid by the Biology and Wildlife Department and typically require students to teach two laboratory sections of a course per semester. Course assignments are based on students’ expertise and needs of the department. Your willingness to teach sections in high-enrollment courses and in health-relevant subjects such as physiology, anatomy, and microbiology will help increase the likelihood of receiving TA support. Each semester, graduate students in the department will receive an email inviting applications for the next semester. TAs are typically awarded on a semester-by-semester basis.
  • Stipend amounts - Stipends paid by Research Assistantships (RAs) and Teaching Assistantships (TAs) are paid out in 2-week increments that correspond to 20 hrs per week of work during the academic year. (Students at UAF are not allowed to be employed for more than 20 hours per week unless they apply for a waiver.) Stipend amounts are dependent on career stage as described below. (Stipend amounts below reflect full-time TAs at 20 hrs per week.)

Career stage 

 Stipend for RA through IAB*  
(academic year, excluding summer)

Stipend for TA
 (academic year, excluding summer)



All M.S. students, and Ph.D. students without an M.S.



 ≤10 credits per semester


Ph.D. students with an M.S.



 ≤10 credits per semester


Ph.D. candidates (passed Comps)



 ≤10 credits per semester


*These wages may not apply to students paid from grants administered by the UA Museum or the North or a different research institute.

Students supported through a combination of RAships and TAships during the academic year should also discuss with their advisor if and how their stipend will be paid during the two-week break that falls between fall and spring semesters.

Graduate Fellowships and Awards

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). Students may apply before beginning graduate school or within their first year of graduate school for 3 years of financial support. Applications are generally due in October.

Alaska IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) provides one- and two-year fellowships, as well as travel grants. Projects need to relate to One Health, which encompasses the health of people, animals, and the environment. Applications are generally due in February. 

UAF Graduate School Thesis Completion Award supports students in their final semester of graduate school. Applications are generally due in July, October, or February for funding in the following Fall, Spring, or Summer semester.

Institute of Arctic Biology Summer Research award around $7,500 for summer expenses. (Award size may vary from year to year.) Applications are typically due in April or May. This award competition is announced annually in spring by email and on the Institute of Arctic Biology website (linked previously). These funds do not have tax withheld, so you will need to anticipate paying taxes on them when you file taxes.  

There are a number of scholarships available to graduate students through UAF that can be found through Biology and Wildlife and UAF Financial Aid

Other sources of graduate funding are available through grants and fellowships through a variety of government and non-government sources. Students are encouraged to seek such funding, to keep an eye out for opportunities, and to discuss additional funding opportunities with their advisor. 

Summer funding

During the summer there are few TAs available; most students are supported by RAs, student awards and grants, or employment outside of the university. (For example, see the Institute of Arctic Biology Summer Research Award described above, under Graduate Fellowships and Awards.) The number of hours students on RAships are paid in the summer varies between 20 and 40 hours per week. Students working 20 hours or less per week are exempt from SSN and FICA tax.

You should discuss the plan for summer funding with potential advisors before you matriculate.

Tuition and Credit Hours

Tuition is paid for students supported on RAs and TAs. Full-time status is considered 9 credits per semester, while part-time status is 5-8 credits. Students must enroll in 6 or more credits during semesters they work as a TA or an RA. To remain in good standing , a student must be enrolled in at least 6 credits per full year, with the full year defined as starting in Fall semester and ending in Summer semester. Graduate students are welcome to enroll in credits during the summer, but generally do not do so unless they are defending a thesis or dissertation, which requires a minimum of 3 credits, or completing the graduation process after defending, which requires a minimum of 1 credit enrollment. The number of credits and courses students enroll in each semester should be discussed with the advisor. 


Graduate students can expect to pay between $725 and $950 in fees for 9 graduate credits, with non-residents at the higher end of this range because they are charged a higher rate for the UA Network fee. In addition, there may be fees associated with particular courses. For more detail on fees, see the tuition and fee section of the UAF catalog. Fees may be paid by some grants, but are not paid for TAs. Students should discuss fee payment with their advisor. 

Health insurance

Health insurance coverage is paid for RAs and TAs.

Emergency sources of funding

There are several funding mechanisms to provide emergency funds for graduate students. Both may be applied for through the Student Support Fund Application: the Student Support Fund, administered by the Office of Rights, Compliance and Accountability (ORCA), and the Emergency Scholarship Fund, administered through the Office of Financial Aid. These are one-time awards.

If the request for funds is related to health and safety then it is usually funded by ORCA.  Otherwise, it is forwarded to the Emergency Scholarship fund. To be eligible for the Emergency Scholarship fund, students must have submitted a FAFSA and exhausted all other sources of funding, including loans. For both programs, students must be in good academic standing and making good progress towards their degree. The maximum award for an Emergency Scholarship is $1,500- $2,000 and for the Student Support Fund, $1,000 - $1,500.

The Student Support Fund applications are reviewed as they are received; the Emergency Scholarship applications are reviewed weekly. 

Note: For spring, 2022 the Graduate School has contributed $5,000 to the Student Support Fund to assist graduate students in need.