The School of Marine & Environmental Affairs is a professional master’s program and is primarily student-funded. A majority of SMEA students utilize financial aid to cover the costs of tuition and living expenses while they are enrolled as a full-time student. For more information on how to apply for financial aid, please refer to the UW Financial Aid page.


Research Assistantships (RAs) are established university positions with various ranks, pay scales and rules, which are predetermined by the University. RAs are most often built into research grants secured by particular professors, but sometimes are funded by the University itself with state, gift, or other funds. RAs (and TAs – see below) receive a tuition waiver and a monthly stipend for the quarter they are awarded. RAs can be appointed on a quarterly or annual basis depending on the amount of funding available. Every year, several RA positions are awarded to entering students based on merit or research interest. We also have RA positions that become available during the school year which are publicized via email and all students are eligible to apply. Responsibility for awarding RA and TA positions rests with the individual faculty members who have the funding. Experience has shown that student initiative is the main driving force in securing these positions. SMEA faculty recognizes this and encourages student inquiries and initiative about posted positions. For more information about faculty members and their research, check out the faculty bios.


Teaching Assistantships (TAs) are also established university positions with various ranks, pay scales and rules, however these positions are typically not found within SMEA since we primarily teach graduate, rather than undergraduate courses. This does not mean students can’t obtain a TA within another department on campus, as many of our students do!

TAs are administered by individual departments, and are often not widely publicized. Some positions are only open to students in particular programs, though many assistantship positions are open to any graduate student at UW. The Graduate School Office of Fellowships, Assistantships, and Awards provides more in-depth information about the specifics of these positions.

The following resources have been useful for SMEA students in locating Teaching Assistantship positions:

  • GFIS Blog Subscribing to the blog is an important step in staying up-to-date about assistantship opportunities on campus. Other blog content includes UW scholarships and fellowships, as well as selected external funding opportunities for graduate students of all levels.
  • UW Hires (under the “academic student employee” category).
  • Academic Schools and Departments Your own networking is another vital step to success in finding an assistantship. If you are interested in a TA/RA position, contact the department in which you are interested in working directly for more information. Every department runs its own hiring process and can let you know what they require to be considered for such positions.
  • Research Centers at UW Research centers on campus are dynamic and often interdisciplinary spaces with opportunities for student involvement. Some may have funding in the form of assistantships, fellowships, scholarships, and awards. Use this Office of Research search tool to find research centers in particular fields or working on particular topics.

Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships (50% or greater) require that students enroll full-time during the quarter are holding that appointment. During the academic year this is 10 credits and during the summer it’s 2. This is an absolute requirement at UW! RAs and TAs are both covered by a union contract, which provides specific information regarding policies and procedures.


Hourly appointments are another way to reduce school debt and there are many appointments both within and outside of SMEA. Hourly appointments are on-campus jobs that pay an hourly rate for the time you work rather than a flat rate monthly stipend. Hourly appointments may be offered by faculty members with grant funding that would like a student’s help with administrative duties for a particular research project, or it could be an administrative position within a department’s office. These positions can be advertised via the SMEA student email listserv, offered internally by faculty members, and others can be found on Handshake.

ASE Hourly Employment Rates for the Academic Year 2020-21

Graduate Research Student Assistant: $33.22/hour in SMEA

Graduate Reader/Grader: $18.36/hour in SMEA

(UW minimum hourly rate $16.39/hour)


The Graduate School also runs a Work Study program that is specifically geared towards students in need of financial aid and who wish to minimize the size of their loans. Students who qualify for work-study can receive an hourly appointment or RA where the costs are shared between the federal work-study program and a departmental source of funds (grant, gift or state funds). Please consult with the Financial Aid office to see if you qualify for this type of funding.

UW Graduate Fellowships

A list of the Graduate School’s more popular funding opportunities can be found on their website here.

Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships

FLAS Fellowships support undergraduate, graduate and professional students in acquiring modern foreign languages and area or international studies competencies. This fellowship requires an additional application to be eligible but prospective students are eligible and are encouraged to apply if foreign language study will be incorporated into their planned thesis research. FLAS Fellowships are available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.  Contingent on funding from the U.S. Department of Education, the eight National Resource Centers of the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies will offer FLAS Fellowships in the following languages:

Arabic –Bangla- Bulgarian –Burmese –Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian –Canadian First Nations, Métis & Inuit –Chinese –Czech –Danish –Estonian -Tagalog – Finnish –Hebrew –Hindi–Indonesian–Italian –Japanese –Kazakh –Khmer –Korean– Latvian –Lithuanian–Polish –Norwegian –Persian–Portuguese–Russian Slovenian– Swahili –Swedish–Tajik –Thai –Turkish –Uighur–Urdu–Uzbek– Vietnamese

Graduate Students Only: French–German–Spanish

FLAS Fellows receive:

  • Academic Year Graduate: $18,000 tuition, $15,000 living stipend
  • Summer Graduate/Undergraduate: $5,000 tuition,$2500 living stipend

Applicants should carefully read all FLAS guidelines, including Center-specific guidelines, before applying. Graduate students are eligible for all levels of language study.

The deadline to apply is typically at the end of January.  If you have any questions, contact


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