Funding and Tuition

Graduate Appointments

The Department of Communication Arts is committed to funding all admitted students. The minimum guaranteed offer of support for an admit is either 6 consecutive semesters (for an admit starting at the PhD level) or 10 consecutive semesters (for an admit starting at the MA level). Because this offer of support is given to all admitted students, no separate application for financial support is required.

In most semesters, the guaranteed support will be through a teaching assistantship, though some semesters a project assistantship, lectureship, or fellowship may be offered instead. Any of these positions will include a stipend, full tuition remission, and benefits eligibility (including health insurance). The standard appointment offered by the department is a 50% appointment, which is equivalent to 20 hours of work per week.

Students are responsible for paying segregated fees and any special fees. To maintain their funding guarantee, students must remain in good standing.

Admitted students will automatically be considered for any campus fellowships they are eligible for. Admits are encouraged to additionally apply for other fellowships from federal and non-federal agencies, some of which may be supplemented by the Graduate School. Additional information is available at and more may be available through your current institution. The DGS, Graduate Coordinator, and your advisor can also direct you to external fellowships in your area.

The 2023-2024 stipend amount for a standard departmental teaching assistant appointment is $23,230 per academic year (fall & spring semester).

Student Hourly Employment

During the fall and spring semesters, eligible graduate students may pick up additional hours of work on a student hourly basis. This employment may encompass a range of activities, including (but not limited to) working for a professor on research projects, working for the department in a staff-related capacity, and working as a grader for a course. These opportunities are based on need and, unlike a semester appointment, are not guaranteed. Additional on-campus employment opportunities may be found through

The maximum appointment percentage for an international graduate student, is a combined 50%. This limit is consistent with F-1 and J-1 visa guidelines. This means that an international graduate student with a standard appointment is not eligible to pick up additional work during fall or spring semester.

The maximum appointment percentage for a domestic graduate student is a combined 75%. This means that a domestic graduate student is eligible to pick up an additional 25% appointment, which is equivalent to 10 hours of work/week, during fall or spring semester.

During winter break and summer, when classes are not in session, all students are eligible to work up to a combined 100%.

Conference Travel Funding

The Department of Communication Arts provides an annual award of up to $1000 to support students who will be delivering a paper or presentation at an academic conference. The funds can be used flexibly to support one or more conference trips during the academic year. Depending on endowment yield, and the number of overall requests, students traveling to a conference outside North America can request, but are not guaranteed, an additional $500. For more details, see the graduate handbook section on Professional Development and Career Planning.

Students are encouraged to additionally apply for conference or research travel funding through our Graduate School’s Student Research Grants Competition (information available at Conference travel and research funding through the department of Communication Arts can supplement funding received from the Graduate Schools Student Research Grant Competition.

Research Funding

The Department of Communication Arts provides annual research support to students through a number of awards. Each year, we have a large and generous grant – the Vance and Betty Kepley Dissertation Award – that we award to one or two distinguished dissertators who propose to use the funds in a transformative manner to conduct research on their project. The current value of the award is $5000.

Additionally, we are able to support on-going research needs of all students, for their dissertation or other publications, through the Marilynn R. Baxter Research Awards. Students may apply once per academic year for up to $3,000 dollars in research expenses. For more details, see the graduate handbook section on Professional Development and Career Planning.

Finally, all students who pass their dissertation proposal defense no later than one year after completing their preliminary examinations are awarded the Elliott Dissertation Scholarship, which is intended to be used to cover early dissertation costs (ex: travel to access materials, research study costs). The current scholarship award is $2,000.

Departmental Awards

The Communication Arts Department is pleased to be able to grant yearly monetary awards to graduate students based on excellence in teaching, research and/or service. The amount and number of awards vary from year to year depending on funds available, but the total award allocation has been around $18,000 per year recently. Most of these awards are decided upon by departmental faculty in the spring semester and require that the awardee be in good standing at the time of consideration and continuing in the program the subsequent fall semester.

Charline M. Wackman Award: Awarded to residents of the State of Wisconsin for outstanding scholarly work (either completed or in progress). Residency is determined by the following: having been born in Wisconsin; or having graduated from a Wisconsin high school; or having a life partner who was born in Wisconsin.

Charles C. Pearce Award: Awarded to graduate students for the purpose of funding student research or encouraging and improving performance skills.

Elizabeth Warner Risser Award: Awarded to outstanding female graduate students on the basis of academic record, character and extracurricular activities.

Frankenburger Memorial Award: Awarded to graduate students for scholarship in speech.

Helen K. Herman Award: Awarded to graduate students who demonstrate academic ability, need, and participation in extra-curricular activities.

Lloyd Bitzer Essay Award: Awarded to graduate students in the Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture concentration to recognize excellence in rhetorical analysis and/or theory development.

Robert J. Wickhem Award: Awarded for achievements in media production.

Sharon Sites Award: Awarded to female graduate students in the Film and Media and Cultural Studies concentrations.

Vance and Betty Kepley Teaching Award: Awarded to graduate students in Communication Arts, with an emphasis on excellence in teaching.

Weaver Excellence Award: Awarded to an international graduate student to recognize outstanding efforts in research, teaching and service.


All students who hold an eligible appointment will receive full tuition remission. The standard appointment offered by the Department of Communication Arts, including those offered every semester of guaranteed support, will fall into this category. Students are responsible for segregated fees and any other additional special fees. More information on those is available here:

Students who do not qualify for tuition remission in a given semester will be responsible for paying tuition. Tuition fees are set, and subject to change by, the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents. The Bursar’s Office can help address any question you may have regarding tuition. Tuition rates can be found on the following page: Make sure to selection the correct semester and specify Graduate (or Dissertator, if relevant).