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Financial Assistance

Forms of financial assistance

The department most commonly employs three types of financial assistance for graduate students: (1) Teaching Assistantships (TA), (2) Research Assistantships (RA), and (3) Fellowships.

  • Teaching Assistantships

    The TA appointment requires that you work an average of 20 hours per week for the period of support. As a TA you will work under the supervision of a faculty instructor and you will be assigned to a variety of duties that include office hours, leading laboratory or homework review sessions, grading reports, exams, or other homework assignments, tutoring students and possibly assisting in course development or operation of department computer systems.

  • Research Assistantships

    The RA appointment requires that you conduct research under the direction of a faculty member. This could include research planning, experiment setup and measurements, computational analysis, or theoretical analysis of a problem. The appointment requires that you work an average of 20 hours per week during the period of support. Students should meet regularly with your faculty supervisor to discuss progress and set goals. It is student’s responsibility to make satisfactory research progress.
  • Fellowships

    Fellowships are competitive awards that generally do not require service (i.e., work) as part of the award. They are intended to fund your academic study and research. Fellowships may be offered by department, the University, the federal government or private agencies. Every fellowship has different provisions, so take note of what is offered. After you receive a fellowship, remember it is your responsibility to ensure all requirements are met, such as enrollment or reporting to the funding agency.

International students

International students in degree programs are eligible to serve in assistantship positions. To be eligible for a Teaching Assistantship appointment, graduate students who are non-native English speakers must fulfill the English language proficiency requirements as stated in Graduate School Memorandum 15.

Requirements for all assistantships

Your assistantship appointment requires that you study in the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Program, register as a full time student (10 credits per quarter minimum during the autumn, winter and spring quarters and 2 credits during the summer quarter), maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, and perform satisfactorily in the duties of your assistantship appointment.

If you are a PhD student, you must pass the PhD Qualifying Examination successfully within the time limits. You are expected to attend any orientations and/or training sessions required for your position offered by the ME department and take safety seminar/workshop/training classes offered by UW Environmental Health and Safety if you will be working in laboratories. A list of training classes and online registration can be found at EH&S Training.

Academic Student Employees (ASEs), which include the above mentioned graduate student assistantship positions, are covered by the UAW/UW Academic Student Employee union contract. The union contract governs policies and procedures for appointments, salary, job definitions and leave time. You are encouraged to familiarize yourself with this contract.

Some, but not all, assistantships provide a tuition waiver and health insurance through the Graduate Appointee Insurance Program (GAIP). Your offer letter from the hiring department will confirm the length of employment, salary and benefits eligibility.

Finding a position

At the University of Washington, ASEs are hired directly by the employing department. Each department conducts its own individual hiring process and can let you know what is required to be considered for such positions.

Many departments hire their own students. Other departments – particularly those that do not have graduate students or administrative units that hire graduate students – will recruit widely for positions from relevant degree programs across campus.

Financial information

Assistantship appointments are paid at six different monthly rates depending on how far the student has progressed towards earning their degree. The continuation of funding support to students subject to satisfactory progress toward the degree and satisfactory performance of TA/RA duties.

The specific pay rate definitions are:

  • Premasters

    All MSME and MSE students and those direct PhD students who have not acquired 42 graded course credits at the UW.

  • Predoctoral I

    Direct and traditional PhD students (excluding those direct PhD students noted in the preceding bullet) who have not passed the General Examination.

  • Predoctoral II

    PhD students who have passed the General Examination and have achieved Candidate status.

Tuition and fees

Eligible graduate student employees receive payment (tuition waiver) of the operating fee (both resident and non-resident portions), the building fee, and the technology fee. Students are responsible for any remaining fees of about $500 per quarter. The tuition waiver payment will be disbursed automatically at the beginning of each quarter.

To review the tuition rates for our PhD program, please view the table under Graduate Tier III tuition category on Tuition & Fees. For MSME and MSE program cost, please visit Cost and Fees.

Pay dates

Pay dates are bi-monthly, on the 10th and 25th of each month.

Travel to conferences

The Department encourages its graduate students to present their research at conferences The Graduate School offers limited support for travel to conferences where you are making an oral presentation. Requests for this funding must be come from the department, be within certain deadlines, and used only for transportation expenses. Students can seek out other forms of funding, such as: Graduate School GSFEI travel fund and GPSS travel grants.