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UW–Madison ranked in top 5 for federal support for graduate students

September 8, 2017 By

A recent survey released by the National Science Foundation (NSF) ranks the University of Wisconsin–Madison fifth among universities and colleges receiving federal fellowship support.

According to the “Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions” from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics within the NSF, in fiscal year 2015, UW–Madison was awarded about $27,324,000 in funding for science and engineering fellowships, traineeships and training grants toward the development and maintenance of the scientific workforce. This is an increase from fiscal year 2014 when UW–Madison received about $23,997,000 and was ranked sixth.

In fiscal year 2015, federal agencies obligated $30.5 billion to 1,016 academic institutions for science and engineering activities. Fellowships, traineeships and training grants is one of six categories included in this federal academic science and engineering obligation.

“This is very good news and puts UW–Madison among the top universities in federally-funded training support for graduate students,” says Marsha Mailick, UW–Madison vice chancellor for research and graduate education. “A fellowship doesn’t just offer a student prestige. Having fellowships allows our graduate students to be more financially flexible to focus on professional development and conduct research to advance their interests in a particular field.”

Funding support for graduate school at UW­–Madison largely takes the form of graduate assistantships (teaching or research), fellowships and traineeships. Other sources of funding for students include employment in the community and loans from the Office of Student Financial Aid.

“One of the many challenges that graduate programs face is obtaining the funding needed to pay for tuition fees and living expenses that graduate students incur during the course of their study and research,” explains William J. Karpus, dean of UW–Madison’s Graduate School. “Fortunately, government agencies recognize the value of graduate education and the accompanying innovative research, and support students pursuing a Masters or Ph.D. degree through these prestigious fellowships.”

UW­–Madison’s success in drawing federal support for its graduate students is based on a combination of factors that makes the university highly competitive, Karpus says. This includes the fact that the university ranks in the top six nationwide among research institutions in terms of expenditures, has a number of faculty considered among the top of their fields, and houses a wide array of graduate programs across all disciplines.

“We have 102 Ph.D. and 165 master’s degree programs that span a breadth of disciplines,” Karpus says. “We also confer the third-highest number of Ph.D. degrees in the United States.”

Students at UW–Madison could go anywhere in the country, says Ian Robertson, dean of UW–Madison’s College of Engineering. “They choose Madison because they recognize the success of our science and engineering research enterprise, they have the opportunity to work with some of the best faculty in the nation, and they receive the financial and academic support needed to build and launch their careers.”

In addition to the overall rankings, UW–Madison is ranked first for funding from the NSF and U.S. Department of Agriculture.  It is ranked ninth for funding from the Department of Health and Human Services. To see a full list of the rankings, visit: