PhD: Financial Information
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PhD Funding Overview

Fellowship Opportunities for PhD Students
Academic Employment for Graduate Students
Tuition/Fees and Financial Aid

Every PhD student at the Bren School is admitted based on a plan for funding, including tuition, fees, health insurance, and stipend. Funding plans are individualized and will often include a combination of external fellowships, internal fellowships, and academic employment (teaching assistantships or research assistantships). It is the Bren School's goal to offer multi-year funding packages to its admitted PhD students. Applicants with external funding are also encouraged to apply.

An up-to-date UCSB graduate student cost budget, including living expenses, can be calculated using the UCSB Ofifce of Financial Aid and Scholarships's Cost of Attendance calculator.

Fellowship Opportunities for Bren School PhD Students

  • University-based Recruitment Fellowships
    All PhD students who submit their application and supporting materials by the December 15 Bren School PhD application deadline are eligible to be nominated for university-based Central Campus Recruitment Fellowships. Central Campus Fellowships provide funds to support living and educational expenses associated with graduate study. Some fellowships can come in the form of a 5-year guarantee of support. Others provide 1-year fellowships. Some of these are diversity fellowships, which are designed to assist students who will enrich the University's teaching, research, and community-service mission by reflecting a wide range of interests, abilities, life experiences, and worldviews. Allocation of diversity awards is based on students' academic merit, potential for success, experience of disadvantages, and contribution to diversity goals.

    Each year, the Bren School is invited by the Graduate Division to nominate 3-5 candidates for Central Campus Fellowships. A central selection committee comprised of faculty representatives from many departments on campus reviews nominations and selects award recipients on the basis of the quality of their previous academic work, the evidence of their ability to do research and other creative accomplishments, and their promise of becoming a productive scholar.

    Bren School Central Campus Fellowship nominees compete against admitted PhD applicants from all departments/doctoral programs at UCSB and therefore are not guaranteed to be selected for a Central Campus Fellowship; historically, about 60% of the Bren School's Central Campus Fellowship nominees are selected to receive this funding. Those nominiated for Central Campus Fellowships by Bren who are not selected by the central committee to receive this award are instead offered Bren School Recruitment Fellowships (see next bullet point) or alternate funding opportunities (see subsequent bullets and/or the Academic Employment Opportunities for PhD Students section below).

  • Bren School-based Recruitment Fellowships
    Every year, the Bren School receives some funds from the Graduate Division, which are known as block grants. These funds are used as recruitment incentive awards in the form of payment for fees, non-resident tuition, and/or stipends. The Bren School has additional funds available for recruitment incentive awards, thanks to the generosity of a number of donors who have provided the school with gifts and/or endowments to be used for student prizes and fellowships. This support is awarded on the basis of merit, and recipients generally have high GPAs and GRE scores and show professional and academic promise. PhD students who submit their Bren School applications no later than December 15 are automatically considered for these school-based awards. No additional application is required. 

    School-based awards generally provide, at most, full support for one year of study and may be a combination of block grant and teaching assistant positions.  Students and their advisors must work together to secure extramural sources of support to meet the student’s remaining financial needs.

    UCSB abides by the April 15 Resolution set forth by the Council of Graduate Schools, stating that prospective students are under no obligation to accept a financial award until April 15. For more information, visit

  • Sustainable Water Markets Fellowship Program
    Water markets are gaining traction as a valuable tool for maintaining stream flows and promoting efficient water use in agricultural and urban settings. Made possible by the Walton Family Foundation, the Sustainable Water Markets (SWM)Fellowship Program supports PhD and MESM students who study both market mechanisms that can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of market exchange and help keep water in rivers, as well as the science that informs the structure of water markets.

    This opportunity provides partial or full fellowship support for highly qualified students with a commitment to training and research related to water resources management, water policy and environmental markets in the two-year Master of Environmental Science and Management degree (MESM) and PhD programs. Click here tearn more about the SWM Fellowship Program.
    Click here for more information about fellowships.

  • Forest Sustainability Fellowship
    he Forest Sustainability Fellowship (FSF), generously supported by the Michael J. Connell Memorial Fund, focuses on scientific understanding and policy tools required to manage forests for long-term biological, physical, and social sustainability. Through training, research, and communication, the FSF program prepares a new generation of high-impact leaders in forest science and management. Forest Sustainability Fellows in the PhD in Environmental Science and Management program shape their research with guidance from these Bren School faculty mentors. Click here for more information about fellowships.

  • International Doctoral Recruitment Fellowship Program
    The International Doctoral Recruitment Fellowship (IDRF) will provide payment of Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition for all international doctoral students beyond their first year of residency who have not advanced to candidacy. The fellowship takes place during the fourth quarter of enrollment and will continue until the student advances to candidacy. The student must remain in good academic standing to maintain the fellowship. No special application is required to be considered for the IDRF at UCSB.

  • Fellowships for Continuing Students
    There are also a number of Central Campus Fellowships for continuing graduate students. Some of these are based on nomination by the school and review by a central faculty fellowship committee. For other central fellowships, continuing students apply directly to the Graduate Division. Information about Central Fellowships for Continuing Students can be found at the bottom of the UCSB Central Campus Fellowships page.

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Academic Employment Opportunities for PhD Students

Job descriptions and compensation information for TA and GSR positions is available on the UCSB Graduate Division's Academic Appointments employment page.

  • Teaching Assistantships
    We encourage all Bren PhD students to serve as a Teaching Assistant (TA) at least once to gain valuable teaching experience. Bren PhD students may serve as a TA for courses in the MESM program and any other department at UCSB, given the appropriate training and experience. It is recommended that PhD students who would like to serve as a TA for a MESM course(s) should take that course(s) in their first year of study.

    UCSB's Academic Personnel website provides contact information for all departments that have TA positions available. ​Typically, in late April or early May, UCSB departments post applications for TA positions for the following academic year. The deadlines for TA applications are generally around the end of May. The most abundant source of TA positions for Bren students has been the Environmental Studies Program (ES), a large undergraduate program in the College of Letters and Sciences. Bren students also have served as TAs in Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, and Technology Management, among other departments.

  • Graduate Student Researcher Positions
    A Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) is a graduate student who assists a faculty member with scholarly research and is paid from extramural funds that the faculty member has secured through funding agencies. Often, a GSR collaborates in the publication of research results, as determined by supervising faculty members. As such, GSRs are selected for their high achievement and promise or for their productive scholarship. GSRs are not assigned teaching, administrative, or general assistance duties. The number of GSRs available each year depends upon the level of extramural support that has been secured through proposals submitted by the faculty.

    GSR positions are arranged on an individual basis between the student and a faculty member who is the Principal Investigator on a research grant, and generally are not “applied for” as one would a Teaching Assistantship. The School expects that students will work with their faculty advisor on research proposals to secure this form of support if it is not already available.

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Tuition/Fees and Financial Aid

The cost of a graduate education at UCSB is significantly less than at most other well-respected universities, making the Bren School a particularly cost-effective choice among environmental science and management programs. An up-to-date UCSB graduate student cost budget, including living expenses, can be calculated using the UCSB Ofifce of Financial Aid and Scholarships's Cost of Attendance calculator.

  • Tuition/Fee Costs for Graduate Students at UCSB
    The quarterly program costs for the 2018-2019 academic year are: $4,518.00 for tuition and student fees; $1,120.00 for health insurance; and, for non-resident students, $5,034.00 for non-resident supplemental tuition. A comprehensive summary of quarterly fees and expenses is available on the UCSB Office of the Registrar's website here.

    Annual non-resident tuition is reduced by 100 percent for graduate doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy, subject to the understanding that (a) a graduate doctoral student may receive the reduced nonresident tuition rate for a maximum of three years, and (b) any such student who continues to be enrolled or who re-enrolls after receiving the reduced tuition for three years will be charged the full nonresident tuition rate in effect at that time.

    An up-to-date graduate-student cost budget, including living expenses, can be found on the UCSB Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship pages.

  • Establishing California Residency for Tuition Purposes
    Many out-of-state students are able to establish California residency after their first year of enrollment, which helps to lower the costs of attendance substantially. Learn more about establishing residency on the University of California Office of the President (UCOP)'s How to establish residency page on the Understanding Residency section of its website.

    If you are currently not a California resident but attended high school in California for at least three years and graduated from a California high school, you may be eligible for in-state rates. Visit the UCSB Office of the Registrar’s website for more information about establishing residency for fee purposes.

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
    The Bren School expects all prospective and current domestic students to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is required if you want to be considered for any federal, University, or Bren-based financial support. The FAFSA is used to compile a “need analysis” to determine all financial support packages, including grants, fellowships, work-study, and loans.

    The FAFSA is available at any college or university financial aid office within the U.S., or it can be filled out online. The application deadline for the subsequent Fall Quarter is March 2.

  • Extramural Funding
    Numerous public and private fellowships and scholarships are available to graduate students. The Graduate Division website has list of resources for helping to identify extramural funding. The Bren School also maintains a list of potential funding opportunities that are brought to our attention by students in the environmental field.

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