Graduate Funding

Graduate students in the School of Art & Design typically receive funding packages that may include funds drawn from differing sources with distinct requirements. These sources include Graduate Assistantships and Graduate Fellowships.


All of our funding packages come with a monthly stipend, a full (out-of-state) tuition waiver, and a partial campus fee waiver. This waiver package by itself has an estimated value of $29,000. The partial campus fee waiver covers the service fee, health service fee, AFMFA fee, library fee, basic dental and vision coverage and a partial (87%) payment of the graduate student health insurance fee per semester, leaving students with a campus fee bill of around $500 per semester (at least that was the case in Fall 2022).

Funding decisions and assistantship assignments are made on a semester-by-semester basis. Students in good standing (Grad Handbook,page 26/Chapter 3.2), who are making clear progress toward completion of a degree can assume their funding will continue for the normal duration of time to degree. Normal time to degree varies by program as follows:

  • MFA – 3 years
  • MA in Art History – 2 years
  • MA in Art Education – 2 years
  • EdM in Art Education – 1.5 years
  • PhD in Art Education – 4 years*
  • PhD in Art History – 4 years*

*Our doctoral students can be expected to be funded for at least four years. Normal time to degree is usually longer: at least six years. Faculty work closely with advanced PhD students to help them secure funding after the first four years to support dissertation research and writing. 

Our most typical funding package is a Graduate Teaching Assistantship. Some students receive a merit-based Fellowship, or a combination of both.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate Assistantships (Teaching Assistant, Graduate Assistant [often technical support], and Research Assistant positions) are available to students in good standing. Positions usually are 25% to 33% time. Currently a nine-month 25% graduate appointment offers a stipend that is $10,615.05 (before taxes) for the academic year or $1,179.45 on a monthly basis. The appointment requires 10 hours a week of service. The yearly stipend for a 33% position is $14,011.83 (before taxes), or $1,556.87 on a monthly basis, and requires 13.5 hours per week of service. These appointments come with a full tuition waiver and a partial student fee waiver.

International students and/or non-native English speakers will have to meet the campus English Proficiency requirements to be considered for a teaching assistantship appointment. The School of Art and Design does not appoint teaching assistants as graders only. For Teaching Assistant consideration, applicants are expected to meet English proficiency requirements by the application for admissions deadline  (a minimum of TOEFL Speak 24/IELTS Speak 8.0 test result, dated after August 21, 2022; and reported through school code 1836 by the degree program application deadline).

Highly qualified students are eligible for a variety of Graduate Fellowships. These offer stipends with no service requirement.

Graduate Fellowships

Graduate Fellowships are competitive awards granted by the School of Art & Design, the University of Illinois Graduate College, or through external funds to degree candidates who have demonstrated especially strong academic achievement and outstanding future potential. Fellowship packages include a full tuition waiver, a partial student fee waiver, a monthly stipend, but service is never required.

During the admissions process the Art & Design program admissions committee selects outstanding applications for nomination for several different fellowships. Incoming new MFA students can be nominated for the Art & Design Avery Fellowship, the Petullo Fellowship, a Creative and Performing Arts Fellowship, or the McLellan Fellowship. These are one-year, $10,000 fellowships that come with full tuition waivers and partial campus fee waivers. Our MFA, MA, and PhD programs all have Block Grant funding, which is specifically designated for graduate recruitment and support. The Art & Design graduate committee also determines nominations for the University Graduate College campus-wide competition for the Illinois Distinguished Fellowship, the Distinguished Graduate Fellowships in the Humanities and Arts, the Graduate College Fellowship, and the Diffenbaugh Fellowship.

Award Competitions for Continuing Graduate Students

In addition to Graduate Assistantships and Fellowships, there are funds that our graduate students can apply for to support research and conference travel.

Funded by the School of Art & Design

  • Art & Design Graduate Event Travel Award (Fall competition)
    Up to $500 for travel to an event relevant to the student’s degree. Not necessary to be invited as a speaker/participant.
  • Art & Design Graduate Event Travel Award (Spring competition)
    Up to $500 for travel to an event relevant to the student’s degree. Not necessary to be invited as a speaker/participant.
  • Art & Design Graduate Thesis/Dissertation Research Award (Fall/Spring competition)
    Up to $4000 for thesis/dissertation related travel.

Application forms are available at the Art & Design Graduate Office.

Funded by the Graduate College

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