Graduate Studies Funding

All students admitted to our graduate program are guaranteed six years (12 academic semesters) of funding, including five summer semesters. Admitted students receive tuition and fee assistance, as well as individual health insurance. Financial support comes in the form of either graduate assistant positions or fellowships. Graduate assistant positions are a form of work-study in which financial support is provided in exchange for labor as teaching assistantships, reader-graders, research assistants, or graduate student instructors. Fellowships are non-service-dependent awards.

Between one-third to one-half of financial support comes in the form of graduate assistant positions, depending upon the department’s annual budget. Financial support is always contingent upon timely and satisfactory degree progress in the program,* and all appointments are made at the discretion of the director of graduate studies. 

The department does not guarantee additional funding beyond year six. However, students who have passed out of guaranteed funding may be placed on a graduate assistantship alternate list. If a position becomes available that can not be filled by a student currently in funding, that position will be made available to an appropriate student on the alternate list. 

Graduate Assistantships

In the Department of History, we have four types of graduate assistantships: 

1.    Reader-grader assistantships 

2.    Teaching assistantship

3.    Research assistantships

4.    Graduate student Instructorships (reserved for doctoral candidates)

There are many informative websites out there that discuss the differences between these different types of graduate assistantships. The main difference between a reader-grader and teaching assistantships are the TAs lead individual discussion sections, while RGs do not. 

Research assistantships are not assigned by the director of graduate studies but are requested by individual faculty based on their available research funding (with a few exceptions). The availability of these positions varies from year to year, based on faculty needs and finances. 

English Language Proficiency for International Students

International students must meet University minimum requirements for English language proficiency, particularly spoken English, to be eligible to hold any of the above positions and will need to take the Spoken English Test for Teaching Assistants (SETTA)


Fellowships are non-service awards. Some fellowships are awarded directly by the department; others are competitive and awarded by the college or University. 

All students, regardless of funding status, are highly encouraged to apply for fellowship outside of the department, college, and University. Writing fellowship applications and receiving awards from a third party is an essential skill for all historians. 


Currently, the academic year stipend is approximately $10,000 per semester (a little less in autumn; a little more in spring). Summer stipends for newly admitted students are approximately $4,000 per summer for five summers.  In short, a graduate student within their funding band can expect to earn approximately $24,000 in a calendar year. 

Other Funding Sources

Graduate students can also find support outside the department.

  • The GS Fellowship Office (314 Johnston Hall) can provide information on fellowships and scholarships awarded by outside foundations and organizations and on miscellaneous funds available within the U of M.
  • The Office of Student Finance (200 Fraser Hall) accepts applications for scholarships, loans, and work-study grants.
  • Other UMN departments or offices sometimes employ history graduate students as part-time TAs or administrative assistants. Such positions are often listed with the Graduate Assistant Employment Office.
  • The Employment Office (170 Donhowe Building) maintains lists of on-and off-campus jobs.
  • Consult the Graduate School catalog and the GS's booklet on fellowships for other possibilities for aid.
  • For current students, the Graduate School website keeps a list of graduate school funding resources.

*What does "timely and satisfactory progress" mean?

In short: 

  • A graduate GPA of 3.5 or greater
  • Finishing coursework and passing Preliminary Examinations by the end of your third year of full-time study (if entering with a BA), or your second year of full-time study (if entering with a MA)
  • Meeting other bureaucratic requirements established by the University, Graduate School, college, and the department, such as participating in Annual Progress Reviews, Fall Check-ins, and In-Service.

This list is not all-encompassing but is meant to provide a brief highlight.