This page is intended to give you a working sense of the broad “landscape” of funding for graduate school, from the department level to national fellowship competitions. We always encourage you to discuss funding opportunities with your primary adviser, who may have more knowledge of field-specific funding opportunities for you. The Graduate School also maintains a helpful list of national funding opportunities.

Departmental Funding

The Department of Ethnic Studies (DES) strives to offer robust funding packages for our incoming graduate students. We are able to do so primarily through 50% TA appointments, in which a graduate student assists one of our professors in teaching a large course. The expectations of TAs depend on the structure of the course (e.g., whether it has recitations, in which the TA leads a discussion section) and the policies of each individual professor. DES has developed the TA/GPTI Guidelines document to help clarify expectations for both TAs and instructors (including professors). The Associate Chair for Graduate Studies generally sends out a request for TA preferences halfway through the preceding semester to give graduate students the opportunity to rank their preferences for working with a specific professor and course.


As part of our funding structure, we collaborate with the Program for Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) and Continuing Education (CE) to offer our graduate students opportunities to teach as GPTIs. It is through these two partnerships that we are able to offer five academic years (1 AY = fall + spring) of funding to current and future students. This document describes the details and commitment of each opportunity. The Associate Chair for Graduate Studies (ACGS) generally sends out a request for student preferences in the spring semester for appointments beginning in the fall. Please note that due to the complexities of planning out our funding scenarios, we cannot reserve these GPTI opportunities for future years if a student chooses not to take advantage of it when we solicit preferences.

DES has also developed a funding structure to offer PhD students in good standing who have passed their comprehensive exams (All But Dissertation, or ABD) the opportunity for a one-semester 50% GPTI appointment teaching for Ethnic Studies before they graduate. We hope that this will give our PhD students a chance to teach a class in their area of emphasis and thus add an important element to their CV when going on the academic job market. These opportunities are based on available funding and department need (i.e., courses that fulfill specific requirements or can otherwise achieve the minimum enrollment requirements to run the course).

DES has limited funding to provide various award opportunities to our students that range from the recognition of stellar work to funding travel to academic conferences. The types and cycles for these are listed below.

Graduate Travel Award (rolling deadline)

DES has limited funds available to partially support graduate students to attend professional meetings for presenting an academic paper. Each academic year, graduate students may apply for up to $750 to attend one conference in which they will be presenting a paper. Priority will be given to students presenting at a national conference in Ethnic Studies or in their area of specialty (e.g. the annual meetings for the American Studies Association, Critical Ethnic Studies Association, Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, etc.). Proposals will be reviewed within two weeks of receipt. Travel Award Application.

Best Paper Award (call issued in spring)

The Best Paper Award is intended to recognize outstanding student work each year. Submissions can be a conference paper, article, or seminar paper. All DES graduate students in good academic standing are eligible and encouraged to apply. The Graduate Committee will award $500 to the winner. DES Graduate Research Fellowship (call issued in spring) DES Graduate Research Fellowship award amounts are based on available funds. All eligible students are strongly encouraged to apply. These fellowships are intended to support a student’s dissertation work; thus, eligibility is limited to students in good standing who have advanced to candidacy.

Ruth Glenn Graduate Student Award (call issued in spring)

This $1000 award honors Ruth M. Glenn, who is best known for her work in fighting for the rights and protections of victims of domestic violence. Ms. Glenn is CEO and President of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. All DES graduate students in good academic standing are eligible and encouraged to apply. Applications should consist of a one-page statement about how you believe you are qualified for this award.

ABD Research Stipend

As a gesture of support for graduate student dissertation research, DES strives to set aside funds at the start of each academic year to help defray research expenses for ABD (“all but dissertation”) students. The ABD Research Stipend will be disbursed to eligible Ethnic Studies PhD students as a one-time stipend payment in the fall. Eligible students are “ABD” as of the first day of the fall semester following the completion of their comprehensive exams and the successful defense of their dissertation prospectus. Students must also be in good standing per the Graduate School Rules. ABD Research Stipends will be disbursed as single lump sum paid through university payroll. The exact timing and stipend amount may vary each year depending on available department resources. For reference, 2022 stipends were $1200, paid at the end of September. 
Examples of possible dissertation research expenses include, but are not limited to: copyright fees, access to archives, small interview incentives, research-related books, and other expenses relevant to dissertation research. Use of the funds will be at the student’s discretion, but human subjects-related expenses must be compliant with approved IRB protocols. We still expect and encourage students to apply for other support, such as the donor-sponsored grants offered by the Graduate School, among others (see below). Please note that this commitment to support dissertation research is dependent upon the ongoing availability of department funds. 

Department Discretionary Fund (rolling)

DES also has a limited discretionary fund to support current student activities and events. Students should consult with their peers about possible uses of these funds. The current DES Graduate Student Representatives can then take proposals to the ACGS or the DES Graduate Committee for approval.

University Funding

Numerous centers on campus offer funding for current CU Boulder graduate students, ranging from small grants to full-year fellowships. Below is a curated list of notable opportunities, however, keep in mind it is not meant to be exhaustive. 


Center for Humanities and the Arts

Center to Advance Research and Teaching in the Social Sciences (CARTSS)

Center for Teaching and Learning Lead Graduate Student Fellowship

The Graduate School also offers both small grants and full-year fellowships, as well as a summer fellowship and a GPTI award (both by department nomination only—please inquire with the ACGS).


Graduate School Donor-Sponsored Graduate Student Grants

Graduate School GPTI Teaching Excellence Award (by department nomination only)

Graduate School Summer Fellowships (by department nomination only)

External Fellowships

The following foundations are known for their prestigious (and highly competitive) fellowship opportunities. We recommend starting your application early (months in advance) and planning for multiple rounds of revision in consultation with your primary adviser. Graduate writing groups are also helpful spaces to workshop your proposals and applications.


The Ford Foundation

The Mellon Foundation

The Russell Sage Foundation

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation Institute for Citizens and Scholars

Dissertation Fellowships