Published: Oct. 14, 2019

Since June 2016, campus leadership has worked with the United Government of Graduate Students (UGGS) to enhance the graduate student experience and ensure academic success. Here’s the full complement of what we offer.

Graduate Student Orientation

Effective fall 2016, the Graduate School partnered with UGGS and New Student and Family Programs to sponsor an expanded graduate student welcome day—both fall and spring semesters—to create welcoming start for graduate students and acquaint them with resources, programs, and services to help them thrive and succeed.

Graduate School Peer Mentoring Program

Now in its third year, the peer mentoring program has almost doubled in size since its inception and continues to provide guidance across disciplinary boundaries and build community among graduate students.

Graduate Writing Support

In fall 2018, the Graduate School hired a director of graduate community and professional development to lead—among other initiatives—a variety of writing support opportunities for graduate students. Writing support offerings have continued to grow to offer support to students throughout their graduate careers, from the getting started workshops, write-ins, and accountability seminars, to dissertation writing boot camps.

Peer Mentoring

Now in its third year, the peer mentoring program has more than doubled in size since its inception and continues to provide guidance across disciplinary boundaries and build community among graduate students.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition

In spring 2018, Graduate School held its first annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, an internationally recognized event that requires graduate students to describe their research in three minutes in front of a panel of judges and a live audience. The 2019's winner went on to win the regional competition in Tucson, AZ, and will be representing CU Boulder at the national competition in Nashville in December 2019. This year's 3MT competition is scheduled for January 31, 2020.

Professional Development Digital Badges

In fall 2018, the Graduate School and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) partnered to offer a series of professional development workshops. In fall 2019, we created a series of four digital badges that students may earn in the areas of professionalism, leadership, mentoring, and communication. These digital credentials, earned through experiential learning workshops, can be included on LinkedIn profiles and résumés showing valuable skills. These workshops are designed to help graduate students and post-docs expand core competencies, explore diverse career options, and develop effective job search strategies.

Career Services

The Graduate School collaborates closely with CU Boulder’s Career Services and sponsors workshops and networking events for graduate students exploring a variety of career paths in academia and education, government, industry, and nonprofits.

Graduate Student Appreciation Week

In spring 2018, the Graduate School, along with a number of university partners, organized a full week of special events and celebrations to recognize the many contributions that graduate students make to CU Boulder and the community. Momentum for this week of recognition continues to grow, with offices and units across campus finding new ways to show their support for graduate students. This year's appreciation week is March 30 through April 3, 2020.

CU Boulder Today Graduate Student Edition/Twice-monthly Newsletter

To communicate effectively and efficiently with our graduate students, the Graduate School launched a twice-monthly CU Boulder Today graduate student edition in fall 2018, with news, features, academic and funding deadlines, and professional development opportunities.

Frequent Surveys & Assessment 

The Graduate School partners with various campus offices to do targeted quick-action surveys on pressing matters as well as comprehensive surveys to provide the data needed to identify short- and long-term issues to address.  

In fall 2018, the Graduate School launched a survey to assess aspects of the graduate student experience, focusing on two key factors: funding and academic advising/mentorship. The Graduate School provided results of the survey in spring semester of 2019.

Improving Financial Benefits for Graduate Students

CU Boulder has invested more than $8 million in the past four years to increase base stipend rates, eliminate the graduate student athletic fee and course and program fees, and cover the expense for summer RTD transit passes for graduate students on student faculty appointments. 

The graduate student base stipend rate has increased substantially for four consecutive years.

  • 6.5 percent increase in fall 2016
  • 5.9 percent increase in fall 2017
  • 6.2 percent increase in fall 2018
  • 6.2 percent increase in fall 2019 

Standard salaries for graduate students working at 50% time (20 hrs./week, 9-month appointment), by job category, for academic year 2019-2020, are as follows:

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, $22,781
  • Graduate Part Time Instructor $26,330
  • Graduate Research Assistant, $24,120

Note: As part of the compensation package offered to graduate students in the above categories, CU Boulder also pays for the cost of tuition and contributes 91% to the cost of the Student Gold insurance plan. Prior to fall 2012, CU Boulder paid for only 70 percent of the cost of health insurance.

Compensation for typical graduate students receiving university support as graduate teaching assistants, part-time instructors, and research assistants is approximately $40,000 (assuming a 20 hr/week, 9-month appointment and including tuition remission and the campus contribution to health insurance).

Fall Payment Schedule Improved

Effective August 2017, a new payment schedule was initiated for graduate student teaching assistants and graduate part-time instructors to receive their first pay checks of the academic year at the end of August, instead of waiting until the end of September to get paid. That pay schedule was extended to include graduate research assistants in fall 2018.

RTD Transit Passes Extended for Summer Months

Effective summer 2018, graduate students on summer student faculty appointments held active RTD passes without any additional cost to them.

Graduate Student Fees Reduced

Effective fall 2018, graduate students benefited from the elimination of course and program fees (university wide) and from the elimination of the athletic fee (graduate students only).