The MSE program does not have the ability to provide funding for professional master’s students. Master’s students should plan on providing their own fellowships and/or private funds to finance their education. Funding sources generally include student loans, outside fellowships, employer sponsorships, etc.

Financial support of PhD students is provided in the form of a research assistantship (RA) and/or teaching assistantship (TA) appointment.  PhD applicants are automatically considered for financial aid and the details will be provided in your admission letter.

All qualifying graduate appointments include salary, tuition waiver, and partial coverage of the health insurance premium.


In order to be eligible to hold a graduate appointment, you must be enrolled full-time as a regular, PhD degree-seeking graduate student on the CU Boulder campus.

A student enrolled in a Professional Master’s Program is not eligible to hold an appointment.

A student admitted as a provisional degree student is not eligible to hold an appointment.

A student on academic probation is not eligible to hold an appointment.

A student on an appointment must demonstrate adequate progress every semester toward their degree. “Adequate progress” is defined as:

  • Completion of five hours of graduate level course work each semester or eight hours of mixed graduate and undergraduate course work; or
  • If you have not passed the comprehensive examination/admitted to candidacy, registration of at least one dissertation hour. After passing the comprehensive examination/admission to candidacy, you are required to register for a minimum of five dissertation hours.
  • Finding a research group and advisor with a funded position by the second semeseter (January 1). 
  • Completing the preliminary exam by the end of the second year (fourth semester). 
  • Any exception to these rules of adequate progress must be approved in advance by MSE Leadership.

In addition, all doctoral students are expected to complete the doctoral degree within a six year period. All students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA.


The annual stipend is is $38,000, effective January 1, 2024 and is paid monthly. Students on RA appointments (PhD candidates) are not required to pay student fees.

Tuition Waiver

A tuition waiver is provided for the purpose of supporting the scholarly pursuits of graduate students who work at least 12 weeks in an academic year and maintain satisfactory academic progress toward their degrees. If you work less than 12 weeks, you will not be eligible for the tuition and health insurance contribution. Students are expected to closely consult their faculty advisor and MSE graduate advisor (staff) to sign up for the appropriate courses, credit hours, and dissertation hours each semester. 

Students on a qualifying RA or TA appointment will have their student fees covered and will not be responsible for paying them.  The total amount of fees will vary depending on graduate status and the number of credit hours being taken. Please see the Bursar's Office for up-to-date fee information.

All domestic non-resident graduate students (including permanent residents) must obtain Colorado in-state tuition classification prior to the start of their second year of employment as a graduate student. Instructions on how to apply for residency can be found on the registrar’s website. Failure to do so will result in ineligibility for tuition remission, starting with the following semester. As an example, if you first start working on a graduate appointment in fall 2023, you should have resident status for fall 2024. If you do not have residency by this time you will be given a one-semester “grace” period. Failure to achieve residency by spring 2025 will result in you being ineligible to receive tuition remission.

International students cannot qualify for in-state tution and so are exempt from applying for residency. The differential will be covered as long as they are on a qualifying appointment.

Health Insurance Contribution

Graduate students on a Teaching Assistantship (TA) or Research Assistantship (RA) of more than a 20% appointment will receive a university contribution to health insurance benefits for the Wardenburg Health Center Gold Comprehensive Plan. Students who select the Buff Value insurance plan will not receive an insurance benefit contribution. There is also an option to waive a health insurance plan online if you have alternate coverage. Important: all students will be automatically enrolled in the Gold Comprehensive plan unless coverage is waived by the fall deadline. More information can be found at the campus Health and Wellness website.

Plan Plan Cost per Semester Benefit Amount
Gold Comprehensive Plan $1,948.00 $1,772.00 (student pays $176.00 per semester)

For more information about financial aid, visit the University of Colorado Boulder Office of Financial Aid website.