There are many sources of graduate student financial assistance available through the University and the Earth and Planetary Sciences department.
Cost of attendance
Information on the cost Graduate Studies at UC Davis including cost-of living in UC Davis can be found here : https://financialaid.ucdavis.edu/graduate/gradstudies/cost
Graduate students admitted to the Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program are offered a graduate support package. This support may take the form of employment as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) and/or fellowships plus fee and tuition remission. Our ability to make and honor these commitments is crucial to our recruitment and retention of outstanding students.
Master's students are guaranteed two years of support while Ph.D. students are guaranteed five years of support, pending satisfactory academic progress. Students changing their degree objective or needing additional support beyond the guaranteed support package should reference the Earth and Planetary Sciences Ph.D. and M.S. Degree Requirements for program policies.
M.S. students changing to the Ph.D. after finishing the M.S. at UC Davis are guaranteed an additional four years of support for a total of six years of support. Students changing from the Ph.D. to the M.S. are guaranteed two total years of support. Students are still required to complete the degree within normative time.
- Employment Process
New students will need to be onboarded by the Academic Unit Shared Service Center (AUSS-C). All students with an appointment as a GSR, TA, Reader, or AI will get an offer letter each quarter, which they will need to sign and return to the EPS business office.
Graduate students are paid monthly at the end of the month. GSR, TA, Reader, and AI salaries are paid through the UC Path Payroll System (UC PATH). These paychecks arrive through direct deposit or as a paper check to your home address. Paystubs can be found at UCPath. Taxes are withheld and salary reported on the W-2 form. Internal Fellowships are paid through the Banner system. These paychecks arrive through direct deposit or as a paper check available for pickup at Student Accounting in Dutton Hall. Paystubs can be found on the Student Accounting website. No taxes are withheld, but the student is responsible for reporting and/or paying taxes via the 1098-T form. See more tax information on the Student Accounting Tax Information website.
Students with a combination of employment (TA, GSR, etc) and fellowships will get two paychecks, one for payroll and one in their student account.
- Salary Scales
- Each student job title is assigned a salary level according to the salary scales. The descriptions and eligibility of each job title can be found on the Graduate Studies Student Employment page.
As per the union contracts, anyone at 3+ quarters of TA experience will be hired at at least a TA Salary Point 2, and anyone with 6+ quarters of TA experience will be hired at at least a TA Salary Point 3. Anyone at 3+ quarters of GSR experience will be hired at at least a Salary Point 2, and anyone with 6+ quarters of GSR experience will be hired at at least a Salary Point 3.
Students who were hired in Spring 2023 or before were converted to new salary scales for GSR positions in the EPS Graduate Program. MS students and pre-candidacy PhD students are hired at at least Salary Point 2, and post-candidacy PhD students are hired at at least Salary Point 4. New students as of Fall 2023 start at Salary Point 1 and only move up with experience.
- Direct Deposit
- Sign up for payroll deposit at UCPath. This can take up to two weeks to process, so should be done by early October for November 1st paychecks.
Sign up for direct deposit for travel, expense, and student accounting (fellowship) reimbursements at UC Davis Direct Deposit.
- Family and Medical Leave
- Please visit the Graduate Studies website for information about Family and Medical Leave.
- Union Representation
- TAs, Readers, and AIs are all considered Academic Student Employees (ASEs) and fall under the AGSE/UAW union. GSRs are represented by the UAW 2865 union. Both union contracts can be found on the UCOP Bargaining Unions & Contracts webpage.
Types of Employment
Policies and eligibility for graduate students to hold academic appointments are outlined in the UC Davis Academic Personnel Manual (APM), Appendix II-B. Students must register for 12 units each quarter to be eligible to hold an academic appointment.
- Graduate Student Researchers (GSR)
- Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs) are hired to conduct research under the guidance of a Principal Investigator (PI), usually their thesis or dissertation advisor. Funding comes from research grants and the GSR is expected to work on research related to the grant. Students should discuss the requirements and terms of their GSR appointment with the PI. GSR availability depends on PI funding and departmental need for TAs.
Graduate Student Researchers are paid according to the salary scales and associated experience increases. All GSRs in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program are paid at 50% time over the academic year, and up to 100% time over the summer.
- Teaching Assistant (TA)
- Teaching Assistants are responsible for teaching in a specific course component such as a lab or discussion section for a class. They may have other duties such as grading, holding office hours, and joining class field trips. TA Job Descriptions in Geology can be found at EPSInfo.
All TAs in the Department of EPS are required to complete the Center for Educational Excellence (CEE)’s TA Orientation program offered each Fall before their first appointment as a TA begins. TAs must also have completed or be enrolled in GEL 390: Methods of Teaching in Geology. Lastly, TAs must be qualified for the subject they will be teaching, as demonstrated by 1) a bachelor’s degree in Geology or related fields, 2) knowledge of the field through prior work or academic experience and/or 3) prior enrollment in the course or its equivalent.
TAs are assigned each quarter by the Graduate Chair. The Graduate Program takes into account students’ requests (collected in summer each year) as well as requests from the instructors of each course and departmental teaching needs when assigning graduate students to TA positions. Any positions that are not filled internally will be posted on Handshake before each term.
TAs are paid at a monthly rate according to the salary scales and associated experience increases, either at a 25% or 50% time. 25% TAs work approximately 10 hours per week, or no more than 110 hours per quarter. 50% TAs work for approximately 20 hours per week, or no more than 220 hours per quarter.
TAs may have different service period and pay period dates. Pay periods follow the calendar months but service periods may begin at the start of the academic quarter and end three days after the end of the quarter.
- The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences hires both undergraduate and graduate student readers to assist with various course duties like grading and proctoring. All available reader positions in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences will be posted on Handshake for students to apply to. The Instructor of Record for the class will choose a reader. Graduate Readers submit monthly timesheets on TRS and are paid hourly according to the salary scales.
- Associate Instructor (AI)
- Occasionally, the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences has positions available for graduate students to be the primary instructor of record for a class. These positions are usually assigned by the Undergraduate Vice-Chair based on need and experience. Special permission is needed for an AI to teach an upper division course. Associate Instructor compensation is included in the salary scales, with the percentage appointment based on the type of class.
Tuition and Fees
Fee Remission. Fee remission is the process by which the university and the graduate program pays a student’s tuition and fees. It is a benefit of employment at 25% or greater. GSRs and ASEs (TAs, Readers, and AIs) get full fee remission, as determined by the union.
There are some fees not covered by fee remission or the Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program. Some of these may come out of your paycheck automatically and some may require action on your behalf to ensure they are paid.
- International students are responsible for a fee of $126/quarter.
- All new students must pay a one-time Document Fee in Winter Quarter of $150.
- Students will have to pay the Candidacy Fee upon advancing to candidacy (this pays for a variety of professional development opportunities on campus such as GradPathways).
- Some health center charges or copays are not included in fee remission.
- All first-year students’ Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition (NRST) is paid by their fee remission. International students’ NRST is covered by the program for year 2, and is waived for years 3-5. After the first year, US Citizens are expected to become a resident of California; after the first year NRST will NOT be paid by the Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program, and the student will be responsible for paying this amount ($5,034 per quarter) if they have not become California residents.
Fees and tuition are due September 15th, December 15th, and March 15th. However, students may still see a balance in their fees due at that time because of the timing of payroll entry and fee remission. This is fine, as fees and tuition aren’t considered late until the eighth week of the quarter.
- Departmental Fellowships & Scholarships
- EPSGP Fellowships. The EPS Graduate Program provides fellowships to students to ensure that their admissions funding guarantees are met. These fellowships have no expectation of work or employment associated with them.
Fellowships are paid according to the Fellowship Stipend Disbursement Dates. Note that Fall fellowships are paid in four installments rather than three, starting in late September.
Durrell Awards. The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences offers research support each year in the form of Durrell Awards. These range from $500-$2,000 and can be used to help offset research costs for thesis or dissertation research. Applications are emailed out each February and are due in mid-March.
Todd Awards. Todd Awardees are chosen each year by the Graduate Advisors to support graduate students in the summer.
Rand Schaal Graduate Scholarship. Rand Schaal Graduate Scholarships offer “complete support of studies and research of promising Ph.D. graduate students in any field of physical geology (especially petrology or planetology)”. Awardees are chosen each year by the Graduate Advisors to support graduate students in the summer.
- Internal Fellowships
UC Davis and Graduate Studies offers a variety of internal fellowships, ranging from $1,000 to $50,000 per year. Prospective graduate students are encouraged to apply for fellowships by December 15th each year, and current students by January 15th each year.
Graduate Studies Travel Awards. During the Fall and Spring, Travel Award applications are open for travel to conferences.
The Graduate Student Association (GSA) provides funding for travel, events, special projects, community engagement, and more.
Graduate Studies is an excellent resource for finding and applying to external fellowships from private foundations, government agencies, and corporations. See also this crowd-sourced list of external fellowships in Earth and Planetary Sciences.
Graduate Studies provides matching funds to supplement the tuition and fees offered by an external sponsor. Some matching commitments require Graduate Program support. If you are applying to external fellowships that may require matching funds, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator.
Certain fellowships from federal money, such as NSF GRFP and NASA FINESST are paid as GSR Fellows, with policies set forth by the union that GSRs fall into. If you are applying to one of these fellowships, please first contact the Graduate Program Coordinator about your stipend budget. Stipends must follow the GSR salary scales, and if they do not, the difference in stipend from the fellowship and salary scale must be paid by the PI.
Some TA positions and Graduate Program Fellowships are available over the summer. The Graduate Program Coordinator will send an annual call to students for requests for summer support. Students should talk to their Faculty Advisor regarding GSR support over the summer.
Summer Internships. Summer internships can enrich postgraduate education by enhancing professional development, building new skills and professional networks. The Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program is supportive of graduate students doing a summer internship as part of their professional development. Although not an exhaustive list, here are some examples of internship opportunities.
In order to maintain satisfactory progress towards degree objectives, faculty and students are encouraged to communicate openly about internship opportunities and balance research requirements with summer internship opportunities. Students who are funded part time in the summer through the Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program may use their discretion to explore other scholarly or personal activities, including internships, during their unpaid time. These activities should be coordinated with the student’s thesis adviser as part of the student’s overall plan towards their degree.
International students should check with Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS) for approval to work at a paid or unpaid position over the summer.
Retirement Benefits over the Summer. Over the summer, students are not enrolled in units so an automatic and mandatory payroll process is triggered regarding their retirement benefits. 7.5% of a student’s paycheck each month is taken out (pre-tax) and put into a personal retirement account called DCP Safe Harbor. When they are finished working for UC Davis, they can take this money out of that account (with a small penalty) or transfer it to another account like an IRA. This will affect the August 1st, September 1st, and October 1st paychecks. For more information, please see the Voluntary UC Retirement Savings Program.
Some students choose to pursue Financial Aid in the form of loans or other support. Graduate Studies offers an Emergency Grant and Financial Aid office offers several types of emergency and short-term loans, including the Fall Quarter Graduate Transition Loan for incoming students.
FAFSA. All graduate students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are required to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. Although the FAFSA can be filed at any time, it is strongly suggested that you file by the priority processing date of March 2. This form is used to determine financial need only. Financial need is a component of the eligibility criteria for many fellowships, including some Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program Fellowships, and for all forms of federal financial aid.
Campus Fee grant. Eligible students who file a FAFSA may receive a Campus Fee Grant in their student accounts each quarter.
Work-Study. Each year, the Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program hires a limited number of students on Federal Work-Study funds. This program receives funds to supplement a GSR salary. Students assigned to work-study funds must complete a FAFSA, sign an offer letter, and fill out a paper timesheet for the quarter during which they are on work-study.