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Financial Costs and Support

Tuition and fees for this program are set by the Regents of the University of California. Tuition is not dependent on the number of courses taken in the graduate program. Students can find updated information on the TritonLink website and/or the Graduate Division website.

The Division of Biological Sciences does not provide financial support for students enrolled in this program. However, there are various ways to obtain funding throughout the Master’s program, including working as an instructional assistant, or on- and off-campus employment:

Working as an Instructional Assistant

MS students may apply to be an Instructional Assistant (IA) in Biological Sciences or Teaching Assistant (TA)/Reader/Tutor in other departments to assist in funding their MS program. IA/TA positions (regardless of department) at 25% or higher cover tuition and health insurance and provide a salary. Students are still responsible for paying some fees, but most of the costs are covered. Please see the table on this page for more information on graduate fees.

New IAs for Biological Sciences must enroll in BGGN 500. This course can be applied toward the 12-units of coursework.

Please note that IA appointments are not guaranteed for any student in the BS/MS program. Students should not expect to rely on IA appointments as a means to support their graduate education. There are a limited number of opportunities available as positions are strictly allocated based upon undergraduate enrollment. This means that even well-qualified applicants may not be assigned if undergraduate enrollment does not warrant an open position.

Applicants who wish to improve their chances of being assigned to a position are encouraged to:

  • Apply in every quarter in which they are eligible
  • List as many course preferences on the application as they are eligible to list (i.e. courses successfully completed as an undergraduate student)
  • Prioritize courses in which they have earned an A, especially laboratory courses and lecture courses that are offered on a limited basis (i.e. offered once per year)

For the most up-to-date details, deadlines, and other information on being an IA, please visit this page. Students can find open positions here.


Edwards-Yeckel Fellowship for Learning and Communicating Science

Awarded to two students each year who demonstrate and express an interest in science communication and/or teaching. Provides one quarter worth of tuition. Call is typically released in August. Both entering and continuing M.S. students are eligible.

To apply, students should submit:

  • A CV or resume. Applicants must ensure the CV/resume includes previous teaching or science communication experience; for example, popular science articles, public talks, etc., with links where applicable.
  • Responses to the following questions (in no more than <1000 words each):
    • What previous experience do you have in science communication, writing, or teaching?
    • In what ways are you planning on teaching or communicating science to the public during the next stages of your career?
  • A short essay (<500 words) or video/audio (<2 minutes long) describing the applicant’s proposed Master’s thesis research to a recent high school graduate.

BrightSpinnaker Fellowship

Awarded to six students each year who have demonstrated a commitment to community service. Provides one quarter worth of tuition. Call is released in August. Both entering and continuing M.S. students are eligible. Preference will be given to first-generation students as well as students with financial need.

To apply, students should submit:

  • A CV or resume that includes the applicant’s previous community service or outreach experience.
  • An essay (<1000 words) that addresses the question:
    • How have you demonstrated a commitment to community service in the past, and how will you continue to serve our community as a M.S. student? Describe personal experiences and contributions that demonstrate the impacts of your outreach.
  • A letter of recommendation from someone who can speak to the applicant’s outreach and community service experience.

The Jeanne Anne Nieh Award

This fellowship in honor of Jeanne Anne Nieh supports students who are performing outstanding research, have made or show potential to contribute to diversity, equity and inclusion and whose primary advisors are faculty in the Section of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution. Additional context can be found in this BioSci article. Provides $1,000 to one student each year.

To apply, students should submit:

  • A CV or resume.
  • A summary (<300 words) of your research project.
  • An essay (<1000 words) that addresses the question: How have you demonstrated a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion?
  • A letter of recommendation from your advisor (in EBE) who can speak to the student’s work in the lab and passion for ecology, behavior, and evolution.

Faculty Advisors

Although not expected, thesis advisors may choose to contribute to their MS student's funding. Advisors can pay MS students as long as a student’s total campus employment does not exceed 50% or 20 hours/week (this 50% includes IA appointments). For example, if a student is managing the lab’s animal colony for 10 hours a week in addition to their thesis research, they can be paid for that work.

Students should speak with their advisor to see if this is an option. Faculty may contact Lien Ngo ( for more information on financially supporting their students.

Graduate student loans

Graduate students with questions about applying for graduate student loans should contact the UC San Diego Financial Aid office.

Additional resources

Current UCSD students: Please submit your questions via the VAC. An advisor will respond in 1-3 business days.
Drop-in Advising times are posted on the Advising Calendar.