Fellowships and Financial Aid

The Department of Geography provides a wide range of financial support for graduate students working on MA, MS, and Ph.D. degrees. This page lists the major sources of support, including fellowships and teaching and research assistanships. Unless otherwise noted, the awards may be made to entering or continuing graduate students.

George Beatty Fellowship

Created by the George Beatty trust to honor geography graduate students.

Charles S. Alexander Graduate Fellowship for Women in Geography

Created by the late Professor Charles S. Alexander, who taught in the department from 1953 until his retirement in 1986, to help promote the completion of doctoral dissertations by women. Restricted to women at the dissertation stage. Funds provided by a bequest from the estate of Professor Alexander and additional contributions from alumni and friends.

Joseph and Marion Russell Fellowship

Created in 1989 to honor the contributions of the Russell's to the department over four decades. Professor Joseph Russell was the first Head of the newly-established Department of Geography in 1945.

Marion G. Russell Fellowship in Geography

Established in 1991 by Joseph A. Russell to honor the memory of his late wife, Marion. Normally given to a continuing student to allow full concentration on coursework and thesis/dissertation completion.

Fred W. and Demetra Foster Fellowships

Up to four fellowships awarded competitively. Created in honor of Emeritus Professor Fred W. Foster and his late wife. Professor Foster taught at Illinois from 1949 to 1977.

University Fellowships

Provided each year by the Graduate College on a competitive basis.

Fellowships for Underrepresented Students

The Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science is pleased to announce a new Fellowship for Students from Underrepresented Groups in Geography. This one-year fellowship is awarded to a new incoming Ph.D. student on an annual basis. Support for up to a maximum of three subsequent years is provided from other funds, including research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and fellowships pending satisfactory progress in the Ph.D. program. The aim of the fellowship is increase the number of Ph.D.-level professionals from populations of students traditionally underrepresented in geography. The amount of the award is $16,500 and includes waiver of tuition and some fees.

The fellowship will be awarded on a competitive basis to an applicant admitted to the PhD program. To increase the diversity of the student body, preference will be given to members of one of the following groups underrepresented in geography: persons with disabilities, African Americans, Latino/as, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, or Native Pacific Islanders. The primary intention of the Fellowship is to enhance the recruitment and retention of U.S. citizens and residents of Puerto Rico.

Teaching Assistantships

Ten to fourteen half-time assistantships are available each year on a competitive basis. Duties involve conducting quiz or laboratory sessions associated with the major introductory classes.

Teaching Associates

Available only to senior graduate students; the student is assigned to teach one of the introductory classes and supervise the teaching assistants.

Research Assistantships on Faculty Research Grants

Each year, many of the faculty receive support from the Graduate College Research Board, the National Science Foundation, other federal and state agencies and private foundations. These faculty members hire qualified graduate students to work on research projects. The number available each year, and the prior training required of the assistants varies. Most of these assistantships are awarded to returning students.

Assistantships in Illinois State Surveys, CERL

The State Water Survey, Geological Survey, and Natural History Survey are located on campus. Since several scientists in these agencies have adjunct appointments in the department, they have often hired geography students to work on projects as research assistants. The U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) is located three miles from campus; several students with interests in cartography, remote sensing, and geographic information systems normally work as research assistants at CERL.

Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL)

A joint venture with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, REAL will provide several research assistantships to students in the doctoral program. The assistantships will be oriented to the development of regional analytical models in the Midwest. The expectation is that the work associated with the assistantship will serve as the basis for the doctoral dissertation.

Tuition and Fee Waivers

Students offered fellowships of $5,000 or more per semester receive a tuition and partial fee waiver. Teaching or research assistantships of 25-67% typically receive a tuition and partial fee waiver.

Other Awards

Many resident graduate students have been successful in obtaining assistantships from other departments, most notably Urban and Regional Planning, Agricultural Economics, Economics, and Civil Engineering. The number of these appointments varies each year.