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Fellowships and Employment

Financial Opportunities for Master of Environmental Science and Management Students

The Bren School strives to provide our graduate students with opportunities to afford their Bren education in addition to student loans and grants. 


Every year, the Bren School receives state funds, which are known as block grants, that are used as recruitment incentive awards in the form of payment for fees, tuition, professional development supplemental tuition, non-resident supplemental tuition, and/or stipends. The Bren School also has funds available for recruitment incentive awards, thanks to the generosity of donors who have provided the school with gifts and/or endowments to be used for student prizes and fellowships. MESM applicants may be considered for these fellowship opportunities:

General Recruitment Fellowships

Each year the Bren School is able to offer general Recruitment Fellowship funding to a percentage of its top MESM applicants. Recruitment Fellowships provide incoming students with support for their first year in the MESM program. Recruitment Fellowship recipients are selected by the faculty-led Admissions Committee and demonstrate professional and academic promise. All MESM applicants are automatically considered for these general Recruitment Fellowships; no supplemental application is required. If an applicant is selected for a Recruitment Fellowship, that person will be notified at the same time they are notified of admission to the program.

Diversity Fellowships

The Bren School is pleased to support a diverse student body by offering Diversity Fellowships. The Environmental Science and Management Fellowship and Scholarship programs are primarily funded by the Professional Development Supplemental Tuition. These fellowship awards offer support for up to two years to students from a broad range of backgrounds, including people from underrepresented groups, economically disadvantaged backgrounds, first generation to attend college, veterans, refugees, citizens of underdeveloped countries or rural areas or those who have completed service or intend to serve disadvantaged populations.  No supplemental application is required to be considered for a Diversity Fellowship. The Personal History and Diversity Statement section of the application is often where applicants highlight their contributions to the diversity of the Bren community. Recipients of Diversity Fellowships are selected by the faculty-led Recruitment, Admissions and Support committee.

UCSB abides by the Council of Graduate Schools resolution stating that prospective students are under no obligation to accept a financial award until April 15. 

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On- and Off-Campus Employment Opportunities

Teaching Assistantships (TA)

Many MESM students are successful at securing Teaching Assistant (TA) positions each year. Because the Bren School does not have an undergraduate program in Environmental Science and Management, MESM students TA in other UCSB departments. Each program or department at UCSB will have its own TA hiring process and criteria: some distribute TA application announcements as a need is identified; many wait until closer to the start of the academic quarter to solicit TA applications, and others have a very formal and standardized TA application process. Therefore, students should contact departments directly when inquiring about TA opportunities.

The most abundant source of TA positions for MESM students has been the Environmental Studies Program (ES), a large undergraduate program in the College of Letters and Sciences. Since ES does not have a graduate program, it employs graduate students from other departments to cover its TA needs. The ES Program posts an application for TA positions for the upcoming academic year typically in late April or early May.

Although the Bren School does employ TAs, there are no TA positions available for MESM students within the Bren School itself, as MESM students are not permitted to serve as TAs for MESM courses (students cannot TA peer-to-peer due to a conflict of interest). The few TA positions that the Bren School does have available are filled by PhD students.

Graduate Student Researcher Positions (GSR)

A Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) is a graduate student who assists a faculty member with scholarly research and is paid from extramural funds that the faculty member has secured through funding agencies. Often, a GSR collaborates in the publication of research results, as determined by supervising faculty members. As such, GSRs are selected for their high achievement and promise or for their productive scholarship. GSRs are not assigned teaching, administrative, or general assistance duties.

GSR positions are arranged on an individual basis between the student and a faculty member who is the Principal Investigator on a research grant, and generally are not “applied for” as one would a Teaching Assistantship. Most faculty members use PhD students to fill their GSR positions and hire MESM students more often as student assistants.

Student Assistant Positions

Bren School administration and individual faculty sometimes have part-time employment opportunities for students to provide administrative, tutoring, or research assistance (not typically provided by or appropriate for a GSR). Students who have a work-study allocation are especially attractive applicants for these positions. Student assistant positions pay an hourly wage.

Other On-Campus Employment

Some UCSB departments employ graduate students as Readers and Tutors. Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS) employs students as Tutors, Peer Learning Skills Counselors, and Intake Counselors for course-specific tutoring and academic skill development. A number of UCSB faculty, departments, and organizations employ students in administrative and service functions. Visit the UCSB Career Services website for more resources.

Off-Campus Employment

The Bren School’s Career Development team circulates dozens of announcements for internship and part- or full-time employment opportunities offered by local companies and organizations throughout the school year. Many of these positions are created specifically for Bren School students, offering MESM students the chance to gain experience relevant to their interests while also off-setting the costs of their graduate education.

UCSB students can also turn to other resources for opportunities. Handshake — the UCSB "job board" — has listings from area businesses and residential employers for full-time, part-time, and seasonal employment. General job search sites such as Craigslist or Indeed also offer the ability to search positions by key word and/or location.

Time Commitment Considerations

Incoming students should bear in mind that the Bren MESM program is a full-time program that most students find quite challenging. You should expect to spend at least 40 to 50 hours per week on your studies. As such, most students find it difficult to work more than about 10 hours per week, though this varies from student to student. Many choose not to work at all, while others have worked as many as 20 hours per week. We generally advise students to not work their first quarter and use their first term to assess whether they truly have the time and energy for both the master's program and an employment opportunity. 

If you have significant constraints on your time due to work, family, or personal considerations, please feel free to discuss with us the possibility of taking more than two years to complete your degree, keeping in mind that the University requires that full fees and other university expenses be paid each quarter regardless of how many units a graduate student takes.

View from Bren Hall of ocean and palm trees

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