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PhD Fellowships and Employment

Financial Opportunities for PhD in Environmental Science and Management Students

The Bren School strives to provide our graduate students with opportunities to make their doctoral education affordable by making it a goal to offer five-year funding packages to each admitted PhD student.

Fellowships and PhD Funding Packages

Every year, the Bren School receives state funds, which are known as block grants, that are used to support PhD students. Every PhD student at the Bren School, including international students, are admitted based on a plan for funding, which includes fellowships funded through block grants in addition to academic employment (teaching assistantships or research assistantships). The Bren School also has additional PhD funding available, thanks to the generosity of a number of donors who have provided the school with gifts and/or endowments to be used for student prizes and fellowships. Five-year funding plans for PhD students are highly individualized and will often include a combination of external fellowships, internal fellowships, grants, donor funds and academic employment. Applicants with external funding are also encouraged to apply.

Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship

As climate change transforms ecosystems and accelerates the “sixth mass extinction,” an enormous, looming question remains: how will ecosystems change and impact social systems? Answering this question requires major advances in our current understanding of the interconnections between climate, ecological, and social systems. Developing solutions will require a diversity of disciplines, lived experiences, and collaborative approaches. 

To build a sustainable future, the Bren School’s Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship selects emerging scholars interested in interdisciplinary environmental research. The program aims to recruit a diverse cohort and create an inclusive and collaborative community to support each postdoc’s research. The successful candidates will work with a team of interdisciplinary scientists to conduct innovative research on various topics, often with a quantitative focus on understanding the impacts of global change on the world's terrestrial ecosystems


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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Academic Employment Opportunities

Teaching Assistantships (TA)

Bren School PhD students are typically expected to work in an academic appointment as part of their funding package. Most commonly, these are in the form of Teaching Assistant (TA) positions. Bren PhD students are employed every year to teach Bren master's courses. Students also look for opportunities outside of the Bren School 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.

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 master's students more often as student assistants.

Faculty Sponsorship

The Bren PhD program is mentorship-based; you will work closely with at least one Bren professor in their area of expertise. Your sponsor serves as your student advisor and the chair of your PhD committee. This faculty sponsor is also responsible for providing intellectual support and academic and career advice, as well as assisting you to obtain financial support from Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) positions, Teaching Assistant (TA) positions, fellowships, and other areas of support. View a directory of Bren School faculty research on the Faculty Research page

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Request more information, sign up for an admissions webinar, or start your application today.

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