Our Promise, Their Future

Meeting the Graduate Studies Challenge

The College of Natural Resources’ doctoral students—and our growing number of master’s-level students—are already socially conscious and intellectually gifted when they arrive on the Berkeley campus. After devoting years to gaining a deeper understanding of the problems facing our planet, they go on to have worldwide impact at universities, nonprofit organizations, and private companies as well as in the public sector.

The financial hurdle

However, rising tuition and costs of living mean unprecedented hardships for our students. Currently, incoming CNR graduate students are guaranteed three to five years of funding, which comes from the department, the student’s primary faculty adviser, and University teaching assistantships. Last year, these funding packages ranged from $42,000 to $50,000. Subtract from that the in-state tuition and University fees ($17,200 in 2015–16), and the remaining living stipend makes it difficult for students to make ends meet.

Graduate-student support is one of the highest priorities for CNR and the campus as a whole, but the financial needs of our doctoral and master’s-level candidates eclipse the available resources. To continue to attract and retain the most talented graduate students—who often have very competitive funding offers from our peer institutions—and to preserve the excellence and diversity of our programs, we must increase the number of privately endowed fellowships and annual support specifically designated for graduate students.

The match opportunity

A 2015 fundraising effort—Berkeley Endowments to Attract and Retain Graduate Students (BEAR GradS)—has succeeded in creating multiple $1 million doctoral fellowship endowments on campus through a creative dollar-for-dollar matching program. CNR has created one such fund through the generosity of alumna Li-Chiang Chu, who in 2015 established the Li-Chiang Chu Graduate Fellowship in Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology. Until December 1, 2016, CNR is eligible for one more BEAR GradS match through this program.

CNR strives to uphold the mission of UC Berkeley’s Division of Equity and Inclusion: to promote diversity and to provide “an environment in which all can thrive academically and professionally.” Your support can help in this cause. If you’re interested in supporting graduate students at CNR, please contact Kathryn Moriarty Baldwin at moriartyk@berkeley.edu.

Image of graduate students

From left: Colin Carlson (ESPM), Emily Woods (ERG), Allyson Barnett (ARE), Stephen Harrell (ARE), and Sydney Glassman (ESPM, PMB). ARE PHOTOS: Edward A. Rubin

Edward A. Rubin

Graduate Student Go-Getters

Two CNR graduate students were recognized in Forbes magazine’s 2016 “30 Under 30” list: Colin Carlson, for his research studying how parasites—which are key to many ecosystems—will be impacted by climate change, and Emily Woods, for cofounding Sanivation, which is developing the first method for solar treatment of human waste

This year, agricultural and resource economics students Allyson Barnett and Stephen Harrell will represent CNR in Washington, D.C., through research positions that directly support White House programs and initiatives.

Recent graduate Sydney Glassman was lead author on a 2015 study that discovered that a fungal spore bank under the Sierra Nevada’s devastating 2013 Rim Fire has helped to regenerate new forests.

Facts About Funding

  • The payout from a $1 million graduate fellowship endowment can fund in-state tuition for two CNR students per year, while the endowment continues to grow over time.
  • Faculty also raise money to fund students through competitive grants with such federal agencies as the National Science Foundation—they have a 20% success rate.
  • According to an April 2016 report by the San Jose Mercury News, rent for a Bay Area apartment averages $2,482 a month—that’s $29,784 a year.
  • After covering in-state tuition and fees, CNR graduate-student stipend packages ranged from $24,800 to $32,800 in 2015–16.