Research and Scholarship

Graduate Research

view of Twin Sisters mountains, with blue sky and snow

Home to a vibrant and creative community of researchers, creators and scholars, Western's graduate programs afford exceptional opportunities to study with accomplished experts. 

Western’s research, creative and scholarly programs are ranked #7 among all master's-granting institutions in the US in terms of total R&D spending, with scholarly resources in many fields rivaling those available at much larger universities.

The Graduate School Collection

The Graduate School Collection on Western CEDAR (Contributing to Education through Digital Access to Research) includes hundreds of master's thesis and field project documents across disciplines. Explore the collection to see the breadth of research Western's graduate students undertake.

Graduate Student Symposium

Now in its tenth year, the Graduate Student Symposium offers graduate students the opportunity to present their research and creative works in a professional conference setting on Western's Bellingham campus and digitally as part of Scholars Week. Poster presentations, short talks, and a Three-Minute Thesis competition have been some of the past events.


Research Funding

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Research Grants

Research assistance grants up to $1,500 per project for Graduate Students are offered through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. For more information on funding opportunities see our page on financial support.

Research Assistantships

Faculty members with external grant funding may employ graduate research assistants. RA's work in labs or in the field on specific projects, earning an hourly wage. Dependent on funding, RA's may also receive tuition assistance and student health insurance. 

Research Facilities

aquaculture equipment used in research on mussels

Western Libraries

Western’s libraries collections include over 1.5 million items, with an additional 26 million items available to scholars by request from 38 regional academic institutions. In addition to a broad general collection, particular strengths include Children’s Literature, East Asian and Pacific Northwest Studies.

Western’s China Program has the nation’s largest academic library collection of books on Mongolia and one of the best collections on China’s minorities, including thousands of works in all officially recognized scripts.

The Center for Pacific Northwest Studies collects significant regional materials with a particular focus on northwest Washington, the Olympic Peninsula, British Columbia and Alaska.

Other specialized collections include Western’s dedicated Music Library which holds over 125,000 items, including a large music collection.

The Hacherl Research and Writing Studio, also in the libraries, provides a variety of services supporting graduate student scholarship and thesis writing.

library reading room, with high ornate ceiling, tall windows, wooden tables

Core Technical Facilities

Core facilities house state-of-the-art electron and optical microscopy instrumentation, materials characterization and mass spectrometry equipment, high performance computing infrastructure, and digital media, recording and communications facilities.  

Full-service electronics and machine shops support research across a range of disciplines.

Numerous gallery, creative and public performance spaces host student work. 

Western also operates the Shannon Point Marine Center, one of the premier marine research facilities in the Pacific Northwest, where numerous faculty and students conduct research.

Interdisciplinary Research

Western is home to a wide range of interdisciplinary research centers and institutes, creating a vibrant and creative atmosphere promoting collaboration and trans-disciplinary approaches.