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Paying for your Graduate Degree

Paying for your Graduate Degree

Get financial support for your Ph.D.

Teaching and Research Assistantships can pay for your degree

Almost all Ph.D. students in the sciences pay for their educations and support themselves--if not always in grand style--without incurring any educational debt. Students who do incur some debt view their educations as an investment in themselves and in their future career in science. It is important to note that most doctoral students in science obtain funding through a combination of research assistantships (RAs), teaching assistantships (TAs), fellowships, and other means. This can make a Ph.D. in science more accessible and affordable to students from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.

According to a recent National Science Foundation report, around 70 percent of full-time STEM graduate students that primarily received federal government funding received RAs, which come from research grants. Furthermore, more than 80 percent of federally funded postdocs were paid through research grants. TAs and fellowships are mainly institutionally funded, whereas nearly half of RAs are funded through federal academic research grants.

Many students have TAs early in their graduate studies while they are still taking classes and before they have begun their thesis projects. TAs involve teaching or assisting undergraduate classes and also include other obligations such as grading papers and meeting students during office hours to answer questions. Some TAs teach recitation sessions, often a supplementary lecture or Q&A session associated with larger lecture courses.