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.
The majority of doctoral students support themselves with TAs, fellowships and RAs. Statistically, TAs account for about a fifth, 20.5%, of graduate students' primary support followed by RAs. Students in the physical sciences were financially supported mainly through TAs (40%) and RAs (37%), according to a National Science Foundation (NSF) report, Science and Engineering Indicators 2018. However, for mathematics graduate students, TAs are typically (47%) the primary means of support, based on that same NSF report.
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.