Ph.D. Financial Aid & Support

Expenses and Financial Assistance

The Duke Graduate School financial support page has up-to-date information on the costs to attend, and the financial support available to PhD students.

A high proportion of the Department’s graduate students receive financial support that covers tuition and fees, as well as provides a competitive stipend, in one of five forms:

  1. Departmental fellowships and assistantships, awarded out of the Department’s general Graduate School allocation 
  2. Summer funding
  3. Fellowships of the Graduate School
  4. Loans, including those available through the National Direct Student Loan (NDSL) program
  5. Fellowships from outside sources such as National Science Foundation (NSF), Ford, and Social Science Research Council (SSRC)

In addition, grants to assist specific aspects of graduate students’ research, training, and conference participation are generally available during the academic year and the summer, on a competitive basis, from the Graduate School and Departmental funds. The Department has a number of endowments that are used to support student research projects.

Department Fellowships/Assistantships

The most common form of support for doctoral students is the departmental fellowship or assistantship. Students receiving assistantship support are obligated to serve as a research assistant and/or teaching assistant during the semesters in which they receive support. Students pursuing only the M.A. degree are not eligible for such awards. Initial Departmental awards are normally for a term of five years, contingent on satisfactory performance.

Summer Funding

Students in good standing will receive stipend funding for five summers. The funding comes free of service obligations, so that students can use their summers for progress on independent research. The source of the funding is either through the Graduate School’s Summer Research Fellowships (SRFs) or departmental Dissertation Support Awards (DSAs).

Graduate School Fellowships

The Duke Graduate School offers a number of competitive fellowships. These fellowships can be used to free students from service obligations, to help students build relationships with related scholars around the university, and/or to provide funding beyond the fifth year in the program.

Student Loans

Loans for graduate education are available, often on favorable terms, from many state agencies through the guaranteed student loan program and under the NDSL program. Further details are available from the Graduate School.

Outside Sources of Support

The Department strongly urges all students on Departmental funding to seek outside support and provides advice on how to apply for grants from the NSF and other relevant potential sources of funding. Our philosophy is that doing so constitutes a contribution to the common good. In some cases the outside support can be used to supplement a student’s stipend, or it can be used to “buy out” department service obligations. Students should consult with the DGS about how their outside-support awards can be used.