Ph.D. Financial Aid & Support

Expenses and Financial Assistance

Full-time Ph.D. students are charged a flat rate of Tuition each semester for six semesters (3 years), as well as the Continuation Health and Recreation fees, Medical Insurance, and Student Government dues.

  • After six semesters, students are charged only the Registration, Health and Recreation fees, and Student Government dues.
  • Approved transfer of an earned Master’s degree will reduce the minimum doctoral registration to 5 semesters of full-time tuition.
  • Master's and Non-degree Students are charged per unit as well as the Registration, Health and Recreation fees, and Student Government dues.
  • PhD, Master's, and Non-degree Students are charged a one-time Transcript fee in the fall semester of matriculation.
  • Master's degree students are required to pay for at least 30 units of registration.

A high proportion of the Department’s graduate students receive financial support, in one of six forms:

  1. James B. Duke Fellowships.
  2. Fellowships and assistantships of the Graduate School or of interdisciplinary programs, including awards to minority students of U.S. citizenship, to foreign students, and to students in such fields as international and area studies.
  3. Instructional assistantships in large undergraduate courses.
  4. Loans, including those available through the National Direct Student Loan (NDSL) program.
  5. Departmental fellowships and assistantships, awarded out of the Department’s general Graduate School allocation.
  6. 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.

James B. Duke Fellowships

Approximately sixty James B. Duke Fellowships are awarded annually to entering students through a University-wide competition. Nominations come from the Department; the student cannot apply directly. J.B. Duke Fellowships pay, in addition to tuition and fees, a generous income stipend. Further details are available in the Bulletin of Duke University Graduate School.

Graduate School Fellowships/Assistantships

In most cases, the fellowships and assistantships offered directly by the Graduate School and by various interdisciplinary programs also require nomination by the Department, but interested applicants should not hesitate to communicate directly with the Associate Dean of the Graduate School or with the directors of specific programs. Applications from minority students are specifically encouraged. Again, the Graduate Bulletin should be consulted.

Instructional Assistantships

After one year of course work (or one semester of work at Duke for students already holding the M.A.), students are eligible to serve as instructional assistants. The Department gives priority to its own students. Appointments are by the Department Chair, on recommendation of the DGS, after consultation with the faculty members conducting the courses that require instructional assistants. Assistantship salaries are considered part of a student’s financial assistance package. An instructional assistant normally leads two sections and may not lead more than four.

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.

Department Fellowships/Assistantships

The most common form of support for doctoral students is the departmental fellowship or assistantship, which is granted by the Department’s Committee on Graduate Admissions and Awards. Students pursuing only the M.A. degree are not eligible for such awards. To apply, a student need only indicate on the Graduate School application that he or she wants to be considered for financial aid. Each year a number of outstanding applicants are offered full support tuition, fees, and a stipend calculated to meet living expenses on the basis of merit alone. Others are offered a wider range of assistance on the basis of both merit and need and the Department reserves the right to request disclosure of financial status as a condition for the award of assistance. All U.S. applicants for financial aid should therefore submit the FAFSA form through the Educational Testing Service after April 15. (See the Federal Student Aid website; code for graduate studies is E00165).

All Departmental financial assistance is conditional on the future availability of funds, which cannot be predicted with certainty from year to year. Initial Departmental awards are normally for a term of five years, contingent on satisfactory performance. In recent experience, all first-year appointees have been continued at or above the stipend level of the preceding year through their fifth year of graduate study. Students also often receive some support after their fifth year of residence.

A student who initially receives no assistance from the Department may also apply for support during the spring review for funding beginning in their second year; and the Committee on Admissions and Awards may then recommend that support be granted to students who have performed exceptionally well. These awards are renewable, as outlined above. Every Departmental award is subject to termination if, in the judgment of the Faculty, its holder has ceased to make satisfactory progress toward the degree.

Outside Sources of Support

The Department can only maintain a thriving graduate program at current levels of enrollment if some students receive outside funding, since University resources are insufficient. The Department therefore strongly urges all students on Departmental funding to seek such 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. If our students actively pursue outside funding, a sufficient proportion will succeed to enable the program as a whole to thrive. In line with this philosophy, if a student wins a non-Departmental award that is equal to or lower than his or her Departmental award, the non-Departmental award normally replaces Departmental funding, so that the student’s total funding package remains the same. If a student wins a non-Departmental award that is higher than his or her Departmental award, the student receives only the non-Departmental funding. However, the Director of Graduate Studies will keep account of students’ success in obtaining non-Departmental funding when considering requests for other support, such as summer research funding and payment of continuation fees beyond the fifth year of graduate study.

By University regulation, no awards from the Graduate School allocation can be made after May 15. Further information is available from the DGS or from the Associate Dean for Admissions in the Graduate School.

Other Financial Support Sources