Financial Aid

Ninety-five percent of our new graduate students receive financial support, either from us or from their own governments.

Joseph Pingenot and Christine StevensChristine Stevens (right) is the departmental human resources contact. Her work includes RA and TA stipends.

Teaching Assistantships (TAs)

TA positions are awarded by the department. This is the most common support for first-year students who have not yet chosen a research advisor.

Research Assistantships (RAs)

RA positions are usually awarded by individual professors. Usually, the work you do as an RA is the same as the research you do for your thesis. Most commonly, students take an RA position after their first year, when they have learned about the opportunities for research with various faculty members. If you already know which faculty member has a research program that is best for you, you may contact that professor to inquire about RA support during your first year.

An RA in a research lab

An RA in a research lab is pictured at the right.


Some students who receive an RA or TA stipend may also receive a scholarship that pays all or part of their tuition.


Some students may receive a fellowship instead of an RA or TA. A fellowship pays both a stipend and tuition, without requiring performing the duties of an RA or TA. There are two kinds:

Presidential Graduate Fellowship - for students with outstanding Graduate Record Examination and grade-point average scores

Dean's Graduate Fellowship - for underrepresented students

Our graduate students are valuable to us

We make every effort to pay our graduate students an attractive stipend. Most students have what is called a 50% appointment, with the following stipends:

Stipends for 9-month Academic Year, 2015-2016

  • TA or RA $19,650 (new students)
  • TA or RA $20,500 (returning students)

Stipends for summer 2015

  • TA or RA $4,366 (new students for 2-month appointment)
  • TA or RA $4,555 (returning students for 2-month appointment)
  • For updated stipend information, contact us.

Students with at least a 25% appointment:

About TA Positions

TA in instructional lab

Most TAs have a half-time (50%) appointment. The most common assignment is for TAs to teach three sections of a physics laboratory, each with three hours of contact with students, or four sections of an astronomy lab, each with two hours. These TAs work under the supervision of the laboratory coordinator and the professor in charge of the course. Other TAs serve as tutors, proctors, or graders. A half-time appointment requires up to 20 hours per week of service to the department. At the same time you can take a full load of courses, up to 12 semester hours.

TA in instructional lab

Some TAs also receive support as an RA. It is common for a student to be supported as a half-time TA during the academic year and as an RA for up to three months during the summer. Some students are supported during the academic year partly as a TA and partly as an RA. For example a student supported with a one-quarter-time TA position and a one-quarter RA position would serve up to 10 hours per week as a TA and serve as an RA in the remaining time.