Unless specifically informed otherwise in the offer of admission, the university guarantees all PhD students five years of financial support (fellowships, assistantships, teaching) conditional upon the continued demonstration of good progress toward the PhD, where “good progress” is determined by an annual review of each student by the Graduate Awards Committee. All fellowships, assistantships, and teaching assignments provide students with full tuition, an outstanding healthcare benefits package, and a competitive living stipend.
Specifics, Year by Year
In most cases, first-year students receive a fellowship (from either the School of Arts and Sciences [A&S Fellowship] or the department itself [Umberger Fellowship]), which does not carry a work requirement -- thereby enabling first-year students to focus entirely on their studies.
Students already enrolled in the program are asked to file a written application for an award if they wish to be considered for funding in subsequent years. Funding in years two, three, and four typically takes the form of an assistantship (teaching, research, administrative), or may take the form of a Foreign Language Assistance Scholarship (FLAS) or Gutierrez Fellowship.
Some fourth- and fifth-year students receive fellowships, thereby enabling them to focus entirely on dissertation research. These come in three forms. First, up to five A&S Social Science Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships (SSDD) will be awarded to outstanding students for their fifth year of study, IF THEY HAVE SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDED A DISSERTATION OVERVIEW BY DECEMBER 1 OF THEIR FOURTH YEAR IN RESIDENCE AND HAVE DEMONSTRATED CONSISTENT EXCELLENCE THROUGHOUT THE PROGRAM. Second, up to five outstanding third- and fourth-year students will be nominated each year for university Mellon Fellowships (with preference given to third year students), to be used the following year (in year 4 or 5). Third, in some rare instances, the department may award an Umberger Fellowship to a fourth- or fifth-year student.
Those fourth- and fifth-year students who do not receive such fellowships, but who have maintained good academic standing, receive assistantships, as in their second and third years, or may teach their own courses. Furthermore, in most cases (contingent upon funding availability from the university) students may obtain one additional year of funding through the teaching of their own courses.
Aside from the fellowship and teaching opportunities listed above, there is no guarantee of financial support in a student's 5th year. As such, students are strongly encouraged to apply for external fellowships and scholarships, beginning after their third year in residence. A database of externally funded scholarships and fellowships is maintained by the university’s Office of Research.
Students in years 2-5 have a travel budget of $400 per year, to spend on travel expenses, conference registration fees, and hotel accommodations, for paper/poster presentations at approved academic conferences. Of these funds, $250 may be spent on the student’s first conference of the year, and $150 on a second. An additional fund of $3000 is designated to reimburse additional expenses, for students who demonstrate they tried but were unable to secure other university travel grants. The graduate awards/evaluation committee considers applications for these reimbursement funds and offers such awards to those demonstrating the most need and the most scholarly promise.
The university financially supports student participation in prestigious summer programs such as the quantitative methodology program and survey research program sponsored by the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan, the Annual Summer Institute in Political Psychology at Stanford University, and others.