Financial Support

Financial support is available from a variety of sources for students pursuing PhD degrees in physics and astronomy.

Departmental Support

Graduate students typically enter with teaching assistantships, or fellowships and choose their research advisor by the end of their first year in the program. Students with prior graduate work (e.g., later years of diploma or a Masters) can transfer up to half of the course requirements for the PhD degree, thus reducing the time for the degree.

Continuous financial support is available for PhD students in good academic standing either through teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or fellowships. Tuition and fees are waived. Graduate students who are supported by a teaching/research assistantship or a fellowship also receive health insurance. Salary/stipends range from $18,747 (9 month) to ~$25,000 (including summer support). Graduate PhD students are guaranteed summer TA support for their first year. In subsequent years, students can receive summer support either through TAs or through their research advisor. The financial support awarded is more than sufficient to provide complete living expenses for a single graduate student. There are time limits on the total number of years that a student can hold a TA-ship. Please refer to the current Graduate Student Handbook.

To receive full consideration for departmental support via graduate teaching or research assistantships, prospective student must submit all application materials by January 15. Typically, admission decisions are made and offers sent out by March 15. Students have till April 15 to accept offers although it is requested that students respond earlier. Hence, late offers are possible.

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Fellowships available at UA

The UA Graduate School offers financial support through a number of fellowships, scholarships and awards.  This includes the UA Graduate Council Fellowships, NAA License Tag Graduate Fellowships, McNair Graduate Fellowships, as well as frequent awards from the Research and Travel Support Fund. More information about these fellowships can be found at the Graduate School financial support website. All fellowships include a full tuition scholarship (up to 15 hours) and single coverage health insurance. Awardees must be full-time students.

Prospective Students

The David A. Francko Graduate Council Fellowship (GCF) is the most prestigious and competitive research fellowship awarded by the UA Graduate School.  It provides $25,000 plus a fellowship enhancement supplement of $4,000 (shared equally by the Graduate School and the Physics department) for a total stipend of $29,000 per year for five years plus a full tuition waiver and health insurance. Students are also guaranteed summer support in their first year. To receive full consideration for University fellowships prospective students must submit all application materials by December 15.

The UA Capstone Graduate Council Fellowship (Capstone GCF) is a competitive fellowship for prospective graduate students. It provides $20,000 per year for three years for PhD students (2 years for Masters) plus a fellowship enhancement supplement of $4,000  per year (shared equally by the Graduate School and the Physics department) for a 9 month stipend of $24,000 per year for three years. The Physics and Astronomy dept. will provide an additional 2 years of support for doctoral students, either through TAs or RAs, at the same funding level. Students will also receive a full tuition waiver and health insurance for all five years. Students are also guaranteed summer support in their first year. In subsequent years, PhD students are supported by a regular TA or RA as long as they remain in good academic standing. Summer support through RAs or TAs may also be available in subsequent years.  To receive full consideration for University fellowships prospective students must submit all application materials by December 15. Fellowship decisions are made in multiple rounds from January to early March.

The UA Capstone McNair Graduate Fellowship (Capstone MGF) is a competitive fellowship for prospective incoming graduate students who are either (i) low income AND first-generation college students or (ii) a member of a group traditionally underrepresented in graduate education (Hispanic, African American, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander). The MGF provides $20,000/- year for three academic years (doctoral),  or two master’s years, plus a fellowship enhancement supplement of $4,000  per year (shared equally by the Graduate School and the Physics department) for a 9 month stipend of $24,000 per year for three years plus a full tuition waiver and health insurance. Departments commit to an additional two academic years of departmental assistantship or equivalent in support for doctoral candidates. In subsequent years, PhD students are supported by a regular TA or RA as long as they remain in good academic standing. To receive full consideration for University fellowships prospective students must submit all application materials by December 15. Fellowship decisions are made in multiple rounds from January to early March.

The UA Graduate Council Fellowship (GCF) is a competitive fellowship for prospective graduate students. It provides $20,000 plus a fellowship enhancement supplement of $4,000 (shared equally by the Graduate School and the Physics department) for a 9 month stipend of $24,000 for the first academic year. Students are also guaranteed summer support in their first year plus a full tuition waiver and health insurance. In the second year, students receive a departmental assistantship or equivalent in addition to the fellowship enhancement supplement, full tuition waiver and health insurance. Summer support through RAs or TAs may be available. In subsequent years, students are supported by a regular TA or RA as long as they remain in good academic standing. To receive full consideration for University fellowships prospective students must submit all application materials by December 15. Fellowship decisions are made in multiple rounds from January to early March.

The UA McNair Graduate Fellowship (MGF) is a competitive fellowship for prospective incoming graduate students who are either (i) low income AND first-generation college students or (ii) a member of a group traditionally underrepresented in graduate education (Hispanic, African American, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander). The MGF provides $20,000/- year for one (master’s) or two (doctoral) academic years plus a full tuition waiver and health insurance. Departments commit to an additional one (master’s) or two (doctoral) academic years of departmental assistantship or equivalent in support. In subsequent years, PhD students are supported by a regular TA or RA as long as they remain in good academic standing. To receive full consideration for University fellowships prospective students must submit all application materials by December 15. Fellowship decisions are made in multiple rounds from January to early March.

The National Alumni Association Fellowships (NAA) is a competitive fellowship for prospective incoming graduate students who are Alabama residents for tuition purposes. The NAA Research Fellowships provides $20,000 for 1 academic year plus a full tuition waiver and health insurance. Students are also guaranteed summer support in their first year.  In subsequent years PhD students are supported by a regular TA or RA as long as they remain in good academic standing. Students can also apply for the regular GCF/NAA award for current students. To receive full consideration for University fellowships prospective students must submit all application materials by December 15. Fellowship decisions are made in multiple rounds from January to early March.

Current Students

The GCF, NAA and MGF Research Fellowships for current students provides $20,000 for 1 academic year plus a full tuition waiver and health insurance.  Students are required to provide a CV and a 350 word research statement. Students should contact their supervisor and the department chair if they would like to apply for this research fellowship. Three applicants per department can be nominated for the GCF and the NAA Fellowship. The department deadline to apply for this fellowship is December 2nd, 2019. This is ~one week before the Graduate School deadline to submit an application for Fall 2019.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a Robert E. Gross Lockheed Fellowship in Physics.

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External Federal Fellowships and Grants

Federal fellowships/grants include:

The Alabama Space Grant Consortium offers graduate fellowships with an annual stipend of $37,000/-. The fellowships are renewable (through competitive proposals) for up to 3 years, with applications due in end February or early March. Applications may be submitted prior to completion of the senior undergraduate year or at any time during the applicant’s graduate career.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program offers a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees, with applications due in October. Graduate students are limited to only one application to the GRFP, submitted either in the first year or in the second year of graduate school. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents. More information and application instructions can be found at http://www.nsfgrfp.org/

The Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) program awards $45,000 per year  (including tuition and fees) for up to three years to support graduate students in basic and applied research in Earth science and space science, including astrophysics. International students can apply for this fellowship. However, there are special restrictions. More information and application instructions can be found at http://solicitation.nasaprs.com/open by searching for FINESST. Applications are due in early March.

The National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship offers a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with full tuition and all mandatory fees. Applicants must be US citizens or nationals, and be either enrolled in their final year of undergraduate studies, or have completed no more than two years of graduate study in the discipline in which they are applying. Applications are open in early September and are due in early December of each year.

The Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF) awards a four-year fellowship with an annual stipend of $36,000 plus tuition and fees for graduate students conducting research with a strong computational aspect.  The DOE CSGF is open to any U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien planning full-time, uninterrupted study toward a doctoral degree at an accredited U.S. university. Applicants must be seniors or first-year graduate students. Applications are due in early-mid January.

The Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE NNSA SSGF)  offers an annual stipend of $36,000 plus tuition and fees and more for up to four years. The DOE NNSA SSGF is open to any U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien planning full-time, uninterrupted study toward a doctoral degree at an accredited U.S. university. Those eligible to apply include senior undergraduate students and first- and second-year graduate students focusing their studies on high energy density physics, nuclear science, or properties of materials under extreme conditions and hydrodynamics.

The DOE Office of Science Graduate Fellowship program (SCGF) provides support to outstanding graduate students pursuing graduate training in basic research in areas of physics, biology (non-medical), chemistry, mathematics, engineering, computational and computer sciences, and environmental sciences relevant to the Office of Science mission areas to encourage the development of the next generation of scientific and technical talent in the U.S. The award covers a partial tuition support, an annual stipend for living expenses, and a research allowance for full-time graduate study and thesis/dissertation research at a U.S. academic institution for up to three years. Applications are due in early November.

The National Physical Science Consortium (NPSC) Doctoral Fellowship  provides an annual $20,000/-  allowance plus full tuition and required fees for up to six years. NPSC is a partnership between government agencies and laboratories, industry, and higher education. NPSC’s goal is to increase the number of American citizens with graduate degrees in the physical sciences and related engineering fields, emphasizing recruitment of a diverse applicant pool. The award also includes one or two paid summer internships with the sponsor. Applications open in end August.

The DOD Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service is an opportunity for students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines to receive a full scholarship and guaranteed civilian employment with the Department of Defense (DoD) upon degree completion. SMART scholarships range from a minimum of 1.5 years to a maximum of 5 years per award, depending on degree requirements. Awardees are paid a stipend at a rate of $25,000 – $38,000 a year depending on degree level. Full tuition and education related educational expenses, a health insurance allowance of up to $1,200 per academic year and a miscellaneous allowance of up to $1,000 per academic year is included. Applications are due in end November, early December.

 

Other Federal grant opportunities for STEM graduate students are available at https://stemgradstudents.science.gov/

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External Private Fellowships and Grants

 

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Doctoral Scholars Program funds doctoral students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups (including black, Asian American, Hispanic/Latin American, Native American or other) in graduate studies. New (or first year) students can qualify for a three year $20,000/year stipend from SREB and a tuition scholarship from the UA Graduate School. This is followed by two years of departmental funding. Students who have not previously received SREB funding can also qualify for funding in their final year. Application materials will be available early January. Applications are due in end March. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or have legal permanent resident status.

Other private fellowships/grants include:

Information on other federal and external grants/fellowships is available at the UA Graduate School.

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For More Information

For more information about these and potentially other funding opportunities, contact us at physgrad@ua.edu.