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 or fellowships. Tuition and fees are waived. Graduate students who are supported by a teaching assistantship or a fellowship also receive free 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  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 $8,000 (shared equally by the Graduate School and the Physics department) for a total stipend of $33,000 per year for five years plus a full tuition waiver and health insurance. To receive full consideration for University fellowships prospective students must submit all application materials by December 15.

The UA Graduate Council Fellowship (GCF) is a competitive fellowship for prospective graduate students. It provides $15,000 plus a fellowship enhancement supplement of $8,000 (shared equally by the Graduate School and the Physics department) for a 9 month stipend of $23,000 for the first academic year. Students are also guaranteed summer support in their first year. Hence the total stipend is ~$29,000 for the 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 by mid to end February.

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 $15,000 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. This funding is supplemented by the Dept. of Physics & Astronomy for a total stipend of ~$19,000/- per year for two master’s academic years or four doctoral academic years. In subsequent years, for a PhD, students are supported by a regular TA or RA as long as they remain in good academic standing.

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 $15,000 for 1 academic year. This funding is supplemented by the Dept. of Physics & Astronomy for a total stipend of ~$19,000/- for one academic year (9 months) 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.

Current Students

The GCF and NAA Research Fellowships for current students provides $15,000 for 1 academic year. This funding is supplemented by the Dept. of Physics & Astronomy for a total stipend of ~$19,000/- for one academic year (9 months) 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 deadline to submit an application will be announced in October.

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/-,  renewable for up to 3 years, with applications due in March.

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. Applications are due on March 31st. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or have legal permanent resident status.

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 NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) program awards $30,000 per year  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 NESSF.

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 due around 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 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.

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

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External Private Fellowships and Grants

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.