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About Graduate Funding

The Graduate School (TGS) provides most doctoral degree-seeking students with the opportunity to receive fellowships and scholarships. Made possible by general appropriations, endowments and other outside sources, fellowships typically provide students with a stipend and a scholarship to pay for tuition costs. All awards made by TGS are based upon merit.

Master’s vs. PhD

PhD students are typically full-time students and are fully-funded. For MA, MS and MPH master’s degree students, some programs may provide a small amount of scholarship resources and you can also apply for a student loan. MFA students are the exception in that there are fellowships, scholarships and assistantship opportunities available, as well the ability to apply for a student loan.


To discover what programs provide scholarship resources, you will need to contact your program directly. To learn more about the student loans that are available, please visit the Graduate Financial Aid website or visit the Federal Student Aid website. To be clear, TGS does not finance Master’s degree students.


TGS expects that PhD students will be financially supported, through a combination of institutional and external funds, for the majority of the time they are registered and working toward their degree. Generally speaking, PhD students should receive payment of tuition, either in the form of a departmental scholarship or an external fellowship that covers some portion of the cost of education, fully subsidized health insurance, and a stipend for a minimum of five years. 

Graduate students are supported in a variety of ways. University fellowships are generally granted to all entering doctoral students for their first year of study. TGS sets the base stipend level in all disciplines and programs have latitude to set their stipend level above the base, typically based on market forces within that particular field.

Graduate student funding is a shared responsibility. While financial commitments are made to students for a set number of years, it is important to understand that the overall graduate awards budget is dependent on a significant number of students obtaining external fellowships. Should a student be the recipient of an external grant or sponsorship, TGS requires that these external resources be used in lieu of university funding. When the external award fully replaces TGS funds, other benefits are provided. We expect all students to make a good faith effort to obtain such external support at some point during their funding period and students should be encourage to pursue these opportunities.

Research Funding

Graduate students are strongly encouraged to seek external funding for their research. External grants perform two vital functions. First, they supplement or extend doctoral students' funding to finance research. Second, awards (particularly highly competitive, prestigious grants) demonstrate to prospective employers that a student is a serious scholar and a potentially valuable member of the academic and/or research community. 

Additional Funding

Students needing additional funds to pay for their education may wish to apply for loans. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are enrolled at least half-time are eligible for federal loans. There are alternative loan options for part-time students and for international students. Please contact Graduate Financial Aid for more information.

Eligibility for Financial Aid

Graduate students must remain in good academic standing and demonstrate satisfactory academic progress toward their respective degrees to be eligible for all forms of financial aid. To learn more, please contact the Graduate Financial Aid webpage.

Regulations and Guidelines for All Recipients of University Assistance

If you are a student in TGS receiving financial support administered by the University, please review the following policy guides:

Permission to Work

The policies related to making a request for permission to have additional remunerative work in addition to TGS fellowship/graduate assistantship funding can be found in our Permission to Work Policy. For more information, please contact Graduate Student Funding at tgs-fa@northwestern.edu.