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How Are Graduate Students Supported


Ph.D. Support

The Graduate School provides a competitive package that should provide Ph.D. students with financial support for the majority of the time they are registered and working toward their degree. Ph.D. students are supported in a variety of ways, including funding from their departments, The Graduate School, or other governmental and private sources.

Generally speaking, The Graduate School provides Ph.D. students with a stipend, payment of tuition, and fee support for their first five years of study, as well as health insurance for the first six years if students are on the Duke student medical insurance plan. After their fifth year, students are responsible for tuition and fees, and most of our students obtain external or departmental funding to cover those costs.

See the Cost to Attend page for a detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other expenses. Visit our Statistics section to see the typical time to completion for your degree program.

Year of Study   Tuition and Fees Paid By   Health Insurance Paid By
Years 1-5   The Graduate School or external fellowships   The Graduate School
Year 6   External fellowships, departmental funding, or the student*   The Graduate School
Year 7+   External fellowships, departmental funding, or the student*   Student


* – More than 80 percent of Duke Ph.D. students in their sixth year and beyond obtain external fellowships or departmental funding to cover tuition and fees. Duke also provides sixth-year tuition scholarships to students who meet certain criteria. Departments differ in the financial support they provide to students in their sixth year and beyond. Prospective students should speak with their program’s director of graduate studies for details.

Expectation for Students

Students also play an integral part in the financial commitment. All students are expected to make a good-faith effort to obtain external fellowships at some point during their funding period, and students should be encouraged to pursue these opportunities. It is important to understand that the overall graduate awards budget is dependent on a significant number of students obtaining such external support. External grants and fellowships also benefit students because they bring distinction, and competing for such awards provides students with opportunities to practice grant-writing skills that may serve them well in their future careers.

Departmental Support

In general, a student’s support package from the department may comprise several types of funding, including the following:

  • Full or partial scholarships: Cover tuition and fee expenses.
  • Fellowship stipends: Require no service. Many departments, including chemistry, economics, English, psychology, and religion also offer endowed fellowships. Selection for these fellowships is usually made by faculty committee within the individual department.
  • Training program appointments: For US citizens and permanent residents participating in federally funded training programs
  • Research assistantships: Available for graduate students whose special training and qualifications enable them to serve as assistants to individual faculty staff members in certain departments
  • Graduate assistantships: Available for full-time PhD and master’s students who perform a combination of teaching and incidental research activities, generally under the direct supervision of their assigned adviser.
  • Teaching assistantships: Part-time instruction opportunities offered to qualified graduate students for work as instructors, preceptors and section leaders, tutors, and graders.

Several departments utilize, when possible, the federal work-study program to help fund research and teaching assistantship positions. As a result, some departments may require or request that students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid so that eligibility for work study funds can be determined.


Master's Support

Support for master’s level students varies by program. Prospective and current students are encouraged to speak to the program director for specific details on the financial support packages available (departmental scholarships), along with any employment questions.

Financial aid packages from the Duke University Graduate School for master's students are limited to the federal financial aid offered by William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Programs. In order to be considered for federal financial aid, which includes federal work study funding, you must complete the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is required for any need-based loan program along with federal work study. Students must be enrolled at least half-time to receive federal financial aid.

One of the basic eligibility requirements for federal student aid is that you must be a United States citizen or an eligible noncitizen. If you have a green card (in other words, if you are a permanent resident alien), you will be considered an eligible noncitizen and will be able to get federal student aid if you meet the other basic eligibility criteria.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, please continue to You will need to file the 2019/2020 FAFSA and have your completed tax returns for 2017. Graduate Students are considered independent, so NO parental income or information should be entered on the FAFSA. Our school code is 002920.