It is department policy that, resources permitting, all students are adequately supported for the full five years of the graduate program. For many years now, we have been completely successful in achieving this goal. During 2017-2018, all of our students without other sources of financial aid received a tuition waiver and a stipend of at least $23,081. Additional summer support is sometimes available.
To give some idea of what that stipend affords in Amherst, the following table lists various locations in the United States with their percent increase in estimated cost of living expense over Worcester, Massachusetts, a sizable town near Amherst. (Figures for Amherst, and most other towns of Amherst's size, are not available.) These figures are from bankrate.com. The cities chosen are near the universities in parentheses, and should provide an idea of what the cost of living would be for a student attending that university. The table also gives the amount necessary to meet our 2013-2014 stipend of $20,307 given the difference in cost of living.
These cost of living expenses are partly based on cost of home ownership, which is largely irrelevant for calculating a student's cost of living. To get a more accurate picture of what rental prices are like, the table below gives the Department of Defense's Allowance for Housing costs. These are the amounts the Department of Defense provides for housing to their lowest paid enlisted personnel (who make roughly $1500 monthly). Because rent is probably the single largest expense for students, this should give a good picture of the comparative portion of one's money will be devoted to this expense. (These figures do not provide estimates of what your real rent will likely be, as you will no doubt share the rent of an apartment.) They are sorted by zip code, since that is how they are calculated on the Defense Travel Management Office's website.
Department funding sources include:
Departmental fellowships, which require no teaching and only minimal duties, are normally awarded to all incoming students without other support. These fellowships allow new students to complete their first year courses without interference from teaching or research duties. Dissertation fellowships are sometimes also available.
Teaching assistantships and associateships. About half of our students are supported in this way. They either lead discussion sections of LINGUIST 101, "People and their Language," or LINGUIST 201, "Introduction to Linguistic Theory," or they have full responsibility for a section of LINGUIST 201. Occasionally students teach more advanced courses, such as undergraduate phonology or semantics.
Research assistantships. Almost half of our students assist faculty with grant-funded research. Frequently this involves performing experiments and studies, working with human subjects, and preparing documents for submission and/or lectures for presentation.
Essential to our success in finding support for everyone has been the contribution that students themselves make by seeking sources of outside support. Therefore, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply to all available outside sources of funds.
NSF fellowships. U.S. citizens or permanent residents may be eligible for graduate fellowships offered by the National Science Foundation, which supports work in linguistics. The deadline for these three-year fellowships falls early in the academic year and a particular GRE test date may be required. Applicants are urged to make early inquiries.
Country-of-origin fellowships. Citizens of other countries should investigate fellowships that may be available to them. For example, the Canada Council has supported many Canadian citizens in our department, and Fulbright grants are often available to citizens of other countries. In addition, individual countries or universities may have fellowship programs for overseas study.
The University of Massachusetts Graduate Student Grant Service can provide useful information about available fellowships.
Your application for admission, if submitted on time, is also an application for financial aid. Please inform us at any point if you are successful in obtaining outside support.