Funding

Addressed below:

Departmental teaching and research assistantships

Typically each admitted student is funded for five years (or 10 semesters) through either a teaching assistantship or, less often, a research assistantship. The stipend for the nine-month academic year is about $24,820 and comes with a tuition/curriculum fee waiver and health benefits. The department is currently funding incoming students who don't have alternative forms of summer funding for two summers with fellowships (no work required) of $3000/summer. There are also some opportunities to apply for summer teaching through the department. 

How to be considered

  • On your application, check the appropriate box under “financial aid” —visit the Graduate School website to apply online.
  • Your application file must be complete.
  • You must be registered for 9 credits, unless the department's Graduate Studies Committee has granted a waiver. Generally, a waiver is granted only once in the course of your PhD program. For a waiver request form, visit the department’s Graduate Office.

Funding details

How many semesters? PhD candidates in good academic standing are eligible to receive at least 10 semesters of funding in the form of paid assistantships. Department funding is not lost if you do not need it for one or two semesters, but all Departmental funding must be used within seven years of entering, and students must request a pause on funding. For example, as a PhD student, you may receive 6 semesters of funding from the department, then leave to do fieldwork for a semester, and then return to the department for another 4 semesters of funding.



Mind the contract. Note that assistantship contracts are for either one semester or one academic year. These limits arise from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' annual budgetary process, which requires us to handle funding on a year-by-year basis. Although the department's policy is to support students who are doing well academically and in their assistantship assignments for the full five years, there is no obligation beyond the limits specified in a given contract.

Learn more … about minimum pay rates, health benefits, tuition and curriculum fee waiver, vacation time, etc., at the Graduate Employee Organization website.

Other assistantship opportunities on campus

If students run out of funding in the department, they may seek assistantship opportunities elsewhere on campus. Taking an assistantship outside the department is subject to approval by the GPD. Assistantship opportunities occasionally arise in other units on campus, such as the Writing Program, IT (Information Technologies), Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the Commonwealth Honors College. The Graduate Assistantship Office posts these opportunities as they become available and processes graduate appointments and associated waiver benefits for them. It does not make the actual appointments, however. For more information, visit the graduate assistantship job listings on the Graduate School website.

REAL fellowships

The Graduate School awards the REAL fellowship which provide funding assistance for four summers to awardees. Notice of receiving the award is provided upon admittance to the program. The program is designed for graduate students from groups that have been historically underrepresented in graduate education. Students do not apply directly for REAL fellowships; instead, they are nominated by the graduate admissions committees of their respective departments.

Anca Romantan Graduate International Research Fund

The department offers an annual award to support international research among graduate students, in honor of a late colleague whose work spanned global interests. Learn more about this award.

Graduate student travel grants

These departmental grants are awarded exclusively for travel to recognized conferences for the purpose of presenting research or original artistic works resulting from graduate coursework at UMass Amherst. They are not awarded for the purpose of facilitating a conference session, conducting research, or simply attending a conference.

What they pay for: Grant funds apply to registration, transportation, meals, and lodging expenses documented by receipts. Students are strongly encouraged to share travel expenses with others attending the conferences. Typical amounts covered: $500-$700 for domestic travel and $700-$1000 for international travel.

Eligibility: Awards are made to individual students rather than to groups of students engaged in a single project. Each graduate student is eligible for one grant per semester, and amounts may vary depending on the overall budget and the number of students who apply.

Application instructions

Each semester, the department's Graduate Program Director (GPD) will issue a call for graduate student travel grant applications. This e-mailed call will include an application form and a deadline for submission.

UMass Graduate School Grants

The UMass Graduate School administers a number of competitive grants, including grants for the pre-dissertation and dissertation stages, and support for travel with children.

External grants and fellowships

Graduate applicants are also strongly advised to seek external grants and fellowships: Ford Foundation, Javits Fellows, NSF Fellowships, and those provided by national professional organizations. The university participates in Project 1000 (a national program created to assist underrepresented students applying to graduate school) and strongly encourages McNair Scholars to apply, to name just a few opportunities. For further information, consult the Graduate School resources on Grants and Fellowships.

And here is a list of ideas for external grants and fellowships that current and former students have researched, applied for, and in some cases, won.