Addressed below:

Departmental teaching and research assistantships

Typically each admitted student is funded 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 8 semesters of funding in the form of teaching assistantships and occasional research 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 six years of entering. For example, as a PhD student, you may receive 4 semesters of funding from the department, then be funded elsewhere or 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 duration of their studies, 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

Assistantship opportunities occasionally arise in other units on campus, such as the Writing Program, IT (Information Technologies), Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the Housing Office. 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 GAO 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.

About the REAL fellowships:

  • Only US citizens and permanent residents are eligible.
  • The REAL fellowships do not constitute a special admissions program, nor are they related to any such program.
  • Candidates must be recommended for admission to a graduate program before they can be nominated for funding.

National fellowships

Graduate applicants are also strongly advised to seek national 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, contact the Graduate School.

GrantSearch for Graduate Students (GSGS)

The GrantSearch for Graduate Students program helps graduate and postdoctoral students apply for grants and fellowships from funding sources outside the university. Sponsors include federal government agencies, corporations, and public interest groups. Awards can include money for research and stipends for tuition and/or living expenses. GSGS maintains and updates an extensive online database to aid in the search of graduate funding. Visit the GSGS website for more information.

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.

Download the Anca Romantan Graduate International Research Fund PDF on the upper right-hand side of this page.

Graduate student travel grants

These 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, and lodging expenses documented by receipts. Meals, copying, and other incidentals are not reimbursable. Students are strongly encouraged to share travel expenses with others attending the conferences. Typical amounts covered: $300-$400 for domestic travel and $500-$800 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. As soon as the conference organizers have formally notified you that your work has been accepted for presentation, send your completed application to the GPD. Be sure to include an expense summary page and the confirmation from the conference organizers (see below). In addition, please ask your advisor or project faculty member to send an e-mail of support to the GPD.

Your application packet must include the following items:

  • Application form
  • Evidence or confirmation of invitation to present
  • Expense summary

If a grant is awarded, bring the e-mail notification and your receipts for approved travel expenses to the department's bookkeeper, Donna Berg, within 30 days of travel to receive reimbursement.

For more information about graduate student travel grants, including application deadlines, please contact the department’s Graduate Program Director, Leda Cooks, at or 413-545-2895.