Financial aid is available in the form of fellowships, teaching and research assistantships, and loans. Less financial aid is available for professional degree programs, so loans may be your best option.  For doctoral programs, most students have the opportunity to work as teaching or research assistants. Also, there are often fellowships available.

Since all financial aid information is not centralized in one place, it’s important to research multiple sources of aid as early in the process as possible.


Assistantships are the most common form of graduate student support.  They are usually sponsored by the university. Deadlines for applying for assistantships are often earlier than for normal admission. In some cases, graduate schools limit the number of acceptances they offer to the number of candidates they can support through assistantships. If you are awarded an assistantship, you will incur minimal debt for your graduate work.

Teaching Assistantships

Teaching Assistanships generally provide tuition benefits and a stipend in exchange for helping to teach undergraduate courses, grading papers, leading discussion sections, proctoring exams or monitoring laboratories.  Besides providing financial aid, a teaching assistantship can be a major way to gain university teaching experience.

Research Assistantships

Research Assistantships provide tuition benefits and a stipend in exchange for assisting professors with a research project.

Fellowships and Scholarships

Most universities will award fellowships on the basis of merit and department recommendation. These usually cover tuition and provide a stipend. Additional fellowships and scholarships are sponsored by outside governmental or private agencies such as foundations, corporations, or professional organizations.


Students can learn about loans from the Financial Aid Office at the university and through the U.S. or individual State Departments of Education.