PhD Funding

The contributions of graduate students are highly valued in the university and Duke has a strong commitment to fully fund the PhD students it selects for graduate study for five consecutive years. The Graduate School and its graduate programs offer a wide array of financial support. Funding is available from annually allocated fellowship awards funds, instruction, endowed fellowships, foundation and other private support, as well as federal and privately sponsored research grants, training grants, and fellowships. PhD students   are also encouraged to independently seek out external funding as these opportunities often provide valuable recognition of a student’s academic potential and promise.

Students admitted to a PhD program are typically supported for a period of five years, provided that satisfactory academic progress is being made. Standard support packages for PhD students may include a scholarship that covers all or a portion of tuition and fees, health insurance, and a fellowship and/or assistantship stipend to help defray cost of living expenses. Students with funding questions specific to their studies are encouraged to communicate with their graduate program.

Duke also provides tuition scholarships to PhD students in their sixth year who do not have tuition support from external or other institutional sources. Sixth-year PhD students are eligible to apply for a tuition scholarship if they have applied for but did not obtain external tuition funding or competitive Graduate School tuition funding for the sixth year of study.

Department and Program Fellowships and Assistantships

Tuition and fee scholarships for study toward a PhD are provided by The Graduate School. For information about fellowship and/ or assistantship stipends in a specific department or program, students should contact the director of graduate studies for their program. In general, a student’s support package may be composed of several different types of funding, including:

  • Full or partial scholarships to cover tuition, mandatory fees, and health insurance.

  • Fellowship stipends are awarded by the department or program. Many departments also offer endowed fellowships.

  • Training grant appointments for US citizens and permanent residents participating in federally funded training programs.

  • Research assistantships are available for graduate students whose training enables them to assist individual faculty members in certain departments.

  • Teaching assistantships, which are opportunities offered to graduate students for instructional training, offer roles such as preceptors and section leaders, tutors, and graders.

Some master’s programs utilize, when possible, the federal work study program to help provide financial support. 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. This form can be completed online at the Free Application for Federal Student Aid website, studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa.

Interdisciplinary Programs and Centers

In addition to the departmentally-based awards, several interdisciplinary programs and centers offer fellowship and assistantship awards to both incoming and continuing students interested in the program areas. These include programs in Documentary studies, Medieval and Renaissance studies, Gender, Sexuality & Feminist studies, Latin American and Caribbean studies, Visual studies, and in centers such as the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies.

Fellowships for Incoming and Continuing Students

The Graduate School funds several competitive fellowships for incoming and continuing PhD students. For incoming students, selection is based on departmental nomination during The Graduate School application process. Continuing students interested in applying for Graduate School fellowships should follow the application procedures listed on The Graduate School Financial Support website. Selection of award recipients is made on the basis of academic merit and departmental recommendations.

Most fellowships for incoming and continuing students will provide a full tuition and mandatory fee scholarship, payment of student’s health insurance premium, and stipend support. Some awards also provide stipend supplements to the standard departmental stipend, research and/ or travel expense funding.

A comprehensive list of all available fellowships offered through The Graduate School can be found on the Financial Support website, as well as a funding database to assist in identifying funding opportunities. In addition to fellowships, The Graduate School also works to secure funding for advanced students who need to conduct research overseas in order to complete their dissertation projects. Additional information regarding these opportunities are also available through the school’s Find Funding database. For more information, visit gradschool.duke.edu/financial-support/find-funding.

National, Regional, and Foundation Awards

In addition to those awards available through the university, applicants are urged to compete for national and foundation awards available for graduate study. The Duke University Office of Research Support website, ors.duke.edu, lists awards available from a variety of federal and private sources, as well as awards funded by the university. External awards, which are prestigious and a valuable acknowledgement of a student’s intellectual capability and academic promise, typically replace departmental or The Graduate School fellowship awards.

Payment and Taxation of Awards

Students must be enrolled in The Graduate School in order to receive fellowship or assistantship support. Tuition and fee scholarships and health insurance payments are posted directly to a student’s bursar account by The Graduate School Office of Budgets and Finance.

Payments for both fellowships and assistantships are generally managed by students’ departments for distribution. It is highly recommended, however, that students sign up to receive stipend payments through direct deposit to their bank account. Under the Tax Reform Act of 1986, both fellowship stipends and assistantships are taxable.

For US Citizens: Fellowship stipends may be reduced, for tax purposes, by the amounts paid for tuition, mandatory fees (other than the health and recreation fees) and required books, supplies, and equipment. For general information about the taxability of scholarships and fellowships, students should see IRS publication 970, which can be found on the Internal Revenue website.

For International Citizens: Stipend payments are subject to withholding of federal and state income taxes, unless there is an existing tax treaty between the student’s country and the United States stating otherwise. Information concerning tax treaties by country can also be found on the Internal Revenue Service website. In addition, there is an IRS requirement that tuition payments for foreign students must be reported to the federal government. More information on taxation of foreign nationals and current tax treaties is available on the Corporate Payroll website.

Students have ultimate responsibility for ensuring that their tuition and fees are paid. Students should review statements received from the bursar’s office regularly and quickly resolve payment problems or issues that arise. Students with questions about their bursar accounts should contact the assistant to the director of graduate studies in their department, the bursar’s office, or The Graduate School Office of Budgets and Finance.

Payment of Awards

It is the policy of The Graduate School that full-time students may not complete more than 19.9 hours per week in non-dissertation- related research appointments, teaching assistantships or other instructional positions, or other financial support sources (both on and off campus).

Payment of graduate student scholarship, fellowship, and assistantship support are subject to the following policies:

  • Registration policy: Students must be registered in The Graduate School in order to receive fellowship or assistantship support.

  • Satisfactory academic progress

  • Payment of bursar accounts for fall, and spring, and summer

  • Refunds for withdrawal from school during fall and spring semesters