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Financial Aid & Assistantship Opportunities

R SOC graduate students can explore several different types of financial aid, including graduate assistantships, fellowships, and tuition grant-in-aid programs. Special programs are also available for qualified minority applicants.

Up-to-date information on tuition and fees can be obtained from the Bursar's Office . The University Office of International Programs compiles a list of Estimated Initial Graduate Student Expenses that includes tuition, living expenses, books/supplies, and health insurance.

Graduate Assistantships

For qualified applicants, we have a limited number of graduate assistantships. A graduate assistantship carries a stipend plus a waiver of all tuition and fees. The vast majority of our assistantships are research assistantships in which students work closely with faculty on research projects. The remainder are teaching assistantships.

Most of our graduate assistantships are half-time assistantships (20 hours of work per week). The two other levels of assistantship are a quarter-time assistantship (10 hours of work per week) and a three-quarter time assistantship (30 hours of work per week).

Our assistantship stipends are highly competitive with other leading universities. Assistantship offers are typically made for up to one year at a time. Continuation of a student's assistantship support beyond the initial offer is contingent on the student's assistantship performance, academic performance, and the availability of assistantship funding.

All students admitted to the program are automatically considered for an assistantship unless you inform us otherwise.

The maximum number of semesters that a master's student is eligible for an assistantship is 4 (counting Fall and Spring semesters, but not Summer). That works out to 2 calendar years. A student may receive less than the maximum.

The maximum number of semesters that a Ph.D. student is eligible for an assistantship is 7 (counting Fall and Spring semesters, but not Summer). That works out to about 3½ calendar years. A student may receive less than the maximum. PhD students enrolled in dual-title programs have an extra semester of eligibility because of extra course work involved in a dual-title degree.

Fellowships and Top-Up Funds

Our goal is to make sure that no outstanding applicant who would like to attend Penn State feels that they must go elsewhere because of financial considerations.

For outstanding applicants, we nominate students for University Graduate Fellowships. These fellowships consist of a stipend over 10 months plus payment of tuition and fees. We utilize University Graduate Fellowships as part of a package of support for academically superior students that includes a graduate assistantship after the fellowship has ended. We also have "top-up" funds that supplement other financial aid offers to highly recruited applicants.

For the 2018-19 academic year, we have two specific Research Assistantship opportunities. 

  • Research Assistantship to Study Stakeholder Engagement in Water and Agriculture. The student will be funded as part of a new USDA-NIFA project examining the impact of stakeholder engagement methods on social, economic, and biophysical outcomes for managing water for agriculture. The student will gain experience in environmental and natural resource sociology, human dimensions of natural resources, public participation and engagement, and multiple research methodologies (qualitative and quantitative). In addition to working as a research assistant on the project, the student will be required to develop his/her own related but independent research project to fulfill the requirements of the PhD in Rural Sociology. The student would begin in fall semester 2018 and would be eligible for up to three years of funding. The successful applicant will have experience with and/or knowledge of relevant topics, including agricultural conservation practices, water quality issues, and stakeholder engagement. Preference will be for applicants who have already completed a Master’s degree, especially a degree in the social sciences or closely aligned field with training in research methodology. Interested applicants should apply for admission to the graduate program in Rural Sociology AND  send a cover letter describing interests and qualifications and a CV to Dr. Kathryn Brasier (kbrasier@psu.edu) by the same deadline (January 5, 2018). 

  • Research Assistantship to Study Social Dimensions of Microbiome Research.  The student will be funded as part of a The Pennsylvania State University Microbiome Center initiative to start Fall 2018. Fellows will engage in an interdisciplinary effort to understand how microbiomes interact directly, as a result of microbial flow from food cultivation through human digestion, and indirectly, through their chemical and physical influences on products at each stage. The student will be required to develop his/her own related but independent research project to fulfill the requirements of the PhD in Rural Sociology. Interested applicants should apply for admission to the graduate program in Rural Sociology AND send a cover letter describing interests and qualifications and a CV to Dr. Leland Glenna (llg13@psu.edu) by the application deadline (January 5, 2018).

Programs for Minority Scholars

The Office of Graduate Educational Equity in the Graduate School assists in the retention, recruitment, and professional development of underrepresented graduate students. For qualified minority applicants, Penn State provides assistantships through the Bunton-Waller Graduate Awards Program . The program competition is open to incoming graduate degree candidates who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Benefits

Graduate assistants at Penn State have a comprehensive benefits package that is one of the best in the country. Visit the Penn State Graduate student page on benefits for a complete summary of benefits.

For graduate students who are parents, the Penn State Work/Life Programs Office offers a childcare subsidy. Upon approval, student parents are eligible for subsidies toward full-time childcare and part-time childcare. Student parents may also receive financial assistance for sick and emergency care, summer childcare, and care during finals and mid-term exam periods.

All graduate students are eligible for various student discounts, including tickets for cultural and athletic events, use of recreational facilities and recreational classes, and on-campus parking.

Other Financial Aid

Information on other sources of financial aid for U.S. citizens is available from Penn State's Office of Student Aid . FastWeb maintains a searchable database of scholarships. Applications for federal student aid can be completed on the FAFSA website.

For More Information

For more information on finances and financial aid, please see these websites: