Most PhD students receive financial support from the University, beginning with the first year of graduate study and running through the fifth. Financial aid comes mainly in the form of fellowships, teaching assistantships, teaching fellowships, and graduate student researcher positions. The support we offer is comprehensive. All assistantships and fellowships offer a full-tuition scholarship as well as a stipend, and most include medical coverage. The low cost of living in Pittsburgh also contributes to the value of a University of Pittsburgh financial aid award.
In recent years, approximately 80 percent of students entering the doctoral program in economics have been awarded Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences fellowships. These fellowships are awarded based on academic promise, are available to students in their first year of study and require no teaching responsibilities. The current two-term stipend for an Arts and Sciences Fellowship is $23,688; the award also includes a full-tuition scholarship but it does not include health insurance, which is available for a monthly charge.
Every year, the Department of Economics awards a few Fellowships to recognize especially promising applicants. The Slesinger Fellowship is named in honor of Reuben E. Slesinger, a distinguished former faculty member, to an outstanding incoming PhD student. The recipient of this award receives the title of Slesinger Fellow and a stipend equal to the Arts & Sciences Fellowship.
The Chou Predoctoral Fellowship Award is supported by Dr. Shun-Hsin Chou and Mrs. Julia Chou. Dr. Chou was a respected member of the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh. The Chou endowment provides a two-year Fellowship for a qualified student from the People’s Republic of China.
In addition, for the 2020-21 admission cycle, we are pleased to announce The Whittington Fellowship For Incoming Female Students in Economics. The Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences awards the Whittington Fellowship to incoming female doctoral students in disciplines where women have been traditionally underrepresented and who demonstrate exceptional ability and outstanding research promise. Preference will be given to residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In the 2020/21 application cycle, the Department of Economics will appoint one Whittington Fellow. This prestigious Fellowship carries a three-term stipend of circa $32,000 in the 2021-22 academic year and a tuition scholarship for the duration of the fellowship. Whittington Fellows are expected to engage in full-time study and research during the period of their fellowship. No additional duties will be required or permitted. The AY22 Whittington Fellow will be co-mentored by an advanced female graduate student and junior and senior female faculty members.
If you are applying to the PhD. program for fall 2021 and wish to be considered for the Whittington Fellowship, please submit a brief essay of about 500 words discussing the unique perspective on socio-economic issues (broadly conceived) that you would bring to the Ph.D. program and how this perspective and your research interests would enhance diversity in the department and the discipline, and foster the advancement of women in particular. The essay should be uploaded as part of your online application under “Additional Information” in the category “Career/Research Statement.”
Second to Fifth Year
Beginning with the second year of study, initially funded students who are in good academic standing are awarded positions as teaching assistants or graduate student researchers. Once students have passed the PhD Preliminary Examination and have earned 30 credits, they are funded as teaching fellows. Teaching assistants (TAs) and teaching fellows (TFs) usually teach weekly recitation sections, grade, and assist faculty members in undergraduate courses. TFs may also teach their own courses.
Some students assist in faculty research as full-time graduate student researchers (GSRs). These positions involve up to 20 hours per week of research effort with no teaching obligations. GSR positions are typically funded as part of external grant awards made to faculty, and so the number of positions available will vary from year to year. GSR positions are sometimes available in other departments at the University, or with various branches of the federal government, or with multinational organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank.
For these services, which require a commitment of up to 20 hours per week, TAs, TFs, and GSRs receive (2020-2021):
- A salary for two terms: currently $19,480 for TAs and $20,250 for TFs and GSRs.
- A tuition scholarship during the period of employment and, if desired, during the third term.
- Health insurance (UPMC - University of Pittsburgh Medical Center).
Assistantships and fellowships are awarded competitively to qualified, full-time graduate students in good academic standing. The department also offers a limited number of summer teaching and research positions that are awarded on the basis of past teaching performance and academic merit. In past years, we have been able to accommodate most students seeking summer funding.
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Fellowships
In addition to the Arts and Sciences fellowships, TA, TF, and GSR awards, there are additional, non-departmental sources of funding that students may apply for. These additional fellowships include the Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowships, the Social Science Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships, Chancellor Graduate Fellowships, and the Gutierrez Fellowship.
Students may also go to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid in Alumni Hall to apply for long-term, low- or no-interest Stafford or Perkins loans administered by the U.S. government. These are not available to international students.