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 only 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, with an expected increase for 2020-2021; 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 the Slesinger Fellowship 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.
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 (2019-2020):
- 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.
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.