Financial Support

Forms are distributed early in the spring term inviting continuing students to apply for financial support for the following year.  Through the Graduate School and the Research Foundation, the Department offers Teaching Assistantships (which include a tuition waiver and medical benefits), University Predoctoral Fellowships, Dissertation Fellowships and Summer Fellowships.  Students can apply for need-based aid (Tuition Remission, Work Study, grants, and low-interest loans payable after graduation) through the Financial Aid Office.

Tenure of Financial Aid

The English Department attempts but does not guarantee to provide four semesters of financial support for students selected for subsidy in the M.A. program and twelve semesters of financial support for students selected for subsidy in the Ph.D. program.

For Ph.D. candidates every effort is made to provide teaching assistantships (which carry the tuition waiver) during the course-work stage of their programs (up to two years) as well as for an additional four semesters following successful completion of prelims.  TA support does depend on the availability of resources.

Contracts of teaching assistants may be for one semester or for one academic year, depending on availability of allocated funds* and on the students’ eligibility according to their academic records and the policy on incompletes (see above).

*Note:  Students actively enrolled in the Graduate English Program whose offer letters state that teaching assignments are for the coming Fall may reasonably assume (unless there is an explicit caution to the contrary) that their assignments will continue for the following Spring.  Offer letters must be signed immediately and returned to the Graduate English Office for processing.

Teaching Assistantships

Appointments are normally made for the nine-month academic year beginning August 23 and ending May 22.  During that time, the student with a full T.A. is expected to be a full-time student, thus taking at least two graduate courses (six credits per semester), reading for exams, or writing a dissertation in addition to teaching assigned sections.

Teaching assistantship stipends are graduated in terms of  progress toward the advanced degree:  (1) graduate assistants with at least a B. A.; (2) graduate assistants with an M.A. or its equivalent (30 credits); and (3) graduate assistants who have passed all prelims, prospectus and the language requirement (i.e., ABDs).

The legislature has voted to waive tuition for teaching assistants.  The tuition waiver does not cover the University Fees.

Please Note : A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 and no more than three incompletes are required to hold and maintain an assistantship.

University Predoctoral Fellowships

Awarded on a competitive basis through the Graduate School to students recommended by the Graduate Executive Committee.  The Committee asks only that recipients submit toward the end of the predoc term a one-page explanation of how the award was used.  Recipients of these fellowships must be working toward the Ph.D. degree, completed their Ph.D. General Exams, Language Requirement and submit the Ph.D. Plan of Study, and must be full-time students during the tenure of the award.  Predocs are about $2,200  and will be awarded during the summer.

Dissertation Fellowships

Dissertation  Fellowships are competitive and are awarded by the University’s Research Foundation twice a year; the award is $2000. The Award’s eligibility requirements are: a) the student is restricted to calendar year income which is indicated on the application and changes every year (i.e. the equivalent of a calender year Graduate Assistantship; B) the student must  have completed the Preliminary Examinations and have a record of such completion on file with the Graduate School;  c) the student’s dissertation proposal must have been approved by those participating in the departmental review process, be signed by the Head, and be on file with the Graduate School.  Evidence of this approval must be included with the application. Deadline dates are in May and November and will be announced a few weeks before at the Graduate School homepage  Applications and copies of the accepted dissertation proposal go to the Graduate School, with copies also sent to the English Department Graduate Office.  The Graduate School will notify all students of final action on applications and send out the fellowship award letters.  The competition for this award will be judged by a committee  appointed by the English Department Director of Graduate Studies.  The Graduate School encourages such a committee to take into account a) the merit and clarity of the doctoral thesis plan, b) the quality of the student in terms of professional potential, c) previous demands on the student’s time, such as teaching responsibilities, d) the availability of other funds for the student during the year (i.e. whether the student has gotten any other graduate award money such as predocs or summer fellowships).  Since the awardee must have passed the Dissertation Exam/Evaluation successfully and a copy of the approval been received by the Graduate School, it is important that the candidate leave sufficient time for  the Exam/Evaluation to take place before the application for the award is received by the Grad School. The English Department may set its own deadline to receive materials for judgment.  Interested students are also responsible for finding out these deadlines so as to make timely arrangements.

Please note:  All fellowship awards are considered taxable income and must be reported on annual  income tax forms. Please review tax information here.

University Doctoral Student Travel Awards

Support is available for doctoral students who are actively participating at a domestic or international scholarly conference. Active participation is defined as presentation of a research paper or poster session that is directly tied to the student’s research scholarship and, thus, to the presentation of the results of that scholarship. Students may receive a maximum of $1,000.00 in travel funds as a single award. Students must be beyond coursework in order to be considered for the award.

Important Points:

  • Doctoral student travel funding is for travel to national and international meetings. These funds are to be used only for travel to meetings for which the doctoral student is presenting his/her research or to participate in professional development activities related to doctoral study.
  • Doctoral student travel funds will be subject to the same campus-wide travel rules applied to faculty and staff funds. Approvals related to travel must be sought and granted BEFORE any travel commences and will NOT be granted retroactively under any circumstances.
  • A doctoral student will only receive $1,000 during his/her graduate career, which must be spent prior to degree conferral.
  • No additional funds are available from the Graduate School for travel by graduate students prior to becoming eligible for the travel funds. Major advisors, departments, centers, or graduate programs should try to provide funds for travel prior to student eligibility for these funds.

English in-house Graduate Student Conference Funding

In-house departmental support for travel open to all MA and pre-ABD students in good standing. Proposals will be vetted three times a year along with the Conference Travel Funding Application. Awards are up to $750 per competition and nothing less than $100 per student. No more than one award per academic year for the presentation of research at an academic conference. Please contact the Graduate English Office for more information.

Aetna Endowment Travel Funds

Every semester the Aetna endowment can provide up to ten awards of $150.  each to graduate students attending meetings focusing on rhetoric and composition.  Among these are NCTE, CCC, WPA, the Penn State Rhetoric Conference, and other local and regional meetings, such as NEATE, CCTE, and others.  Priority will be given to program participants.  For further information, please contact Professor Lynn Bloom.

Graduate Writing Prizes

All graduate students in English are eligible and are encouraged to submit writing for the following awards: Kathleen Gibson McPeek Critical Essay Prize: $300.; Aetna  Graduate Critical Essay Prize: $300. and, Aetna Graduate Creative Nonfiction Prize: a cash award from the Aetna Foundation for an outstanding nonfiction essay.

Tuition Remission

Tuition remission awards are based on need for those students who do not have T.A.s.  Please  contact the Financial Aid Office (Wilbur Cross Building) for further information.


Funds for support of work- study projects, within or outside the Department, are awarded through the Student Employment Office located in the Wilbur Cross Building. Summer work-study is also available through that office.


Low-interest loans (5 to 8 percent), payable after graduation, may be applied for at the Financial Aid Office. Only students who are regularly enrolled half time or more are eligible.  Emergency, no-interest emergency loans are also available through the English Department.  Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies if you require such a loan.


Need-based grants may be applied for at the Financial Aid Office.  All students who intend to apply for financial aid should complete and file with the Financial Aid Office the  “Graduate Application for Financial Aid” and the FAF form.  Please contact the Financial Aid Office at or (486-2819) for specific deadline information.

Graduate Assistant Maternity Benefits

The Graduate School has outlined a policy on maternity benefits for TAs and GAs.