Full-time English graduate students receive tuition waivers, a living stipend, and access to university health insurance. This funding is supported by guaranteed teaching assistantships, through which our graduate students gain valuable classroom experience in our innovative First-Year Writing Program, which is dedicated to writing across technology, collaborative learning, and small class sizes.
Forms are distributed early in the spring term inviting continuing students to apply for financial support for the following year. Students can also apply for need-based aid (Work Study, grants, and low-interest loans payable after graduation) through the Financial Aid Office.
Graduate Assistantships and Financial Aid
The Department of English attempts but does not guarantee to provide four semesters of financial support for full-time students in the MA program, 14 semesters of financial support for full-time students in the MA/Ph.D. program, and 12 semesters of financial support for full-time students in the Ph.D. program.
For Ph.D. candidates every effort is made to provide teaching assistantships (TAs), 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 below).
*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.
Appointments are normally made for the nine-month academic year beginning in August and ending in May. During that time, the student with a full TA 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:
- graduate assistants with at least a BA;
- graduate assistants with an MA or its equivalent (30 credits); and
- 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.
Graduate Writing Prizes
All graduate students in English are eligible and are encouraged to submit writing for awards and contests sponsored by the Department, including the Aetna Graduate Writing Award, the Long River Review Graduate Writing Award, and the Aetna Awards for Children's Literature and Creative Nonfiction. For a full list of opportunities, please visit our Awards, Contests, and Scholarships page.
Additional Funding Sources
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.
You can view a list of low-interest loans options, payable after graduation, on the Office of Student Financial Aid Services website. Emergency, no-interest emergency loans are also available through the Department of English. Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies if you require such a loan.
You can view a list of need-based grants on the Office of Student Financial Aid Services website.
Note: Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Institutional Aid Application to be considered for grant awards.
University Predoctoral Fellowships
Each year, the English graduate program receives predoctoral fellowship money from the Graduate School. These funds are distributed equally as summer funding among enrolled MA/Ph.D. and Ph.D. students who have completed their Ph.D. exams and completed their language requirement. Students can receive this award once, and the amount is typically $1,000 to $2,000.
Dissertation Fellowships are competitive and are awarded by the University’s Research Foundation twice a year; the award is $2,000.
The Award’s eligibility requirements are:
- the student is restricted to calendar year income which is indicated on the application and changes every year (i.e. the equivalent of a calendar year Graduate Assistantship;
- the student must have completed the Preliminary Examinations and have a record of such completion on file with the Graduate School;
- 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 prior on the Graduate School's website. Applications and copies of the accepted dissertation proposal go to the Graduate School, with copies also sent to the Department of English 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 Department of English Director of Graduate Studies. The Graduate School encourages such a committee to take into account
- the merit and clarity of the doctoral thesis plan,
- the quality of the student in terms of professional potential,
- previous demands on the student’s time, such as teaching responsibilities,
- 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 Department of English 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.
Note: Fellowships as Taxable Income
All fellowship awards are considered taxable income and must be reported on annual income tax forms.
Fellowship payments are subject to federal and state income taxes unless the payment is used to pay for qualified tuition and required enrollment fees. You will be personally responsible for any income taxes resulting from the receipt of this fellowship payment. You should be advised that fellowship payments used to pay for travel, supplies or equipment used in your independent research are not exempt from taxation. Fellowship payments, although taxable, are not subject to income tax withholding if paid to a U.S. citizen or resident alien. It is the sole responsibility of the student to report and pay taxes on the taxable portion of any fellowship, stipend, award or grant that he/she receives. Consistent with IRS guidance, the University does not withhold taxes on the taxable portion of fellowships, stipends, awards or grants except in limited circumstances involving nonresident aliens. If you are a nonresident alien, federal income taxes may be required to be withheld from your payment unless you qualify for exemption by way of an income tax treaty between the United States and your country of tax residence. Fellowship recipients may wish to consider making estimated federal and state income tax payments.
Additional details, and answers to many frequently asked questions, may be found on:
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 the 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 in travel funds as a single award. Students must be beyond coursework in order to be considered for the award.
- 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. The department distributes $750 per competition cycle and awards nothing less than $100 per student. Typically, students will receive 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 to graduate students attending meetings that focus 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 more information, please visit our Awards, Contests, and Scholarships page.