Financial Aid

To quote from the Financial Support section of the Duke Graduate School Website:

"The Graduate School expects that PhD students will be financially supported for the majority of the time they are registered and working toward their degree. Generally speaking, PhD students should receive payment of tuition, a stipend, and fee support for a minimum of five years, as well as health insurance for six years.

Graduate students are supported in a variety of ways, including funding from their departments, The Graduate School, or other governmental and private sources. Students also play an integral part in the financial commitment. All students are expected to make a good-faith effort to obtain external fellowships at some point during their funding period, and students should be encouraged to pursue these opportunities. It is important to understand that the overall graduate awards budget is dependent on a significant number of students obtaining such external support.


In general, a student’s support package from the department may comprise several types of funding, including the following:

  • Full or partial scholarships: Cover tuition and fee expenses.
  • Fellowship stipends: Require no service. Many departments, including chemistry, economics, English, psychology, and religion also offer endowed fellowships. Selection for these fellowships is usually made by faculty committee within the individual department.
  • Training program appointments: For US citizens and permanent residents participating in federally funded training programs
  • Research assistantships: Available for graduate students whose special training and qualifications enable them to serve as assistants to individual faculty staff members in certain departments
  • Graduate assistantships: Available for full-time PhD and master’s students who perform a combination of teaching and incidental research activities, generally under the direct supervision of their assigned adviser.
  • Teaching assistantships: Part-time instruction opportunities offered to qualified graduate students for work as instructors, preceptors and section leaders, tutors, and graders."

For the Biology Department, specifically, we commit to supporting our graduate students through their sixth year, as long as they are considered to be making progress towards their degree.  For the first academic year of grad school,  we offer fellowships to our incoming students, requiring no service.  These pay a stipend of $23,850 for the first year, and full tuition, student health fees, the transcript fee and payment of the annual premium for the Duke Health Insurance Plan are covered by the department, together with the Grad School.

External fellowships normally replace awards from the Graduate School and/or the department.  If an incoming Biology graduate student wins an external fellowship that can be used for the first year of graduate study, the department and the Graduate School will expect the student to accept the external award.

Support for the second and subsequent years will most likely be in the form of a Teaching Assistantship (TA) for each academic year, or in some cases, a research assistantship offered by a faculty member.  The TA funding will require the student to serve as a assistant in one course per semester.  When serving as a TA, the student will receive a salary ($23,850 for the 19-20 year) and tuition and fees will be covered as well.