Fellowships, Prizes, and Research Support

A variety of fellowship opportunities are available to support you in our program.

Explore the following items for more information:


All PhD students are fully funded for five years of study. This means they receive a fellowship that pays a cash stipend for the academic year, that includes a full tuition waiver, and which includes health insurance and health fee waiver.

Fellowships are renewed every year, for years 2-5, so long as a student remains in good standing in the program.

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Sixth Year Funding

Our program cannot guarantee stipend support in year six, though students typically receive a tuition and health fee waiver.

Our department nominates up to three students every year for competitive dissertation fellowships. These fellowships last for one year and are intended to allow outstanding students to devote their full attention to their dissertation during their last year of study. Each of the last several years, this has provided year six funding for two students on the academic job market.

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Research Assistance

The department supports a range of research assistantship (RA) opportunities for PhD students. These include:

  • Summer RA grants that pay a $3,000 stipend to work in Rochester under faculty supervision in the summers after years one and two and which are competitively awarded.
  • Academic year RA grants that pay $3,000 additional to the student’s stipend for students in years two and three.
  • Program in Empirical Policy Research grants through the Wallis Institute that pay $2,000 additional to the student’s stipend and which are competitively awarded.

Many students also continue paid RA work with faculty on an ad hoc basis.

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Our program does not require any teaching of PhD students in years one or two. This policy allows students to focus on coursework in years one and two, and helps facilitate launching their research.

Teaching assistance is a required program expectation in years three and four. Students can choose to teach in later years and in summers, including as a lead instructor, for additional compensation.

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Other Competitive Funding

Competitive academic year fellowships of $32,000 funded by the Wallis Institute are awarded annually to two students whose research has a policy focus.

Competitive summer research fellowships of $5,000 are offered by the department to support work on promising research projects likely to turn into great job market papers. Students are eligible to apply beginning in the summer after their third year.

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The department recognizes superior performance through several prizes. These include the:

  • Best TA Prize—awarded for outstanding performance as a teaching assistant
  • Kaplan Prize—awarded to the second-year student with the best overall course record
  • Conibear Prize—awarded for the best third-year paper
  • Tapan Mitra Prizes—awarded for the best fifth-year empirical paper and the best fifth-year theoretical paper

In addition to the recognition, all four prizes include a cash award.

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Data Grants and Travel Expenses

The department awards data grants of up to $5,000 to support research-related expenses of PhD students, including for data purchases and licenses as well as for travel to access data.

The department will reimburse up to $800 of expenses for conference registration, travel, lodging, etc. for qualifying activities (e.g. presenting a paper at a reputable conference). Each student in year three and above can receive up to one travel grant per year. The department will also reimburse up to $800 of travel-related expenses incurred for visa renewal.

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Reviews of Student Performance

The faculty reviews graduate student performance following each semester. Key elements in this review are:

  • Course grades
  • Qualifying examination results
  • Status of third-year paper and thesis research
  • Teaching assistance performance
  • Any other information the faculty may have concerning student progress

These reviews are important for determining awards and prizes.

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Outside Support

A variety of external funding sources are available. These include fellowship and research programs offered by the US and foreign governments, financial institutions, and philanthropic or research organizations.

The department strongly encourages students to apply for outside funding. A partial listing of funding sources is available in the department office. Many of these programs require submission of a research proposal, a task which is greatly facilitated by having a finished and polished dissertation prospectus.

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Employment Policy

The department regards its support as providing graduate students with the opportunity to undertake full-time graduate study and research without bearing the full cost of this activity. In keeping with this view, we desire that graduate students receiving fellowships not undertake other employment commitments during the academic year.

However, we do recognize that financial constraints may necessitate part-time employment. A guideline for the maximum amount of such outside employment compatible with maintaining a fellowship is one day per week, or, in teaching units, one course per term.

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