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Financial Support

Over 200 students now serve as teaching or research assistants in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Graduate students typically serve as teaching assistants for at least a year during their graduate studies. This typically involves supporting labs for undergraduate students, providing mentoring and support for students in introductory physics courses, or grading homework and exams for higher-level undergraduate or graduate courses. In Fall 2020, teaching assistant receive a stipend of $1084 biweekly. 

Once students progress through their core graduate course work, they typically have research assistantships that are supported through grand funding obtained by their advisors. In Fall 2020, research assistants receive a biweekly stipend of $1103 prior to have completed their comprehensive exams, and $1224 biweekly after they complete their comprehensive exams. 

In addition to this stipend, students receive a full tuition waiver for all of the recommended physics/astronomy courses up to 9 credits in the fall and spring, and 5 credits in the summer semester. Health insurance is also provided for the academic year. Teaching Assistants spend up to 20 hours a week on their duties, including 6-10 contact hours in laboratories or help rooms. The normal graduate level course load taken by first year students in our graduate program is 6 to 9 credit hours per semester. Graduate assistants are represented by a union.

A variety of merit or need based Fellowships are available:

  • University & College of Natural Science Doctoral Fellowships
  • FRIB/NSCL Graduate fellowships (for graduate students pursuing research at FRIB/NSCL)
  • Herbert T. Graham Scholarships for students with a demonstrated financial need
  • GAANN (Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need) MSU has a multi-disciplinary award from the GAANN program which can support students working in areas overlapping with biomolecules. This includes numerous fields including energy and environmental science. More information can be found here.

Students with outstanding records are automatically considered for and nominated for these fellowships/scholarships.

Fellowships are also available through external funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation  and Department of Energy, Office of Science

For more information, please check out the MSU Graduate School website.