Financial Support

Of the approximately 20 new Ph.D. students each year, 90 percent or more receive six years of funding so long as they remain in good academic standing, and the remainder are either supported by external funding sources or are self-supported. The department attempts to develop partial aid programs for such self-supported students through hourly payment for grading papers or tutoring. Loans and work-study funds, in limited amounts, are available also. Students who are projected to be successful Ph.D. candidates are generally offered aid in the form of scholarships, teaching assistantships, or research assistantships for the second year and beyond. In addition, conference travel fellowships are available for graduate student travel to conferences and seminars. 

First Academic Year

Funding is provided for first-year students with no obligation outside of coursework. Funding consists of a tuition waiver for all students, a stipend for the majority of students (90 percent or more) and payment of most fees for all students (see the Fees section below and the Student Expenses page of the Graduate School website for further details).

First Summer

Beginning with the 2013 matriculating class, the Graduate School and Trinity College will guarantee summer funding, in the form of a $5,500 summer research fellowship, to all students who otherwise would not have funding during their first summer.

Academic Years Beyond the First

After the first year, funding is provided to students via (1) teaching assistantships, (2) research assistantships, (3) graduate assistantships and (4) grader positions. The allocation of departmental graduate funding occurs in multiple stages, although students and faculty make individual arrangements for funding through outside grants and may choose to not participate. Following is the procedure for distributing departmental graduate funds.

  1. TA assignments are made to all second-year students, and any qualified third-year and above students. For third-year and above students, the department initially seeks only interested students and does not penalize those who are offered a TA position and express a desire to work in some other capacity (e.g. as a research assistant). However, in the absence of interested and qualified students, the department reserves the right to withhold funding from students who decline offers to serve as TAs.
  2. Faculty bid for the right to hire graduate students (possibly multiple) using departmental funds.
  3. Any student who has not been hired in the first stage as a TA and who has not accepted an RA-ship that is outside-grant funded is then eligible to apply for these departmentally funded graduate assistant positions, so long as the student has not declined a contract to serve as a TA in the first stage. Faculty who are informed that they have in fact successfully bid for the right to hire a student will advertise their positions or approach particular students they have in mind. These matches will be made in a decentralized way.
  4. At the end of the matching window, the students who are not matched will be assigned to other jobs in the department, such as grading or serving as a TA for a non-core course.
  5. Students who decline employment contracts will not receive funding.

Students who are funded by the department and are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The Graduate School directly downloads information from this application and determines if the student is eligible for work-study funding. The Department of Education estimates that it takes less than an hour to complete this form, and students will need a copy of the past year's Federal Income Tax Return to do so. Duke's school code is E00165.

Summers Beyond the First

In the summers following the third and fourth years, students are eligible to receive a departmental dissertation fellowship ($5,500) if they have passed their field and preliminary examinations and applied for (and did not receive) the Graduate School Summer Research Fellowship. Alternatively, students may teach summer courses.


Each academic year, as well as summers in which a student is either registered for a course or receiving a research fellowship, payment of the following fees must be made to the Graduate School:

  • Tuition
  • Health insurance
  • Recreation
  • Student activity (government)
  • Health

Please note: The Department of Economics pays for all fees during all academic years up to year six, and pays only the health and continuation fees during summers in which students receive research grants, fellowships or are required to enroll in a course (the summer after the first year). The recreation fee is optional after the third year and during summers; students should plan to pay this fee after the third year. For details, visit the Student Expenses page of the Graduate School website for specific fee amounts.

Learn about research and travel funding opportunities.