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Types of Aid Available for Graduate Education

The range of financial assistance available at the graduate level is very broad. There are five basic types of financial assistance: fellowships/ traineeships, teaching assistantships (TA’s), research assistantships (RA’s), Federal Work-Study, and loans. This webpage will focus on fellowships/traineeships. Further information on the work-study program and federal loan programs may be obtained from the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid.

Fellowships, Traineeships and Grants

These are outright awards and require no service in return. They may be based on merit and/or financial need. Often they provide the cost of tuition and fees plus a stipend to cover living expenses. If you are interested in applying for a fellowship (sometimes called a “traineeship”) at NC State, the first place to inquire is at the departmental level. Some graduate programs and colleges offer their own fellowships/traineeships.

Other federal and state fellowships and grants are awarded to the Graduate School, which then appoints a selections committee to choose students for the awards. In some cases, students apply directly to the Graduate School to be considered for an award. For example, a direct application may be submitted to the Graduate School to be considered for a Diversity Enhancement Grant. In other cases, students apply to their home department, which, in turn, selects nominees for fellowships and then submits their nominations to the Graduate School. Such programs include U.S. Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellowships, as well as NIH Biotechnology Traineeships. In addition, students may be nominated by their departments for NC State awards funded through endowments (e.g., Andrews, Collier, Wells Fargo, Ward, and Warren Wolfpack fellowships) and other sources (e.g., Provost’s Doctoral Fellowships, SREB Doctoral Fellowships, and University Graduate Fellowships). Information on institutionally awarded fellowships, traineeships and grants administered by the Graduate School is available here.

External Fellowship Advising

The Graduate School has dedicated professionals who work with students to identify potential sources of funding for graduate study. As director of the University Fellowships Office, Ms. Courtney Hughes makes information about major national fellowships and other scholarship and grant opportunities available to all graduate students. Her team also provides students with assistance in determining their eligibility for and potential to succeed in the various fellowship competitions; enhancing their writing, speaking, and interviewing skills; and general support for the competition processes.

These fellowships are awarded directly to individual students by federal or state agencies or private organizations. Nationally competitive “portable” fellowships are awards where a student may apply directly to a granting organization/agency. The fellowship advisors can assist in identifying these opportunities. Once awarded a fellowship (with some exceptions), the student may take it to any university to which he or she has been admitted or in which he or she is enrolled.

Please note: The University Fellowships Office administers the competitions for a number of the major national fellowship and scholarship competitions requiring institutional endorsement, including Fulbright, as well as supporting opportunities through prestigious organizations such as NSF, NIH, DOD and DOE.

Most (but not all) federally awarded fellowships require an applicant to be a U.S. citizen or national or permanent resident of the United States at the time of application. In addition, fellowships may be taxable.

Links to databases to search for nationally competitive fellowship opportunities are available here.

Searching for Funding

The following are examples of search engines available on the web, direct links to which are also available at the above website. They may be used to identify not only nationally competitive fellowship support but also research funding and other types of awards.

Teaching Assistantships

These positions may involve delivering lectures, correcting coursework, grading papers, counseling students, and supervising laboratory groups. Usually about 20 hours of work each week is required. Contact the Director of Graduate Programs in your department for availability of TA’s and further details.

Research Assistantships

These positions usually require the student to assist in the research activities of the faculty. Contact the Director of Graduate Programs in your department for availability of RA’s and for further details.

Federal Work-Study Program

The Federal Work-Study Program provides eligible students with employment opportunities, either at the university or in off-campus, non-profit organizations. In general, graduate work-study positions are designed to complement and reinforce each recipient’s educational or career goals. To apply, graduate students should contact the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, and complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and supporting forms. Please note that federal work-study requires an applicant to be a U.S. citizen or national or permanent resident of the United States at the time of application and may be taxable.

Other Types of Support

Contact Us

For information on external funding or funding in general, contact the University Fellowships Office; 919-513-1635;

For additional information on fellowships available through the Graduate School, contact Dr. David Shafer, Assistant Dean of the Graduate School; 919.515.4462;