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Association of American Medical Colleges

Financing My Graduate Education

Graduate schools in the biomedical sciences will generally provide a comprehensive funding package to their students. This will consist of a stipend, tuition and fees and health insurance and may include travel awards, relocation fees, and housing subsidy. The sources of these support packages will vary, and can come from institutional funds, departmental funds, training grants, research grants, private foundations, etc.

Types of Funding

Fellowships - an award from a government agency or private foundation for support of a graduate student during advanced study. (See independent funding below)

Scholarships - usually gift aid to a student to support graduate study.

Grants - support that is usually applied for that may include support for research activities as well as some salary support.

Loan - a sum of money provided for a period of time and usually repayable possibly with interest.


Research assistantships - a form of financial support provided to a graduate student for performing research; usually provided by the thesis advisor from their research grants.


Teaching assistantships - a form of financial support for a temporary teaching job; usually provided by the institution.


Graduate student assistantships - financial support for a graduate student for research that may or may not be related to thesis research.

Funding Package

There are some questions that you should ask about the funding package, regardless of the source.

  • What and how much funds are available and for how long?
  • How is the funding awarded?
  • Are there payback/teaching obligations?
  • Are the funding packages full/partial for the duration of study?
  • How is the funding renewed each year?
  • Is the funding sufficient to live on in that particular location?
  • Are there opportunities to supplement the financial aid package if needed?

It is particularly important for you to evaluate the funding package in light of the location of the School and the cost of living in that location.

Independent Funding

There are a number of sources of independent individual fellowships. You should ask the School if they will provide help with your grant application. This is particularly important if you are thinking about applying for an independent individual fellowship after you matriculate in the School.

So why should you apply for an extramural individual predoctoral fellowship if you do not have to, particularly, prior to matriculation?

  • The prestige of winning a competitive grant
  • Shows initiative
  • Shows that you are a go-getter who knows what to do
  • Alleviates the financial burden to the program
  • Increases your competitiveness

Even if the application is not funded, the experience of writing a grant proposal will greatly benefit you as you move through graduate school

Individual fellowships (F31) from the National Institutes of Health

Individual fellowships (F31) from the National Institutes of Health for students from underrepresented groups

The National Science Foundation

You can find many funding opportunities at Grants.Net where you can search for funding sources using particular criteria.

Find update/current sources for PhD training funding.



Where Can I Earn a Ph.D.?