Graduate students in Physics & Astronomy in good standing are fully supported either via a teaching assistantship (TA) paid by UNC, a research assistantship (RA) paid by the student’s research advisor, or a fellowship awarded by UNC or earned by the student (more below).

First year graduate students are typically funded in their first year through a TA assignment, and are encouraged to identify a faculty research advisor during that time. In subsequent years, students are typically funded by their adviser through an RA, or through further TA assignments if their research group does not have funding available. Our RAs are funded via grant funds brought in by our faculty from a variety of sources including NSF, DOE, DOD, NIH, NASA, and other government agencies and private foundations.

Students are also encouraged to apply for their own fellowship funding, which can be an important stepping stone in their academic career. In the past, graduate students in our department have received fellowships via the NC Space Grant, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, and the DOE Office of Science Graduate Fellowship Program.

In addition, a number of merit fellowships are awarded to selected incoming graduate students as part of their admissions package. Students cannot directly apply for these fellowships; all students who submit their application by our recommended deadline are automatically considered for these awards. Graduate students in our department have been awarded merit fellowships including those from the Royster Society of Fellows, the NC Excellence Fellowship, and specific to our department, the Merzbacher Fellowship and the Shearin Fellowship.

External funding opportunities

Other useful Links and resources