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Research and Teaching Assistant Support

Research assistant (RA) and teaching assistant (TA) funding constitutes the bulk of our students’ financial support. The stipends allow you to live reasonably comfortably in the Chapel Hill area. RA and TA positions are 50% appointments; you will spend 50% of your time in classes (including research credit), while you will receive a stipend for the other 50% as an RA or TA. Health insurance, tuition, and student fees, are paid by the department on your behalf.

First-year students are usually supported by TA positions, and they are guaranteed RA or TA support during their first summer. Beginning your second year, you are encouraged to find RA support, though TA support will usually be guaranteed until the end of your sixth year, depending on the availability of funds.

Research Assistants

RA funding depends on the availability of support from your research advisor, usually through external grant funding. It constitutes the majority of funding of the department’s graduate students. You are encouraged to inquire with your advisor about possible funding options as soon as possible. Partial RA positions, and up to three months of summer support, are possible.

Teaching Assistants

Graduate students are usually supported by TA positions during their first year. These positions require 15-20 hours per week as instructor or grader, usually in one of the introductory physics or astronomy courses and labs. If you require TA funding after your first year, you will need to complete the TA position request form, where you can enter your preferences of courses. Once you have gained sufficient experience, you may be eligible to serve as an instructor of record, in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Laboratories. TA summer support can be provided by the summer school and is independent of department-sponsored TA positions. Summer support is usually available for one or both of the summer sessions ($2,000 each). The Director of Undergraduate Laboratories will assign TA summer positions.

Research Assistant Departmental Support Teaching Assistant Departmental Support
Total $56,425 Total $54,170
9-month stipend $18,500 9-month stipend $18,500
3 months summer $6,255 2 months summer $4,000
Tuition* $27,454 Tuition* $27,454
Student fees* $982 Student fees* $982
Health insurance* $3,234 Health insurance* $3,234

*Paid by the department on your behalf.


 

OTHER FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

Additional funding opportunities are provided by the department, by the College of Arts and Sciences, and by external sources. You are encouraged to pursue these opportunities.


 

Funding Opportunities at the Department

Applications in this category will be evaluated by the Graduate Studies and Affairs Committee. In consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Laboratories, the committee will propose a ranking to the department chair, including amount of support where applicable. Submit your application via the Physics & Astronomy Graduation System (under the Assignment tab) as one single PDF. Have the recommendation letter emailed directly to the DGS by the deadline. 

Hamilton Award
Purpose
summer support
travel support
Eligibility
Applicant must have passed all parts of the doctoral written exam 1
Applicant must have a research advisor and a thesis committee
Funds can be used as “top-off”, but not beyond standard stipend amount
Application
One page of summer research/travel plan and budget justification
CV
Other sources of funding (“current and pending”)
Recommendation letter from thesis advisor
Deadline: Feb 12 2021
Silver Award
Purpose
support for international students to attend domestic conference
support for domestic student to attend international conference abroad
Eligibility
Applicant must have passed all parts of the doctoral written exam 1
Applicant must have a research advisor and a thesis committee
Application
Half a page of travel plan/justification
CV
Other sources of funding (“current and pending”)
Recommendation letter from thesis advisor
Deadline
Oct 31 for spring/summer
Apr 15 for fall
Druscilla French Award
Purpose
Research summer support for one student
Eligibility
Applicant must have passed all parts of the doctoral written exam 1
Applicant must have a research advisor and a thesis committee
Intended as full research support for one student
Application
One page of summer research plan and budget justification
CV
Other sources of funding (“current and pending”)
Recommendation letter from thesis advisor
Deadline: Feb 15 2020


 

Funding Opportunities at the College of Arts and Sciences

The Graduate School maintains a comprehensive list of funding opportunities.

For incoming students:

For current students:
The following opportunities require a nomination letter by the department. The internal deadline for these fellowships and awards is exactly two weeks before the official deadline posted by the graduate school. Applications including reference letters must be completed by the internal deadline. The applications are evaluated by a university-wide committee, therefore, especially field-specific material should be presented accordingly.

The Graduate Studies and Affairs Committee will rank the applications and will provide a short rationale for the ranking. The Director of Graduate Studies will write nomination letters based on the committee’s rankings and comments.


 

External Funding Opportunities