Graduate Financial Support Packages

The following information is for students interested in the Physics PhD program. Note that the department does not offer financial support for students in the Physics MS program.

We believe that the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh offers its doctoral graduate students an excellent financial support package for at least five years for students in good academic standing (while funding beyond year five is not guaranteed, almost all of our PhD students are fully funded until completion of their degree). The package enables graduate students in good standing to concentrate on their education, not on financial burdens. Our comprehensive package supports students throughout their graduate careers. For extensive information in regards to external funding, Fellowships and Funding: A-Z  is a great resource for prospective students. Pay particular attention to early fall deadlines such as those for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program!

Financial support beyond the first year is normally provided in the form of a tuition scholarship plus a graduate research assistantship (GSR), a teaching assistantship (TA), a teaching fellowship (TF), or a fellowship. TA support for the second year is commonly available for students in good standing who request it. TF support is provided to students with a MS or equivalent and excellent teaching evaluations.  These students are often given the opportunity to teach a course independently in their senior years, if the opportunity is available. It is not uncommon for a student to join a research group on an interim basis and become a GSR for some of the summer preceeding their first term of enrollment, as well as the summer of their first academic year. 

The Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences also offers Travel Grants.

Features of our package include the following

A Competitive Stipend

Our financial support package generally covers five consecutive years of graduate study, providing a student remains in good academic standing and is making satisfactory progress towards his/her degree, and is in residence, either in the Department or at an appropriate research facility.  There are three four-month terms per year.  For the Fall of 2020 the normal level of salary support for Teaching Assistants (TA) and Graduate Student Research Assistants (GSR) is $29,220/year (3 terms). The Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Predoctoral Fellowship is $23,688 (2 terms) and is supplemented by a third term of TA or GSR provided by the department. Given Pittsburgh's low cost of living, this is a very comfortable income. First-year students in good academic standing after their first two terms are guaranteed summer support (in the form of a GSR, TA, or Fellowship) while on campus or at a related research facility. 

Health Insurance

You are covered! The University of Pittsburgh provides excellent health insurance options, providing every student, with an eligible academic appointment, complete medical coverage free of charge; supplementary dental and vision plans are also available. Rather than being limited to physicians at a student health service, every student is free to choose her/his own primary care physician. Moreover, spouses and children can be included in our medical plans at very reasonable costs.

Tuition Scholarships

Graduate tuition can be expensive. A Graduate student supported as a TA, TF, GSR or receiving a Fellowship in our program receives a merit scholarship for tuition and fees (with the exception of a small acttivity fee) for each term that he/she is supported. Depending upon your course load and residency status, this merit scholarship, can amount to as much as $39,898 plus $950 in fees, for two terms.


With much thought to the future, the University of Pittsburgh has arranged for free transportation throughout Allegheny county (730 square miles) via the PAT bus system for enrolled students. Any bus - any time, anywhere - is free, including those to downtown or the airport. This benefit saves students the cost of monthly bus passes or parking permits.  The University also has an extensive shuttle system, accessible with a valid ID. A bike-share program has arrived on campus!

Fellowship Opportunities

There are various fellowship opportunities that provide financial compensation. They provide excellent additions to build a glowing résumé.

How far does my stipend dollar go?


Graduate students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy generally pay between $400 and $600 per month to rent apartments located within walking distance of the Department. Check Off Campus Living website and Panther Central website.


Recall that travel on buses within Allegheny County is free. If you need to drive your own car, parking in the Oakland area is relatively inexpensive for urban areas.  Information about a monthly parking pass may be found at the Parking and Transportation website.

Cost of Living and Student Life

Cost of Living includes food, entertainment, etc. Pittsburgh is consistently rated one of America's most livable cities due, in part, to its very low cost of living.

The collective details of our financial support package, including tuition and health insurance, relieve our graduate students from financial worries during their education and training.