Full tuition waiver and stipend support for graduate study are available as fellowships, associate instructorships (AIs), and research assistantships (RAs). All applicants are considered for support and for nomination for fellowships. Students admitted with guaranteed support as AIs or fellows receive a two or four (sometimes five) year financial commitment for M.S. or Ph.D. degrees, respectively. The form of support may vary from year to year; thus, students admitted with fellowships may act as AIs or RAs in subsequent years. All awards are contingent on satisfactory progress toward the degree goal and fulfillment of teaching and/or research responsibilities.
Evaluation of applicants for admission occurs concurrently with consideration for funding. You may be admitted to the M.S. program with or without financial support. Applicants are only admitted to the Ph.D. program with support, or with the sponsorship, of a faculty member. The sponsorship implies that the faculty member will assist you in seeking support from external sources and will supervise your research. It reflects a strong commitment from the faculty sponsor to act as advocate for the student. All students admitted without support can apply for departmental funds on a semester-by-semester basis, but are normally required to complete at least one semester in the graduate program before support is awarded.
The availability of associate instructor (AI) positions depends on existing commitments and on the amount of support for applicants from other sources. Each year, the Committee for Graduate Study makes financial offers to admissible applicants with the aim of balancing acceptances with available funds. In some instances, applicants may be assured of funding although the precise source (and sometimes amount of stipend) may depend on the success of departmental nominations for fellowships. The timing of offers is influenced by several factors, especially visits from applicants.
Both our department and the College of Arts and Sciences provide competitive awards for research funding, espeically summer support. Many of our students also apply for and receive grants from national organizations, including GSA, the Paleontological Society, AAPG, and Sigma Xi. Additional support may also come in the form of summer internships; several students typically receive such positions with petroleum companies each year.