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Financial Support for Doctoral Students

Financial Support for Doctoral Students

Educational financing needs for doctoral students are diverse and vary according to individual circumstances. Because both circumstances and funding resources often vary from year to year, all doctoral students should review and update their funding plans frequently.

Doctoral Student Support Packages

Upon matriculation students admitted to doctoral study in the School of Social Welfare are provided with a funding support letter that reviews details of the funding package offered at the time of admission. A typical funding package for Berkeley Social Welfare doctoral students will usually include a total of FOUR YEARS of financial support, through a combination of payment of tuition and fees; academic student employment as a Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) or Graduate Student Instructor (GSI); and a living expense stipend.

Details of individual student funding packages vary depending on available resources applied to each one, although some general principles apply to all Berkeley Social Welfare Doctoral Student Support Packages:

  • Payment of Tuition and Fees
    For the first semester of study, tuition and fees are covered as part of the support package. Each following semester for the duration of the funding package, tuition and fees are covered either by a continuing fellowship award (such as a Graduate Division Multiyear Fellowship or Block Grant Award); or by Partial Fee Remission generated from an academic student employment appointment. Regardless of funding source all students are responsible for ensuring their tuition and fees are paid by the payment deadline. No tuition and fee support is guaranteed beyond the expiration of the original funding package.
  • Academic Student Employment
    Most financial packages for doctoral students usually include an academic student employment (ASE) work requirement to support payment of tuition and fees through Fee Remission. The timing of when the ASE work requirement is expected to begin will vary for each individual student; details are included in the Funding Support Letter provided to all students and their faculty advisors. An academic student appointment (most often as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) or Graduate Student Researcher (GSR)) that equals 25% or more time results in Partial Fee Remission, which covers all tuition and fees EXCEPT the Berkeley Campus Fee and the Class Pass Transit Fee. For complete details please see Fee Remission Program.
  • Stipend for Living Expenses
    Most Doctoral Student Support Packages will also include a stipend for living expenses. ASE earnings after Fee Remission count towards the total net stipend amount indicated in the original Funding Support Letter. The total net stipend amount for continuing doctoral students each year stays the same as documented in the original Funding Support Letter.
  • Duration of Funding Support Packages
    No departmental funds are guaranteed for continuing doctoral student support beyond the expiration of the original funding package, although continuing students are eligible to apply for departmentally restricted awards when funds are available. All doctoral students are also encouraged to continually seek additional extramural funding.

Eligibility for Funding

All awards are competitive, based on merit, and offered to doctoral students of outstanding achievement. Yearly renewal of all multi-year awards is based on continued academic excellence.

To be eligible and considered for any university funding, including departmental fellowship awards, all U.S. citizen and permanent resident students (entering AND continuing) must submit a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the priority deadline. You should therefore have a FAFSA on file for the current academic year, even if you do not expect to take out any federal student loans.

In addition to the FAFSA, applicants/entering students must complete the appropriate fellowship sections for domestic (U.S. citizens and permanent residents) or international applicants of the UC Berkeley Graduate and Professional Application for Admission to be considered for University Graduate Fellowships, Departmental Block Grant Fellowships, and Diversity Fellowships.

Students receiving any university fellowship support are subject to all university rules, regulations and eligibility requirements for financial support. Students receiving external fellowships must also refer to the fellowship terms set by the corresponding agency, including terms regarding supplementation with employment or another fellowship.

Recipients of Graduate Division funding are limited to $33,500 in stipend support per 12-month academic year (fall, spring, and the following summer). Students who accept a Graduate Division fellowship sign an agreement to notify the Graduate Division Fellowships Office when they receive other fellowships. Students who are receiving a fellowship administered by the University that will give them at least $16,000 in stipend plus fees, are subject to an employment restriction: students may work up to 25% during the academic year (that is, 25% each term or 50% for one term only). There is no work restriction for the summer term. Students holding appointments that conflict with fellowship terms are subject to having their fellowship reduced or rescinded to ensure compliance with fellowship terms.

Fellowships and Grants for Doctoral Students

The University of California, the Berkeley campus and Berkeley Social Welfare offer an array of fellowship and grant-in-aid programs to help support doctoral students. Some of the fellowship programs described below may also be applied to, included in, or used to complete a Doctoral Student Support Package.

Berkeley Connect Fellowship
Graduate students selected to be Berkeley Connect Fellows have the opportunity both to act as mentors to undergraduate students in their discipline and to be mentored in their own scholarly development by faculty in their department. Social Welfare is a Berkeley Connect Participating Department. Graduate Fellows (must be advanced to candidacy) receive a $22,000 stipend plus in-state tuition and fees for their fellowship year. Berkeley Social Welfare accepts Berkeley Connect Fellowship Applications at the start of each spring semester. For more information about the program please see Berkeley Connect.

Conference Travel Awards
Conference Travel Awards provide travel support to graduate students presenting at scholarly meetings and professional conferences.

Doctoral Completion Fellowship
The Doctoral Completion Fellowship (DCF) is an incentive award offered to PhD students who make regular and steady progress toward their degrees. Eligible students may accept the award any time between their advancement to candidacy and filing their dissertation, or the end of the year Normative Time to Degree (NTD) plus one year (“NTD+1”). In Social Welfare, Normative Time to Degree (from first enrollment to filing the dissertation) is considered 10 semesters. Filing of the dissertation is expected to occur before the end of year NTD+1; consequently, no university funding is available after year NTD+1 (except for loans) for students who choose to accept the DCF. For eligibility requirements, restrictions, and information about how to activate the DCF, please see Doctoral Completion Fellowship (DCF).

Social Welfare Departmentally Restricted Fellowship Awards
Departmental graduate fellowships are open to all Berkeley Social Welfare graduate students, including doctoral students. These awards are given on the basis of both academic distinction and demonstrated financial need, subject to the terms of the donor(s). Departmentally restricted awards generally range between $2,000 and $7,500, although award amounts and the total number of awards made will vary each year depending upon the availability of funds. For information about award programs in effect for the current academic year please see Departmental Fellowships for Graduate Students.

UC Office of the President Dissertation Year Fellowship
Open to U.S.. citizen or permanent resident doctoral students who are in their final year of dissertation work, and who demonstrate strong potential for university teaching and research. Must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents or AB540-eligible students whose backgrounds, life experiences, and/or work contribute to diversity. The fellowship includes a living stipend of $20,500, payment of fees, and a travel allowance. The Graduate Division requests nominations from departments each spring semester.

UC Office of the President Mentored Research Award
This award gives academically promising PhD students an opportunity to conduct pre-doctoral research while developing and strengthening relationships with faculty advisers. Fellows receive a $16,000 stipend plus payment of in-state fees. Must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents or AB540-eligible students whose backgrounds, life experiences, and/or work contribute to diversity. The Graduate Division requests nominations from departments each spring semester.

Extramural Funding

Extramural funding opportunities are available to social work graduate students, and many Berkeley Social Welfare students have been successful at securing extramural funding through additional university, public, and privately sponsored fellowships. Extramural awards are made from a variety of outside funding sources, including government agencies; professional and alumni organizations; private foundations; and corporations. There are many types of extramural fellowships and other awards, spanning a wide range of disciplines and funding amounts. Some are based on academic merit; some are targeted toward specific types of students, such as underrepresented minorities or women. There are hundreds of public and private fellowships, each with different requirements – and you should apply to all for which you are qualified and eligible!

We actively encourage all doctoral students to apply for extramural funding, particularly those seeking dissertation support. The process of identifying, researching and applying for external fellowships, grants and other awards can be lengthy and time-consuming. Begin your search as early as possible – preferably at least one year before the expected receipt of an award. Technical assistance is available to students thinking of applying for a dissertation grant, research fellowship, or other funding to support their research - consult with your faculty advisor. To explore additional resources, please see our Extramural Funding page.

Financial Aid: Federal Student Loans

Federal Student Loan Programs provide a major source of need-based financial aid funding for graduate study, and most graduate students – including doctoral students – easily qualify for federal aid. Graduate students apply for need-based loans and Work-Study through the Financial Aid Office. Eligibility is based entirely on demonstrated financial need. To apply, you must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the priority deadline each year. For more information please visit the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office.

Support for International Students

International students should plan carefully for their financial support while attending UC Berkeley. International students, except those on immigrant visa or refugee status, are not eligible for federal or state-supported financial assistance programs for U.S. citizens and permanent residents, nor are they eligible for support from the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. International students in F-1 or J-1 status also cannot establish California residency and must pay nonresident supplemental tuition EXCEPT for a three-year exemption when advanced to doctoral candidacy. Although international students are not eligible for most institutional aid limited to U.S. citizens and California residents, they may be eligible for some University fellowships and departmental block grant fellowships. Continuing international doctoral students in Social Welfare are eligible to apply for departmentally restricted fellowship awards.

Berkeley International Office (BIO) administers some limited need-based aid programs for international students. These awards include Graduate Tuition & Fee Awards and Graduate Student Parent Awards. Need-based BIO awards are intended for those students in the most financial need, and are not intended to provide long-term support. The application period typically occurs at the beginning of each fall and spring semester. For details about these awards and other financial resources for international students, please visit the Berkeley International Office.

Support for Student Parents

Several accommodation programs are available to help support doctoral students who have parenting responsibilities:

  • Graduate Division Parent Grant
    Registered graduate student parents (single, married, or registered domestic partners) who live with dependent children and demonstrate financial need may apply for up to $8,000 per academic year, ($4,000 per academic term) funding permitting. Applications are submitted directly to the Graduate Fellowships Office.
  • Childbirth Accommodation Funding for Women Doctoral Students
    Women doctoral students in good academic standing who hold a fellowship, a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) position, or Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) appointment, and who expect to give birth during the semester, can be excused from regular duties for a period of six weeks without loss of financial support. Funding will be provided to cover the student’s support or a replacement, as applicable. To request this accommodation the student’s academic unit must submit the Petition for Childbirth Accommodation Funding for Women Doctoral Students at least 30 days prior to the beginning of the leave. If you wish to activate this accommodation, please consult with your faculty advisor, and then notify the Graduate Advisor, who will facilitate submitting the petition to the Graduate Division.
  • Family and Childbearing Leaves for GSIs, Readers, and Tutors
    Academic Student Employees (ASEs) are eligible for certain types of leave. Policies are governed by the UAW contract. For more information, see the Leaves section of the current UAW contract.
  • Child Care Reimbursement for GSIs, Readers, and Tutors
    Reimbursement for child care expenses, up to specified limits, is available to eligible Academic Student Employees (ASEs). For more information, please see the Childcare Reimbursement Program.
  • Child Care Reimbursement for GSRs
    Reimbursement for child care expenses, up to specified limits, is available to eligible Graduate Student Researchers with preschool dependent children and a 25% or more GSR appointment during the semester or summer session. Reimbursement requests should be submitted no later than the first day of the semester following the term for which the claim is filed. For more information, see the GSR Childcare Reimbursement Form.