PhD Student Support

UC Berkeley offers an array of fellowships, grant-in-aid programs, and student academic employment opportunities to help support doctoral students.

Doctoral Student Support Packages

At the time of admission, students admitted to doctoral study in the School of Social Welfare are typically offered a funding assistance package that usually includes a total of four years of financial support. A doctoral support package commonly includes payment of tuition, fees, and student health insurance, plus an allowance for living expense support, paid by a combination of university or departmental fellowship award(s), and/or salary from a graduate student academic appointment as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) and/or Graduate Student Researcher (GSR). 

No tuition and fee or stipend support is guaranteed 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 strongly encouraged to continually seek additional extramural funding, especially for dissertation support.

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.

Eligibility for Funding

To be considered for fellowship funding all applicants to doctoral study must submit a completed application for graduate admission and fellowships. In addition, to become eligible for university funding, U.S. citizens and permanent residents must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the FAFSA deadline.

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.

Academic Student Employment

Most financial packages for doctoral students will usually include an academic student employment (ASE) work requirement to support payment of tuition and fees through the Fee Remission Program. The timing of when the ASE work requirement is expected to begin will commonly vary for each individual student; details are included in the Funding Support Letter provided to all students and their faculty advisors at the time of admission to the program. 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.

Doctoral Completion Fellowship

Financial support packages for Social Welfare PhD students will usually include a year of funding through the Graduate Division's Doctoral Completion Fellowship (DCF). The DCF is an incentive award offered to PhD students who make regular and steady progress toward their degrees. The fellowship pays in-state tuition and a stipend for two semesters, to enable students to concentrate on dissertation work. Social Welfare PhD students become eligible to activate DCF funding upon successful completion of the Qualifying Examination, which typically takes place at the end of the spring semester of the third year.

Other Doctoral Student Fellowships, Grants and Awards

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. About 6% of all PhD students at Berkeley take out student loans. Graduate students apply for need-based loans and Work-Study through the UC Berkeley Financial Aid and Scholarships 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. 

Support for International Students

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 see BIO's Financial Aid for International Students.