The department endeavors to provide students studying for the Ph.D. with financial aid, including stipend and tuition, for their full, five year course of study.
Sources of Funding
Many of our students receive funding through a combination of teaching assistantships, research assistantships and internal and external fellowships and are able to secure fellowship support that frees them from TA or RA duties for one to two years. Teaching assistants typically begin as section leaders in the department's large lower-level courses, “Introduction to Linguistics” and “Language and Mind.” More advanced students have opportunities to teach upper-level undergraduate seminar courses on special topics. These undergraduate seminars have proven popular with undergraduate students because they provide more direct contact with primary research literature, and they have been valuable for graduate instructors who are developing a teaching portfolio for the academic job search.
Funding is also available through research assistantships, typically in connection with research grants and contracts awarded to the department's faculty. For example, a number of students in the department are currently partially funded through IGERT fellowships. The university also awards recruitment fellowships to outstanding applicants, which fund students for two years, matched by two to three years of departmental funding. University fellowships allow students to devote the first two years completely to graduate study with no outside responsibilities. The next two to three years require students to fulfill some graduate assistant (GA) responsibilities, usually through teaching. Fellowships and GAs provide 12 and 10 credits of tuition remission, respectively, per semester. In addition to tuition remission, the graduate assistantship comes with health benefits. The student is responsible for approximately $340.00 in mandatory student fees per semester.
All students are also encouraged to apply for outside sources of funding, e.g. National Science Foundation fellowships (U.S. residents), SSHRC or NSERC fellowships (Canadian residents), etc. These outside fellowships are prestigious, typically release the student from teaching or other responsibilities and often carry very attractive stipends.
Continuation of Funding
If you are admitted with funding, your admission letter will specify the amount for your first year and duration of support. Funding is usually given for either four or five years, subject to continued good performance in research, and progress towards the Ph.D. degree. The department will not use its GA funds to fund students for more than five years. A faculty member may request that a student working on a project for which the faculty member has obtained funding be funded for one extra year. This request must be approved by the department.
You should keep a copy of your admission letter, as the terms specified in that letter are what the department considers its agreement with you. You will be notified of any amendment to these terms in writing. The department does not consider any verbal arrangements or arrangements made by anyone other than the chair or the graduate director in writing as official. The department will also admit students without funding.
The chair will ask students to request continuation of funding in March. All students (including those with funding during the previous year) who need money for the following year should request a continuation of funding at this time. Students who are not currently funded may also request a stipend. The faculty meets in March and will review all requests for funding. The department first reviews currently funded students to ensure that progress toward the degree is satisfactory and funds these students first if there is good progress. The department then reviews money left over from currently funded students and from money designated towards recruitment. Money not designated for either of these uses is issued to currently unfunded students, who the department ranks in terms of eligibility. The chair will inform students about whether they will definitely receive, possibly receive or not receive funding for the coming year by April 15. The graduate director or the advisor will also help students find support from other departments in the university, or from external sources. External funding can take time and students may not have a final decision until well after April 15. If new funds become available after this date, the department notifies students, sometimes as late as a few weeks before the start of classes. The department does its very best to get support for its students.