Financial Resources and Support
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Evaluation of applicants for admission occurs concurrently with consideration for funding. Students 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 the student in seeking support from external sources and will supervise his or her research. It reflects a strong commitment from the faculty sponsor to act as an 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.
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.
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.
Graduate students receive departmental research funds to support their purchase of laboratory supplies, use of departmental analytical facilities, or to provide funds for fieldwork or participation in a national or regional meeting. Funds are available on a competitive basis based on evaluation of mini-proposals by the Department's Policy Committee. In addition, both the Department and the College of Arts and Sciences provide competitive awards for research funding, espeically summer support. Many students also apply for and receive grants from national organizations, including GSA, the Paloeontological Society, AAPG, and Sigma Xi. The initial grant is a benefit of the Department's endowment campaign. Additional support may also come in the form of summer internships; several students typically receive such positions with petroleum companies each year.
Acceptance of Financial Offers
A national agreement among universities allows applicants until April 15 to formally accept or decline offers of support. Any financial offer stands until that date. Also, no institution can require an applicant to finalize his or her decision prior to April 15. Thus, confirmation of the status of pending offers on April 15 often affords the opportunity to extend financial support to additional applicants. However, departmental resources are rarely sufficient to support all applicants admitted to graduate degree programs.
Most departmental financial support is committed during recruitment efforts in the Spring, although AI positions do occasionally become available at the start of the Fall and Spring semesters, typically when students supported as AIs transfer to RA support.