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Financial Assistance

All financial aid, in the form of graduate assistantships, is competitively allocated. Appointments of graduate students are based on assessment of the following information:

  1. For an incoming graduate student:
    1. Past academic performance and GRE scores.
    2. Information on verbal skills.
    3. Letters of recommendation.
  2. For a continuing graduate student:
    1. Satisfactory progress in the program.
    2. Satisfactory performance of assistantship duties.

No formula or particular weights are given to these various factors. We try to come up with the best overall match between departmental needs and applicant expertise while working within the constraints of the graduate budget. We attempt to provide all qualified students an opportunity to obtain research and teaching experience as part of their graduate training.

Only students in good standing and making satisfactory progress (see below) will be considered for aid. Students who do not plan to continue beyond the master’s level will not usually be awarded an assistantship for more than two years. For students in the Ph.D. program this time limit will normally be five years (four years for students entering the Ph.D. program with a master’s degree for which they receive transfer credit).


The Department of Economics offers research and teaching assistantships which provide academic year stipends ranging from $13,400 to $14,600 for full-time appointments. Assistantship appointments may be extended through the summer session with additional remuneration if funds are available. In addition to assistantships awarded by the department, minorities and women who are U.S. citizens are eligible for the Rhoten A. Smith Assistantships awarded by the Graduate School. All assistantships carry a waiver of tuition (including non-resident tuition) for the semesters in which they are awarded and for a summer session adjacent to the appointment period. They do not, however, include a waiver for fees.

Assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis to qualified graduate students in both the M.A. and Ph.D. programs. Although the department attempts to provide financial assistance to as many qualified students as possible (either by an assistantship or through one of the sources listed below), applicants to the program should be aware that an offer of admission does not automatically imply the offer of an assistantship. Students who have been awarded assistantships will usually have their appointments renewed for the period of time that is reasonable to complete their degree requirements. However, renewal is based on evidence of good progress, especially the timely completion of candidacy examinations.

Full-time graduate assistants are expected to work no more than 20 hours per week in connection with their assistantship duties, and to register for at least 9 semester hours of approved course work each regular semester. Graduate assistants may be expected to assist with both research and teaching tasks. Research assistance typically involves completing tasks for a faculty member such as literature searches, data collection, and empirical estimation using standard computational programs. Teaching assistance typically involves grading, holding office hours to assist undergraduate students, or classroom instruction. Instructional teaching assistants may be assigned to teach undergraduate course in introductory economics under the supervision of a faculty member. Teaching assistants engaged in oral instruction in language is not English, this competence may be demonstrated by achieving a score of at least 50 on the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK).

Each year, applicants for financial assistance should file an Application for Graduate Assistantship form directly with the Department of Economics. These forms are available from the Graduate School, on the Graduate School web page, or from the Department of Economics. Submission deadline for assistantship application is February 15. Assistantships are normally awarded to begin in the fall semester.

Graduate School Fellowships and Awards

The Graduate School offers some other awards to outstanding students. These are awarded in the spring for the following academic year. Students who wish to be considered for one of these awards must be nominated by the Department of Economics, and they should contact the department’s drector of graduate studies. These awards are:

Graduate School Fellowships: Students in a master’s program are eligible. These fellowships pay a stipend over 10 months and include a full tuition waiver. They are awarded in the spring for the following academic year.

Graduate School Minority / Jeffrey T. Lunsford Fellowships: U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are members of under-represented minority groups (African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans) and are pursuing a master’s degree are eligible. These awards pay a stipend and include a tuition waiver.

Dissertation Completion Awards: Doctoral students completing their dissertations are eligible. These nine-month awards carry a stipend plus a tuition waiver and a limited amount of funds for research support. Departmental service is not required.

Carter G. Woodson Scholars Program: Outstanding minority students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and are enrolled full-time in the Ph.D. program are eligible. This program pays a stipend, a travel and relocation allowance, and a tuition waiver.

Rhoten A. Smith Assistantship Program: Minority students and white women who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and who are underrepresented in their selected program of graduate study are eligible.  Includes a stipend and tuition waiver.

Other Awards: Information on externally funded fellowships awarded by federal, state, or private agencies is available from the Office of Sponsored Projects Grants and Fellowships Office.


Jeremy Groves 
Director of Graduate Studies 
Zulauf Hall 510
Phone: 815-753-5747

Debra Woolbright
Graduate Secretary 
Zulauf Hall 515
Phone: 815-753-1032