Graduate Student Support

Penn State graduate students are tomorrow's leaders in education, business, science, engineering, the arts, and other professions. At Penn State, doctoral students collaborate with faculty on research while serving as instructors and mentors to undergraduate students. Advancements in promising areas of knowledge that are the future of the colleges, the University, and the nation begin with graduate students.

  • Graduate fellowships provide indispensable financial support that assists Penn State in its efforts to recruit competitive students, nationally and internationally, and allows those students to focus even more intensively on their studies.
  • Graduate research awards assist graduate students as they develop research projects that have the potential to transform their fields.

Distinguished Graduate Fellowships: $400,000*

Awarded to outstanding research doctorate (Ph.D.) applicants across the University, these fellowships are among the most competitive forms of support available to Penn State’s graduate students. While the same minimum endowment levels as Graduate Fellowships apply, Distinguished Graduate Fellowships double the impact of privately endowed funds by partnering endowment returns with permanently allocated University resources to provide two semesters of support. This program will exist only until each unit has established the number of Distinguished Graduate Fellowships that can be matched with resources allocated to it by the Graduate School, with a limited number of matches available University-wide.

Graduate Fellowships: $400,000*

Competition for quality graduate students is intense, and high-quality students are increasingly discerning in their choices of graduate institutions. In this environment, gifts for graduate fellowships help Penn State to recruit and retain the highest-achieving, creative, and innovative advanced-degree candidates. Covering tuition and/or basic living expenses, including health care benefits, endowments for fellowships ensure that graduate students remain focused on their studies rather than the cost of education.

Graduate Scholarships: $250,000*

These funds can enhance an emerging scholar’s Penn State experience and future career by supplementing other financial awards, enabling individual scholarly projects, supporting travel for research and professional conferences, and recognizing achievements that have special meaning to the donor and to the greater world. Scholarships are awards of direct financial support to students who demonstrate academic excellence, in recognition of attaining distinction in their area of scholarship. These funds enable critical support of student professional development and scholarly achievement.

Graduate Research Awards: $50,000*

Research is an integral part of graduate education. With their combination of energy, curiosity, and ambition, graduate students ask probing questions, pursue in-depth levels of investigation that often produce critical insights, and generate new innovations. These gift funds provide monetary support to graduate students for expenses related to conducting research that is considered part of their graduate program requirements. These awards do not support tuition or stipends, but are to assist with out-of-pocket costs for conducting required research for a student’s master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. Research awards may include such items as travel for the collection of data or to present research results at a professional conference; the purchase or utilization of critical research equipment, laboratory or studio supplies; the development of survey research tools; statistical consulting; research subject reimbursements; and publications costs. This type of funding has the potential to advance solutions to our most pressing societal problems and global challenges, and affords students the opportunity to add components to their graduate work that may not have otherwise been possible.

Graduate Awards: $20,000*

Graduate awards are designed to provide recognition to students for a singular accomplishment. Gifts for graduate awards afford Penn State’s Graduate School, through the support of donors, the opportunity to recognize excellence among our graduate students. Whether it is the highest quality thesis or dissertation, outstanding teaching and mentoring, or any of the other many contributions our graduate students make, these gifts allow us to highlight the many distinguished efforts of those enrolled in graduate degree programs.

University Graduate Fellowship Fund: Gifts at Every Level

Fellowships help to recruit and support the most competitive graduate students who make critical contributions to the University’s research and instructional missions by advancing knowledge to solve our most complex societal problems. Gifts to this fund can be for any amount and are pooled and awarded to graduate students across the University.

Graduate School Future Fund: Gifts at Every Level

The Graduate School Future Fund advances innovation in graduate education at Penn State by supporting a variety of programs and initiatives that enhance graduate students’ training, but are typically beyond the available resources of our graduate programs. As new skills are identified to prepare our graduate students for the needs of society into the future, the Graduate School Future Fund allows the flexibility and resources to pivot in those directions and provide the necessary training through a variety of mechanisms. Current needs for training that transcend many disciplines today include, but are not limited to: entrepreneurship; communicating with the public; business and management skills; and working effectively in multidisciplinary/cross-functional teams. Gifts to this fund address such needs, and others, through mechanisms such as scholarships and grants for our highest-achieving graduate students to support internships and other experiential learning opportunities, outreach efforts in the community, participation in workshops, conferences and academic forums, networking venues, travel related to research and professional development, and other activities. Funds are expended at the dean’s discretion for purposes that advance innovation in graduate education.

Graduate Exhibition Annual Award Fund: Gifts at Every Level

The Graduate Exhibition showcases research and creative scholarship in all its aspects, as an essential and exciting part of graduate education at Penn State. Established in 1986, the Graduate Exhibition places special emphasis on communicating research and creative endeavor to a general audience and offers opportunities for professional development by challenging graduate students to present their work in clear, comprehensible terms to visitors and judges outside of their fields. Significantly, the Graduate Exhibition enables graduate students to gain a perspective of their role as part of the larger University community, to share their scholarship with the public and with their peers, and to better appreciate the amazing breadth of quality research and creative works being conducted at Penn State. Gifts in support of the Graduate Exhibition provide monetary awards to recognize graduate student achievement in performance, visual art, video, and research presentations that showcase the entire spectrum of the University’s creative scholarship and research enterprise.

Other in the Graduate School

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*This is the minimum amount needed to establish an endowment.