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Offers of admission to the graduate program always include an offer of full financial support that includes tuition, a stipend, and some benefits (such as medical insurance). The financial support will continue through the entire program as long as the student record remains satisfactory.

The main types of financial assistance for graduate students are:

  • Teaching: Graduate Student Instructorship (GSI)
  • Research funding: Graduate Student Research Assistantship (GSRA)
  • Fellowships

The proportion of support from each source is determined in the beginning of each term (Fall, Winter, Spring/Summer).


Full support as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) consists of 4 laboratory sections, each meeting for 2 hours per week. The nominal effort for this type of appointment is 20 hours per week when preparation, grading, and other duties are taken into account.

All students should become eligible in teaching the begining of the graduate program, whether they have immediate need for a GSI appointment or not. This requires completion of GSI training and, for international students, language training.

Research Funding

Nearly all graduate students are supported by a Graduate Student Reseach Assistant (GSRA) during parts of their graduate career. However, the availability of research funding varies between research groups. Additionally, some funding sources are given to very specific projects, while other research grants are much more flexible. Because of this and other factors, there is no strict rule for how much research funding a student receives. Students are therefore encouraged to discuss funding expectations with prospective advisors.

Internal Fellowships

All admitted students are automatically considered for applicable internal fellowships. Fellowships provide valuable additional support for some students. Some types of fellowships that are internal to the University of Michigan:

  • Highly Selective Departmental fellowships: the Regent’s, Ford, Baer, and Colegrove fellowships. These fellowships are awarded in recognition of outstanding undergraduate accomplishment and future promise. For more details, see our Scholarships and Awards web page.
  • The Rackham Science Award (Also known as the Rackham Merit Fellowship): This program offers an enhanced funding package roughly equivalent to two and of full support with no teaching obligations. The program supports the academic excellence and inclusiveness of the Michigan graduate community by embracing students who come from diverse educational, cultural, geographic, and familial backgrounds. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for this award. Graduate students do not apply for this fellowship, but are nominated by the program. 
  • Physics Department Fellowships: These fellowships are supported by private donors offer reduced teaching load for first year and beyond to allow more time to identify and secure research with physics faculty and researchers.

          All admitted students are automatically considered.

External fellowships

Many University of Michigan students receive competitive external fellowships that offer substantial support. Examples are fellowships from the US National Science Foundation (US citizens and permanent residents) and similar opportunities for international students offered through their home countries. Students are strongly encouraged to apply for these external fellowships. In situations where the external fellowship offers support that is less thanthe support offered to University of Michigan students; we work with the external agency to provide a supplement.

Useful Links for Funding Opportunities

If you wish to put together a research proposal for outside grants or funding, please contact the Physics Department Student Services Office, 1440 Randall Lab.