Duke Makes 12-Month Funding Commitment to Ph.D. Students

All Ph.D. students in their five-year guaranteed funding period will receive 12-month stipends beginning in fall 2022

The Graduate School building
By offering 12-month stipends, the Graduate School allows Ph.D. students to focus on their studies rather than having to seek outside summer employment.

All Duke University Ph.D. students who are in their five-year guaranteed funding period will receive 12-month stipends beginning in fall 2022, Provost Sally Kornbluth announced Thursday.

Duke Ph.D. students are guaranteed funding for their first five years of study, which includes a living stipend and fully paid health insurance. Like many peer institutions, Duke Ph.D. programs currently provide either 9- or 12-month stipends, depending on each program’s resources. Beginning with the 2022-23 academic year, all Ph.D. students in their guaranteed funding years will receive 12-month stipends, which is $31,160 for the current academic year. There are about 2,400 Ph.D. students enrolled at Duke in 54 programs across the university.

“Our Ph.D. students make vital contributions to Duke as well as to their disciplines,” Kornbluth said. “This represents Duke’s strong commitment to graduate education. It will require us to identify and sustain the necessary resources and to make what may be difficult choices around enrollment management and internal allocation of funds, but it will also ensure that Duke can continue to compete for the best students and provide the most fulfilling educational experience. These decisions will be made in close collaboration with faculty across the university.”

“This represents Duke’s strong commitment to graduate education. It will require us to identify and sustain the necessary resources and to make what may be difficult choices around enrollment management and internal allocation of funds, but it will also ensure that Duke can continue to compete for the best students and provide the most fulfilling educational experience.”
-- Sally Kornbluth

“This is an important move in the fulfillment of The Graduate School’s strategic plan, and we are excited that we are now able to put a firm date on making it a reality,” said Paula D. McClain, dean of The Graduate School. “While the majority of our Ph.D. students already receive year-round funding, we believe that providing 12-month stipends, at the full rate, is vital for the future of doctoral education at Duke. I am particularly grateful to the leadership of the GPSC (Graduate and Professional Student Council) for their collaboration and advocacy on behalf of all graduate students.”

The commitment to 12-month funding follows a number of other measures to expand support for Ph.D. students. In recent years, Duke has significantly increased summer research funding and created various new fellowships and internships. The university has also enhanced other benefits for Ph.D. students, such as providing sixth-year tuition scholarships, extending the length of the accommodation period after the birth or adoption of a child, increasing how much Ph.D. students can receive from stipend supplementation and, starting in fall 2019, changing the stipend payment schedule to give incoming Ph.D. students earlier access to their funds to help with the cost of relocating to Durham.

In addition to stipends, Ph.D. students’ guaranteed funding package also includes more than $182,000 in tuition and fees support, as well as full coverage of health-insurance premiums for six years. Ph.D. students also have access to a number of other financial resources, such as subsidies for childcare costs and grants to help cover medical expenses that pose a financial hardship.

"I am thrilled that Duke is shifting to a 12-month stipend for all Ph.D.s, which has been one of GPSC’s highest priorities,” said Travis Dauwalter, a Ph.D. student in public policy and economics and GPSC president. “For students who are on a nine-month stipend, this new commitment will eliminate the anxiety of securing external funding over the summer, and they can turn their attention to their research and dissertation. I want to extend a huge thank you to university leaders for recognizing the benefits this will have on the student experience here at Duke."