Funding from the graduate school/programme
Your best resource for funding will be the graduate school to which you are applying.
US graduate programmes can offer several types of funding to international students:
- Assistantships (generally reserved for PhD and academic master's students)
- Financial aid (if offered)
- Fully funded packages (available from competitive PhD programmes)
Graduate assistantships are funding provided in exchange for services to the graduate school or department. This can be:
- Lab supervision
- Working in an administrative office
Students with assistantships are usually required to provide 15-20 hours' work a week. What they cover will vary, but many will include a fee waiver and living stipend.
If it is offered, graduate financial aid typically covers a proportion of a student's financial need to attend graduate school. Sometimes it is guaranteed to all admitted students, and sometimes it's awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. This demonstrates the importance of filing all paperwork early.
Fellowships are outright grants. Sometimes they are guaranteed to all admitted students, and sometimes they must be competed for on the basis of students' submitted project proposals by certain deadlines, or by merit of a student's academic performance.
Other fellowships might have niche criteria, based on a donor's wishes.
Full funding packages
The most competitive PhD programmes are often fully funded by the university, covering:
- Tuition fee waivers
- Living expenses in the first two years
- Assistantship funding in the second two years
- Professional development bursaries
Do they offer it?
Remember to check the websites of each graduate school you're interested in, to see if they offer the kind of funding you need. This includes the pages for their:
- Graduate school tuition/costs information
- Graduate school financial aid information
- Specific department information
- Specific degree information
Please note that it is more common to find this funding for PhD programmes, but there are opportunities for funded Master's programmes too.
Applying for it
Applications for graduate school funding are often integrated into the application for admission.
Niche and merit fellowships might require writing an additional essay or submitting your application by an earlier date.
If it is offered, financial aid applications often require earlier submissions.
As part of your visa interview, you cannot rely on fellowships you might apply for later on in the year to prove you have sufficient funding. You must have already secured the necessary funding.