Lets Talk Funding

How am I going to pay for this PhD? 💰 This is a question that I hear many potential Doctoral students ask, and it’s a question that I also asked before beginning my program. However, the real question is WHO is going to pay for this PhD? 💸

The truth of the matter is, your PhD should be free of financial cost to you (as the student), BUT that’s only if you do the work required before, during and after 🔑{before= to search and apply, during= to maintain funding, and after= fulfilling whatever requirements that are defined by the funding source}💡. We’ve all heard the saying that nothing in life is free, and no matter where you receive funding from 9 times out of 10, there will be stipulations associated with the funding. However, the requirements and expectations associated with receiving funding from various sources are usually in place to add value to your experience and ultimately to benefit you 🔑.

Funding Options 💰

  • Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA)- A Year-round internship program that provides domestic and international students with relevant research experience while they are pursuing a graduate degree. This educational program is designed to complement the students’ education with work experience related to their chosen field of study.
  • Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA/TA)- Employ graduate students on a temporary contract by a department at a college or university in teaching-related responsibilities. TA responsibilities vary greatly and may include: tutoring; holding office hours; invigilating tests or exams; and assisting a professor with a large lecture class by teaching students in recitation, laboratory, or discussion sessions. Professors may also use their teaching assistants to help teach discussions during regular class.
  • Fellowships- Provide financial support to graduate students to pursue graduate studies without associated teaching or research responsibilities (as they are in a teaching or research assistantship). Fellowships are generally merit-based internal or external awards to support a student in a full-time course of study.

It is my personal opinion that all Doctoral students should have a combination of all of the options listed above as there are various benefits to each entity 💡. Graduate Research Assistantships provide opportunities for students to work on research projects alongside a faculty member who may share a related research interest. Graduate Teaching Assistantships give the graduate student an opportunity to develop and use their teaching skills, as many are in pursuit of teaching careers. Furthermore, certain fellowships additionally host conferences and workshops for their recipients to attend and further develop themselves academically and professionally.

My Experience

I have luckily been able to receive funding from each of the entities mentioned throughout my PhD journey. I am a proud McKnight Doctoral Fellow and I highly recommend student of African American and/or Hispanic origin in the state of Florida to apply. During the first year in my program I was a Graduate Research Assistant, and through this wonderful experience I was permitted to engage in a research project that greatly shaped my dissertation. During year two I was a Graduate Teaching Assistant, and during year three and four I moved up to a Graduate Teaching Associate (also known as an Instructor of Records). Each of these experiences and funding sources have shaped who I currently am as a Doctoral Candidate as it relates to my interests, my skills, and my abilities. If you’d like to read more about my teaching experience (SEE PREVIOUS POST: My 1st Year Teaching Experience) and if you’d like to read an article that highlights my GRA experience feel free to search Digital Storytelling: A Narrative Method for Positive Identity Development in Minority Youth.

This Weeks Tip:

Do the work that is required before, during, and after in order to secure funding for your Doctoral degree!!!🔑 Funding is out there and it’s available, you just have to GO AND GET IT. Upon making initial contact with a representative of your desired program ask if they provide GRA and/or GTA appointments to incoming students, and state your interest. Do your research and identify a few Professors who you would be interested in working with based on shared research interest. Furthermore, always keep in mind that everything you do contributes to connecting the dots and making your dreams come true.

Motivational Scripture 🙏🏽

Philippians 4:12-13- “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

Sincerely,

Rachael

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