Several sources of funding in the graduate program are available to both students in the MA program and the PhD program. These include stipends to support graduate study and funding for research and travel.
Graduate Teaching and Research Assistantships
All students in the program are eligible for funding via .5 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA). These carry a 9-month stipend determined by the University on an annual basis, plus payment of tuition, and funds that may be used to purchase optional university-provided health insurance (note: the purchase of insurance is mandatory for international students). On occasion, the department will split a .5 GTA into two .25 GTAs, which then pay a 9-month stipend at half the rate established for a .5 GTA, plus 50% of tuition and the cost of optional health insurance. Students holding a .5 FTE GTA are limited to registering for 9 credit hours of graduate study per semester.
All students applying to either of the graduate programs will be considered for funding. For students applying to the program, funding decisions are made by department faculty on the basis of recommendations from the Graduate Studies Committee. The Committee takes into account all information in the student’s record, including GPA, GRE scores, recommendations, statement of purpose, and other features of the student’s undergraduate and graduate record. Students are ranked on the basis of these criteria, and available funds are distributed on the basis of that ranking. For students in the MA program, funds are re-allocated on a yearly basis.
For continuing MA students, funding decisions are made after the completion of the comprehensive exam at the end of the first year. Decisions to continue funding for a student are made on the basis of the student’s performance during the year (as evidenced by their grades and the reports of faculty) and on the basis of their performance on the comprehensive exam.
Students entering the PhD program are guaranteed three years of funding, subject to adequate academic progress. Funding from the department beyond the first three years is contingent upon the availability of funds. PhD students are strongly encouraged to begin exploring alternative sources of funding upon their acceptance into the program.
GTAs are employees of the university and are assigned duties by the department. Duties can include direct student teaching and assisting professors in instruction. GTAs are responsible for providing relevant feedback and documentation when contacted by departmental staff to guarantee initiation of their stipend payments. In addition, the Graduate School hosts a compulsory workshop for all new GTAs. The workshop is ordinarily scheduled for a two-day period during the week before fall classes begin.
Additional GTA openings for non-academic departments are listed on the UA Human Resources website (www.hr.ua.edu). Work-study positions may be available for students who qualify for the Federal Work-Study Program through the Financial Aid Office.
Faculty in the anthropology department also may fund graduate students as Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs), financed by externally sponsored research these faculty are conducting. GRA stipend and benefit levels may vary from those of GTAs. GRA responsibilities vary widely. When a GRA is offered, the supervising faculty member will notify the student of provisions of the offer and requirements if the offer is accepted. Selection of students for GRAs is separate from the process of awarding GTAs, as GRA offers are made by individual faculty.
Graduate Council Fellowships
Annually the Graduate Council of the Graduate School awards two types of Graduate Council Fellowships (GCF) on a competitive basis. These fellowships pay a stipend of $15,000, plus tuition. Students funded by these fellowships have no duties but to work on their degrees, and are required to register for 12 credit hours of graduate study.
Students may not apply directly to the Graduate School for these fellowships or for any other funds provided by the Graduate School (such as McNair or National Alumni Association fellowships, or research and travel money, see below). All Graduate School funding is awarded on the basis of a nomination of the student by the department. A regular GCF is awarded solely on the basis of a nomination by the department.
There are three rounds of GCF nominations, occurring in February, March, and April of each spring semester. GCFs are heavily weighted toward the recruitment of new students into graduate programs. There is one annual round for Graduate Council Research that occurs in February of each spring semester for returning students. GCRFs are awarded to students in residence on the basis of a research proposal, plus the recommendations of the student’s advisor and the department Chair. Because the anthropology department has both an MA and a PhD program, the department can nominate up to three students for GCRFs. Students submit their applications to the Director of Graduate Studies and the proposals are reviewed and ranked by the Graduate Studies Committee. The top three proposals are then forwarded for review to the Graduate Council Financial Aid Committee.
The GCF round designated for returning students is an excellent opportunity for both MA and PhD students. Key to developing a successful application for a GCF is planning, in that applications are typically due in early February, shortly after the spring semester has started. Therefore, first-year MA students should be developing their research proposals in ANT600: Research Methods, with the aim of shaping that as a GCRF application. PhD students should consult with their advisors concerning a GCF application. The other important issue in developing a successful application is to follow the guidelines (these guidelines are distributed by the Director of Graduate Studies once they are received from the Graduate School). Proposals that do not follow the guidelines are not ranked highly by the department.
Other Graduate School Fellowships
The National Alumni Association (NAA) funds graduate fellowships on the basis of income from UA specialty license plates. To be eligible for these fellowships, a student must be a resident of the state of Alabama. Nominations for these fellowships are solicited from the department in mid-March and require a statement from the student. Decisions on who to nominate are made by the Graduate Studies Committee, so students should not apply independently. The stipend for NAA fellowships are $15,000, plus all tuition and fees. Students have no duties other than to pursue their graduate studies, and are required to register for 12 semester credit hours.
The Graduate School funds a limited number of McNair Graduate Fellowships. These are awarded competitively based on departmental nominations, student statements, and letters of recommendation. As with other fellowships, students should not apply directly to the graduate school. McNair Graduate Fellowships are preferentially awarded to students who were McNair Fellows at the undergraduate level. However, in some cases, students who meet McNair eligibility requirements despite not having been McNair Fellows can apply. More details about this fellowship can be found at the graduate school website.
Other University Funding Sources
There are other sources of funding within the university. Some university programs have GTA and GRA positions available but do not have graduate programs from which to fill those positions. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) awards a limited number of research or dissertation writing fellowships through the university as well. Students are encouraged to explore these sources for potential graduate funding.
Intramural Research and Travel Support
This refers to research and travel support available from the university. There are three primary sources: the Graduate Student Research and Travel Support Fund, administered by the Graduate School; Research and Travel Support from the Graduate Students Association (GSA); and College of Arts & Sciences student travel requests. Although the names are very similar, these are entirely different sources of funding and should not be confused.
The Graduate Student Research and Travel Support Fund from the Graduate School operates like all Graduate School programs; that is, students may not apply directly for these funds. Rather, students complete applications that are reviewed within the department (by the 13 Graduate Studies Committee), and then nominations are forwarded to the Graduate School. There are generally three rounds for these funds, one in August, one in January, and one in April. Deadlines for applications will be announced and forms will be forwarded to all students as these become available from the Graduate School. In general, the maximum funding from this source is $300. Funds received from the Graduate School usually will be supplemented with funds from the department, but note that departmental funds are awarded on the basis of the availability of those funds.
The GSA also provides research and travel money. There is an application that can be downloaded from the webpage of the GSA. The GSA meets monthly (around the first of the month) to consider applications. This is useful in that application can be made when need arises; it is also problematic in that they spend their money throughout the year, meaning that funds can become scarce at the end of the year. Grants are in the $100-$300 range.
The College of Arts and Sciences awards travel funds to students four times per year, with application deadlines typically falling on the first days of October, December, February, and May. These applications are made directly by students to the College; however, they first must be reviewed and approved by the Department Chair. Additional details on this program can be found on the College’s website.
In addition to these three primary sources of travel/research funding, the Capstone International Programs Center is located in BB Comer Hall. It supports international travel for students engaged in research and other professional activities (e.g., presenting work at a meeting). This is an important source of additional research and travel money.
This refers to sources of funding external to the university. These sources are relatively limited for MA students, although one option is the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. These fellowships are awarded to undergraduate students entering a graduate program, or to students who are in their first year of graduate study. They offer multi-year stipends.
Students in and/or entering the PhD program should explore a number of extramural funding options, including (but not limited to) National Research Service Awards (NRSA) from the National Institutes of Health; the Social Science Research Council; the Fulbright program (including Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays fellowships); and, depending on the student’s area of research, specialty organizations such as the American Heart Association or the American Diabetes Association. Given the limited nature of the graduate support available at the university, it is the student’s responsibility to explore additional sources of funding.
With respect to funding for dissertation research, some of the fellowships noted above (e.g., the NRSA, Fulbright) also provide funding for research, as well as a graduate study stipend. Other sources of funding specifically for dissertation research include the Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation, as well as funding from the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the Social Science Research Council. It is expected that all PhD students will actively pursue funding for their dissertation research, from these and other sources. 14
To Re-classify as an Alabama Resident
A student may petition the university to be re-classified as an Alabama resident. Such reclassification is advantageous to the student, the department, and the University, in that the payment for tuition and fees that accompanies GTAs, GRAs, and other fellowships is substantially reduced (note that these are real funds), and hence frees up money within the Graduate School for other uses. Also, some awards received by a student (e.g., an NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant) may not carry funds for tuition and fees, they then become the responsibility of the student. Information is available from the Office of the University Registrar. It is the student’s responsibility to initiate this process.