Graduate School offers new sixth-year funding program to support Ph.D. students

by Emily Aronson, Office of Communications

Princeton University's Graduate School will offer a new sixth-year funding program to support Ph.D. students in the humanities and social sciences. The program is part of a broader commitment to provide additional funding opportunities for Ph.D. students in all disciplines.

The new initiative, called the Dean's Completion Fellowship/PGRA Program, is intended to provide increased funding on top of existing programs that financially support Ph.D. students. The program will provide fellowship funding (covering tuition/fees and a full stipend) for the fall semester to selected sixth-year students in the humanities and social sciences. Selected students who complete their degree by the end of the fall semester will then have the opportunity to be appointed as paid postgraduate research associates (PGRAs) through the end of their sixth year at Princeton.

"This is a way to provide an additional and generous form of financial support to promising sixth-year students, allowing them to focus on completion of their dissertation," Dean of the Graduate School Sanjeev Kulkarni said. "The initiative is also aimed at incentivizing degree completion and providing professional development opportunities by allowing students to transition to postgraduate research associates immediately upon completion of their degree. This experience will make them stronger candidates for both academic and non-academic positions after they complete their Princeton programs."

The program will begin funding students in the 2017-18 academic year, with an expected total of approximately 40 slots distributed among departments in the humanities and social sciences. This spring, students will be selected for the program by individual departments in conjunction with the Graduate School.

Princeton's Ph.D. programs in the humanities and social sciences provide full funding during the regular program length, which is typically five years. After the regular program length, an additional two-year period of enrollment, known as Dissertation Completion Enrollment (DCE), is available for qualifying students who need additional time to complete their dissertation. The Graduate School's family-focused initiatives also provide accommodations regarding enrollment time and financial support for graduate students who become parents.

While Princeton provides generous funding for Ph.D. students, the University's recent strategic planning effort identified pressures on the funding of graduate students across the range of disciplines. In the sciences and engineering, declines in federal funding for sponsored research have created pressures at Princeton and elsewhere. To help address these challenges, the University allocated funding to provide matching funds for faculty who support fourth- and fifth-year students on sponsored research. This initiative for the sciences and engineering complements the sixth-year funding program in the humanities and social sciences.