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Introduction

A graduate student is someone with a four-year university degree who is working on a master's degree or Ph.D. Graduate students at Stanford receive funding from a variety of sources that range from government agencies, employers and foundations to academic departments and schools. 

Although these two resources set forth policy and procedures for graduate student funding, the School Dean’s Office is often the best source of information and support for funding policy and associated questions.  

  • The Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures Handbook (GAP) is a compilation of university policies and other information related to academic standing and financial support of Stanford graduate students (including non-degree-seeking students). 
  • The Research Policy Handbook (RPH) is a collection of policies, guidelines and general information related to the research enterprise at Stanford, under the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Research (VPDOR).  Many of the policies found there apply to all populations served by GFS.

Graduate Fellowships

A Graduate fellowship is a form of graduate student support that typically covers tuition as well a stipend, or a living allowance and does not need to be repaid upon completion of enrollment. They are processed through the Student Financial Services department and paid to graduate students at the beginning of each quarter.  

A Stanford Graduate Fellowship is awarded on a merit basis to assist a student in the pursuit of a degree; as such, the student is not considered to be an employee, in terms of work obligations and their stipend is not considered salary. Fellowships may be awarded by the department, school, Vice Provost for Graduate Education, or from an outside source.

A full Fellowship is defined as one that provides the same amount of support as a 50% FTE Assistantship, at the minimum salary level established by Stanford University and providing the equivalent level of tuition support. Students on full Fellowships may hold a concurrent research or teaching Assistantship appointment up to a maximum of 25%. 

A named Fellowship is an award of financial support defined programmatically and identified in terms of the source of funding (e.g., Stanford Graduate Fellowships, Lieberman Fellowships, and other named school or departmental Fellowships). Named Fellowships are only available to matriculated Stanford graduate students. 

Graduate Student Employment

Assistantship

Graduate Student Assistantships are a form of student employment. The compensation package includes both salary and tuition allowance (TAL) for the performance of research or teaching services to the University as part of the student's academic and professional training and development. Salaries are paid for research or teaching performed while enrolled as part of an academic program.

Research Assistant

A Research Assistant (RA) works on a research project under the supervision of the academic faculty advisor, in conjunction with the student’s own degree goals. Most typically, during the academic year, an RA would be appointed at the maximum-allowed 50% time. This appointment provides a salary payment at a rate set by the academic department or school, as well as covers the cost of tuition. It is possible during the summer to be appointed as an RA at a higher level of effort. 

Teaching or Course Assistantship

A Teaching Assistant (TA) or Course Assistant (CA) is appointed to support a faculty member in teaching a course. Depending on the appointment title, duties may range from helping in the preparation of course materials to overseeing lab sections to holding regular office hours. The appointment percentage level varies in these positions (at minimum 10%).  It is possible to combine RA and TA appointments in a single quarter, depending on teaching needs and other factors. Note that many departments will set a minimum number of TA quarter appointments for each student to complete as part of the overall degree requirement standard.

Assistantships are paid a salary for services provided either in a teaching or research role. RAs and TAs receive a Stanford paycheck twice each month and are subject to withholding of employment taxes with the exception of Social Security and Voluntary Disability Insurance.Tuition Allowance (TAL) is the tuition component of the Assistantship compensation package. The cost of TAL is shared between University general funds (or Medical School funds, in the case of assistantships funded by that school) and the school, department, and/or sponsored project funds providing the assist

Graduate Hourly Employment

A graduate student may be employed and paid for work unrelated to the student's academic and professional training. Such employment is not considered an Assistantship appointment, and thus does not include a Tuition Allowance. Some departments have set rules as to how many hours a student may be employed in addition to being appointed as an RA or TA; thus, a student should consult with his/her Advisor before taking on additional hours of employment. Hourly employment for teaching or research services should not be used in lieu of a TA or RA appointment, where the work would otherwise qualify for Assistantship compensation.

Hourly employment is processed through Payroll, not the Graduate Financial System (GFS). US students appointed to a 50% Assistantship, or holding a full Fellowship, are limited to an additional eight hours of hourly employment per week. Additional limits may apply to international students.

Created: 03.19.21
Updated: 03.31.21