Financial Support

It is the expectation of the Graduate School that Ph.D. students will be financially supported, through a combination of departmental and extra-departmental funds, for the majority of the time they are registered and working toward their degree. Generally speaking, Ph.D. students should receive payment of tuition, either in the form of a departmental scholarship or an external fellowship that covers some portion of the cost of education, and stipend and fee support for a minimum of 5 years.

Graduate students are supported in a variety of ways. Some will receive fellowships from their departments; others will receive competitive fellowships from the Graduate School or other governmental or private sources. In many of the basic medical science programs, students are appointed to training grant fellowships for their first 2 years of study. Other students are supported through teaching or research assistantships, funded through a department’s instructional budget, or a faculty member’s research funds.

While financial commitments are made to students for a set number of years, it is important to understand that the overall graduate awards budget is dependent on a significant number of students obtaining external fellowships. We expect all students to make a good faith effort to obtain such external support at some point during their funding period and students should be encouraged to pursue these opportunities.

A number of assistantships are available each year to incoming Ph.D. students. Applicants are automatically considered for these assistantships. However, if the graduate applicant has an external award or a source of funding, it is important to mention it in the application. Please visit the Graduate School’s Financial Support website for further information.

Current Stipend Rate

For the fiscal year July 2016 through June 2016, the normal graduate stipend is $2,496.67 per month or $29,960 per year. Please note the Cost of Living in North Carolina is less than in many other cities.* It is not possible to compare the stipends in other institutions without looking at the Cost of Living.* Visit the Duke in Durham website, or Durham's accolades and search the Cost of Living.

Cost of Attendance

Tuition and Fees — The following Graduate School Tuition, Fees and Stipends are for 2016/2017. Tuition is charged on a per semester basis for all graduate students. Entering Ph.D. students are assessed $24,750 each semester (fall and spring) during academic years 1-3. The tuition charge for continuing Ph.D. students is $3,425 each semester (fall and spring) during academic years 4+. Summer tuition is levied as a flat rate of $3,425.

Transcript Fee — All entering students will be charged a one-time fee of $40 in the fall semester, entitling them to an unlimited number of Duke transcripts.

Health Fee — All full-time students and part-time degree seeking candidates are assessed a $386 fee each fall and spring semester for the use of Student Health Services. Students enrolled during the summer full term are assessed a $272 fee (which is adjusted if a student is enrolled in either summer I or summer II terms). The health fee is separate from that which would be paid for comprehensive health insurance, and does not provide for major medical coverage.

Health Insurance — Coverage is required. Students may select coverage from Duke's Student Medical Insurance Plan (SMIP), or provide proof of comparable health coverage. Students who choose SMIP will be charged in the fall semester, based on a rate that is tiered-by-age. An estimate for full-year coverage for students in 2016/2017 is $2,995. Additional health insurance information is available through the provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of North Carolina. For additional information please contact Student Health.

Activity Fee — All students will be charged a student activity fee of $18 per semester by the Graduate and Professional Student Council to support campus events and student government. See GPSC for more information.

Recreation Fee — A charge of $137 per semester will be assessed all students for the use of on-campus recreation facilities, including Wilson and Brodie Recreation Centers.

Audit Fee — Degree-seeking graduate students registered full-time during fall and spring may audit courses without charge. Auditors are permitted on a space-available basis with the written consent of the instructor. Other students may register to audit through Continuing Studies for a fee. All students are assessed charges for summer audits.

Parking Fee — Students should contact Duke Parking and Transportation for information about parking availability and regulations.

The fine print:

  • The stipend ($2,496.67) is the same per month for a TA (teaching assistant) or an RA (research assistant).
  • Tuition ($24,750) and most fees are included in the financial assistance award given to TAs and RAs (i.e. most students do not have to pay for this). These fees include student health fees, recreation fees, activity fees and Transcript fees (in the first Fall term).
  • The “student health fees” are different from the “health insurance” that students have to enroll for. Students have to pay for the health insurance separately.
  • Visit the Typical Academic Year Expenses from the Graduate School. Many of these expenses are paid for the TA or RA.

Normal Schedule

First Academic Year: Most students will work as a TA for the nine-month academic year. First-year graduate TAs are assigned duties of approximately 12–15 hours per week, normally assisting with the general undergraduate physics courses.

First Summer: Most students will work as an RA for the three-month academic year.

Second Academic Year: Most students resume their teaching assistantships in their second academic year, however sometimes a professor will recruit a student to work on a research project with him/her.

Second Summer and Beyond: Most students will be working with a research group and embark on their dissertation research project.

Health Insurance

The Graduate School will pay the individual health insurance premium for Ph.D. students in years 1-6 who enroll in the Duke Student Medical Insurance Plan (Duke SIMP). The Graduate School will not cover health insurance premiums for any other plan nor does this benefit have any cash or other substitution value. Coverage for additional family members must be purchased separately. This plan year will run from August 1 to July 31. The Duke SMIP is mandatory for international students attending Duke on an F-1 or J-1 visa, and they will be automatically enrolled in the Plan.


The stipend (and any supplements) listed here will be part of your gross pay from Duke. Your actual take-home pay will depend upon your personal tax situation and cannot be estimated here. Students from different countries and/or different family situations will be responsible for different tax commitments. In addition, Duke policy dictates that no fees or tuition may be charged to research grants.