Brown University School of Engineering

Financial Support

Graduate School Official Information on financing and support.

Although there is no guarantee of continuous financial support, a large number of engineering graduate students do receive financial support from a variety of sources, such as external (industrial, government and foundation) fellowships and scholarships, Brown University Fellowships, and either full or part-time research assistantships (RAs) and teaching assistantships (TAs). In addition, a variety of student loans are generally available.

For more information, please visit www.financialaid.brown.edu.

Student Loans

The Office of Financial Aid handles loan applications for graduate students. Eligible students can apply for a Federal Direct Student Loan. Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms which determine eligibility for federal funds are available at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

External Fellowships

Graduate students are encouraged to apply for external funding whenever possible. The Graduate School maintains a database of opportunities, and students are welcome to use files both electronically and in hard copy. The most generally applicable opportunities are published three times a year. The Office of Research Administration provides access to a much larger database (SPIN).

Research Assistantships

Research Assistantships (RAs) represent a common form of graduate student support, and competition for these awards is keen. Students therefore should seek Faculty Advisors with well-established and adequately-funded research programs to enhance their chances of continuing support. Because externally funded research usually is provided on an annual basis, RA support normally is guaranteed for only one year at a time. Full RA appointments within Brown Engineering cover complete tuition costs for three courses/semester, and pay a stipend approximately equal to that provided by a Brown University Fellowship. Such appointments require that the student spend an average of twenty hours/week working on an advisor-approved research project. Fractional RA appointments, which are possible in the Division of Engineering, pay proportional tuition costs and stipends.

Full summer RA appointments, when available, require full-time research during two of the three summer months and pay a stipend equal to one-third that provided during the academic year. Fractional summer RA appointments also are possible. Virtually all summer support comes through research grants. Graduate students who wish to be supported over the summer should complete the form sent to them in March by the Office of Student Affairs and then have the form signed by their advisors.

Teaching Assistantships

Brown's commitment to its undergraduate program makes it mandatory that teaching capability be the first consideration in the selection of Teaching Assistantships (TAs). Such assignments will consider the preferences and the expertise of the graduate student and the work load associated with each course. When possible, preference will be given to the more experienced graduate students without other means of financial support who have completed most of their course work and have demonstrated their ability to teach.

International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) whose first language is not English will be required to be evaluated and certified as Proficient in English before they will be allowed to assume any teaching duties, including supplementary TA appointments (see below). The International Teaching Assistant Program will assume the responsibility of certifying ITAs as proficient in English.

At the end of each semester, the supervising faculty member will evaluate graduate students holding teaching assignments. This evaluation will include suggestions for continued development as a teacher and, together with any undergraduate student evaluations, will become part of the graduate student's annual review.

Full TA appointments within Brown Engineering cover complete tuition costs for three courses/semester, and pay approximately the same stipend as RA appointments for the academic year. Such appointments require that the student spend approximately twenty hours/week on various "instructional duties,'' such as classroom and laboratory lectures, recitation and office hour discussions, one-on-one tutoring, and homework or laboratory grading. Fractional TA appointments, which are not uncommon in Brown Engineering, pay proportional tuition costs and stipends.

Supplementary Teaching Assistantships

Supplementary Teaching Assistantships (STAs), which are very common in the School of Engineering, require six hours of instructional duties per week, often grading homework and conducting office hour discussions, and pay a stipend of approximately $2,000/semester.

The Office of Student Affairs sends a form to all graduate students prior to each semester, requesting that they indicate any desire for a TA or an STA appointment during the semester. Faculty members also are sent a complementary form for requesting graduate student teaching assistance in their courses. The Engineering TA Assignment Committee, which consists of the Dean, the Director of Engineering Graduate Programs, the Executive Officer and the Manager of Student Affairs, then considers all of the written faculty and graduate student requests and, using the criteria delineated above, makes the appropriate teaching assignments for the semester.

Graduate Student Travel Fund

Limited funds are available to help defray travel expenses for graduate students presenting papers at recognized professional conferences. The maximum award will be $500 and grants will be provided until the fund is exhausted. There are two application periods each year: October 15 - November 30 and March 15 - April 30. Students must submit a Graduate School Travel Expense Report (available at the Graduate School), endorsed by the Dean of Engineering, to the Graduate School during one of these periods. No funds will be disbursed until evidence that the student has been accepted to present a paper has been provided to the Graduate School.