Financial Support for Graduate Students: Graduate and Research Assistantships, Scholarships and Fellowships, and Research and Travel Funds and Awards
The Department attempts to provide support for all eligible students. The support is intended to
- Assist you in meeting the expenses of graduate study without having to find employment outside of the university, and
- Provide student assistance to faculty in meeting their research and teaching responsibilities.
1. Departmental Graduate Assistantships
Initial offers of support are made to the best-qualified applicants at, or shortly after, an offer of admission is extended. If you are not offered support prior to enrollment, it is unlikely that you will be offered departmental support during your degree program. Support from the department is as a 9-month appointment as teaching/research assistants (graduate assistantships; GAs). In this case the student is obligated to work 10 hours per week for the research mentor and 10 hours per week as a teaching assistant to one of the NTR undergraduate courses. Stipends are usually available to M.S. thesis students (beginning at $9,500/9 mo) for a period of two years, to Ph.D. students (beginning at $16,150/9 mo) for three years if the student already has a M.S. thesis degree, or for four years if the student is entering the program with a B.S. M.S. non-thesis students may be offered support but this is on a year-to-year basis. Additional funds are also available from individual faculty. These funds are usually offered to students to work as a research assistant on a specific research project. Summer support is also available from the Graduate School (see below) and from individual faculty members. In addition to an assistantship (GA), out-of-state students may be granted an out-of-state tuition waiver (or money in lieu of the waiver), which pays the out-of-state portion of tuition costs. If you are not already a North Carolina resident we urge you to seek residency as soon as possible to reduce the demand on the limited number of tuition waivers available. See the section above for the details on gaining status as a North Carolina state resident. Some in-state tuition waivers are also available on a competitive basis.
As noted above, the service required by a departmental assistantship may be teaching, research, administrative assistance, or some combination of these. The Director of the Graduate Program in Nutrition makes service assignments at the beginning of each academic year. The service obligation of a Graduate Assistant (GA) will vary somewhat with the size and format of the course that you are teaching and whether you have previous experience teaching the course. Assistantship workweeks begin the week prior to the beginning of classes each semester and end the last day of final exams. Hourly assignments can vary from week to week depending on project timetables and the needs of students. As far as possible, your assignment will be made by mutual agreement with you and your supervisor, but you must remember that these assignments are an obligation of the assistantship that you have accepted. If you refuse to carry out your assigned duties, you may lose your assistantship. If you believe that you are being asked to perform excessive or inappropriate work as a graduate assistant, you should discuss this with your supervisor. If you cannot resolve the problem, you should discuss it with the Director of the Graduate Program in Nutrition and/or the Department Chair. The payment stipends attached to graduate assistantships are paid in 4 monthly installments each semester.
2. Scholarships and Fellowships
The School of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) and the Department of NTR also offer a number of fellowship and scholarship awards each year to graduate majors in the school. The amounts of the awards vary from year to year with the growth of the endowment. Some are based largely on need; some on merit only. The NTR faculty decides some of these awards. Others are available only for graduate students who apply for them. In the latter case, applications are distributed to students in all departments in HHS at the end of November of each year. They must be returned by the third week of December. These deadlines are well advertised. The fellowships and scholarships are announced at the school’s Honors Convocation held the first week of April each year.
3. Summer Assistantships
Each Spring semester, the Graduate School asks Deans and Department Chairs to nominate deserving students for summer assistantships. Some half-summer assistantships are available on a competitive basis. The Department Chair and/or the Director of the Graduate Program in Nutrition will announce the availability and criteria for appointment of the assistantships and confer with faculty and students before making their requests to the Dean of the Graduate School.
4. External Grants
Some private foundations and federal funding agencies make grants available to support graduate student research and dissertation progress. You are strongly encouraged to explore these types of funding opportunities by inquiring at the Office of Research Services and by looking for announcements in newsletters of professional organizations as well as those that may be posted near the NTR Office area or others that your advisor may know about. Your advisor can assist in identifying possible sources of external support and in the preparation of the proposal. Formal proposals for research often must be routed through the Office of Research Services. If the application process requires a formal proposal for your research, the proposal may need to be approved by the University review committees for use of animal and human subject research.
5. Other Funding for Research and Travel
1. Departmental Funds
The department often has small travel grants available to graduate students who are presenting original research at professional meetings. These funds can be combined with funds available from other sources on campus (such as the HHS Dean’s Office and the Graduate School, below), to cover travel-related expenses to the professional meeting.
2. School (HHS) Funds
Small travel grants for graduate students are usually available through the Dean’s Office. Travel grant amounts are usually limited to students who are presenting at regional or national meetings. The amount available for graduate student travel, from the Dean’s office, has been $100-$200 per year, and requires submission of an application that is available through the Dean’s office.
3. Graduate Student Association (GSA) Funds
The GSA represents the interests of graduate students on campus. Each department that grants graduate degrees, including NTR, has representatives. The GSA ensures that graduate students have a voice in all aspects of university life. The GSA also sponsors some activities of interest to graduate students and provides funds for some professional activities (in addition to those that you may have received for the same activities through the Department of NTR or the School of HHS).
The GSA office in Elliot Center has application forms for thesis/dissertation awards and for travel support awards. The completed application forms must be submitted to the GSA Finance Committee in 256 Elliot. At the present time, thesis/dissertation awards of $300 are made available on a first-come/first-serve basis. Funding is in the form of reimbursement for incurred expenses, and receipts must be submitted within 45 days of the purchases made. Conference travel awards of up to $300 (if presenting), or $150 (if attending only), are also made available for graduate students. Travel grants are in the form of “professional development funds.” If presenting, students can receive up to 2 awards per year. If attending only, one award per year is the maximum.
6. Graduate Student Awards
Graduate students in Nutrition have won highly competitive awards at research competitions held in conjunction with Annual Meetings of a variety of professional organizations. Over the last ten years, graduate students have been recipients of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) Proctor and Gamble Graduate Student Research Awards for Abstracts and three were also recipients of the Oral Competition awards. Two additional students have been both Abstract and Oral Competition winners of the ASN Emerging Leaders Award. Graduate students have also received distinguished research awards through the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine (Young Investigators Award), Allied Academic Conference (Distinguished Research Award), Society for Behavioral Medicine, and Nutrition Education/Public Health Nutrition Division of the Society for Nutrition Education.
Graduate students have received top honors in poster competitions held by ASN at Experimental Biology meetings and held by other professional meetings such as the Annual Meeting of Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition. Graduate students have received pre-doctoral fellowships such as the: ASN Pre-doctoral Fellowship, ASN McNeil Fellowship Award, UNCF-MERCK Graduate Science Dissertation Fellowship, and NIH-NIDDK F31 Ruth Krischstein NRSA Fellowship. They have received numerous travel awards to present their research at national and international meetings and have received numerous scholarships from the American Dietetic Association (now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), the North Carolina Dietetic Association, and UNCG.