With few exceptions, the Department of Political Science offers a 5-year package of financial aid to all entering doctoral students. That package currently includes full fellowship in the first year, so that new students can begin the program without teaching or other obligations. During years 2-5, departmental funding will include some combination of teaching (as Graduate Student Instructors, or GSIs), research assistant (GSRAs), or fellowship support. The financial package also includes a substantial stipend, GradCare (U-M's health insurance for graduate students), some summer funding, and other benefits negotiated under the GEO contract. Many of our students win fellowships through other U-M programs or external sources, such as the National Science Foundation or the Brookings Institution.
Although doctoral students cannot defer their departmental aid once they've started the program, external fellowships add luster to students' CVs and free them up to devote more time to their coursework or dissertation research. Our students often receive summer employment (and sometimes academic year support) through faculty external grants, such as the American National Election Study (ANES) funded by NSF. Such work not only generates income, it provides opportunities to work with a faculty member and learn about the practice of political science research by observation and participation. As students begin their dissertation research, they often apply for dissertation support and research funds through a wide range of sources internal and external to the university. U-M Political Science students do very well in these competitions, regularly winning prestigious dissertation fellowships or grants.
In addition, the Department has its own dissertation fellowship program for doctoral students studying American politics or public policy. The funding for this program comes from a substantial endowment set up by U-M graduate and former U.S. President Gerald R. Ford. These fellowships provide income roughly equivalent to the standard GSI stipend and a research budget of from $1-10k; the Department hands out as many as five of these awards each year.
Rick Hall, Director of Graduate Financial Aid