Offers of admission to the graduate program usually contain an offer of full financial support that includes tuition, a stipend, and some benefits (such as medical insurance). The financial support will persist through the entire programs as long as the student record remains satisfactory.

The main types of financial assistance for graduate students are:

  • Teaching: Graduate Student Instructorship (GSI)
  • Research funding: Graduate Student Research Assistantship (GSRA)
  • Fellowships

The proportion of support from each source is determined in the beginning of each term (fall, winter, spring/summer).


Full support as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) consists of 4 laboratory sections, each meeting for 2 hours per week. The nominal effort for this type of appointment is 20 hours per week when preparation, grading, and other duties are taken into account.

All students should become eligible for teaching, whether they have immediate need for a GSI appointment or not. This requires completion of GSI training and, for international students, language training.

Research Funding

The availability of research funding varies between research groups. Some funding sources are given to very specific projects, while other research grants are much more flexible. Because of this and other factors, there is no strict rule for how much research funding a student receives. Students are therefore encouraged to discuss funding expectations with prospective advisors.


Fellowships provide valuable additional support for some students. Some types of fellowships:

  • Prestigious Departmental fellowships: the Regent’s, Ford, Baer, and Colegrove fellowships. These fellowships are awarded in recognition of outstanding undergraduate accomplishment and future promise. For more details, see our Scholarships and Awards web page.
  • The Rackham Science Award (Also known as the Rackham Merit Fellowship): This program offers an enhanced funding package roughly equivalent to between two and five years of full support with no teaching obligations. The program supports the academic excellence and inclusiveness of the Michigan graduate community by embracing students who come from many educational, cultural, geographic, and familial backgrounds. By offering financial assistance to those students who might not otherwise have access, the University aims to reduce disparities in graduate education. The University also aims to promote the values of diversity and inclusion by encouraging the admission and funding of students who represent abroad array of life experiences and perspectives, because this enhances the quality of the intellectual environment for all students. Graduate students do not apply for this fellowship, but are nominated by faculty in their graduate program. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for this award.  
  • Physics Department Fellowships: These fellowships supported by private donors offer reduced teaching load for first year and beyond to allow more time to identify and secure research with physics faculty and researchers. All admitted students are automatically considered.
  • External fellowships: Many University of Michigan students receive competitive external fellowships that offer substantial support. Examples are fellowships from the US National Science Foundation (US citizens and permanent residents) and similar opportunities for international students offered through their home countries. Students are strongly encouraged to apply for these external fellowships. In situations where the external fellowship offers support that is usually offered to University of Michigan students (see links below); we work with the external agency to provide a supplement.

Useful Links for Funding Opportunities

If you wish to put together a research proposal for outside grants or funding, please contact Christina Zigulis in the Physics Department Student Services Office, 1440 Randall Lab.