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Financial Support

Financial support of graduate students is provided in the form of research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and fellowships. Historically, all graduate students in good standing have received full financial support (tuition and stipend) for the duration of their graduate studies at Stanford.

First-year students (except those with fellowships) usually receive teaching assistantships for three quarters, which provide a stipend plus full payment of tuition. Support in summer months and in succeeding years is typically provided through research assistantships or fellowships. First-year students for the '23-24 AY (academic year) will receive no less than $52,092 for the first year plus tuition support. Post first-year students earn no less than $51,600 over four quarters plus tuition support for '23-24 AY.

Teaching opportunities for first-year students include classroom or laboratory instruction. These require about 15-20 hours per week for three quarters, and are specifically arranged so as not to interfere with normal academic progress. Sources of funding for research assistantships include grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense in addition to industrial contracts, corporate gifts, and Departmental fellowships.

In addition to the students on national fellowships, the Chemistry Department will nominate its top 10 applicants for the prestigious Stanford Graduate Fellowship. This institutional fellowship will provide the recipients with full tuition support as well as stipend at a level competitive with the national fellowships. As Stanford Graduate Fellows, the recipients will also enjoy exclusive events and lectures organized by Stanford and the School of Humanities and Sciences. For more information about the SGF, please visit the Stanford Graduate Fellowships website.

Additionally, Stanford's Knight-Hennessy Scholars program awards up to 100 high-achieving students every year with full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford, including the PhD in Chemistry. To be considered, you must apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by October 11, 2023. 

Details of student financial support are provided in a separate letter following admission. Stipends are set such that the students' net income is equivalent to the net income received at other major universities, and is consistent with the cost of living in the Stanford area. Additionally, first-year students arriving from distant locations may receive a travel allowance to partially defray the cost of necessary travel.

The Chemistry Department is committed to providing salary/stipend and tuition for Chemistry Ph.D. students who are in good academic standing, working for chemistry professors. Chemistry students receive support from three different sources: Teaching Assistantships (TA), Research Assistantships (RA), and fellowships. Salaries and tuition benefits depend on the sources of funding received. Students with a 50% assistantship cannot work more than eight additional hours a week at a part-time job. During breaks (e.g. between quarters and summer) students can work more than eight hours a week at a part-time job.

Support Sources for Doctoral Students

Teaching Assistantships

The University sets the fixed TA salary rate for each teaching category (e.g., teaching assistant or affiliate) and percent appointment. TAs are paid semi-monthly and the appointment includes tuition benefits. Chemistry’s total TA budget is set by the Dean of H&S and is related to course enrollments.

Research Assistantships

The University sets the minimum RA salary, and departments have the option of paying above this minimum. In Chemistry, it is Department policy that all RAs be paid the same departmentally approved salary. RAs are paid semi-monthly, and normally the research advisor pays them from his/her research grants.

Including salary, tuition benefits, and indirects, but excluding laboratory supplies, it cost more than $100,000/year to support each student on a grant. Including supplies and equipment, a typical grant in Chemistry supports one or two graduate students a year. Research grant budgets are set at the time of award, leaving almost no room for subsequent RA salary adjustments outside of University-projected annual rate increases. Most grants run for three years. Continuing RA support depends on continued success at winning new and renewed grants.


External - Stipends vary, amounts are set by the funding institution (e.g., NSF, Hughes, Hertz, Dept of Defense, etc.). Typically students are paid quarterly at the beginning of each quarter in a lump sum, and usually fellowships cover three years of support.

Internal - Students without TA, RA, or other support are paid from the Department’s endowed fellowship funds. For convenience, these students are often referred to as “RAs”. They receive a quarterly stipend equivalent to the Department RA salary. Including stipend and tuition, it cost approximately $60,000/year to support a (non-TGR) student on fellowship. Use of the Department’s endowed fellowship funds is restricted by the terms of the individual endowments (e.g., to field of specialization). The major use of these funds has always been to support students of junior faculty who are still developing a research grant support base.

A 50%-time appointment is the maximum TA, RA, or TA/RA-combined appointment for a graduate student in chemistry. Fellows do not have percent appointments. A 50% TA or RA appointment carries with it eight, nine, or ten units of tuition credit which covers normal registration for a graduate student. Lesser TA and RA appointments are possible at adjusted salaries and tuition credits.

Normal practice in Chemistry is to support students as TAs during their first three quarters, and as RAs thereafter, but this model is subject to change. The TA obligation to the Department is three 50% TA quarters and one Head TA (30%) or Advanced TA (20%). These numbers are reduced for those with fellowships. TA assignments are based on the needs of the Department and are at the discretion of the Department.

Support in Chemistry

First-Year Students

Entering students normally are supported as TAs for three quarters (50%-time) and then an RA (50%-time) for one quarter, providing a minimum annual income based on the University TA and RA salary rates. First-year students on external fellowships are typically TAs for only one quarter. The TA salary supplements the fellowship stipend, but caps on allowable supplementation limit TA opportunities for Fellows.

Advanced Graduates

After the first academic year, graduate students in Chemistry are normally supported as RAs for four quarters each year, providing a minimum annual income based on the University RA salary rates.

Supplementation for Advanced Graduates

After the first year, graduate students must serve, one time, as advanced TAs, head TAs, or instrument TAs. There are over 50 part-time TA positions, accommodating some 27% of advanced students. The advanced TA supplement makes the total income of advanced graduates about equal to or greater than that of first-year graduate students. Head TAs receive no less than $2,974 extra income and advanced TAs earn no less than $1,534 extra.

Financial Aid


The Lowy Fund is designated as loans for chemistry and medical school graduate students. Because of the high cost of living in the Bay Area, the University may continue an interest-free, short-term loan program designed to help graduate students with cash flow problems associated with moving off campus (e.g. security deposit, first and last month rent). Contact the Financial Aid Office (Montag Hall) for information on loans.

Special Grants-in-Aid

A program was developed in 1983 to help meet the problems of doctoral students with unusual financial hardships. Students admitted to study for a doctoral level degree (PhD, DMA, EDD) in the Schools of Earth Sciences, Education, Engineering, Humanities & Sciences, and Medicine (PhD programs) are eligible to apply. Applications are encouraged from students experiencing an unexpected financial hardship, associated particularly with new family or medical circumstances, who cannot reasonably be expected to alleviate the financial difficulty through fellowship or loan sources.

The grant is not intended to be used as complete support for students where other sources of aid have ceased, nor can grants be made for dissertation costs under this program. All students applying for these funds must have their basic support covered from another source. Preference in awarding will be given to students who have made satisfactory progress and are well advanced in their program, with an established expected degree date. Applications may be obtained in the Financial Aid Office.