Skip to content

Financial Support Options

Fellowships from outside agencies

We encourage students to apply for outside fellowships while applying to graduate school.  These fellowships may be awarded prior to entry into the Joint Program.  There are also some fellowships that current students can consider.  These fellowships usually pay part of the total cost of tuition and stipend for a fixed period of time. The balance of the support costs may be provided by the Academic Programs Office at WHOI, appropriate MIT Institute funds, or through an advisor's research program.  As a student, you are responsible for meeting a fellowship's requirements for eligibility, area of research, and progress reporting. Most outside fellowships are intended to support students while doing both course work and thesis research and do not involve other obligations.

Related Links 

» American Association of University Women (AAUW) Fellowships
» American Meteorolgical Society (AMS) Graduate Fellowships
» Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF)
» Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program
» Ford Foundation (for minorities)
» Hertz Foundation Fellowship
» Massachusetts Sea Grant Graduate Research Fellowship
» National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Graduate Fellowships
» National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG)
» National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) 
» U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) STAR Fellowship

Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA) on Grants and Contracts

This is the most common source of support for Joint Program students. It differs in some important aspects from the other sources of funding. Advisors may have GRA support before accepting a student or may secure it after the student has entered the program. In some cases, the student may write all or part of a grant proposal for his or her support, with the advisor as the principal investigator.

Students supported as GRAs are expected to work half-time on their grant projects, whether or not a project is related to a student's thesis research. Advisors are responsible for trying to obtain continuing grant support for their students who are on GRAs or will need support when other sources of funding are completed. Usually, GRA funding can be planned so that the grant work contributes, at least indirectly, to the student's progress.

Students and advisors need to discuss this issue in advance of beginning GRA support, so that obligations and expectations are understood and accepted. Obligations may include a variety of research and scholarly activities as well as activities in support of research such as field and laboratory work, literature searches and reviews, data synthesis, theoretical computations, and database management.

MIT and WHOI cost share 65% of the academic semester's tuition and all of the summer semester tuition for GRA support on grants and contracts. The exact mechanisms of cost sharing and the overhead and benefits costs applied to a GRA are different for each institution as part of the U.S. government-approved accounting rules governing each institution.

WHOI-Administered or MIT-Administered Traineeships

These are generally derived from a grant to the respective institution, and are given to incoming or resident students based on criteria of the granting agency and/or the institution. Such traineeships may be used to support research in specific disciplines or subdisciplines (e.g., Coastal Research Traineeships); but, like outside fellowships, they generally do not require you to spend significant time on work other than your courses and research.

MIT Teaching Assistantships/WHOI Teaching Fellowships

Although teaching assistantships are a common source of graduate student support in most universities, including MIT, there are only a few available at MIT for Joint Program students, especially those in residence in Woods Hole. The WHOI Academic Programs Office has limited funds to support a few students per semester as Paul M. Fye Teaching Fellows. These students are expected to work half-time (20 hours per week) or one-quarter time (10 hours per week) as teaching assistants or teaching fellows, under the supervision of the course instructor(s).

Specific duties vary depending on the size and nature of the course. You should undertake a teaching assistantship/teaching fellowship only after consultation with your advisor to ensure that the time commitment will not adversely affect progress toward your degree.

Teaching assistantships at MIT are assigned by MIT departments upon recommendation by course instructors. Teaching fellowship availability and awards at WHOI are requested by the course instructor(s) through the J. Seward Johnson Chair/Education Coordinator in each WHOI department and approved by the WHOI Dean upon the recommendation of the WHOI Associate Dean, who takes into account all teaching fellowship needs for the semester.

MIT Fellowships

A limited number of fellowships are available from the MIT-WHOI Joint Program office at MIT and are awarded by the Director of the Joint Program at MIT to mainly first- and second-year students.

Additionally, there are some fellowships managed by MIT-only.  (see below Related Link for more information)

Related Links 
» External MIT Fellowships for current Joint Program students

WHOI Fellowships

The Academic Programs Office has several fellowships for first- and second-year students that have been endowed in honor of individuals. In addition, funds are available to supplement outside fellowships. The Academic Programs Office also coordinates other WHOI-based fellowships such as those from the Institutes at WHOI or from other special funds designated for graduate student fellowship support. In addition, the WHOI Academic Programs Office, through its endowment income and occasional gifts designated for student support, administers funds that can be used for graduate fellowship support, but only after all other support sources have been exhausted.

The most common use of these funds is for students whose GRA funding has ended prior to completion of their thesis or when there is a short funding hiatus between grants or contracts. Student responsibilities to the advisor are the same as those expected with other funding sources.