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Financing Your Education - Doctoral Programs

A doctoral degree is a significant investment in your future, and financing your education is a critical factor to consider. While the funding we provide covers the basic standard cost of attendance determined by Stanford University for a modest life as a graduate student, accepting an offer from a doctoral program has significant personal, professional, and financial implications. Below you’ll find information on GSE and Stanford financial support for doctoral students, as well as other important considerations when it comes to financing your PhD.

Funding guarantee

Stanford GSE offers all admitted PhD students a five-year funding package that provides tuition aid, fellowship stipend, and assistantship salary which covers the standard cost of attendance. The funding is based on meeting the basic financial need of the student alone for the first five academic years of the doctoral program and entails assistantship work. The cornerstone of the GSE doctoral experience is the apprenticeship that all students undertake, typically under the guidance of their academic advisor, but often with other Stanford faculty as well. In this apprenticeship model, doctoral students are provided with a funding package that consists of opportunities to serve as teaching and research assistants for faculty members' courses and research projects. By this means, and in combination with the coursework, students are prepared to excel as university faculty, education researchers, and leaders in the field.

All funding is contingent upon satisfactory academic progress and performance on the research and teaching assistantships. There is no separate application for this funding.


As part of the academic and professional training and development, students undertake assistantships which provide both salary and tuition. Research assistantships are funded by faculty research grants, other faculty funds or as needed, by the GSE Dean’s Office, and can lead to joint publications with faculty or to dissertation topics. Students who have sufficient expertise and experience may also be selected as teaching assistants for courses at the GSE or other Stanford schools and departments. Assistantships are typically secured in consultation with faculty advisors. Students work 10 hours (25% assistantship) or 20 hours (50% assistantship) a week depending on their year in the program. 

  • Research assistantship (RA): Various duties for research projects
  • Teaching assistantships (3 types):
  • Course Assistant (CA)—course preparation and grading
  • Teaching Assistant (TA)—leads regularly-scheduled discussion sections
  • Teaching Affiliate (TF)—full responsibility for course

Funding Details 2023-2024

Funding Academic Milestone Guidelines

Year 1

  • Tuition (11-18 units): $58,746
    ($19,582 per quarter for autumn/winter/spring)
  • Summer Tuition (1 unit): $1,272
  • 1st Year Fellowship: $25,800
    ($6,450 per quarter for autumn/winter/spring/summer) 
  • Salary (25% assistantship): $25,800
    ($6,450 per quarter for autumn/winter/spring/summer)

Year 1

  • Successful completion of courses and assistantships 
  • Progress towards the First-Year Review

Years 2-4

  • Tuition (8-10 units): $38,160
    ($12,720 per quarter for autumn/winter/spring)
  • Summer Tuition (1 unit): $1,272
  • Salary (50% assistantship): $51,600
    ($12,900 per quarter for autumn/winter/spring/summer)

Year 2

  • Successful completion of courses and assistantships 
  • Progress towards the Second-Year Review/Qualifying Paper
  • Advance to candidacy

Year 3

  • Successful completion of courses and assistantships 

Year 4

  • Successful completion of all coursework and assistantships for doctoral program and PhD Minor/Disciplinary Master’s
  • Achieve TGR Status 
  • Completion of Dissertation Proposal
  • Dissertation Proposal Hearing

Year 5

  • Tuition (TGR level): $15,264
    ($3,816 per quarter for autumn/winter/spring/summer)
  • Salary (25% assistantship): $25,800
    ($6,450 per quarter for autumn/winter/spring/summer)
  • Graduation Year Fellowship: $25,800
    ($6,450 per quarter for autumn/winter/spring/summer)

Year 5

  • Confirm Reading Committee 
  • Successful completion of assistantships
  • Dissertation Oral Exam
  • Completion of Dissertation

Note: The above figures reflect 2023-2024 rates. Actual amounts will be adjusted to the rates for 2024-25 and future years.

Cost of attendance

Tuition depends on the units taken by the student. In addition to tuition expenses, the cost of attendance of a PhD program involves living expenses such as rent, food, and transportation. The sum of tuition and non-tuition expenses constitutes the standard cost of attendance. 

As you consider applying to graduate school, you can use the standard cost of attendance of your program —plus any additional expenses you might have—to create your financial plan, keeping in mind that tuition and non-tuition expenses of the standard cost of attendance are set by the university on an annual basis.

What you can do now to prepare financially if admitted

  • Prepare for how your standard of living may change as a graduate student, especially if you are coming from a full-time job.
  • Understand that the GSE PhD funding package is intended to cover the basic Stanford student budget for the student alone, and create a financial plan for graduate school.
    • Consider the length of your program, any dependents, existing debt, and additional financial commitments you may have. Students with children may review Stanford support programs for families.
    • If you have personal or special circumstances that require additional expenses above and beyond the standard cost of attendance, plan accordingly.
  • Start saving as much as you are able to cover any unexpected expenses you may incur while in graduate school.
  • Familiarize yourself with federal as well as private student loans, their interest rates, fees, repayment options, deferment policies, and eligibility requirements, so that you are informed if you need to borrow.
  • Be ready to cover all initial expenses, since fellowships and stipends will not be disbursed until a few weeks into your first quarter. Onboarding into a PhD program often requires up front out of pocket expenses for relocation.

Additional GSE resources

Once PhD students matriculate, the GSE has a variety of resources available to support academic work and unanticipated needs.

Stanford University resources

Knight-Hennessy Scholars (KHS) program aims to prepare the next generation of global leaders to address the increasingly complex challenges facing the world. The program selects up to 100 students each year and provides three years of financial support that is integrated into the GSE’s funding package for PhD students.

Vice Provost for Graduate Education awards various fellowships for doctoral students and maintains a list of other Stanford fellowships that students may consider.

Cardinal Care subsidy is an automatic university-wide subsidy program for graduate students. Vaden Health Center manages the university’s Cardinal Care student health insurance.

Stanford Financial Aid Office oversees a number of financial support programs specifically for graduate students with challenging financial situations. 

Additional hourly work is available to students who wish to work for pay as "casual labor" at Stanford up to eight hours a week, provided work does not adversely affect the academic program. Requires approval from the student’s advisor and the Academic Services team.

Other funding sources

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