Graduate Program

Financial Support

Graduate study in chemistry is a full-time job, so most students pursuing doctoral degrees in our programs receive full support as teaching assistants (TAs), as research assistants (RAs), or through University or external fellowships. Financial support is typically available only for PhD students in our program; MS students are generally not offered financial support at the time of admission.

Most students are eligible for support during their first five years in the PhD program, provided they remain in good standing. Additional support beyond these periods as an RA is possible if the research advisor agrees to provide support.

The current TA/RA stipend is $24,480, paid over 12 months. TA and RA positions also include a full tuition scholarship and health insurance coverage. The stipend is adjusted periodically; whenever adjustments are made, these apply also to students already in the program.

No separate application for financial aid is necessary — all students who apply to the Graduate School are fully considered for financial support.

Teaching Assistantships

two students looking at a computer screen

Typically, admission to our PhD program includes five years of financial support, initially provided in the form of a graduate teaching assistantship (TA) and full tuition scholarship. In exchange for that support, students are expected to work in support of the department’s teaching mission, typically serving as a teaching assistant for our laboratory courses.

During their first year, TAs usually teach in the general or organic chemistry lab courses, where they are assigned approximately 10 hours/week of student contact time — equivalent to three lab sections of freshman chemistry or two sections of organic chemistry.

Full-time TAs have a 0.5 full-time employment (FTE) assignment, i.e. they are expected to work 20 hours/week as TAs, and the rest of the week on their research. This includes student contact time, office hours, preparation, and grading.

Research Assistantships

Later in the program, your research advisor may be able to provide you a research assistantship (RA), in which case your advisor commits to paying your stipend and tuition costs out of research funds. In that case, you are relieved of teaching duties and you can dedicate yourself to research full time. The award of an RA position depends solely on the advisor and on the availability of research funds.

Fellowships

A number of fellowships are available to both entering and current chemistry graduate students. Incoming students can be nominated by the department’s recruiting committee for the following fellowships or awards (student cannot self-nominate):

  • College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Merit Award (DMA), Dean’s Diversity Award (DDA): these monetary awards increase the awardee’s stipend for their first year in the program. They are additions on top of a regular teaching or research assistantship. They do not modify the teaching requirements associated with a TA position. The Dean’s Merit award is awarded to students
  • University-wide Graduate Council Fellowship: a one-year fellowship that increases the awardee’s stipend and provides one semester off teaching duties during the first year in the program.
  • University-wide National Alumni Association Fellowship: a one-year fellowship that increases the awardee’s stipend and provides one semester off teaching duties during the first year in the program.
  • University-wide McNair Fellowship: a two-year fellowship aimed at increasing participation in graduate studies of underrepresented minorities, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and first-time college students. It increases the awardee’s stipend and provides one semester off teaching duties during each one of the first two years in the program.
  • Alabama Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation — Bridge to the Doctorate program: a two-year fellowship funded by the National Science Foundation, aimed at increasing participation in graduate studies of underrepresented minorities that have already participated in an LSAMP program during their undergraduate studies. It also provides access to support measures during the first two years of graduate school. See the LSAMP website for more details.

The fellowships provide stipends at least at the same level of regular TA/RA appointments, as well as full tuition scholarships, while partially relieving students from teaching duties.

Health Insurance

Students supported by assistantships and UA fellowships receive health insurance benefits as well. Domestic students supported by assistantships and UA fellowships typically receive (the monetary equivalent of) single-coverage health insurance as part of their stipend. International students are typically enrolled in the UA health plan. Students can purchase insurance for their spouse or family for an additional cost.

International Applicants

International applicants to the PhD program who wish to be considered for teaching (TA) or research assistantships (RA) or fellowships are not required to submit a financial statement. In fact, the majority of applicants to the PhD program to whom we make offers will be supported by assistantships or fellowships and, therefore, never need to provide a financial statement.

However, in case an international student plans to provide their own support (i.e., tuition and living expenses) to attend graduate school, for instance in the case of most MS applicants, the student is required to provide a financial statement after an offer of admission without support is made.

If an applicant will be supported by a fellowship from their native country, documentation of this financial support should be provided to the UA Graduate School during the application process.

Alabama Residency

Alabama residents receive a significant discount on tuition at The University of Alabama. Therefore, we encourage all students who are able to become Alabama residents to do so as soon as possible. To apply for resident status, fill out an application for residency reclassification and submit it to the Office of the Registrar prior to the first day of the semester in which you would like the change to take place (and as early as the start of your second year).

For more information, see the Registrar’s residency policy for tuition purposes.

Fees

Students on TA and RA receive full tuition scholarships but will pay course fees, which amount to around $17/credit hour (typically $100 to $150 per semester) to the College of Arts and Sciences. Additional costs (e.g., parking fees, etc.) may be incurred depending on individual students’ choices.