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Currently, our offers come with a commitment of five years of funding, typically in the form of a teaching assistant (TA) position (see below for details), and we expect that the PhD can be completed in 4-5 years.

Funding on a departmental TA line is in the form of a 10-month stipend for the school year, with tuition also covered (including summer tuition, if desired) and a health insurance package. The department does not cover summer support but our students have opportunities to earn additional money (e.g., via research or teaching positions). Importantly, although all our students are offered TA positions, many of our students are provided research assistantships via external research grants their faculty mentor may hold or via fellowships (both internal to PSU and external, e.g., NIH or NSF).

Teaching Assistantships

Unless other funding is available and arranged, graduate students in BBH are offered admission as a teaching assistant (TA) for fall and spring semesters (meaning, working as a TA for 20 hours per week, per semester). As long as the student remains in good academic standing, the department guarantees this level of support for 5 years (fall and spring semesters).

Research Assistantships

If the immediate advisor has research funds available for graduate students, students may be offered admission as a research assistant (meaning, working as an RA for 20 hours per week, per semester). Funding as a research assistant is only guaranteed for the number of years allotted within the research grant. If the research grant funding opportunity ends, the student will be appointed on departmental funds as a teaching assistant (for 20 hours per week, per semester) for fall and spring semesters (contingent upon the student being in good standing in the department). Faculty may also fund students via RAships during the summer


Fellowships are highly prestigious financial support packages that typically include a stipend, tuition remission, and a subsidy for medical insurance. They derive from University or outside awards. Unlike assistantships, fellowships are not linked with a specific work commitment. Recipients must be enrolled in degree programs and be registered full time. Fellowship recipients are not permitted to accept employment without obtaining approval from the unit and/or agency supporting the fellowship. More information about university fellowships and awards can be found on the Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards Administration (OGFAA) website.

One example of an internal fellowship is the University Graduate Fellowship (UGF), which is awarded by our College to select graduate students upon admission; graduate students receiving a UGF award are funded for their first year and need not serve as a teaching assistant to the department during that time.

External fellowships include graduate fellowships through the NSF (i.e., the Graduate Research Fellowships Program, which provides support for three years) and the NIH (i.e., the F31 mechanisms, which provides two years of support). 

BBH graduate students have been highly successful in the past at obtaining both internal and external awards and fellowships.


Training grants are derived from agencies outside the University and are intended to support specific student learning experiences in core curricular areas and research methods. Institutional awards, typically under the direction of a faculty principal investigator, afford funding and special training opportunities.

Below are links to several training grants to which BBH graduate students have applied successfully:

Penn State Center for Healthy Aging “Pathways” T32

Penn State Prevention Research Center “PAMT” T32

Penn State Biomedical Big Data to Knowledge "B2D2K" T32

Penn State Center for Translational and Clinical Science

Penn State Population Research Institute T32 in Demography


Scholarships are financial awards that support graduate study. Most are awarded by colleges, graduate programs, or outside funding agencies and are based on academic merit. Some awards take into account financial need or other grantee-specified criteria.


There are many other ways that our graduate students obtain funding. For example, we have had multiple students obtain an NSF Fellowship (which provides support for 3 full years). There are also college-level fellowships that provide funding for which students can apply and for which BBH Graduate students are often competitive.

You can find more information about university fellowships and awards programs on the Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards Administration (OGFAA) website.

Educational loans are available through the Office of Student Aid and eligibility criteria apply. For details about student loan options, visit the Office of Student Aid's Loans page.