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The Department of Biobehavioral Health is committed to providing funding (tuition remission, a stipend, and subsidy for medical insurance) for all students who are admitted to our Ph.D. program during their first through fifth year in the program, contingent on their maintaining good standing in our program. Graduate students are expected to be able to obtain a Ph.D. in BBH within 4-5 years. Upon admission (or very soon thereafter) graduate students are assigned to a faculty adviser who supervises their experience.

Teaching and Research Assistantships

The majority of graduate students entering our Ph.D. program receive funding through teaching assistantships. Others receive funding through research assistantships (such as may be available through research grant funds awarded to their advisor) or through the graduate school, training grants, or external programs.

Teaching Assistantships in Biobehavioral Health

Unless other funding is available and arranged, graduate students in BBH are offered admission as a teaching assistant for fall and spring semesters, at 1/2 time (20 hour, per week, per semester). If available, and as long as the student remains in good academic standing, the department guarantees this level of support for 5 years (fall and spring semesters). The department does not cover summer support. However, there are many opportunities for students to obtain additional funding over the summer, either by providing instruction for our undergraduate courses in the summer or by obtaining a summer research position.

Research Assistantships in Biobehavioral Health

If the immediate advisor has research funds available for graduate students, students may be offered admission as a research assistant, at 1/2 time (20 hour, 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, at 1/2 time (20 hours, per week, per semester) for fall and spring semesters (contingent upon the student being in good standing in the department). It is also often the case that if a faculty member has research grant funding available, they will support graduate students over the summer months. If not, there are many opportunities for students to obtain summer funding, such as by providing instruction for our undergraduate summer courses.


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.

An example is the University Graduate Fellowhip (UGF), which is awarded to select graduate students upon admission; if an incoming graduate student receives a UGF Award, they do not have any commitment to serve as a teaching assistant to the department for the first year


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”

Penn State Prevention Research Center “PAMT”

Penn State Biomedical Big Data to Knowledge "B2D2K"

Penn State Center for Translational and Clinical Science


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 factor in financial need or other grantee-specified criteria.


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

Opportunities for work are available on campus in a variety of locations. Visit the Office of Student Aid's employment page for information or the University's Job Opportunities website to begin your search.

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.