Financial Aid for Graduate Study

This page outlines the main sources of funding for graduate study in Linguistics at Penn, both for entering and continuing students. Please direct any questions to


The cycle of fellowship applications, competitions and awards is centered around a single important deadline, which this year is December 15th. New students must ensure that their complete applications arrive by this date in order to be considered for financial aid from or through the university. See also this overview of Graduate Division financial awards. 

Support for entering students

Students who are offered admission to the Graduate Group in Linguistics are automatically also offered a Benjamin Franklin Fellowship; this provides full support (tuition, monthly stipend, and health insurance) for five years, with three years of summer support. In the second and third years of study, the student serves as a teaching or research fellow. The award is the same regardless of the student's citizenship status. If the student brings external funding, the duration of the Benjamin Franklin Fellowship may be adjusted.

Beyond the five-year fellowship, there are various other funding options that may be available to certain students.

Fontaine Fellowships for minority students

The University also grants Fontaine Fellowships, named for Dr. William T. Fontaine, the first African-American scholar to become a full Professor at Penn. These fellowships provide partial funding for qualified minority students entering Ph.D. programs. 

Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowships

The University's regional study centers award FLAS Fellowships to qualified applicants who are interested in pursuing a career of study and research in the languages and cultures of their regions. Interested students should contact the director of the center concerned. The names and addresses of the directors can be obtained by calling our office. Students who have previously demonstrated interest in a particular region will be ranked more highly than those with no previous interest in or exposure to a region.

National fellowship competitions for first-year graduate students

Seniors in college may apply for a graduate fellowship through national competitions, such as those for fellowships granted by the National Science Foundation and the Mellon Foundation. Some of those institutions offer further competitions for continuing graduate students. At present the National Science Foundation has a regular program for first-year graduate students. Applications should be submitted early in the fall. Other opportunities are the programs funded by the Department of Education (e.g. the Javits Fellowships) and the American Association of University Women.

Support for continuing students

School of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Fellowships

The School offers support for dissertation-level students who have already submitted proposals and are usually in their final year or two. There are two types: Dissertation Completion Fellowships, for a sixth and final year of study; and Dissertation Research Fellowships, to help fund fieldwork and similar projects. Students are nominated by the graduate group and compete with students from across the School. Applications are solicited each January.

National Science Foundation grants in support of dissertations

In addition to the possibilities outlined above, there are other federally and privately funded fellowships for which students can apply. Particularly worth mentioning are National Science Foundation grants for dissertation support. These are sought by the faculty member who is the supervisor of the dissertation and appears as the principle investigator on the grant. They are not meant to cover unusual expenses connected with a dissertation, such as travel and equipment, and are not to provide living expenses. A number of Penn students have completed their dissertations with the help of National Science Foundation funds under this program.

Graduate research fellowships and research assistantships

Some students have been supported during their graduate careers by working on research projects for members of the graduate group faculty. The number and type of positions are liable to change from year to year as new research grants are received and old ones terminated. Most research projects operate on a one-to-two year budget, which must be projected a year or two in advance. As a rule, research assistants work 20 hours per week on a project. Students will normally become acquainted with the needs and goals of ongoing research projects through conversations with faculty and other students.

Teaching courses in the College of Liberal and Professional Studies

Advanced graduate students in Linguistics occasionally teach undergraduate courses in the College of Liberal and Professional Studies. These courses have included Introduction to Linguistics (001), Introduction to Sociolinguistics (102), and Introduction to Formal Linguistics (106). The instructor receives a modest stipend for each course taught as well as half of the tuition cost for up to three courses or the entire dissertation fee for one semester.

Employment as language teachers in other departments

A few graduate students in Linguistics have found support by teaching basic language courses in other departments. Applicants who are native speakers of languages other than English or have had experience in teaching particular languages should write directly to the chairs of the departments in question.