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Financial Aid for Doctoral Students

The doctoral program of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill provides significant funding to doctoral students, including up to four years of tuition, health insurance, as well as teaching and research stipends. In addition, all doctoral applicants are considered for university-wide fellowship support (including Royster, Merit, UNC Excellence, and Weiss Urban Livability Fellowships). The doctoral program also provides financial support to doctoral students presenting their research at professional conferences and paid teaching opportunities. Further, many students working with faculty mentors have acquired substantial additional external financial support from entities such as the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Justice, Fahs-Beck Fund, and other foundations and governmental organizations.


There are several kind of assistantships: a) Merit Assistantships, which come through the university; b) research assistantships in which the student works for pay on a grant or contract; and c) research assistantships and teaching, paid from school or program funds, for example, from endowed funds. Students may receive funding from more than one source.

Flexibility of hours: Constrained by the academic schedule

Maximum number of hours expected: 15-16 hours for first year students; 20 hours for other students.

Level of payment: $18,000 for first year, with $250 added for each additional year, up to $750 for fourth-year-plus students

How payment received: Automatic deposit

Time sheets: If requested

Health insurance: Provided as part of assistantship

Seeking Outside Funding

There are programs to support doctoral study and dissertation research. As the student develops his/her dissertation topic, s/he should be working on a proposal to obtain support for conducting this research, unless other funding sources exist.

Doctoral Students have successfully competed for support from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Association of Social Workers, the Council on Social Work Education, university competitive research grants, and other organizations.

In addition to the Doctoral Program Office and individual faculty members, the University Office of Research Services will assist students to locate potential sources of funding.

Contract Teaching

Students with teaching experience, and those who have completed the Teaching Practicum and Teaching Seminar, may be hired as contract faculty to teach masters level courses, under faculty supervision. This arrangement provides an opportunity to develop teaching skills, and so better compete for academic positions after graduation.

Doctoral students
should contact Brenda Vawter for information on financial assistance.

Please see the following resources for more detailed information:

UNC Office of Scholarships and Student Aid


University-wide awards

The School of Social Work nominates applicants for the awards below, although determination of need and selection are made by the University's Graduate School.

  • The Royster Society of Fellowship Recruitment Fellowship supports the most promising doctoral students. Royster Fellows receive a stipend, tuition and fees, and health insurance for five years. You are eligible if you are a doctoral applicant.
  • The University Merit Assistantship provides a stipend, tuition, and health insurance for one year. You are eligible if you are applying to a masters or doctoral program.
  • The UNC Excellence Fellowship provides a stipend, tuition and fees, and health insurance for one year. You are eligible if you are a diverse student (broadly defined), a North Carolina resident, and a doctoral applicant.
  • The Weiss Urban Livability Fellowship provides a stipend, tuition, and health insurance. Weiss fellows design a community project and receive other training opportunities. You are eligible if you are a masters or doctoral applicant with an interest in urban livability.

    Additional awards available for doctoral students


Federal loans:

Students applying for federal financial assistance should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Applicants should then contact the University Office of Scholarships and Student Aid, 300 Vance Hall, CB# 2300, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-2300 for information about eligibility for loans.

Emergency Loans

UNC and the School of Social Work recognize that students sometimes face unexpected financial hardships. A limited number of emergency loans are available to assist during those times.