Financial Assistance for PhD Students

Application Fee Waiver

Applicants who need assistance with the application fee are encouraged to apply for a fee waiver. Preference is given to low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented minority students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Full Financial Support

All PhD students who maintain satisfactory academic progress receive full financial support for the duration of the doctoral program.

To meet the conditions for satisfactory academic progress, each PhD student must:

  • Find a dissertation advisor who will supervise the student's PhD research and provide funding in the form of a research assistantship when the student is not receiving funding from a different source.
  • Enroll in 8-10 units each quarter during the academic year (except when on approved leave of absence).
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
  • Complete other required University and department milestones in a timely manner. Consult the EE Graduate Handbook for details.


  Year 1 (Autumn, Winter, Spring) Year 2 & Onward
Typical Funding Source Department Fellowship Research Assistantship provided by Dissertation Advisor
Student Responsibilities

Fellowships are a form of financial aid, so there are no specific work requirements to receive these funds. The fellow's sole obligation is to make satisfactory academic progress.

Fellows are encouraged to rotate in different research groups during the first year in order to find the optimal fit with a faculty member who will ultimately serve as the student's dissertation advisor.

Research assistantships are a form of graduate student employment, requiring 20 hours/week of research in exchange for a compensation package. Continuation of the assistantship from one quarter to the next is contingent upon satisfactory academic progress and the availability of faculty funds.

Advanced PhD students are expected to devote a significant portion of their studies to their dissertation research.

Notification Method Notification of the fellowship award is included with the offer of admission to the PhD program. Acceptance of the offer of admission is also considered as acceptance of the fellowship. The decision to appoint a graduate student as a research assistant resides with the faculty member providing the funding. The student and faculty member should communicate early and often to confirm the terms of the research assistantship.
Financial Package
  • Tuition support for full-time enrollment (8-10 units)
  • Stipend or salary to cover living expenses (see minimum salary rates)
  • Health insurance subsidy (50% of insurance premium, if enrolled in Cardinal Care)

Other Forms of Financial Support

A PhD student's exact funding package may deviate from the above model. Below are a few common sources of alternate funding for incoming students:

Funding Award Duration Description
Stanford Graduate Fellowship (SGF) 3 years Offered to a select group of students pursuing doctoral degrees in science and engineering, the SGF is the highest award offered by the University. Fellows are nominated by the department, selected by a university-wide faculty committee, and notified of the award shortly after admission.
National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship 3 years (External) The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. Interested applicants should consult the NSF GRFP website for application instructions.
National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship 3 years (External) Awarded by the Department of Defense to individuals who have demonstrated the ability and special aptitude for advanced training in science and engineering. Interested applicants should consult the NDSEG website for application instructions.

We encourage prospective students to apply for nationally competitive fellowships (such as the NSF and NDSEG above) and other external awards. Awards that provide tuition and stipend support for at least one academic year typically replace the initial department fellowship offer. Any offers of external funding should be discussed with the EE Admissions Office after admission is offered and in advance of accepting any funding awards.

On rare occasions, an incoming student may be offered a three-quarter research assistantship with a specific faculty member instead of a department fellowship during the first year.

Interested students may apply for course assistantships and advanced teaching assistantships in the department to supplement their graduate training. For more information, please consult the CA Appointments section of the website.

University Resources

Estimated Expense Budget

The Estimated Expense Budget provides information about the cost of graduate tuition and estimated living expenses for the current academic year.

PhD students in Electrical Engineering enroll in 8-10 units each quarter.

Financial Aid Office

The Financial Aid Office can connect you with University and outside resources for funding graduate study, including:

  • Federal student loans
  • Federal work-study assistantships
  • Outside funding
  • Emergency funding