University commits $50 million over six years in graduate aidBy William Harms and Josh Schonwald
President Zimmer announced Wednesday, Feb. 7, that the University will allocate nearly $50 million in additional funding over the next six years to ensure that incoming doctoral students in the Humanities and Social Sciences are among the most generously supported in all of higher education.
Beginning this fall, the University—which has some of the nation’s leading programs in the Humanities and Social Sciences—will offer most incoming doctoral students in those areas a five-year package, that will include tuition, health insurance, a $19,000 stipend per year to cover living expenses and two summers of research support at $3,000 per summer. By the time the program is fully operational in six years, the University will be providing students with an estimated $13 million each year in new support.
As part of this new program, $2 million will be allocated to improve the resources available to current doctoral students in the Humanities and Social Sciences and to current and incoming students in the Divinity School. The new funds will make it possible to provide students who matriculated since 2003 University-paid health insurance for the balance of the first five years in their programs.
“From the founding of the University of Chicago, our graduate programs have distinguished the University and influenced graduate training across higher education,” said President Zimmer. “It is our obligation to support these programs at the highest level, allowing us to continue to attract emerging scholars who will shape academic fields and set the intellectual agenda in the decades to come.”
The aid is expected to shorten the amount of time required to complete a Ph.D. by providing students with a level of support that will allow them to focus on their scholarship. The new program systematizes opportunities for students to develop a range of teaching experiences—a critical component of doctoral education—while maintaining current overall teaching expectations of the graduate students.
“This graduate aid program reflects the highest priority of our faculty in the Humanities and Social Sciences,” said Thomas Rosenbaum, Provost of the University. “The work of faculty is fully integrated with the experience of our students, so increasing support for our students will also enhance the capacity of our faculty to carry out leading research and educational programs.”
Currently, many graduate students in the Social Sciences and Humanities receive assistance, although the amount varies from student to student and from department to department. As the students reach their advanced training stage, many also receive national fellowships that help pay their expenses.
“This program will make the University even more attractive to the most capable applicants,” said Martha Roth, Deputy Provost for Research and Education. “We have exceptional faculty in the Social Sciences and Humanities, researchers whose reputations bring many of the nation’s most outstanding graduate students to Chicago. This initiative sends a clear signal to prospective students that we are prepared to support them in pursuit of their doctorates at the University.”
Each year, the University enrolls about 250 graduate students in the Social Sciences and Humanities divisions, an enrollment level that will be maintained under the new graduate assistance program. This represents one of the largest and most comprehensive graduate programs in these areas among leading private research universities.
Zimmer’s announcement received extensive coverage in the media and was applauded by the Council of Graduate Schools, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group dedicated to the advancement of graduate education and research. President of the council Debra Stewart told InsideHigherEd.com: “I’m delighted to see Chicago make this kind of commitment to the humanities and social sciences. Giving students this kind of support and some sense of the permanency of their support does remove factors that increase both time to degree and attrition rates.”