Funding

Harvard University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers a comprehensive program of financial support, including grants and fellowships from internal and external sources, traineeships, teaching fellowships, research assistantships, and other academic employment opportunities.

For PhD students, Harvard awards full financial support for five years, typically for the first four years of study as well as the completion year. Ordinarily, in cases where the length of PhD study extends beyond five years, students secure financial support through various Harvard and non-Harvard opportunities, including research fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching fellowships.

Financial Aid

All incoming students receive a merit-based award, regardless of need. This includes a fellowship for tuition and health fees, as well as a stipend for living expenses, for up to five years. Unlike at many other institutions, students at Harvard have no teaching responsibilities during the first two years of graduate study. In addition, Harvard’s standard funding package includes Summer Research Awards for the first four years.

Emergency Funding

Students who experience extreme financial hardship as the result of an emergency may apply to the Office of Financial Aid for funding. Download the application here. Qualified expenses include but are not limited to costs associated with:

  • Medical or dental emergencies
  • Family emergencies
  • Natural disasters
  • Residential fires or floods

Parental Accommodation and Financial Support

Students of any gender enrolled in PhD programs at GSAS are eligible for the Parental Accommodation and Financial Support (PAFS) program following a childbirth or adoption event. Eligible GSAS PhD students receive a one-time supplemental stipend payment. This funding is intended to help with the additional expenses associated with a childbirth or adoption event. For the 2019-2020 academic year, the award amount is $6,624. At least four months in advance of the anticipated birth or adoption event, students must meet with PAFS coordinator Lisa Simpson, GSAS assistant director of financial aid and senior admissions officer, to review guidelines, benefits, and student-specific coordination of the program. To set up an appointment, email gsasfamily@fas.harvard.edu.

Teaching Fellowships

Teaching Fellows assist in courses under the supervision of course heads, who hold formal teaching appointments. Duties may include teaching sections, conducting tutorials, recommending grades, supervising independent study projects, and monitoring students’ progress toward their degrees.

To qualify for stipends during their third and fourth years of graduate study, graduate students in Sociology ordinarily need to offer two sections of a standard lecture course each semester (a section is a once-weekly meeting of, ordinarily, fewer than twenty undergraduate students).

You can choose to defer your G3 and G4 teaching guarantee, allowing you to begin your fieldwork earlier, while still preserving your teaching guarantee for later use. You would have the same priority for teaching appointments as G3s and G4s if you notify GSAS Financial Aid in advance. If you defer your teaching guarantee in G3 and/or G4, you may be eligible for a top-up that will ensure that you receive stipend support equal to that received in G1 and G2.

You may combine teaching with RA work (note: all graduate students are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week when classes are in session). Students with fellowships should check with their Financial Aid Officer regarding work restrictions.

Research Assistantships

Over the course of their PhD studies at Harvard, many graduate students in Sociology work as Research Assistants. Such assistantships often carry financial support and are arranged with individual faculty.

You may combine RA work with teaching (note: all graduate students are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week when classes are in session). Students with fellowships should check with their Financial Aid Officer regarding work restrictions.

External Funding

While the standard funding package is guaranteed, we encourage students to apply for external funding from various sources. Students in the Sociology PhD program have been awarded fellowships from many organizations, including:

The GSAS Fellowships Office provides a range of services to assist graduate students in their search for fellowship funding, including individual counseling and professional development seminars. Additional information about possible fellowships can be found in the CARAT database (https://carat.fas.harvard.edu/), formerly the Graduate Guide to Grants.

Pro tip:
Extremely restrictive searches don't yield many useful results and often erroneously exclude relevant opportunities. We recommend that you play around with different search terms, and provide the following suggested "Academic Stages" search parameters to help you get started:
  • Graduate student
  • Doctoral candidates at early stage, supporting course work and/or preliminary dissertation research
  • Doctoral candidates at dissertation research stage
  • Doctoral candidates at dissertation write-up stage; and
  • Stage (not specified; may include master's candidates)

Harvard GSAS also lists opportunities broken down by these fellowship categories:

For a comprehensive search for outside support, you can search Pivot (formerly Community of Science) at https://pivot.proquest.com/session/login; read the FAS Research Guide to Pivot for instructions.

These universities have their own funding databases:

Students are encouraged to work with their faculty members to identify appropriate sources of funding for their unique research interests.

Another surprisingly effective approach is to Google CVs of scholars that you admire to obtain past funding sources.

Feel free to reach out to our alumni, who have received numerous fellowships and grants during their graduate careers. 

Graduate Student Affiliates/Associates

A number of funding and networking opportunities are available to Harvard graduate students who affiliate with Harvard's many research centers and programs:
Asia Center
Center for American Political Studies (CAPS)
Center on the Developing Child
Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History
David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies
Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics
Ethics Pedagogy Fellows
Fund for Research on the Foundations of Human Behavior
Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative
Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS)
Joint Center for Housing Studies
Korea Institute
Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies
Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy
Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston Public Policy
Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies
South Asia Institute
Tobin Project
Weatherhead Center for International Affairs

GIS Institute

To date, the Department of Sociology has funded twenty-four graduate students who have participated in an intensive two-week workshop on Geographical Information Systems (GIS) at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS). Students who are accepted to the Winter or Summer session should contact Jessica Matteson at matteson@wjh.harvard.edu to arrange for the payment of the $100 fee.

Departmental Travel Grants

The Department of Sociology has limited funding available to graduate students in the department who will be presenting their research at an academic conference. Students are eligible to receive up to $400 per fiscal year (July 1 - June 30) in travel grants. These awards are intended to defray the costs of graduate student conference travel; they are not reimbursements for all expenses related to such trips. Additional information about these grants, including information on how to apply, can be found on our Graduate Student Travel Funding.