Financing Grad School: Your 'Ship' May Have Come In

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - "Nobody wants to pay for graduate education," says Jeanne Gosselin, director of graduate admissions at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. "Fortunately, there are ways to fund it."

In fact, Gosselin says, few grad students in the science and technology fields pay much, if anything, for their master's and Ph.D. degrees. The little-known reason? Most get generous fellowships and assistantships.

"Fellowships offer a regular stipend of payments, including free tuition," Gosselin said, "and they come without any added work requirements. Assistantships also offer regular stipends and pay all or some of tuition, but they do include a work requirement." That means helping out with research or teaching duties. Fellowships are more common for Ph.D. work; assistantships are typical at the master's degree level.

At WPI, the typical fellowship includes 20 free credits and $1,250 per month. There are all kinds of fellowships endowed by the university itself, charitable organizations and industry.

"Corporate fellowships are given freely by a company for tax and other purposes," Gosselin said. No strings are attached; these fellowships offer "altruism with a purpose" since successful graduates are needed in a growing industry.

Where can a student find this pot of gold? Gosselin says:

  • Contact the Career Development and Graduate Admission offices at the universities of your choice.
  • Meet with heads of academic departments to ask about potential resources.

"Do not be afraid to say, 'I'm interested in a fellowship or assistantship,'" she said. "There may be special support for women, minorities and particular types of study or research. Talk to the faculty where you want to go. Sometimes they will even pay for your visit. Now is a good time to look into this, as the money is there since the economy is good."

For more information, contact Arlie Corday in the WPI media relations office at 508-831-6085 or acorday@wpi.edu or contact Gosselin at 508-831-5574 or grad_admiss@wpi.edu.

Founded in 1865, WPI enrolls 2,700 undergraduate and 1,100 graduate students in science, engineering, management, social sciences and humanities and arts. Under the WPI Plan, students complete hands-on projects focusing on major course of study; the humanities; and interactions among science, technology and society.