The Department guarantees six years (12 semesters) of full financial support to all Ph.D. students who are making satisfactory academic progress and performing adequately as classroom teachers. Students do not teach during their first year, and can expect to receive at least three, and often four, additional semesters of non-teaching fellowship support during the dissertation-writing period (usually years four, five and six). Students are supported by teaching assistantships during their remaining semesters in the program. Typical teaching assistantships involve overseeing two discussion sections of 20-25 students. All students receive medical and dental coverage during their time in the program.
For 2011-12 the total yearly funding packages (fellowship support, teaching, summer funding) came to $21,500 for students in their first three years, and between $23,000 and $27,000 for students in later years. Students in years 1-3 receive an $18,000 stipend during the academic year and an additional $3,500 in summer support. More advanced students can receive summer support, and gain valuable professional experience, by teaching summer courses in such areas as formal logic, philosophy of science, contemporary moral problems, bioethics, philosophy and literature, and philosophy of religion. During the summer of their fifth year all students receive a $7,500 non-teaching stipend to make it possible for them to work toward completing their dissertation before entering the academic job market in the fall of their sixth year.
The Department may nominate applicants for Rackham Merit Fellowships, which provide slightly more generous financial support and an additional term of non-teaching fellowship during the dissertation writing period. The Merit program helps sustain the academic excellence and inclusiveness of the Michigan graduate community by offering financial assistance to students with diverse experiences, goals, and familial backgrounds. The Fellowship is open to newly admitted students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and satisfy one or more of the following criteria:
- Come from an educational, cultural or geographic background that is underrepresented in graduate study in Philosophy in the United States or at the University of Michigan
- Have demonstrated commitment to diversity in the academic, professional, or civic realm through their work experience, volunteer engagement, or leadership of student or community organizations. By diversity, we mean efforts to reduce social, educational or economic disparities based on race, ethnicity or gender, or to improve race relations in the U.S.
- Have experienced financial hardship as a result of family economic circumstances
- Are first-generation U.S. citizens or are the first generation in their families to graduate from a four-year college
Only the Department may nominate candidates for these fellowships, but applicants are encouraged to use their personal statement in the Rackham application for admission to provide relevant information about their suitability as nominees for Merit Fellowships.
Competitive multiyear fellowships from external sources (like the Ford, Javits, Mellon, and SSHRCC) may be supplemented to ensure levels of funding commensurate with Departmental norms. While students with such fellowships often do less than the average amount of teaching during their graduate careers, the Department requires at least four semesters of teaching (during the regular academic year) to ensure that students have adequate preparation for academic positions.
The Department also provides funds for travel to professional meetings, and partially defrays travel expenses for students who have papers accepted for presentation at legitimate philosophy conferences in North America.