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PhD Funding and Benefits

Financial support includes:

  • a stipend
  • tuition
  • fees
  • health insurance for you, spouse and dependents.

Students in good standing are fully supported until they finish their degrees. 

Students in the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology PhD program receive up to five years of financial support that includes tuition, a full stipend, and health and dental insurance. This financial support remains in place through the entire program as long as the student continues to make good progress toward the degree (including timely advancement to candidacy). 

The main types of financial assistance for graduate students are:

  •  Fellowships
  •  Research funding: Graduate Student Research Assistantship (GSRA)
  •  Teaching: Graduate Student Instructorship (GSI)

Appointments Compared

Differences among Graduate Research Assistant, and Graduate Instructor, Fellowship Support,






Non Employee



Timing of Pay

Student financial timeline

Last working day of the month

Last working day of the month


None withheld - student is responsible

Withholding as a employee

Taken out as an employee


Grad care

Grad care

Grad care


Grad. Coordinator

Use Concur

Use Concur


Fellowships provide valuable additional support for some students. Some types of fellowships:

MCDB First Year Fellowships: These fellowships are offered to students during their first year in the program (fall and winter terms only).

PIBS: Students admitted through the PIBS program are supported via a PIBS fellowship their first year.

Rackham Merit Fellowship:  offers a special funding package to promote the values of diversity and inclusion by encouraging the admission and funding of students who represent a broad array of life experiences and perspectives. Graduate students do not apply for this fellowship, but are nominated by faculty upon admission into the program. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for this award.

Research Funding

The availability of research funding varies between research groups. Some funding sources are given to very specific projects, while other research grants are much more flexible. Because of this and other factors, there is no strict rule for how much research funding students receive. Students are therefore encouraged to discuss funding expectations with prospective advisors. 


Other than direct payment funds of tuition, fees, and benefits, all income is subject to taxation and must be reported on federal and Michigan state tax forms, as well as any other forms according to your individual situation. This includes stipends, debit funds, and any other funding you receive from the University that isn’t considered a qualified scholarship.

Depending on the type of appointment you have, the university may or may not deduct taxes from your paycheck, but your stipend is always taxable. If taxes are not withheld from your paycheck, you still must pay taxes on that income. Note that while domestic students may not have taxes deducted, international students may. Learn about more quarterly estimated tax procedures. Please refer to Rackham Graduate School's Tax Information for Fellowship Recipients. []


Each student is required to serve as a Graduate Student Instructor (Teaching Assistant) for two terms prior to receipt of a Ph.D. degree. Typically, students serve as a GSI for one term in year 2 and then another term after the second year. Graduate student instructors who are teaching for the first time are required to take MCDB 801-Supervised Teaching. Students who are awarded internal or external fellowships delay their teaching until they come off their fellowship. 

Other Funding Opportunities

All graduate students in the department are highly encouraged to apply for other sources of support for which they are eligible. Graduate students should work closely with their faculty advisor to identify appropriate funding sources, and to prepare strong funding applications.

·        Rackham Funding Information