Financial Support

The Department of Geology & Environmental Science offers its PhD and MS graduate students an excellent financial support package. Departmental financial assistance is generally not available for students in the Pro-MS in GIS/Remote Sensing program. The package enables graduate students in good standing to concentrate on their education, not on financial burdens. Our comprehensive package supports students throughout their graduate careers. Financial support for first year graduate students is normally provided in the form of a tuition scholarship plus a teaching assistantship (TA), though some students do receive a graduate research assistantship (GSR) or a fellowship. All of these options consist of both a competitive stipend and full tuition coverage. In subsequent years, the graduate student is typically supported by some combination of TA, GSR, and fellowship. 

What is included in the financial support package?

  • A competitive stipend. As of Fall 2015, the normal level of support is $25,695/year; the stipend amount typically has a cost of living increase each year. Given Pittsburgh's low cost of living, this is a very comfortable income.
  • Health insurance. You're covered. The University of Pittsburgh provides excellent health insurance options, providing every student with an eligible academic appointment with complete medical coverage free of charge; supplementary dental and vision plans are also available. Rather than being limited to physicians at a student health service, every student is free to choose her/his own primary care physician. Moreover, spouses and children can be included in our medical plans at very reasonable costs.
  • Tuition. Graduate tuition can be expensive. A Graduate student supported as a TA, GSR or receiving a Fellowship in our program receives a merit scholarship for tuition and fees for each term that he/she is supported. Depending on your course load and residency status, this benefit can amount to $11,130 per semester[U2] .
  • Transportation. With much thought to the future, the University of Pittsburgh has arranged for free transportation throughout Allegheny county via the PAT bus system for enrolled students. Any bus - any time, anywhere - is free, including those to downtown or to the airport. This benefit saves students the cost of monthly bus passes or parking permits. The University also has an extensive shuttle system, accessible with a valid ID. A bike-share program has arrived on campus!
  • Fellowship opportunities. There are many fellowship opportunities that provide for financial compensation, as well as provide excellent additions to a glowing resumé or CV. Additional information on these and other programs may be found on the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences webpage. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowships
      These fellowships are awarded to students of exceptional promise and ability either when they first enroll in the PhD program or when they have advanced to the dissertation stage. They carry a stipend plus payment of tuition. No service is required.
    • K. Leroy Irvis Fellowships
      These multi-year fellowships are designed to enhance the diversity of the University of Pittsburgh's graduate student population and, eventually, the professorate. They generally include a stipend and tuition coverage. K. Leroy Irvis Fellowships are used primarily to recruit new graduate students to Pitt.
    • Provost's Development Fellowships
      These University fellowships are awarded to U.S. citizens on the basis of need and merit to provide development opportunities for women, minorities, and disadvantaged students pursuing doctoral degrees. They generally carry a stipend and full tuition for two terms. Both incoming and continuing students are eligible to apply.
    • Dean's Tuition Scholarships
      A limited number of tuition scholarships are available for students who are not funded by teaching assistantships or fellowships. Priority is given to students who have completed all course requirements, are working on their dissertations, have exhausted all departmental support, and need to be minimally registered in order to use University facilities.
    • Whittington Predoctoral Fellowship
      The Whittington Fellowship is awarded to incoming female doctoral students of exceptional ability and promise who are admitted to a University of Pittsburgh PhD program in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. The recipient is selected on the basis of academic achievement in both undergraduate and graduate work (if applicable) and promise of research capabilities with preference being given to those who are residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Whittington Fellowship includes a stipend for the academic year plus a tuition scholarship for two terms.
    • Arts and Sciences Fellowships
      A&S Fellowships are used to recruit doctoral students of exceptional promise and ability either when they first enroll in the PhD program or for later years. They carry a stipend plus remission of tuition. The stipend includes fund with which to purchase health insurance.  No service is required.

The Department of Geology and Environmental Science also provides small awards for graduate research and field work from the Leighton Fund. These awards are based on a combination of merit and need.

In addition, funding for graduate degree programs is available through a number of federal sources, including:

  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program
    The National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions.  The NSF welcomes applications from all qualified students and strongly encourages under-represented populations, including women, under-represented racial and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities, to apply for this fellowship. Deadline is in November.
  • NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) program
    The NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) program supports graduate students in basic and applied research in Earth science and space science. Awards of $30,000 per year are made for up to three years. More information and application instructions can be found at by searching for NESSF.
  • Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology (GEST) Graduate Student Fellowship
    The Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology (GEST) Graduate Student Fellowship is an up to $34,000 one-year fellowship renewable for one additional year for full-time degree-seeking graduate student in an earth, biological, physical or computer science, mathematics or engineering discipline whose thesis research is aligned with similar research conducted within the GEST Center and NASA Goddard’s Earth Sciences Division.
  • EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowships
    EPA's Science To Achieve Results (STAR) graduate fellowship program supports masters and doctoral candidates in environmental studies. Each year, students in the United States compete for STAR fellowships through a rigorous review process. Students can pursue degrees in traditionally recognized environmental disciplines as well as other fields such as social anthropology, urban and regional planning, and decision sciences.  STAR fellowships are intended to help defray the ever-increasing costs associated with studies leading to advanced degrees in environmental sciences. The actual amount awarded per year will vary depending on the amount of tuition and fees and the number of months the stipend is needed. Benefits of an EPA STAR Fellowship include up to $44,000 per year, which includes $12,000 per year for tuition and fees, $27,000 per year in a monthly stipend, and an annual expense allowance of $5,000. Masters level students can receive support for a maximum of two years. Doctoral students can be supported for a maximum of three years with funding available, under certain circumstances, over a period of four years.

How far does my stipend dollar go?

  • Rent. Graduate students in the Department of Geology & Environmental Science pay between $200 and $600 per month for 2-4 bedroom apartments located within walking distance of the Department. Check the Off Campus Living Website and the Panther Central Website.
  • Transportation. Recall that travel on all buses is free. If you need to drive your own car, parking in the Oakland area is relatively inexpensive for urban areas. Information about a monthly parking pass may be found at the Parking and Transportation Website.
  • Cost of living. Pittsburgh is consistently rated one of America's most livable cities due, in part, to its very low cost of living. A 1997 Money Magazine survey shows that Pittsburgh has one of the lowest costs of living for a city of this size. More recently, a 2004 survey of cities around the world showed Pittsburgh as the least expensive metropolitan area (in the US) in which to live.

Taken together, our graduate students generally do not have financial worries while continuing their education and training, allowing them to focus full time on their research and professional development.