PhD Student Support

The University continually advances doctoral student life and education.

In 2004, Penn focused a wide-ranging, campus-wide self-study on graduate education. Since that time, the university continues to implement important ongoing initiatives to enhance graduate life, including:

  • a 5-year maximum for advancing to candidacy
  • a requirement for annual progress reports and meetings of dissertation committees
  • PhD worksheets which allow students to track their satisfaction of requirements.

Such improvements are designed to make the PhD process more transparent and give our PhD students more faculty, institutional, and mentoring support to stay on track for completion. If you have questions about your program, you should contact your Graduate Group Chair or the Graduate Dean for your school:

In the last ten years, stipends have increased over 60%, and funding is typically guaranteed for five years.

The President Gutmann Leadership Award and GAPSA-Provost Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Innovation support student research and travel, along with additional travel funding through GAPSA and graduate groups. See information about these and other academic funding awards.

Penn provides a benefits-rich health insurance package to fully-funded students. It provides comprehensive coverage, including an unlimited lifetime maximum benefit, prescription coverage, treatment for mental illness and substance abuse, comprehensive infertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) coverage, and no maximum amount limit on gender confirmation surgery, as well as discounted gym memberships through the GlobalFit program.

The President’s PhD Initiative

The President’s PhD Initiative is a 6-year, $30M initiative to support doctoral education at Penn. In the 2020-21 academic year, the Initiative provides every Penn PhD student with a President’s Supplementary Stipend of $1200 to recognize the additional expenses and research challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning in the 2021-22 academic year, the Initiative creates and supports Presidential PhD Fellows drawn from among the most accomplished and diverse doctoral students at or newly recruited to Penn. The inaugural group of Fellows in the 2021-22 academic year will be selected entirely from PhD students at Penn. Each Presidential PhD Fellow will receive a three-year fellowship, including summer support and funds to support their research.

The President’s PhD Initiative is a 6-year, $30M initiative to support doctoral education at Penn.

Learn more