FAR Main Page GSO/FAR Committee
Stipend Information Page
GSO Main Page

These pages are provided by the Graduate Student Organization (GSO). This information is meant to allow students to see how stipends at Boston University compare to those at other local schools.

Stipend Comparison

Currently, the Financial, Academic and Research Committee <far@gso.bu.edu> lists the following information about stipends:

Boston University Stipends

These are the stipends for the 2001/2002 academic year (for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences):

Type of Fellowship Academic year
Humanities Teaching Fellows $12,500
Social Science Teaching Fellows $12,500
Natural Science Teaching Fellows $13,500
Presidential University Graduate Fellows $14,000
Presidential University Teaching Fellows $14,000

The above stipends only cover the academic year (not the summer) and are paid out over 8 months. They mainly represent a $1,000 increase over the previous year.

Research Assistantships usually match fellowship amounts. However, since they are based on grants, which are done ahead of time, some students may still be on the old rates. The rates for 98/99 were typically $10,500 (Humanities/Social Sciences) or $11,500 (Natural Sciences) per academic year. Lastly, research assistantships are sometimes for the entire year rather than just the academic year, meaning that those students may earn additional money during the summer as well.

Harvard University Stipends

(Information as of February 1999.)

The following describes how Harvard Teaching Fellows in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are paid. This information was obtained from asking various Harvard graduate students about their salaries, from the Harvard Graduate Student Handbook (Teaching Fellowships), and from media coverage on financial support at Harvard, which is available on the web at:

http://www.hc s.harvard.edu/~gsc/issues/finsupport.shtml

Here are some key points:

  1. Overall, the Harvard plan is very flexible and ranks high in terms of yearly salary among Boston area schools.
  2. There is no pay discrepancy between students in the Sciences and students in the Humanities. They are all paid at the same rate based on how much they work.
  3. Harvard guarantees funding for up to 5 years after acceptance into graduate school. (The Harvard faculty of Arts and Sciences proposed and approved an extension of a 2-year guarantee of funding to up to 5 years. This was motivated by a study which found that Harvard offered weaker financial aid packages than their competitors.)
  4. After passing qualifying exams (usually after 2 years) you receive a pay increase.
  5. In Spring 1999, the Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences announced a 25% percent increase in the Graduate School's financial aid budget. This will ultimately result in roughly $5.7 million more a year, but will be phased in over three years before becoming a permanent part of the financial aid budget.

Explanation of pay rates:

This is slightly complicated. Everything is measured in "fifths" of work time, which is roughly 10 hours a week of teaching, tutoring, grading, etc. The tricky thing is that you can work at different rates each semester. So I might work a 1/5 load the first semester while I'm studying for my qualifying exams and then work a 3/5 load the next semester to end up with 4/5 for the whole year with an average of 20 hours a week.

During the first year, students generally don't teach except for in the Sciences where they may work out a deal with their department. However, they still receive an aid package to cover living expenses. Second year students are limited to a rate of 2/5 a semester (i.e., 4/5 a year). After students pass their qualifiers (usually by the third year), they are rewarded with a pay raise and the opportunity to teach up to 4/5 a semester or 8/5 for a year, which would be a 40 hour work week.

What students like about this plan is the flexibility. After I pass my qualifiers I might take a 6/5 load for the year and then decrease that as I complete my thesis. Or, I might work a 40 hour week one year and then take time off the next year to do research. Of course, the flexibility depends also on availability of teaching slots.

Here is a table of yearly salaries based on "fifths" loads as of the 98/99 academic year:

in a year
Junior Rate Senior Rate
(after two years)
1/5 $3,150 $3,560
2/5 $6,300 $7,120
3/5 $9,450 $10,680
4/5* $12,600 $14,240
5/5 $15,750 $17,800
6/5 $18,900 $21,360
7/5 $22,050 $24,920
8/5 $25,200 $28,480
* Comparable to working a 20 hour work week for a year.

Note: The above salaries are paid out over 10 months. Consequently, a 4/5 senior rate is making $1,424 a month at Harvard. This should be taken into account when comparing plans between schools.

Table Comparison

Since it has been difficult to get information from other schools about their pay rates, we have begun collecting information on a per department basis. We hope to add additional schools to the table below and to gather numbers from other departments, so that the Humanities/Social Sciences are represented as well.

School Department Position Stipend Paid Over Year of Info
Brandeis Math TA $11,300
MIT Economics TA or RA $12,450 9 months 97/98
Biology ALL grads $18,200 12 months 98/99
Math TA or RA $14,130
Tufts Math TA $11,800
UMass/Amherst Astronomy TA (first year) $11,200 9 months 98/99
RA (summer) $2,500-$4,000 summer
TA = teaching assistant or fellow
RA = research assistant or fellow

Send mail to far@gso.bu.edu if you have any questions, comments or suggestions for this site.