Each student entering the PhD in Economics program is offered a five-year financial support package: two years of support via fellowship (years 1 and 5) and three years of support via graduate assistantships (years 2, 3, and 4). During the first year, each student will be on a fellowship and their financial support will be renewed yearly afterwards, contingent upon passing the Core Theory Examination and maintaining good academic standing.
The five-year financial support package includes a +$35,000 yearly stipend, health and dental insurance, and coverage of most mandatory university fees.
The Provost’s Fellowship Top Off is merit-based and is the highest level of financial support given to a student. All who apply for admission to the PhD in Economics program are considered for the Provost’s Fellowship. The Provost’s Fellowship supports two years of study, usually years 1 and 5. The other three years of study (usually years 2, 3, and 4) are supported via graduate assistantships (TAships or RAships). The Provost’s Fellowship provides a monthly stipend and covers tuition, up to 12 units for each fall semester and 12 units for each spring semester. The Provost’s Fellowship also covers health insurance, dental insurance, and mandatory fees. Detailed information on the Provost’s Fellowship Top Off can be found here.
The Graduate School Fellowship is merit-based and supports two years of study, usually years 1 and 5. The other three years of study (usually years 2, 3, and 4) are supported via graduate assistantships (TAships or RAships). All who apply for admission to the PhD in Economics program are considered for the GS Fellowship. The GS Fellowship provides a monthly stipend and tuition, up to 12 units for each fall semester and up to 12 units for each semester. The Graduate School Fellowship also covers health insurance and dental insurance fees.
An annual teaching assistantship provides a student with a monthly stipend and covers tuition costs, normally up to 12 units for each fall semester, 12 units for each spring semester, and 12 units for each summer term (if summer coursework is necessary). Teaching assistants must be on campus before or by the first day of classes and must attend all the course’s lectures, hold office hours (at least three hours per week), as well as grade assignments and exams. TAs must remain in town until the final examinations have been graded. TAs work an average of 20 hours per week. First-time TAs must attend the mandatory Dornsife College TA Training the week before classes begin and attend the weekly TA Workshop offered by the Department. All new TAs must enroll in ECON 593x: Practicum in Teaching the Liberal Arts (2.0 units).
Some international students must sit for an English proficiency test and be cleared to teach in order before working as a TA. Please contact the International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Coordinator at email@example.com or (213) 740-0079 to schedule the exam or request an exemption. Based on test results, some international students may be required to take an American Language Institute (ALI) course in addition to other coursework and duties.
Research assistants are usually hired by individual professors. The precise nature and pay for each research assistantship can vary. A full research assistantship provides a monthly stipend and covers tuition costs, usually up to 12 units per corresponding semester. An RAship also covers health insurance and dental insurance fees. Other mandatory fees are each student’s responsibility to pay. The Department, CESR, and/or Schaeffer Center may advertise some RA positions during summer terms.
Limited funding is available for conference travel to those who are invited to present research papers. The Department will cover up to $500.00 per conference trip. Please submit a copy of the invitation or conference program that shows you as a presenter along with receipts for reimbursement.
Limited Department funding is available for summer terms via the following sources:
- Outstanding TA Award
- Outstanding Second-Year Paper Award
- Outstanding Third-Year Paper Award
- Summer Research Award*
*The announcement for Summer Research Awards is emailed to PhD students during the preceding spring semester.
Additional Funding Opportunities
During the three years that students are on graduate assistantships (TAships or RAships), they can apply for other fellowships and assistantships. The following research centers are USC frequently hire economists to work as RAs:
- The Los Angeles Behavioral Economics Laboratory (LABEL) frequently invites PhD in Economics students to apply for fellowships addressing NIH- and NSF-funded projects in experimental economics and neuro-economics.
- The Center for Applied Financial Economics (CAFE) frequently invites PhD in Economics students to apply for fellowships.
- The Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) frequently seeks to hire research assistants.
- The Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics (Schaeffer Center) frequently invites PhD in Economics students to apply for fellowships addressing health economics, and the center frequently seeks to hire research assistants.