Graduate Funding Opportunities

Students admitted into the PhD program are provided with a graduate support package for a five-year period. Each student receives an annual stipend of $34,000, 36 units of tuition paid per year, and year-round health and dental insurance. The graduate support package typically provides two years of fellowship to allow students to focus full-time on their coursework, and three years of funding as a teaching or research assistant where they develop additional professional skills. In rare cases, our faculty may fund students with a research assistantship support package that includes two years of research assistantship and three years of teaching assistantship.


Most students receive two years of fellowship funding. The "Early Year Fellowship” is intended to support students in completing their initial research projects, particularly the second year project. Although the fellowship funding is typically used during the first or second year in the program, it can be taken any time during Years 1-3. The second year of funding, the “Advanced Research Fellowship” is intended to allow students to fully engage in dissertation-related activities. Therefore, students are strongly encouraged to take the Advanced Research Fellowship during Year 4 or 5 of the program, but only when they have completed their Qualifying Exam, and are engaged in full-time research for their dissertation.

Research and Teaching Assistantships

In addition to formal course work, the Department of Psychology considers experiences as research and teaching assistants to be invaluable parts of a graduate student's training and are strongly encouraged. As a teaching assistant, students help faculty teach a semester long course. This can involve teaching lab sections of a large lecture course; preparing, administering, and grading examinations; and holding office hours with students. As a research assistant, students help faculty carry out research projects, from conceptualization and research design, implementation and data collection, to analysis and final write-up.

Department Awards

Psychology Department Travel Grant Awards: This award promotes student's professional development by supporting attendance at major professional conferences and presenting papers and posters. Students are eligible for up to $1,000 per year for travel to conferences.

Psychology Department Doctoral Research Grant Awards: This funding is intended to support student's efforts in carrying out their second year projects and dissertations. Students can apply for up to $4K per year, depending on the scope of the project and funding available.

Psychology Department Dornsife PhD Academy Research Award: The Dornsife Academy helps to develop student's skills in leadership, financial management, communication and public speaking. Students who attend the academy meetings throughout the academic year are eligible to apply for small grants to fund their research projects.

Other Funding Opportunities

PhD student may also be eligible for fellowship funding from a variety of sources, including the USC Graduate School, Dornsife, and other external resources (e.g. NSF, Ford, APA, etc). In addition, as part of USC's commitment to the professional development of our students, if any students receive one of a number of nationally competitive awards they will be eligible for stipend increases from the Graduate School.

Funding FAQs

When do I receive my stipend payments?

Students receive monthly stipends. USC Fellowships are paid over 12 months. Teaching and research assistantships are paid over 9 months. If you have an external fellowship, your fellowship stipend will be disbursed per the foundation's guidelines.

What kind of classes can I take that are covered by tuition?

Students receive 12 units per tuition coverage per semester during the academic year, and classes taken must be related to your degree and research. Please refer to your award offer letter for specific details. If you wish to exceed the number of units stated in your offer letter, please contact your academic program administrator for advisement.

Can I accept a summer internship or summer RA or TA position?

You may accept a summer internship or a summer RA/TA position. If you are an international student and plan to work off-campus, you must apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

Can I work during the academic year while I am receiving my award?

Students are expected to devote full-time to study towards their degree and not to undertake employment or other time consuming commitments during the academic year from the end of August through mid-May. Students can petition with the Graduate School to be approved for a five-hour per week overload in limited cases. See academic program administrator for questions on this.

Will the fellowship stipend be taxed and if so, what will be the tax rate?

We strongly suggest that fellows contact the IRS directly, and/or consult with a tax professional. While receiving your fellowship, domestic students will not receive a W-2 form (although when you serve as a Teaching or Research Assistant you will receive a W-2).

This link contains information regarding tax treatment of fellowship awards. In addition, please review the IRS 1098-t form. These links are not meant to be a comprehensive list of tax resources or forms that you should consider.

International Students should review the OIS website.
  • Department of Psychology
  • University of Southern California
  • SGM 501
  • 3620 South McClintock Ave.
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061
  • Phone: (213) 740 - 2203