Fifteen additional University Graduate Fellowships offer top students support

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has made the availability of graduate fellowships a priority by creating an additional 15 awards, which are not only an essential component of a student’s education but also serve to “raise the bar” for the entire University.

Penn State President Eric J. Barron and Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas P. Jones announced that the most prestigious graduate fellowship offered by Penn State, the University Graduate Fellowships (UGFs), will gain in number — reaching a total of 100 up for grabs.

UGFs include two semesters of graduate tuition, a $25,000 stipend and assistance for both student health care coverage and optional summer tuition costs annually. Currently, the University offers such fellowships to 85 students among its 97 doctoral programs. Fall 2013 Penn State doctoral degree enrollments totaled more than 4,300 students.

 “Penn State offers some of the most highly ranked research doctorate, or Ph.D., programs in the U.S., with research faculty who are among the top global experts in their respective fields,” Regina Vasilatos-Younken, interim dean of The Graduate School, said. “Placing this strategic priority on enabling competitive offers to the most highly promising researchers and scholars raises further the quality of our world-class graduate programs and also helps to ensure that recipients can complete their programs within the typical time-to-degree for their respective disciplines.”

UGFs provide first-year financial support with a commitment of a matching year from the respective graduate program. This provision of first-year support contributes to the ability of the University’s graduate programs to offer top students multi-year packages with competitive stipends. In addition to enabling a critical expansion to the current UGF program, the University’s additional resources also will provide the opportunity for continuing the Distinguished Graduate Fellowship (DGF) program. For this program a donor’s gift creates an endowment that generates income for one semester of stipend, and the fellow's college provides tuition for that semester. The Graduate School matches that the semester of the combined stipend plus tuition with one semester of UGF that includes both stipend plus tuition, resulting in fall and spring semesters of support for the fellow. 

The additional 15 UGFs will benefit Penn State’s colleges by allowing them to continue to attract donors and expand their resources available for graduate education. For instance, one college that has fully used its total allocation of available UGFs to match donor gifts has doubled the number of graduate fellowships supported by UGFs for its doctoral programs. Across the University, the DGF incentive program has resulted in the endowment of 38 distinguished graduate fellowships since the first gift under the program in 2004. 

A strategic priority of the Graduate School for all Ph.D. programs at Penn State is to assure the most competitive prospective students by national standards from around the globe are recruited, and each student who is admitted is fully supported through the duration of the median time-to-degree for the field in which they are studying. 

“The recruitment of excellent Ph.D. students and support through degree completion is of great significance to Penn State as a research university,” Vasilatos-Younken noted. “It contributes to raising the quality of teaching in undergraduate classrooms by graduate teaching assistants, supports innovative research that advances societal needs, and raises the quality of Penn State’s graduate programs and stature as an institution of discovery and innovation.” 

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Last Updated June 29, 2014