The English Department fully funds all of its MA and PhD students.
All funding packages include:
- a six-year teaching stipend
- full remission of tuition and fees
- 80% subsidy contribution for university medical, dental, and vision insurance.
The English Department and graduate program offer a wide range of funding enhancements and supplements to support incoming and continuing students. Summer teaching is available in short and long sessions for students in need of summer income.
All students receive a stipend for teaching, research, and tutoring duties conducted each semester, which is tax-exempt for domestic students. Most students receive a stipend at the base grade of 13, which was $23,040 during the 2022-2023 academic year, while some students may be matched to graduate awards with higher-grade stipends. All stipends are paid in monthly installments, over a ten-month period between August and May. Graduate students generally teach five courses over each four-semester period. To learn more about stipend payment at Penn State, see the Table of Stipends for Graduate Assistants page on the website of Systems and Procedures division of the Office of the Corporate Controller for Penn State.
Penn State offers 80% subsidies for medical, eye, and dental insurance through the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). Insurance coverage is also available for eligible spouses/domestic partners and children through the same policy. For information about current rates, see the page on health insurance for graduate students via the Office of Student Affairs.
Interested students may request to teach during the June-to-August summer sessions. Appointments are not guaranteed, but teaching opportunities are plentiful and students generally secure at least one summer course. Per-course payment for summer teaching is in the $3500-$4500 range, depending on the course and the mode of delivery. Unlike the general teaching stipend, summer teaching income is taxable at the federal, state, and local levels.
The Graduate Studies Committee nominates especially competitive incoming students for the following University-wide awards:
University Graduate Fellowship is awarded competitively by the Graduate School; it carries a stipend of no less than $31,000 per year for a student’s entire time at Penn State. The English department nominates one or two applicants for a University Graduate Fellowship or any of several highly selective alternative awards at the same level.
Graduate Scholar Awards are awards of varying amounts and purposes granted to students with exceptionally competitive applications, as a supplement to a student’s stipend offer. Funding enhancements provided through the Graduate Scholar Award continue throughout the student’s time at Penn State.
Bunton-Waller Awards are devoted to promising students from backgrounds that are underrepresented at Penn State. Recipients are paid at grade 18 on the graduate student stipend schedule for the entirety of their time at Penn State, with an additional $3,000 stipend for the first three summers.
Distinguished Graduate Fellowships are named awards offered in cooperation with donors, the Graduate School, and the College of the Liberal Arts. These include the McCourtney Family Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in English and the Tracy Winfree McCourtney and Ted H. McCourtney Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in English.
Additional Awards by Nomination for Current Students
A faculty member may nominate a continuing student for any of several one-time awards overseen by the College of the Liberal Arts, many of which are linked to specific endowment funds. For example, the Sparks Fellowship grants students a one-semester teaching course release in support of research activities, while the STAR award recognizes exemplary research and teaching. Early Modern scholars may be nominated for fellowships at the Folger Institute, with which our program is affiliated.
The Milton B. Dolinger Graduate Fellowship in Writing is a financial prize that recognizes students producing excellent written work.
Additional awards include the George and Barbara Kelly Fellowship in 19th-century British and American Literature, the Wilma Ebbitt Fellowship in Rhetoric, and the Philip Young Memorial Award in American Literature recognize and support students pursuing research in specific subject areas.
The Ben Euwema Memorial Scholarship provides travel funding to graduate degree candidates in English, with a preference for students at the dissertation level. The Price Fellowship provides additional financial support to students who have applied for federal financial aid through the FAFSA.
Travel Funding, Research Assistantships, and Dissertation Support (By Application)
The English department, the College of the Liberal Arts, and the University accept applications for a variety of additional forms of financial support. These include travel funds and research grants for funding needs and research assistantships and fellowships to widen professional opportunities for students.
Travel grants are offered by the department and some centers for graduate students wishing to travel to conferences, seminars, and research collections. Notably, the English department offers travel funding each semester to students who are presenting their work at conferences or professional meetings. Award amounts vary depending on the amount requested, the utility that the travel opportunity affords to a student’s research agenda, and the availability of funds.
Research and Professional Assistantships
English graduate students at all levels may sometimes replace teaching duties with research assistantships. Research assistantships place students in alternative professional roles in the department, including research, editing, and writing positions. The following list comprises regularly offered research assistantships available to English graduate students through centers and research projects. (Please note that research assistantships for individual professors are offered on a variable basis and are not listed here.)
- Africana Research Center assistantship – https://arc.la.psu.edu/
- Center for American Literary Studies assistantship – https://cals.la.psu.edu/
- Center for Black Digital Research – https://digblk.psu.edu/
- Digital Culture and Media Initiative assistantship – https://dcmi.la.psu.edu/
- Digital English Studio assistantships – https://www.des.psu.edu/
- Graduate Writing Center assistantships
- The Hemingway Letters Project assistantships – https://www.hemingwaysociety.org/hemingway-letters-project
- Henry James Letters Project assistantship – https://english.la.psu.edu/graduate/funding-and-support/henry-james-letters-project-assistantship/
- Program for Writing and Rhetoric assistantships – https://www.pwr.psu.edu/
- The Oxford History of Poetry in English assistantship
Students are encouraged to apply for Penn State fellowships, grants, and residencies, in addition to external award opportunities. Depending on the nature of the award, fellowships and research grants may replace teaching duties and provide students with experience in research methods and materials relevant to their areas of scholarly interest. Some awards provide additional funding for specific projects or a stipend enhancement.
Most students apply for fellowships, grants, and residencies after completing a dissertation prospectus and advancing to the All-But-Dissertation (ABD) stage of the PhD program. This is not only because they will most benefit from additional research time at this stage, but also because they are most competitive as applicants at this stage of their studies.
All English graduate students are eligible for one Humanities Dissertation Release, which guarantees the release from one course of teaching duties once the student has reached the ABD level. Some fellowships may supplement the Humanities Dissertation Release.
Once students have taken their guaranteed Humanities Release semester, they are encouraged to apply for RGSO support. The Research and Graduate Studies Office (RGSO) Dissertation Support Competition covers up to $2,000 in research related expenses or $5,000/one course of teaching release time for recipients.
In addition, numerous other forms of support are available to English graduate students:
- Center and Institute Fellows Program enhances the humanities release semester by providing successful applicants with $1000 in additional funding, affiliation with a College of the Liberal Arts center or institute, and opportunities to participate in center or institute activities. Participating programs include:
- Africana Research Center (ARC)
- Rock Ethics Institute (REI)
- Center for Humanities and Information (CHI)
- Humanities Institute (HI)
- Center for Democratic Deliberation (CDD)
- Center for American Literary Studies (CALS)
- Center for Language Acquisition (CLA)
- George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center
- Africana Research Center research grants are competitive funding opportunities offered in support of research in subjects related to the African Diaspora. The grants are open to, but not limited to, graduate student applicants.
- Forrest S. Crawford Family Graduate Fellowship offered through the REI is a year-long fellowship that covers student tuition and provides an additional $1,000 stipend. Crawford fellows are affiliated with the CDD during the fellowship year. Candidates for the fellowship are nominated by their home department. offered through the REI is a year-long fellowship that covers student tuition and provides an additional $1,000 stipend. Crawford fellows are affiliated with the CDD during the fellowship year. Candidates for the fellowship are nominated by their home department.
- Graduate Scholars Residency (GSR) and Graduate Scholars Summer Residency (GSSR) grant programs, offered through the HI, invite dissertating graduate students to conduct and share research at the institute. GSR recipients receive a one-semester course release and GSSR receive a $4,000 summer stipend.
- Research in Democracy Support Grants, offered through the CDD, are competitive grants that support research in topics related to democracy.