Graduate Student Stipends

September 30, 2019

The university values the talent and dedication of its graduate students. Graduate students and in particular doctoral students are critical to UB’s success as a major, public research university. As with students at all levels, UB is dedicated to bringing in the very best doctoral students and providing them with transformative academic programs that prepare them for rewarding careers.

UB deans and academic departments continuously review graduate student programs and funding packages in order to offer competitive stipends, attract the very best students to UB and ensure their success.  This is why the UB College of Arts and Sciences and its academic departments have worked to steadily increase doctoral student funding.

In fall, 2019, through UBs PhD Excellence initiative, academic units have raised the floor for academic-year stipends to $20,000 for all full-time fully funded PhD students on 10-month appointments as teaching assistants, research assistants or graduate assistants. UB and the university’s leadership team, including the provost and academic deans are committed to recruiting the very best PhD students and providing them with transformative academic programs that prepares them for future success. Raising the floor for academic year stipends will enhance efforts to recruit excellent PhD students and ensure that UB’s PhD programs remain among the strongest in the world.  Through UB’s PhD Excellence Initiative, UB will:

  • Continue to recruit the best PhD student to UB.
  • Enhance diversity and inclusion in PhD programs.
  • Align program-level PhD curriculum with intended program outcomes.
  • Enhance PhD degree completion and time to degree.
  • Balance teaching and scholarship for PhD students, as relevant to discipline.

More about UB’s PhD Excellence initiative can be found here: https://grad.buffalo.edu/explore/about/phd-excellence.html

Across the university, graduate students who serve as teaching assistants at UB receive a total funding package averaging about $38,000 per year, which includes a tuition scholarship paid by the university, a stipend, and health and retirement benefits. The university believes this represents a significant investment in our graduate students.

What is the university’s total investment in PhD student stipends?

The university estimates that a total of $39.5 million was invested in PhD stipends and tuition scholarships at UB in 2017-18. The university remits to the State University of New York system the cost of tuition scholarships provided to graduate assistants.

Has the university’s investment in graduate students increased?

Yes, UB’s investment in stipends and tuition scholarships for graduate students has grown by over $8.4 million since 2012-13.

What is the average stipend amount awarded to PhD students at UB?

For the 2017-18 academic year, the average UB stipend was $18,006.  This figure does not include supplemental fellowships awarded to PhD students or payment for extra service such as summer teaching or summer research.  Under the PhD Excellence initiative, A UB PhD student working up to 20 hours per week, with an academic year assistantship (40 weeks) will earn at least $20,000 This translates to a minimum hourly rate of $25.00 for up to 800 hours of work. 

When annualized, the average stipend amount equates to a minimum of $25 per hour. Stipends are awarded for the nine-month academic year for teaching one course and providing up to 20 hours of service per week to an academic department.

How do stipend amounts awarded to UB graduate students compare nationally?

This summer, UB’s deans unanimously decided to establish a floor of $20,000 for academic-year stipends for all full-time, funded PhD students on 10-month academic TA/RA/GA appointments, starting in fall 2019. With this new floor, UB’s average stipend levels are now among the top five of public AAU institutions.

How do stipend amounts awarded to UB PhD students compare with MIT’s living wage calculator?

The MIT Living Wage Calculator estimates that someone working full-time (52 weeks per year, 40 hours per week) at their Living Wage rate would earn an annual income of $24,072. The calculation is based on a single adult, living in Erie County making an hourly wage of $11.57, which is MIT’s minimum standard given the local cost of living. This calculation assumes that this single adult works full-time, year round or 2,080 hours per year.

A UB PhD student working up to 20 hours per week, with an academic year assistantship (40 weeks) will earn at least $20,000 under UB’s PhD Excellence Initiative. This translates to a minimum hourly rate of $25.00 for up to 800 hours of work.  The increase to a $20,000 floor for stipends exceeds the MIT calculator’s living wage.

The MIT Living Wage is $11.57 per hour. The Graduate Student Employees Union (GSEU) contract minimum is $12.45 per hour.

How do stipend amounts awarded to UB PhD students compare with the current Graduate Student Employees Union (GSEU) contract terms of employment?

UB’s average PhD stipend exceeds the minimum stipend per the terms of current contract negotiated by GSEU. According to the GSEU’s contract, the minimum stipend for the 2018-2019 academic year for students on full assistantships at all SUNY institutions is $9,959 annually.

How much of the university’s investment in student stipends is provided by the UB Foundation?

The UB Foundation provides an estimated $5 million annually in support of UB graduate students in the form of scholarships, fellowships and graduate student stipends.

How are unrestricted funds from the UB Foundation used by the university?

Unrestricted funds from UBF are limited in their use and they are used for specific purposes, in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, the accounting standard adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. These funds are limited for use in the following three categories.

  • Funds to support UB schools or units. These funds have no donor restrictions, but are limited in their use to a specific school, unit or program.
  • Funds designated for investment purposes. These funds are held to support and maintain endowed programs or positions during periods of market volatility, in accordance with best practice spending policies followed by UBF.
  • Funds that are not liquid; they represent the value of property, physical plant and equipment assets or fine art assets, or are reserves set aside to maintain university property, plant and equipment.