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Funding Support

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Virtually all of our Ph.D. students receive full financial support in the form of Fellowships, Graduate Research Assistantships and Teaching Assistantships throughout their Ph.D. Program. The financial support covers full tuition, a generous stipend and health insurance coverage.

Corporate sponsored Ph.D. students may receive a combination of company support, fellowship, graduate research assistantships, and teaching assistantships. (Please see your specific company’s academic plan and funding options.)


Generally, our fellowship offers will be made to our very best applicants and for the most part last only one (1) semester or one (1) year, depending on the type of fellowship.  Stipends for fellowships tend to be slightly higher for the first year only. Applicants who are awarded fellowships enter the program without any formal obligations such as teaching or research for a specific sponsored project for the duration of the fellowship itself.

Diversity Fellowships

Cornell Systems offers several Diversity Fellowships and encourages our applicants to apply for them, if they qualify (U.S. citizens or permanent residents only). Included are a Sloan Fellowship, Colman Fellowship, a Sage Fellowship, and simply a Diversity Fellowship. Each of these funding opportunities is geared towards providing aid for applicants that meet several of the following criteria:

  • A history of overcoming disadvantage
  • First-generation college student
  • Raised in a single-parent household
  • Member of an under-represented minority group (American Indian or Alaskan Native, Black/African American, Mexican American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Puerto Rican, Other Hispanic)
  • Member of an under-represented minority group (American Indian or Alaskan Native, Black/African American, Mexican American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Puerto Rican, Other Hispanic)

If you meet the criteria listed above, we would encourage you to submit a Diversity Essay in your online application that clearly demonstrates how any of these eligibility criteria apply in your case. Please be sure to include at least a sentence or two at the conclusion of your Statement of Purpose that you have submitted a Diversity Essay and that you hope to be considered for this Fellowship opportunity.

Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA)

Ph.D. students typically serve as GRAs for most semesters of the program. The GRA is the most common of all types of financial support and allows students to conduct research. GRAs usually come from the Ph.D. student’s thesis advisor and committee chair. Students on a GRA receive full tuition and stipend for the academic year. Stipends are typically paid in bi weekly pay checks. Summer support appointments are made separately.

A GRA is given to a student whose research interests coincide with a sponsored research project. The faculty member making the offer will become the applicant’s advisor upon entering the Systems program. Being admitted as a GRA does not have any teaching obligations and applicants are expected to immediately begin focusing on research in the group of the faculty member who made the offer. GRAs are generally given to continuing, rather than incoming, students.

Teaching Assistantship (TA)

TA offers come directly from the Systems department. Admitted applicants are expected to perform the required duties of a TA at least once during their program. A TA is responsible for assisting a faculty member in administering a class. Duties could include grading, managing a course web site, leading discussion sections, holding office hours, etc. There is a maximum limit to the number of hours a student can be expected to devote to their duties. Please consult the Cornell Policy on Graduate Assistantships for further details and expectations. TA positions are a very valuable piece of a student's experience. Being a TA helps reinforce knowledge of material and is a very attractive item to colleges and universities when considering job applicants in academia, especially for tenure track positions. While TA positions require additional work, they have a large pay-off and many students very much enjoy helping others learn and become more confident in systems. Stipends are typically paid in bi-weekly pay checks.