While the choice of graduate school depends on many criteria, financial considerations are often an important part of the decision-making process. Penn State offers graduate students an outstanding financial package in terms of the level and continuity of support and the low cost of living in the State College area.
The Department offers teaching and research assistantships to support qualified students. Assistantships usually carry a workload of twenty hours per week. Fellowships, graduate assistantships, and teaching assistantships support virtually all the graduate students in Penn State's chemistry department. All appointments include a grant-in-aid covering tuition. Most students are offered (and choose to accept) positions as research assistants during or after their first year. These assistantships are generally paid from funds by various agencies to the student's research preceptor. Medical and dental insurance is available to students at minimal cost.
Each year a fraction of our entering graduate students are awarded fellowships. These carry an award beyond the usual stipend. The department awards about half of its available fellowship funds to entering students and the other half to outstanding graduate students in their second, third, and fourth years in the Ph.D. program. These fellowships are supported entirely by endowments from generous alumni and industrial sponsors.
Teaching is considered an integral part of graduate education; hence, most graduate students receive a teaching assistantship for the first two semesters. These appointments, which require approximately twenty hours per week of service (laboratory or recitation instruction, preparation, grading, etc.), permit the student to carry 12 credits of graduate course work. Students usually find teaching personally rewarding, because it enhances their own understanding of basic chemical principles and allows them to pass this understanding on to others. The department provides all new TAs comprehensive with training before the start of their teaching assignments.
Faculty members in the Chemistry Department receive research grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and various other agencies. It is through these grants that graduate students are normally supported, receiving research assistantships after the spring semester of their first year. The research assistantship provides more time for creative thinking and independent research, ultimately leading to the Ph.D. thesis and degree.