Ph.D. Aid and Awards
Standard Financial Support
Students in the physics and astrophysics Ph.D. programs receive:
- A five-year package of financial support from the College of Arts & Science and/or external grants, including an annual stipend ($35,000 for the 2023-2024 academic year)
- A full tuition waiver
- College-paid premiums for individual student health insurance (an annual value of $3,491)
- Department-paid annual student services fee ($681), which provides student access to the Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center.
Continued funding each year is contingent on a student performing satisfactorily in teaching and research
Students in physics and astrophysics are expected to serve one to two years as teaching assistants. Typical teaching duties for a semester include teaching two introductory lab sections and/or grading for a course. During the summer months, students are expected to join a research group and perform research activities, as determined by the faculty leading the research group. After the first one to two years, students join a research group full time as research assistants.
Additional Support and Awards
University and Graduate School Fellowships and Awards
- University Graduate Fellowships (UGF) – provides an additional stipend of up to $5,000 per year for three years, with a possible renewal for two more years; applicants are nominated for this award by the graduate program to which they apply.
- Provost’s Graduate Fellowships (PGF) – open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents from diverse backgrounds; provides an additional stipend of $5,000 per year for three years, with a possible renewal for two more years; applicants are nominated for this award by the graduate program to which they apply.
- Russell G. Hamilton Graduate Leadership Institute – provides several funding opportunities, including dissertation enhancement grants, professional development and training grants, and travel grants.
- Harold Stirling Vanderbilt (HSV) Funds – provides two-year extensions for UGF/PGF awards as described above; awarded by invitation only.
- Vanderbilt Prize Student Scholar – open to female graduate students in biomedical sciences (including biophysics) who have completed their qualifying exam; cash prize of $1,000 and opportunity to be mentored by the corresponding faculty recipient of the Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science.
- Yellow Ribbon Program – up to $6,000 in financial aid to post-9/11 eligible veterans; eligibility determined by the Veterans Administration.
- Graduate School Travel Grants – up to $500 in travel funds per year to enable graduate students to present their research at regional, national, and international conferences.
Federal Agency Fellowships and Awards
Many of our students have received their own extramural fellowships from federal funding agencies. We encourage all program applicants and first-year graduate students to apply for these competitive awards.
- NSF Graduate Research Fellowships
- DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowships
- NIH National Research Service Awards
College of Arts & Science Awards
- Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award – for exceptionally effective classroom and/or laboratory instruction by a graduate teaching assistant; nominated by departments and selected by A&S Committee on Graduate Education; cash prize and an engraved plaque.
- Outstanding Graduate Student Lab Instructor Award – for excellence in laboratory instruction for science classes; nominated by departments and selected by A&S Committee on Graduate Education; cash prize and an engraved plaque.
- A&S Summer Research Awards – funds for research expenses related to the doctoral thesis, other advanced research projects, or scholarly activities that significantly advance professional development; granted on a competitive basis. See annual announcement for details.
Department Fellowships and Awards
Endowed by William A. and Nancy F. McMinn to support outstanding graduate students in the Department of Physics & Astronomy; up to $5,000 per year in additional stipend; renewable for up to five years. All students who apply for admission are automatically considered.
Robert T. Lagemann Award
Established in 1988 in honor of Robert T. Lagemann, Landon C. Garland Professor of Physics, Emeritus, who taught at Vanderbilt from 1951 to 1977. The Lagemann award is given annually to an entering or first-year graduate student for exceptional promise in physics.
- Trevor Gravely
- Michael Padgett
- Christian Ross
Most Outstanding Student Publication
Established in 2011 by the Graduate Program Committee; given annually to recognize the most outstanding student publication for a paper published during the previous calendar year.
- Karl Jaehnig, Membership Lists for 431 Open Clusters in Gaia DR2 Using Extreme Deconvolution Gaussian Mixture Models, The Astrophysical Journal 923: 129.
- Aaron Stevens, Proteolytic activation of Growth-blocking peptides triggers calcium responses through the GPCS Mthl10 during epithelial wound detection, Developmental Cell 56: 2160–2175
Akunuri V. Ramayya Award
Established in 2007 by Akunuri V. Ramayya, Professor of Physics, Emeritus; given to the most outstanding physics or astronomy graduate student teaching assistant.
- Aaron Hunsaker
- Matthew Murrow
- Hongrui Wu
Royal Albridge Award
Established in 2007 in honor of Royal Albridge, Professor of Physics, Emeritus, who taught at Vanderbilt from 1961 to 2007; given to the most outstanding first-time physics or astronomy graduate student teaching assistant.