Graduate Funding Opportunities

Most of our full-time students receive support from teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or from fellowships or other sources. The Department tries to ensure that all students are supported for the duration of their studies, as long as those students remain in good standing with the Department and the University.

Teaching Assistantships

Beginning graduate students are often offered graduate teaching assistantship appointments, primarily for teaching undergraduate physics labs. Tuition is waived for such appointments. 

Students for whom English is not their native language are required to provide proof of English proficiency and pass a conversational exam administered by the Department in order to be eligible for a Teaching Assistantship. 

The Office of International Student Services provides additional information for International applicants, including more information on English Proficiency requirements.

Research Assistantships

Most research groups have federal or state grants that support research assistantships. Students typically receive 12-month half-time appointments; appointments on a semester basis are also common. First-year students are typically supported with teaching assistantships, and more advanced students are typically supported with research assistantships.

Summer research appointments are often available to incoming students. Please contact faculty members directly to discuss research opportunities.

Fellowship Opportunities

The University of Kansas has a number of fellowship opportunities for doctoral study. Exceptional students whose applications (complete with reference letters) are received by December 31 will be considered for fellowship nominations. These opportunities include the Madison and Lila Self Fellowship and any Honors/First Year Fellowship opportunities. These fellowship nominations are typically submitted by the Department on behalf of the student.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy has two graduate fellowships available:

  • The first is the Lowry Graduate Fellowship endowed by the family of former student John Lowry. It is awarded to outstanding graduate students for up to four years during their graduate studies. Recipients must be US citizens.
  • The second departmental fellowship is the Graduate Fellowship in Physics and Astronomy. This renewable fellowship is available to high academic achievers who are highly motivated to complete their PhD within the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Recipients must have a verifiable financial need based upon University of Kansas criteria and be US citizens or permanent residents.

Research Funding

The main sources of research support include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense. In fiscal year 2016 (July 2015-June 2016), the department received more than $4 million in external funding.

External Funding Options

Below are a couple of potential funding opportunities external to KU and the department. The KU Physics & Astronomy Department encourages students to seek external funding.

NRC Graduate Research Fellowships and Awards

The National Research Council of the National Academies sponsors a number of awards for graduate, postdoctoral, and senior researchers at federal laboratories and affiliated institutions. These awards provide generous stipends and the opportunity to do independent research in some of the best-equipped and staffed laboratories in the U.S. Research opportunities are open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and for some of the laboratories, foreign nationals. Detailed program information, including instructions on how to apply online and a list of participating laboratories, is available on the NRC Research Associateship Programs website. Questions should be directed to the NRC at 202-334-2000 (phone) or There will be four review cycles annually. Please see the NRC website for the latest cycle deadlines.

Applicants should begin a dialog with prospective advisers at the lab(s) as early as possible, before their anticipated application deadline. 

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

The National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees in the U.S. and abroad.  The NSF welcomes applications from all qualified students and strongly encourages under-represented populations, including women, under-represented racial and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities, to apply for this fellowship. Interested applicants are encouraged to review the many unique opportunities granted to winners of this prestigious award by visiting the GRFP website noted above.