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Fellowships for PhD Students

Fellowships for PhD Students


Most PhD students at USC will receive at least one year of fellowship funding from the Graduate School as part of a four or five-year package of support. The stipend amount and the duration of the fellowship will vary by department and by school. All applicants who are admitted into a qualifying USC PhD program are automatically considered for these fellowships. Fellowship recipients are selected by the faculty of the school or department in which they intend to pursue their studies. In addition to general opportunities, the Graduate School offers the following fellowship top offs for incoming PhD students. Fellowship top off recipients are selected by the faculty of the school or department in which the student intends to pursue their studies.

Provost’s Fellowship Top Off

for incoming PhD students whose combination of background and training will make a substantive, documentable, and unique contribution to the program as assessed by faculty. Provost’s fellowship top off recipients are students who excel through their academic or professional contributions and contribute to diversity and/or the reduction of salient inequalities in the program and/or field.

Annenberg Fellowship Top Off

for incoming PhD students in the Viterbi School of Engineering, the School of Cinematic Arts and the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

funding for prospective masters and professional doctorate students

Funding for students pursuing a master’s or professional doctorate degree is coordinated by the school or program. Students are encouraged to explore additional opportunities through the USC Fellowships and Awards database

External Fellowship Opportunities for PhD Students

The USC Graduate School provides a variety of resources to support PhD students seeking funding, including information sessions, boot camps and proposal review workshops.

Students who receive one of a number of designated national awards may be eligible for stipend top offs from the Graduate School. Fellowships eligible for top offs are noted in the USC Fellowships and Awards database 

Staff in the Graduate School serve as coordinating officials for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the Ford Foundation’s Pre-Doctoral and Dissertation Completion Fellowships, the Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, the U.S. Department of Education, Fulbright Hays Program, the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships, the Josephine De Karman Fellowships and the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellowships.

PhD students applying for external fellowships that are “institutionally limited,” meaning that there is a limit placed on the number of students who can apply, or whose applications require the approval of a university official, should contact the Graduate School well in advance of any deadlines.


The External Fellowship Boot Camp is an intensive writing workshop in which students prepare a funding application. In the fall, the Boot Camp is targeted to students pursuing the National Science Foundation, Graduate Research Fellowship Program and the Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship. In the Spring, Boot Camp is designed for advanced PhD students in the humanities and social sciences who will be applying for a variety of kinds of support.

Participants may be eligible for a research award of up to $1,000 if they submit a complete proposal to one of the identified fellowships. Boot camp attendees meet as a large group and in smaller, rotating groups of their peers.

Graduates of the boot camp have enthusiastically endorsed the program:

  • The boot camp “definitely helped me gear my essay towards a larger audience, which is particularly important since the review panel for my discipline may include scholars from other fields”
  • “I loved it and felt like because of the difference in discipline everyone had a unique perspective and advice so each reviewer’s comment was different instead of getting the same feedback over and over again”
  • “The most important things I learned during the boot camp were about addressing the broader impacts criterion of the NSF GRFP. I feel much more confident now about telling a story relating my experiences to the evaluation criteria.”


For the fall Boot Camp, applications, including a recent CV and a rough draft of a 2 or 3 page personal statement are due to the graduate school in early June. Applications for the Spring Boot Camp are usually due in late February.