The Rackham Graduate School will implement a new funding model in which all Rackham Ph.D. students on the Ann Arbor campus receive 12 months of stipend support for the duration of the funding packages outlined in their offers of admission, Dean Mike Solomon announced March 24.
Under the new model, eligible students will receive a spring/summer stipend at the same level as the fall and winter terms, beginning with the 2023 spring/summer term. Previously, Ph.D. students received a funding commitment for the fall and winter terms.
For the 2022–23 academic year, this funding amount is $12,028 per term, or $36,084 for 12 months. This new model increases the minimum stipend for eligible Ph.D. students on the Ann Arbor campus by 50%, Solomon said, noting that the graduate school has been pursuing this change for several years in response to the stated needs of both Ph.D. students and programs.
“We believe that moving to a 12-month funding model will support the academic progress and success of Ph.D. students as measured by completion rates and time to degree,” he said. “The extension to 12-month Ph.D. funding also assists programs and their faculty by promoting program excellence, equity, and the ability of faculty to recruit new Ph.D. cohorts.”
Provost Laurie McCauley said providing this level of support to U-M Ph.D. students has long been a goal of the university.
“I am thrilled to see the culmination of so much thoughtful work from Rackham and all those who advocated for this change,” McCauley said. “Twelve months of funding will provide our Ph.D. students the stability they need to be successful in their world-class work.
“It also supports equity across Ph.D. programs on campus and ensures U-M remains a competitive destination in the Ph.D. landscape. I am grateful to all the program directors and chairs whose consultation informed this incredible investment in our students and our mission.”
Many Ann Arbor Ph.D. programs already provide 12-month funding to their students through a mix of funding sources available to them. The remainder of programs typically provide partial support during some spring/summer terms. Programs that previously offered partial or no spring/summer funding will receive ongoing supplemental support from the university to bring all Ph.D. students to the same level and promote the equity of Ph.D. stipend support across programs.
“We hear from programs and faculty about their needs to sustain and advance the graduate research and scholarship that is at the core of Ph.D. training, and we appreciate that these needs and opportunities vary by discipline,” Solomon said.
“We will continue to listen to the needs of programs and faculty, including their perspectives on costs. We will study and benchmark these factors and report our findings to the chairs and directors of Rackham graduate programs during the 2023–24 academic year.”
Prior to Solomon’s decision to implement the new model, Rackham solicited feedback from the Rackham Executive Board — the graduate school’s faculty governance — in addition to the faculty leadership of Rackham graduate programs, the deans of schools and colleges, and the Provost’s Office. A majority of programs supported the change, with some expressing questions over its scope and implementation that will be addressed in the coming academic year.
“Graduate programs offer guaranteed funding packages to their Ph.D. students because of the contributions to research, scholarship and teaching that these students make,” Solomon said. “They deploy funding generated from multiple sources to support those contributions to society and the university.
“I’m delighted that the university will be able to offer this extended, 12-month funding model in order to enhance the scholarship and degree progress of Ph.D. students, who play such vital roles on our campus.”