WVU has a strong comprehensive financial aid program to help you finance your education. The Economics Department has a number of Teaching and Research Assistantships and Meritorious Tuition Waivers available for Ph.D. students. In addition, the university offers a small number of fellowships to outstanding incoming domestic Ph.D. students through a university-wide competition. US citizens, permanent residents, and selected others who do not receive and of the aid listed above may qualify for financial aid through WVU's Student Financial Aid Office.
Graduate Assistantships and Meritorious Tuition Waivers
A limited number of graduate assistantships are available to full-time students enrolled in the Ph.D. program in economics. These positions are awarded to academically outstanding students on a competitive basis, using prior academic background and performance and GRE scores as major criteria. Assistantship positions usually start in the fall of each year and conclude at the end of the spring term. The normal expectation is that assistantships will be renewed through a student's fourth year in the Ph.D. program.
The application deadline to guarantee full consideration for an assistantship is March 1. Since applications for a graduate assistantship will only be considered after the applicant has been admitted to the graduate program, it is best that program admission credentials be submitted to the university by the end of January so that the Department of Economics receives materials from the central admissions office by March 1. Though we consider applications for admission and financial aid until all openings and financial resources are committed, most awards of graduate assistantships for the coming academic year are made during March.
WVU now requires international Graduate Assistants to pass a "Speak Test" before they are allowed contact with undergraduate students. Even for research assistants effective communication is important. For these reasons, the Department of Economics requires all Graduate Assistants to pass the Speak Test by May of their first year as a condition for renewal of the Graduate Assistantship. Every Graduate Assistant will have at least three chances during the year to pass the test. Generally, evidence of proficiency in spoken English will be considered a plus, but will not be a requirement of initial Graduate Assistantship awards.
A graduate assistant works 20 hours per week assisting a faculty member in teaching or research efforts. Some graduate assistants may be assigned to teach selected undergraduate courses.
Graduate assistantships pay a minimum stipend of $16,000 for the academic year 2015-2016 and include basic major medical insurance coverage for the graduate assistant, as well as a waiver of tuition and most student fees. Some assistantships offer substantially higher initial stipends and all assistantship stipends eventually increase as a student advances in our program.
Ph.D. students who do not receive a graduate assistantship may still be eligible for a Meritorious Tuition Scholarship, which provides a waiver of most tuition and fees.
All Ph.D. applicants are automatically considered for Graduate Assistantships and Meritorious Tuition Scholarships, unless we are told not to do so, such as when an applicant has his or her own funding.
The university provides several opportunities for graduate fellowships, including some aimed specifically at incoming graduate students: Arlen G. and Louise Stone Swiger Doctoral Fellowship (3-year), W.E.B. Du Bois Fellowship (3-year), Provost Graduate Fellowship (1-year), and the Graduate Enrichment Fellowship (1-year). The Swiger and DuBois Fellowships are considered to be the most prestigious of the university's fellowships. All of these require excellent credentials and require a nomination by the prospective student's graduate program. All of these are either limited to or give preference to US citizens or permanent residents. Information and applications may be obtained here.
Arlen G. and Louise Stone Swiger Doctoral Fellowships award $25,000 annually and include major medical insurance coverage for the fellow and a waiver of tuition and all fees. The first priority goes to students planning to begin doctoral studies at West Virginia University in the fall semester. Second priority is for students currently enrolled at West Virginia University who will have completed less than one full year of study in the doctoral program. The fellowship is available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, based on academic merit. The award is given for one calendar year with renewal for a maximum of three years for beginning doctoral students and two years for students who will have completed up to one year of study in the doctoral program. Renewal is dependent on satisfactory academic performance. Recipients must be full-time students in residence for the entire calendar year. Students must be nominated by the faculty of the doctoral program admitting the student and recommended for the award by the dean of the college. Typically, the department should have all application materials two weeks before the application deadline, which has been during the first half of March in recent years.
The W.E.B. Du Bois Fellowship for Black Graduate and Professional Students provides a stipend of $18,000 annually plus remission of tuition and fees for the academic year beginning August 16 and ending May 15. These fellowships are available to African-American graduate and professional students who are US citizens or permanent residents. Fellows are required to be full-time resident students for the entire calendar year. Students must be nominated by the faculty of the graduate or professional program admitting the student and recommended for the award by the dean of the college. Typically, the department should have all application materials two weeks before the application deadline, which has been during the first half of March in recent years.