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Financial aid for graduate study

The primary form of financial assistance available to our full-time, on-campus students comes in the form of a Graduate Research Associateship (GRA)

Faculty research needs determine the number of GRA positions available for a semester. Most funds for GRA positions come from research agencies in industry and/or government. Our faculty submit research proposals to these agencies throughout the year, with notice of proposal funding occurring outside the academic cycle (often shortly before the start of a semester). Given this, the exact subject and number of available GRA positions at the start of a student's first semester at OSU may not be known at the time of admission.

Limited admission--GRA funding
The graduate programs in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) and Welding Engineering (WE) typically only offer admission with accompanying GRA funding. In other words, the number of GRA positions we need to fill limits the number of admission offers for a given semester.

This restriction does not apply to students who are funded by an external fellowship (ex., Fulbright) or company/government funding sources. Contact Mark Cooper if funded in such a manner.

[Note: Our department does not support students as Graduate Teaching Associates--a.k.a. "TA's"--nor does it employ Graduate Administrative Associates, GAA's.]

Benefits of a GRA

A graduate student’s principal objective is to earn a graduate degree. Appointment as a GRA contributes to that objective by providing an apprenticeship experience along with financial support.

All applicants are considered for any available GRA positions, no additional application is needed for consideration. To be considered for a GRA, simply complete the OSU Graduate School application and submit all necessary documents. Thus deadlines for GRA consideration are the same as those for application.

A large majority (90+%) of students in our on-campus graduate programs are supported by a GRA. The GRA position provides the student with:

  • 100% coverage of academic tuition costs and academic fees during all terms of enrollment.
  • Stipends paid on a monthly basis (paid on a twelve-month basis). Our stipend, in light of the reasonable cost of living in Columbus, allows the student to focus on academics and research.
  • Payment of 100% of health insurance premiums.
  • Payment of each term's computer lab fee. This permits the student access to some of the best computing facilities and equipment on campus.
  • Payment of all research costs, plus the opportunity for travel to conferences.
  • The student is responsible for certain student-centered fees (15% of health insurance premiums, student activity fees, etc.), approximately $125 per month during Autumn and Spring. Funds to cover these fees are paid from the stipend.
  • The total value of this package can be more than $80,000 per year; five years of Ph.D. support can have a value of over $400,000.
  • View current GRA openings

The tuition waiver covers the costs of a full-time class load; students who hold a GRA position are not responsible for paying tuition costs. A full class load typically consists of two to three lecture courses plus credit hours of colloquium and research time for a total of 18 credits per term. Please note that the student is responsible for the cost of books, academic supplies, partial payment of health insurance premiums, parking permits, housing, student-related fees, etc.

As part of the GRA agreement, the student agrees to assist his/her advisor with research work. This commitment comes to, on average, approximately 20 hours per week, though this may vary from time to time.

Please note: Since research carried out for a government and/or industrial organization is usually focused on a topic of concern to the funding source, we cannot guarantee that a student's area of interest will always match the available GRA positions for a given semester.

A limited number of GRA positions are available each semester. The general policy of both Graduate Studies Committees (MSE & WE) is to provide admission with accompanying GRA support to only a small number of applicants. 

  • The MSE program tends to have 10-20 GRA positions in Autumn; 0-3 each in Spring and Summer.
  • The WE program tends to have 2-6 GRA positions in the Autumn; 0-3 each in Spring and Summer.

Admission to the graduate programs (MSE or WE) without accompanying GRA support will be provided to qualified applicants. Though GRA funding is not included at the time of admission, students admitted without GRA funding may be eligible to receive a GRA if project funding becomes available.

Additional GRA benefits

University Fellowship

The university offers a number of highly competitive Graduate Fellowships to its top applicants. These prestigious awards provide recipients with paid tuition, an ample stipend, and a great deal of flexibility when pursuing a research topic for the Master's or Ph.D. dissertation. Fellowships are awarded once per year (March), but may begin during any of the semesters in a calendar year.

All eligible applicants are automatically considered for nomination to receive a University Fellowship. Completion of the OSU Graduate School application form and submission of all necessary documents by the specified deadline is all that is required for consideration.

Fellowship requirements

The OSU Admissions Office must be in receipt of all application documents by the date listed below for an applicant to be considered for University Fellowship nomination. To be considered, applicants must submit all required documents by the specified University Fellowship deadlines of:

  • International applicants: Last business day of November * (encouraged; applications will be accepted after this date)
  • US citizens: Mid-December (encouraged; applications will be accepted after this date)
  • Our programs begin making Fellowship admissions in early January. Thus to be considered for nomination to a University Fellowship, all application materials should be received by mid-December.

*International applicants: the November "deadline" is strongly suggested, but items received after this date will be added to your application. This early submission date is encouraged so that if there is a problem or delay in receiving a document there will be sufficient time to address the issue before nominations are made.

We will begin evaluating complete applications for Fellowship nomination in early January. Nominations are made in January and Fellowship nominees will be notified in mid-March of their status and the outcome of the award competition.

Note: All applicants seeking Fellowship nomination are also automatically considered for admission into our program as Graduate Research Associates (GRA), even if they do not win a Fellowship.

Company or government-funded applicants

Applicants funded by a company or government organization--supplying sufficient levels of funding--are encouraged to apply. If the applicant meets the academic requirements for admission and provides proof of funding, s/he may be admitted, regardless of the number of GRA positions available for a given semester. Such students should contact the MSE-WE Graduate Studies Coordinator (or call 614-292-7280) for further details.

Other forms of aid

External scholarships

Our students are encouraged to pursue merit-based scholarships and fellowships. The student's faculty advisor can assist in locating and applying for these awards.

Office of Student Financial Aid

OSU Office of Student Financial Aid
Information on Short-Term and Long-Term University Loans, as well as Federal Direct Loans, is available at the Office of Student Financial Aid. The FAFSA must be filed if the student wishes to be considered for Federal Direct Loans and University Loans. File the Application for Special Scholarships to be considered for any special-eligibility scholarships. These applications are available after January 1 and must be completed and submitted by February 15 for consideration for scholarships. Although you may not be informed of your admission decision prior to the financial aid priority deadline, you should, however, still apply for financial aid by that priority deadline.

Note: As stated, the MSE-WE graduate programs do not admit full-time, on-campus applicants who are self-funded. The student loan information above is provided for part-time or domestic full-time students seeking to supplement their funding.


Mark Cooper 
MSE-WE Graduate Studies Coordinator