Wendy Chao Logo



Sorry for the lack of updates - boy the holidays are rough. More stipends and new site coming soon!

Last update: 01.04.10 23:15 EST. Get updates on Twitter: @wendypedia or twitter.com/wendypedia

This is the 2009-2010 edition of America's Best Graduate School Stipends - or How Much Money It Takes to Lure Aspiring Biomedical Scientists into a PhD Program.

THE 30K CLUB: In the academic year 2009-10, over-$30K stipend club includes the New York City trifecta: Gerstner Sloan-Kettering, Rockefeller, and Weill Cornell Medical College. So far, Gerstner Sloan-Kettering has the highest PhD stipend with $32,155 in 2009-10 and an impressive benefits package. However, Rockefeller (technically #3 at $31,600) takes the Best Graduate Stipend Award with its $2,500 annual research allowance ($3,000 starting in year 3) and $1,000 relocation allowance and membership in the New York Academy of Sciences and subsidized housing in New York's Upper East Side and $5,000 bonus for students with external funding and I still can't believe I turned down Rockefeller when I got accepted.

The Sackler Institute at New York University, which paid California-like stipends for years ($27,000 for both 2007-08 and 2008-09), finally shakes its 2nd-tier stipend status and soars into the $30K club at $31,000. Columbia University will also join the elite NYC schools with annual stipends of $30,000. Unbeknownst to me, a stipend offered at Boston University actually reached $30K in 2008-9 - but just like its home city, where five different streets are named Washington Street, Boston University always had about 5 different stipend levels. This year, I'm settling on Boston University Medical Center's 2010-9 stipend - which is listed at $30,500 (and increases to an impressive $31,500 for those who have passed the qualifying exam).

THE 50K ADJUSTED CLUB: Smaller cities boast lower costs of living - which means that a PhD student can actually live quite comfortably on a stipend. Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) will reportedly offer a stipend of $29,200, which is notable because this equals a whopping $50,552 in New York City, according to the Best Places cost-of-living calculator. New to the list, University of Mississippi Medical Center reports a 2009-10 PhD stipend of $24,150. That's $58,906 in New York dollars. FIFTY. EIGHT. THOUSAND. NINE. HUNDRED...ok, that's a lot of money for a graduate student. Other schools with over-$50K adjusted stipends include University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Washington University, and University of Rochester Medical Center. The generous $27,500 stipend of the Tulane Biomedical Sciences (BMS) program, when adjusted to NYC dollars, is just $37 shy of $50,000. This is probably within the margin of error of this particular salary calculator, so Tulane gets inducted into the $50K adjusted club

HONORABLE MENTION: Clemson University is definitely an underdog at $18,000/year for biological science teaching assistants. However, the dollar goes a long way in this city of 12,000 people - and a Clemson-to-NYC adjustment raises this stipend to well over $30K. Furthermore, The Scientist magazine declared Clemson University one of the top three Best Places to Work in Academia in 2007. Go Tigers!

According to Forbes.com, the 10 Most Affordable Places to Live Well are 1) Minneapolis, 2) Indianapolis, 3) Cincinnati, 4) St. Louis, 5) Houston, 6) Milwaukee, 7) Dallas, 8) Pittsburgh, 9) Columbus OH, and 10) Atlanta. If you want a lot of bang for you grad school buck, you may want to do your PhD in one of these cities.

Emory University also deserves a nod. In the aforementioned Forbes survey, Atlanta was named the 10th Most Affordable Places to Live Well in the nation. Atlanta was also ranked by Forbes as the 4th Fastest-Growing City (not necessarily a good thing) and the 4th Best City for Singles (definitely a good thing). Moreover, Emory University has been selected as one of America's 25 New Elite 'Ivies" by Newsweek, and offers a staggering array of fellowships.

BIG SCHOOLS, SMALL (OR NO) RAISES: Previously, I projected that Harvard University would finally be inducted into the $30K Hall of Fame for the 2008-9 year. When that didn't happen, I was confident that they would break $30K in 2009-10. Wrong again! Still stinging after its endowment plunged $8 billion dollars to a "paltry" $36.9 billion, Harvard recently announced budget cuts - which apparently allowed a mere $192 stipend increase for the whole year. That's a raise of $16/month, $4/week, $0.80/day, or about $0.10/hour for an unrealistic 40-hour graduate student work week. If that sounds rough, it looks like many programs aren't even raising stipends in 2009-10 - notably state-funded schools. However, to remain appealing to prospective graduate students despite no increases in base stipend, some schools are allowing stipend increases (paid by advisers) once students commit to thesis laboratories. One such example is SUNY Downstate, where students can receive up to 20% above the minimum stipend levels once they enter thesis labs.

BLEAK ECONOMIC OUTLOOK: In the 2005 stipend report, I cited a CNNmoney story that called academic science research one of the "Big Jobs That Pay Badly." You know what else pays badly? Unemployment. With the economy in ruins and national unemployent rates currently hovering around 10%, a guaranteed stipend (with free or subsidized health insurance) is not a bad alternative to being jobless. The economy will probably fix itself by the time you earn your PhD - so heed the wise words of Mr. T:


Remember, it's not about the money - it's about the science. Right?

Below is a list of 2009-10 stipends for PhD programs in the biological and biomedical sciences1 with adjusted stipends2 and fringe benefits3 (which are taken into consideration for tie breaks). If necessary, further tie breaks are purely subjective. Do you have stipend information to report? Please email me at wendychao (AT) post.harvard.edu. This site will be updated regularly.


stipend 2009-10
extra funding3
Gerstner Sloan-Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences* New York (Manhattan), NY
Subsidized housing; MacBook Pro or PC equivalent, $250 book allowance for 1st year students, $500 for relocation, membership in the NY Academy of Sciences, $5000 bonus for students with external funding
Weill Cornell Medical College Graduate School of Medical Sciences* New York (Manhattan), NY
Subsidized housing; Free wireless; $1,000 annual support for conference travel if presenting
Rockefeller University
The David Rockefeller Graduate Program* New York (Manhattan), NY
Subsidized housing; annual research allowance of $2,500 (increases to $3,000 in year 3); $1,000 for relocation, membership in the NY Academy of Sciences, $5000 bonus for students with external funding

New York University

Sackler Institute of Biomedical Science* New York (Manhattan), NY
Subsidized housing

Boston University Medical Center

Division of Graduate Medical Sciences* Boston, MA
$1,000 bonus for years post-qualifying
Columbia University Medical Center Coordinated Doctoral Programs in Biomedical Sciences* New York (Manhattan), NY
Subsidized housing; $2,000 bonus for students with external funding
Columbia University Biological Sciences* New York (Manhattan), NY
Subsidized housing; $500 for relocation
Harvard University Harvard Integrated Life Sciences Program (HILS)* Cambridge, MA
Select programs (such as Molecular and Cellular Biology) offer free laptops to 1st-year students
Yale University Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS)* New Haven, CT
$350 textbook allowance first year; $4,000 bonus for students with external funding
Stanford University Graduate Studies in Biosciences (GSBS)* Palo Alto, CA
$750/year travel stipend for G1-2 (Neuroscience); annual $668 health services fee
Cornell University Graduate Programs in the Life Sciences* Ithaca, NY
Includes a summer stipend of $4,400 per year (for up to two years)
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University Graduate Programs in the Biomedical Sciences* New York (Bronx), NY
$1,000 for relocation; guaranteed subsidized housing
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Microbiology Graduate Program Cambridge, MA
California Institute of Technology Biology Graduate Program* Pasadena, CA
$2,200 yearly allowance for research supplies; separate funds to cover travel to scientific meetings
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS)* Philadelphia, PA 
Select programs (such as Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics) offer $1500 towards a computer
University of Massachusetts Medical School Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences* Worcester, MA
Tufts University Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences Biomedical Sciences* Boston, MA
Washington University Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS)* St. Louis, MO
$300 for relocation; limited travel funds; $5000 merit awards for students with external funding; $300 interest-free emergency short-term loans with repayment time of 60 days

Princeton University

Graduate Program in Molecular Biology Princeton, NJ
$4000 bonuses for students with external funding
Tulane University Biomedical Sciences (BMS) New Orleans, LA
University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Molecular and Cellular Biology Seattle, WA
Free laptop (MacBook or PC equivalent) upon arrival
University of Washington Genome Sciences Seattle, WA
University of Washington Biomolecular Structure and Design Seattle, WA
Students required to pay an approximate $800/year "Activities Fee"
Johns Hopkins Medical Institute School of Medicine (SOM) Graduate Programs* Baltimore, MD
$500 travel allowance first year
Northwestern University Interdepartmental Biological Sciences Graduate Program (IBiS)* Chicago, IL
$500 for moving expenses; free laptop first year; ; 10% stipend bonus for students with external funding
Northwestern University Integrated Graduate Program (IGP) in the Life Sciences* Chicago, IL
$500 for moving expenses
University of Connecticut Health Center Biomedical Science* Farmington, CT
Funds available for travel to scientific conferences, and to attend short courses outside the University;students pay some fees.
The Scripps Research Institute Doctoral Programs in Chemical and Biological Sciences La Jolla, CA
$3,000 bonus for students with external fellowships
University of California, Berkeley Microbiology and Plant Biology Berkeley, CA
Up to 25% stipend bonus for students with external fellowships (for total annual stipend of up to $33,750); county bus pass
University of California, Berkeley Neuroscience Graduate Program Berkeley, CA
University of California, San Francisco  Herbert W. Boyer Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS)* San Francisco, CA
Benefits may vary by program; e.g. Neuroscience Graduate Program offers limited travel funds & free gym membership
Duke University Department of Immunology Durham, NC
University of Michigan Medical School Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS)* Ann Arbor, MI
$500 for relocation
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School/Rutgers University Molecular Biosciences Umbrella Program Piscataway, NJ
$2000 bonus for students with external funding; $5000 education bonus for some students selected for Society of Scholars; travel awards
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Graduate Program in Molecular Pathology and Immunology Newark, NJ
Campus housing available; cash incentive to top recruits (4 per year)
Oregon Health & Science University Graduate Studies in the Biomedical Sciences* Portland, OR
Brown University Division of Biology and Medicine* Providence, RI
$1800/yr bonus for students with external funding that is ≥80% of base stipend; $500 conference funding years 2-5; $1500 competive awards for international conferences & training; free RI bus service. Some programs (such as Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Health Services Research) offer free laptop for incoming students.
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP)* Chapel Hill, NC
$1,000 for relocation
Baylor College of Medicine  Graduate Program in Molecular Genetics Houston, TX
$2,000 bonus for students with external funding
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences* Houston, TX
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Division of Basic Science (DBS)* Dallas, TX
Campus housing available; bonus for students with external funding 
University of California, Davis Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology  Davis, CA
Duke University  Program in Biological Chemistry Durham, NC
James B. Duke Fellows: $5,000/yr bonus
University of Rochester Medical Center School of Medicine and Dentistry Graduate School* Rochester, NY


$2,000 annual bonus for students with external funding; some signing bonuses
Rice University  Biochemistry & Cell Biology Graduate Program Houston, TX
Signing bonuses available; recipients of the Presidential Fellowship get additional $5,000 in stipend; students pay 30% individual health insurance.
Vanderbilt University  Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP) Nashville, TN
Dartmouth College Hitchcock Medical Center Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine (PEMM) Lebanon, NH 
University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS)* Miami, FL
Students pay 20% health insurance premium
Mayo Clinic Mayo Graduate School* Rochester, MN



Paid travel to scientific meetings; adoption reimbursement
State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate School of Graduate Studies* Brooklyn, NY
Once student commits to a thesis lab, advisers may pay students up to 20% above the minimum stipend (up to $30,462 total). Under special circumstances (e.g. external fellowships), increases up to NRSA 0 level (currently $36,996) will be considered. Students pay approx. $12/month health insurance premium
University of Virginia Biomedical Sciences Graduate Programs* Charlottesville, VA
Up to $3,000/year bonus for incentive/merit scholarships; annual travel allowance (varies by program). The Jefferson Fellowship offers 5 years @ $30K + $7500 for research funding (W@W)
Case Western Reserve University Pharmacology Cleveland, Ohio
$750 allowance 1st year for computer; allowance for supplies
Carnegie Mellon University Biological Sciences* Pittsburgh, PA
University of Texas, Austin School of Biological Sciences* Austin, TX
$1,000 1st year bonus; $500 for relocation
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences* Galveston, TX
Varies by program
University of Utah Molecular Biology Program and Biological Chemistry Program Salt Lake City, UT
$1,000 1st year bonus that students can use for whatever they like (e.g., season pass at Alta!)
Indiana University at Bloomington Medical Sciences Program Bloomington, IN
$1,000 1st year bonus; $500 for relocation; benefits exclude fees (~$700/semester)
University of Maryland, Baltimore Graduate Program in Life Sciences (GPILS)* Baltimore, MD
$1,000 stipend increase after passing qualifying exam
West Virginia School of Medicine Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs in the Biomedical Sciences* Morgantown, WV
University of Colorado Denver, School of Medicine Basic Biomedical Sciences Programs* Aurora, CO 
Additional benefits vary by program
Temple University School of Medicine - Fels Institute for Cancer Research & Molecular Biology Molecular Biology and Genetics Graduate Program Philadelphia, PA
Temple University School of Medicine Biochemistry Philadelphia, PA
University of Pittsburgh Center for Neuroscience Graduate Training Program Pittsburgh, PA
$2000 "Education Enrichment Account" (G1), free city bus service
Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh CMU-Pitt PhD Program in Computational Biology Pittsburgh, PA
Emory University Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (GDBBS)* Atlanta, GA
$2000/yr bonus for students with external funding; Woodruff Fellowship: 5yr @ $5,000/yr + fees; Emory Graduate Diversity Fellowship: 5yr @ $4,500/yr + fees; Division Scholar Fellowship: 5yr @ $2,000/yr + fees
Oregon Health & Science University Graduate Studies in the Biomedical Sciences* Portland, OR


$2,000 stipend increase after passing qualifying exam
University of Mississippi Medical Center Graduate School (Jackson) Anatomy Jackson, MS
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Biomedical Graduate Programs* Little Rock, AR
University of Georgia Microbiology Athens, GA
Partially subsidized health insurance
University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Education in Medical Science* Chicago, IL
Additional benefits available in thesis lab; partial fee waiver
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Graduate Studies* New Orleans, LA
University of Arizona Graduate Program in Pharmacology Tuscon, AZ
University of Wisconsin-Madison Neuroscience Training Program Madison, WI
University of Oregon Institute of Molecular Biology; Institute of Neuroscience Eugene, OR
Dartmouth College Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Program Hanover, NH
$2,000 annual allowance for travel to scientific meetings
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine Graduate Programs* Richmond, VA
Additional support varies among ndividual programs in the School of Medicine. For example, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology offers $2,500 bonus for exceptional students
Colorado State University Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Neuroscience Program Fort Collins, CO 
$2,000 for relocation; campus housing available; up to $600/year for conferences/special courses
University of New Mexico Biological Sciences Graduate Program (BSGP)* Albuquerque, NM
Colorado State University Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Neuroscience Program Fort Collins, CO
$2,000 for relocation; campus housing available; up to $600/year for conferences/special courses
University of New Mexico Biological Sciences Graduate Program (BSGP)* Albuquerque, NM
Albany Medical College Graduate Studies Program* Albany, NY
Wake Forest University  Biomedical Sciences* Winston-Salem, NC
Free laptop; student pays 28% of single person coverage
University of Maryland Biology (BIOL) - Biological Sciences (BISI)* admitting fall 2010 College Park, MD
Stipend increases to $23,714 G2 or for students with master's degrees; $24,212/year after candidacy
University of South Florida Moffitt Cancer Center Cancer Biology PhD Program Tampa, FL
Travel awards up to $1,000; books for core courses; annual stipend increase of 3% minimum; bonuses for students with external funding
University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine Infectious Diseases Athens, GA
Miami University Chemistry and Biochemistry Oxford, OH
Students pay 1/2 of the fees
Texas A&M University Department of Biology College Station, TX
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine Biomedical Science PhD Programs* Cincinnati, OH
$22,000 to $24,000
Stipends vary by program, Ohio residents eligible for Choose Ohio First program that pays a $4500 annual bonus for four years
University of Vermont Pharmacology Burlington, VT
Signing bonuses for outstanding applicant; external support bonuses; free city bus service

University of Louisville, School of Medicine

Integrated Programs in Biomedical Sciences* Louisville, KY

University of Arizona

Genetics Graduate Interdisciplinary Program Tuscon, AZ
Additional support from competitive funding sources pay up to $30,000 total annual stipend; students pay university-imposed student fees. 

Washington State University

School of Molecular Biosciences* Pullman, WA
$2,500 signing bonus; stipend increase after passing their candidacy exam in 3rd year (to $23,130 in 2008-9); students pay residual semester student fees of $858.50. 
University of Oregon Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Eugene, OR
University of Massachusetts, Amherst Molecular and Cellular Biology Amherst, MA
Student pays 5% subsidized health insurance, some fees
University of Georgia Cellular Biology Athens, GA
Partially subsidized health insurance
University of Toledo College of Medicine PhD Program in Biomedical Science Toledo, OH  
$250 for travel to scientific meetings; external support bonuses available
University of Missouri-Columbia Biomedical Sciences Area Program Columbia, MO  
University of Vermont Neuroscience Graduate Program Burlington, VT  

Michigan State University

Neuroscience Program East Lansing, MI
$250 for relocation
University of Vermont Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program Burlington, VT
Student pays 25% health insurance premium; negotiations are underway to increase the 2009-10 stipend
University of Colorado, Boulder Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Boulder, CO
$20,400 (TA), $23,472 (RA), $25,212 (post qual)
Signing bonuses available; tudents from under-represented groups receive moving expenses, guaranteed summer support and Sloan Fellowships; student pays 30% health insurance premium 
Ohio University Interdisciplinary Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology Athens, OH
Ohio University Graduate Program in Biological Sciences* Athens, OH
$205/quarter for general fees
University of Oregon Institute of Marine Biology Eugene, OR
Clemson University Biological Sciences* Clemson, SC
Stipend increases when students transition from teaching assistants to research assistants
Wayne State University Biological Sciences* Detroit, MI
$16,586 to $17,170
Recruiting Rumble / Competitive Rumble Fellowships offer subsidized housing or graduate research assistanceships; need-based housing awards available; research and travel enhancement funds available to all students who complete prospectus and candidacy requirements.
Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine Basic Medical Sciences West Lafayette, IN
Utah State University Biology* Logan, UT
Students pay fees, 20% health insurance
University of Pittsburgh - Graduate School of Public Health Infectious Diseases & Microbiology (IDM) Pittsburgh, PA
Free city bus service
University of Pittsburgh Biological Sciences Pittsburgh, PA
Penn State University Graduate Programs at Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences* Hershey, PA
TBA 7/2009

Oregon State University

Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) Corvallis, OR
1. An asterisk (*) indicates that multiple programs are available; includes interdisciplinary programs and specialties such as biochemistry, bioinformatics, biophysics, cell biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, genetics, genomics, immunology, infectious disease, microbiology, molecular biology, neurobiology, neuroscience, and structural biology. Please see individual program websites for available subjects or programs.
2. Adjusted to cost-of-living in New York City (home to the highest stipend) using the cost-of-living calculator at bestplaces.net/col. These numbers are by no means definitive, and should be used for general reference purposes only. Actual costs-of-living will obviously vary depending on multiple factors - including how lavish your lifestyle is, or even which calculator you use. ADJUSTED STIPENDS REMOVED DUE TO NOT-SO-ACCURATE RESULTS.
3. Additional monetary funding based on available information. Tuition, insurance premiums, and fees are generally waived; only exceptions are noted (if information is available).
Information is subject to change.
Comments? Questions? Corrections? Please or email me at wendychao (AT) post.harvard.edu
wendy chao's home page
© 2005-2009 WENDYCHAO.COM
web www.wendychao.com