Awards and Funding
Students in the Department of Epidemiology have several funding resources including Graduate School awards, departmental training grants, teaching assistantships, research assistantships and external grants.
Funding at a Glance
Graduate School Awards
(Recruitment Fellowships/Assistantships and Current Student Fellowships/Awards)
- Stipend ($12-24K, varies according to fellowship/award)
- 100% Tuition (Academic Affairs rate)
- Student fees
- Health insurance
- Limited number of nominations are put forward by the Department
- Awardees are notified in early March
Departmental Training Grants
(cardiovascular, environmental, genetic, infectious diseases, occupational, reproductive/perinatal/pediatric, pharmacoepidemiology)
- Full year appointment
- Stipend = NIH predoctoral level (current fiscal year)
- 60% of “tuition and fees” (minimum)
- Health insurance
- Some travel money for conferences
- Additional work up to 10 hours per week may be allowed with written permission from the T32 Director.
- Typically for core methods courses, including EPID 600 and SPHG 712 (intro courses for non-majors), occasionally in other departments, such as biology, chemistry, languages
- Stipend = $7850 (in most cases)
- In-state tuition award (Academic Affairs rate, if minimum stipend earned)
- Student fees
- Health insurance
- Assist with faculty research projects
- Can be with anyone on campus
- Sometimes arrangements are made with off-campus sites to hire students through UNC (e.g., GSK, Duke)
- Stipend = NIH predoctoral level (in most cases), prorated if <12 month appointment
- In-state tuition award (if minimum stipend earned)
- Student fees
- Health insurance
External Individual Grants (applied for with mentor)
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- Susan Komen Foundation
- American Heart Association
- Minority Supplement
- NIH F31 Predoctoral Individual Fellowship (general and for promoting diversity)
- CDC Dissertation Grant
- AHRQ Health Services Research Dissertation program
- EPA’s STAR Fellowship Program
- applies to students classified as out-of-state for tuition purposes
- refers to the reduction of the tuition charge to the in-state rate
- comes from a fund provided by the state legislature
- has eligibility requirements
- appointment as Research Assistant, Teaching Assistant, Fellow or Trainee
- minimum stipend level of $7850 per semester for PhD students or $5700 for master’s students
- full-time enrollment from first day of classes to last day of classes (minimally)
- required to receive an in-state tuition award in order to receive tuition remission
- eligibility does NOT guarantee award since departments receive a limited budget (although priority is typically given to first-year students)
[NOTE: This is why it’s imperative that students do everything possible to establish North Carolina residency.]
In-state Tuition Award
- applies to both in-state and out-of-state students
- funds are provided by the hiring grant
- it is possible, although not common, that a grant may not have funding for this purpose – ALWAYS ASK!
- same eligibility requirements as tuition remission
Research assistantships (RAs) offer students an opportunity to gain valuable research-related experience, develop close working relationships with faculty, and sometimes earn co-authorship on peer-reviewed publications. Assistantships come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Just as our students represent a wide range of experience and training, so do the available RA positions necessitate an array of skill levels. The degree of expertise required for a particular assistantship is dictated by the nature of the project. The duties of an RA may include, but are not limited to:
- literature searches
- questionnaire development
- administration of questionnaires
- interviewing of study participants
- field research and data collection
- quality control tasks
- data analysis
- manuscript writing
- proposal development
The duration of RA positions is quite variable. Some are short-term (weeks or even days in duration) and some may last for a year or more. The number of hours of work per week also varies, typically ranging from 15-20 hours per week. Stipend rates vary depending on level of skills required and funding availability. Students should always verify whether the stipend level qualifies them for tuition awards and if the position covers the in-state portion of tuition.
Students who are in the first 2 years of required coursework may not exceed 15 hours per week.
In the past, research assistantship opportunities have generally been plentiful. However, the turn in the economy has made RA funding much less predictable. Although we make every effort to help identify funding opportunities, students must come prepared to take out loans if necessary. This is especially true for first-year students who often don’t have the skill set required for projects.
Available Assistantship Positions
As they become known to us, new assistantship opportunities (both RA and TA) are announced via the “epidjobs” listserv. The “epidjobs” listserv is open only to new and returning doctoral students in the department. Those who would like to receive these announcements may subscribe to the jobs listserv by sending e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. In the body of your message, type: subscribe epidjobs firstname lastname.
To be considered for RA positions, go to RAWeb and complete the online application form. Only current and admitted doctoral students in the Department of Epidemiology are eligible to apply through this system.
Notification of RA funding
Due to the timing of research grant award notifications, new students are not likely to be contacted about RA openings before July or August. Even if the Request for Research Assistantship application has been submitted, it’s a good idea for entering students to contact their faculty mentors directly to make them aware of the desire for an RA position. Individuals with a strong interest or extensive experience in a particular faculty member’s area of research should consider contacting the relevant faculty directly. It’s usually best to send a written letter of interest, along with a resume or Curriculum Vita.
RA positions outside of the Department of Epidemiology
The Department of Epidemiology is not the only source for RA positions. Many students have been funded on research projects in other departments within the School of Public Health, the School of Medicine, the School of Dentistry, the School of Nursing, the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Cecil G. Sheps Health Services Research Center, the Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center, etc. Research opportunities also exist outside of UNC in such organizations as: North Carolina State Health Department, Duke University, Glaxo-SmithKline, Research Triangle Institute, Family Health International, Environmental Protection Agency, and NIEHS. (Students whose residency status is classified by the Graduate School as out-of-state need to be aware that positions paid through sources outside of UNC may not confer eligibility for tuition awards.)
Students in the department may gain teaching experience through Teaching Assistantship (TA) positions. Just as with the Research Assistantships, TA positions are available to students with different skill levels.
TAs work with faculty in the preparation of course material, the preparation of the class schedule, the assembly of course-packs, and in the pre-testing of evaluation instruments. During the courses, TAs observe lectures and make themselves available to students for clarification of the concepts and terms used in those lectures; they provide consultation to students for clarification of concepts and to review the exercises used in course materials and/or textbooks; they conduct question-and-answer sessions structured around examples and exercises used in various sections of applied courses; and they make themselves available to answer questions from students in clarification sessions prior to quizzes, tests, and final examinations.
The number of hours of work per week varies according to the demands of the course and the skills of the TA.
Identifying a TA position
Some TA opportunities are for EPID 600, a service course for non-majors, and SPHG 712, an epidemiology course in the MPH core curriculum. Students who have completed more advanced training may serve as TAs for EPID 710, the introductory level course for majors, and EPID 715, 716, 718, and 722, the advanced methods courses. In addition, opportunities are sometimes available in the substantive epidemiology courses. TAs in the advanced level courses usually serve at the invitation of the primary course instructor; however, the instructors will always welcome an inquiry from students who have a strong interest in a particular course.
TA positions available outside of the Department of Epidemiology
Possibilities for obtaining teaching assistantships also exist outside of the department. Students who have expertise in areas outside of epidemiology have occasionally obtained teaching assistantships in other departments (i.e., Maternal and Child Health, Infectious Disease Medicine, Public Health Leadership, School of Social Work, School of Medicine, Biology, Chemistry, Romance Languages, etc.).
Tuition remission/In-state tuition award
“Tuition remission” is the reduction of the out-of-state tuition rate to the rate set for North Carolina residents. The “in-state tuition award” is a separate award available to both in- and out-of-state students. It covers the in-state tuition amount, but is subject to the same eligibility requirements. Out-of-state students, must receive a full in-state tuition award to be eligible for tuition remission.
What are the eligibility criteria?
Tuition awards are offered by the semester (fall and spring only). To meet the general eligibility requirements, students must be within their first four semesters at UNC-Chapel Hill and be registered full-time (nine or more credit hours until ABD) throughout the semester of the award. Research Assistants and Teaching Assistants enrolled as PhD students must earn a minimum of $7850 for the semester. Master’s students must earn $5700 per semester. The official start date on payroll must be no later than the first day of classes for the semester and the students must remain on payroll at least through the last day of classes for the semester. Out-of-state students must receive the in-state tuition award to be eligible for tuition remission. Trainees on departmental training grants may also be considered for tuition remission.
Note: students who fail to meet these criteria for the entire period during which tuition remission is awarded will be required to pay back the tuition remission award.
Are tuition awards guaranteed for everyone who meets the above criteria?
No. The number of awards available for each department is limited and can vary from one year to the next. Therefore, meeting eligibility requirements does not guarantee tuition remission. In the event that the number of eligible students exceeds the number of available awards, the department will define criteria to allow for the equitable award of remissions. Typically, priority is given to first-year students. In-state tuition awards are subject to availability of funds from the source of the supporting assistantship.
Because remissions are limited, new, out-of-state students are strongly encouraged to learn about requirements for establishing residency for tuition purposes.
When do students receive notification of tuition remission awards?
In general, notification does not take place until the beginning of the fall term at the earliest. Before tuition remission awards can be made, there are three variables which must be known:
- the amount of the allocation to the department;
- the exact tuition and fee rates for the next academic year; and
- the total number of eligible students.
This information is not known prior to the beginning of the semester.
Several institutional training grants from NIH agencies provide support for epidemiology students, both within epidemiology and through other departments and centers. Students who apply for training support must be in the PhD program or must have a prior doctoral degree. Under NIH provisions, trainees must be United States citizens or Permanent Residents.
The training grant pays at least 60% of tuition and fees, in addition to a stipend. The NIH predoctoral stipend is for a 12-month appointment and is set every fiscal year. Postdoctoral stipends vary according to the trainee’s years of experience. Training grant appointments are non-service; that is, no work is expected of the student beyond completion of the regular degree requirements. Students are, however, expected to commit full-time effort to their training in epidemiology, including approximately 10 hours per week in a research apprenticeship with their faculty mentor. A student’s career interests and research project must be within the area for which the grant is funded. Although T32 appointments are considered full-time training, additional work up to 10 hours per week may be allowed with written permission from the T32 Director
Current department training grants fund a number of students studying issues in cardiovascular, environmental, genetic (heart/lung/blood), infectious diseases, occupational, pharmacoepidemiology, and reproductive/perinatal/pediatric epidemiology. Faculty participating in the administration of each grant select the trainees. Applicants whose interests are appropriate for departmental training grants should submit a training grant application. Applicants whose research interests cross multiple areas may apply for multiple training grants. Each training grant requires a separate application.
Current and admitted doctoral students will be notified each spring when the application opens.
The Principal Investigators for the departmental training grants are as follows:
Cancer Epidemiology Disparities Research Training Program – Dr. Melissa Troester
Cardiovascular Epidemiology Training Grant – Dr. Wayne Rosamond
Environmental Epidemiology Training Grant – Dr. Stephanie Engel
Genetic Epidemiology of Heart, Lung and Blood Traits Training Grant – Dr. Kari North
Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Training Grant – Dr. Brian Pence
Occupational Epidemiology Training Grant – Dr. David Richardson
Pharmacoepidemiology Training Program – Dr. Michele Jonsson-Funk
Reproductive, Perinatal and Pediatric Training Grant – Dr. Julie Daniels