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

(Assorted Fellowships, Merit Assistantships and Minority Presence Awards)

  • Stipend ($12-24K, varies according to award)
  • 100 % Tuition (some include fees)
  • Health insurance
  • Nominated by the Department
  • Awardees are notified in early March

Departmental Training Grants

(CVD, environmental, genetic, infectious diseases, occupational/injury, reproductive/perinatal/pediatric, pharmacoepidemiology)

  • One full year appointments
  • Stipend – $23,376 (FY 2016)
  • 60% of “tuition and fees” (minimum)
  • Health insurance
  • Some travel money for conferences

Teaching Assistantships

  • Typically for core methods courses, including EPID 600 (intro course for non-majors) (occasionally in other departments, such as biology, chemistry, languages)
  • Stipend of $7850 (in most cases)
  • Eligibility for tuition remission and/or in-state tuition awards (if minimum stipend earned)
  • Health insurance

Research Assistantships

  • 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 of $7850 (in most cases)
  • Eligibility for tuition remission and/or in-state tuition awards (if minimum stipend earned)
  • Health insurance

External Individual Grants (applied for with adviser)

  • Department of Defense
  • 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
  • NOAA

Tuition Remission

  • 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, including MSPH/PhD ($5700 for MPH students)
    • full-time enrollment from first day of classes to last day of classes (minimally)
  • required to be eligible for the in-state tuition award
  • 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 YOU DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO ESTABLISH NORTH CAROLINA RESIDENCY]

In-state Tuition Award

  • applies to both in-state and out-of-state students
  • does not include fees
  • 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

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
  • 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 have not satisfied all required courses (except 900, 992 and 994) may not exceed 15 hours per week without special permission from the Student Services Office (; 919-966-7459). Typically, this would be PhD students in the first two years of the program, and MSPH/PhD students in the first three years.

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” listserve. 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 listserve by sending e-mail to: In the body of your message, type: subscribe epidjobs firstname lastname.

Application Process

To apply for an RA position, go to  RAWeb and complete the online application form. Only current students or students who have been admitted to 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 advisers 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.)

Teaching Assistantships

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

Most of the TA opportunities are for EPID 600, a service course for non-majors that satisfies the SPH core requirement (Contact Person: Dr. Lorraine Alexander,, 919-966-7423). TAs for this course may have the option of assisting with the on-campus version or the distance-learning version. Lorraine Alexander is also the contact person for TA appointments with the Field Epidemiology Certificate Program (EPID 750, EPID 758, and EPID 759). Students who have completed more advanced training may serve as TAs for EPID 710, the introductory level course for majors; EPID 715/716, 718, and 722, the advanced methods courses; and EPID 725/726, the research proposal development course. 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, Public Health Leadership, School of Social Work, School of Medicine, Biology, Chemistry, Romance Languages, etc.).

Tuition Awards

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 (exclusive of fees), but is subject to the same eligibility requirements. Out-of-state students, however, must receive tuition remission in order to receive the in-state tuition award.

Who is eligible to receive it?

The difference between in- and out-of-state tuition is a scholarship provided by the North Carolina State Legislature for students with identifiable talents who have been awarded research, teaching, or graduate assistantships. Awards are granted by the Vice Chancellor on nomination by the student’s department. The in-state tuition awards are benefits provided by the source funding the assistantship.

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. For the 2016-17 academic year, Research Assistants and Teaching Assistants enrolled as PhD or MSPH/PhD must earn a minimum of $7850 for the semester. MPH 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 tuition remission in order to receive the in-state tuition award. 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. Allocation of funds for tuition remission is made by the legislature during its summer session. 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 has been 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.

How does one apply for tuition awards?

There is no application process. Nominees are selected from among all students, including international students, who meet the eligibility criteria defined above.

When do students receive notification of tuition awards?

In general, notification does not take place until the beginning of the fall term at the earliest. Before departmental awards can be made, there are three variables which must be known:

  1. the amount of the allocation to the department;
  2. the exact tuition and fee rates for the next academic year; and
  3. the total number of eligible students.

This information is not known prior to the beginning of the semester. As soon as departmental awards can be made, students are notified by the Office of Student Services.

Training Grants

Several institutional training grants from NIH agencies provide support for epidemiology students. Students who apply for training support must be in a program leading to the PhD, or must have a prior doctoral degree. Under NIH provisions, trainees must be United States citizens or Permanent Residents.

The grant pays 60% of tuition and fees, in addition to a stipend. The current NIH predoctoral stipend is $23,376 for a 12-month appointment. 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. You are, however, expected to commit full-time effort to your training in epidemiology, including approximately 10 hours per week in a research apprenticeship with your adviser. Your career interests and research project must be within the area for which the grant is funded.

Current department training grants fund a number of students studying issues in cardiovascular disease, 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.

Select here to apply.

The Principal Investigators for the departmental training grants are as follows:

Cancer Epidemiology Disparities Research Training ProgramDr. Melissa Troester
Cardiovascular Disease Training GrantDr. Wayne Rosamond
Environmental Epidemiology Training GrantDr. Stephanie Engel
Genetic Epidemiology of Heart, Lung and Blood Traits Training GrantDr. Kari North
Infectious Diseases Training GrantDr. Brian Pence
Occupational Epidemiology Training GrantDr. David Richardson
Pharmacoepidemiology Training ProgramDr. Michele Jonsson-Funk
Reproductive, Perinatal and Pediatric Training GrantDr. Julie Daniels


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