Financial Information


SILS typically provides support for full-time doctoral students during their first 4-5 years of study. There are a number of sources of support, described below. Prospective doctoral students must apply by December 15th to receive full consideration for financial aid.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition and fee rates are listed on the Cashier's Office Web site under Tuition and Fees.

The Office of Scholarships and Student Aid provides estimates on the cost of attendance (including tuition, books, room and board, etc.) for one year at UNC.  The rates for master’s students are available online from UNC’s Office of Scholarships & Student Aid.
In addition, students should consider the cost of the required laptop computer.

NC Residency

Residents of North Carolina may attend UNC at Chapel Hill at a significantly lower cost. Please refer to the Graduate School's Web site for North Carolina Residency for Tuition Purposes, which contains information about NC residency requirements and how to apply for resident status. While SILS provides tuition support for doctoral students during their first years of study, these funds are limited, so we ask that students who are eligible for in-state residency status apply for it as soon as they are eligible.

Financial Aid

Prospective doctoral students should apply for admission by mid-December to receive full consideration for financial aid. Details of the application deadlines are on the UNC Graduate School’s page for specific degree programs. Typical sources of support for SILS doctoral students include: Graduate School awards, research and teaching assistantships within SILS, and small fellowships that supplement the assistantship stipend. No separate application is needed for any of these awards; the PhD program application materials are used as the basis for making the awards.

Graduate School Awards

SILS may nominate entering doctoral students for financial awards from the UNC-CH Graduate School. These include:

Royster Fellowships

The Royster Society of Fellows Recruitment Fellowship is the University's most selective and prestigious interdisciplinary fellowship program. Each year, SILS may nominate three PhD applicants for this fellowship.

The fellowship provides five years of support, including a generous stipend, health insurance, and full support for tuition and fees. The student is expected to provide service to the School (20 hours per week as a research or teaching assistant) during the second, third, and fourth years of the award; no service is required during the first and fifth years. Single-year fellowships are also available through this nomination process.

In addition to a very competitive financial award, the Society of Fellows supports and nurtures members through the mentoring of senior faculty, interdisciplinary learning, and leadership development opportunities.

Additional Graduate School Assistantships and Fellowships

SILS can also nominate incoming students for several additional fellowships and assistantships available from the UNC-CH Graduate School. These include the North Carolina Excellence Fellowship, the North Carolina Native American Incentive Grant, the Weiss Urban Livability Fellowship, and Doctoral Merit Assistantships. Details on each of these opportunities are available on the UNC-CH Graduate School website. 

SILS Research and Teaching Assistantships

SILS doctoral students are often appointed as research or teaching assistants within the School.

Research assistants typically support the work of a SILS faculty member; their financial support comes from either a grant or from the School. They are expected to work 20 hours per week for their supervisor. They will receive a stipend, health insurance, and full tuition support. The amount of the stipend varies, depending on the duration of the appointment (9 months or 12 months) and the source of the funding; it will always be at least the minimum stipend for doctoral students suggested by the UNC-CH Graduate School.

A doctoral students is usually appointed as a teaching assistant during the third or fourth year of the program; more details about preparing for these assistantships are available on the SILS website. Teaching assistants are responsible for preparing and teaching a class, and are expected to devote 20 hours per week to those duties. They receive a stipend, health insurance, and full tuition support; the appointment is for 9 months, and the amount of the stipend will always be at least the minimum stipend for doctoral students suggested by the UNC-CH Graduate School.

Students whose assistantship appointments are for the academic year (9 months) only may also seek and accept summer internships. Doctoral students may also seek funding through other departments on campus; each year, several SILS doctoral students are supported through grant funding administered in other units.

In fall 2010, UNC-Chapel Hill began a mandatory health insurance program. In many cases, research/teaching assistants are eligible to have their coverage paid by their funding source. Those receiving this health coverage or who are already covered by another insurance plan (by spouse, etc.) must waive the university mandatory coverage to avoid being billed for the cost of the mandatory program.

Additional SILS Support for Doctoral Students

In many cases, a student’s stipend will be supplemented with a small fellowship ($1,500-$2,500) to provide additional support. These fellowships do not require service to the School and are supported through several endowment funds, including the Carnegie Foundation Fund, the Lester Asheim Scholarship Fund, the Louise Round Wilson Fellowship Fund, and the Susan Grey Akers Scholarship Fund. There are also funds provided for direct support of doctoral student research. Students may apply for up to $200 of travel support to present their work at a professional meeting or conference, and each doctoral student may be reimbursed for up to $800 in direct expenses of conducting their research.

Carnegie Grants

Small grants are available to SILS students for assistance with research costs where unusual expenses are involved. Master’s students may apply once for up to $200 for expenses associated with their master’s paper. Doctoral students may apply twice for up to $200 each time ($400 total) for expenses associated with their research projects. Grants can be made for the costs of travel, postage, compensation of human subjects, and certain other expenses. Grants are not made for the mechanical preparation of the resulting paper, i.e., typing, photocopying of the finished paper, etc. Your application must be approved before you make any expenditures for which you are requesting funds.


  1. Talk with your research advisor and secure the advisor’s approval for submitting a request.
  2. Complete the Carnegie grant application to apply for funding.
    1. Develop a brief statement as to how the funds are to be used, along with a proposed budget.
    2. Have the faculty advisor complete the advisor approval section.
    3. Turn in the completed application to the SILS assistant dean for administration.
    4. You will be notified upon approval of your application
  3. To apply for a cash advance for subject payments, meet with the SILS accounting technician for appropriate paperwork and instruction.  To obtain reimbursement for payments, submit receipts for covered expenditures to the SILS accounting technician.
  4. Note on compensation for human subjects: Normally, compensation should be made via gift cards. If the student and his or her advisor decide that compensation must be in cash, the following procedures should be followed:
    1. Each subject must sign and date a receipt acknowledging they received payment as compensation for participation in the study. These receipts should be kept confidential, along with the signed informed consent forms, either by the advisor or with the IRB forms in the main office for five years.
    2. To receive reimbursement, the student should submit a receipt containing the following information: number of subjects, amount given to each subject, date(s) of disbursement, statement of who holds the subjects’ acknowledgements receiving payment, signature of student, signature of advisor.
    3. In case of audit, the subjects’ acknowledgements may need to be produced for review.
Travel Grants

SILS students who are presenting their work at a professional/research conference may apply for up to $200 for expenses associated with travel to that conference. To apply, they should fill out the Conference Travel Grant Application Form.  The form needs to be submitted for approval prior to the trip. Reimbursement after the meeting will be made based on submission of actual receipts. In some cases, registration fee reimbursement may be requested in advance of the conference.

External Awards

External funding organizations have their own procedures and require a separate application. Such external awards include American Library Association (ALA) Spectrum Doctoral Fellowships (with funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services; students must apply to both UNC-CH and ALA in order to be considered), and National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships, among others. UNC's Graduate Funding Information Center can help graduate students find fellowships and other funding opportunities.