PhD students are admitted to the program with funding for 5 years. Sociology offers academic year stipends of $23,000 for full-time PhD students on 10-month academic teaching assistant appointments. Teaching assistants work about 20 hours a week, and usually work closely with a faculty member for the first two years of their TAship to work with and tutor students, lead recitation sections, grade, and sometimes deliver lectures. TAs may be invited to teach their own courses in their third or fourth year. MA students are not funded through Department TAships.
PhD students who exhaust their 5 years of Department funding, and MA students may find funding opportunities through other sources. These are a few options that current PhD and MA students have found.
Faculty research projects supported by external funding (or internal grants) sometimes employ graduate student assistants to perform essential research functions. The number of these awards varies greatly from one year to the next. RA positions may also be available with faculty members in other UB departments, usually in the social sciences. Some RAships carry tuition waivers and stipends, others come with hourly pay. There is no standard RAship; they vary according to funding source, faculty member, and research needs.
Most faculty seek research assistants who show high levels of interest as well as competence in their sociology coursework, often asking for recommendations from other faculty. Since faculty typically prefer to work with students whose skill sets and work habits are familiar to them, research assistantships are not often awarded to first year students.
"This past summer, I worked as a research assistant for Dr. Kristen Schultz Lee’s project on education and happiness using ADD health data. My primary responsibility was to conduct a literature review on the measures of key variables in our research. When I first learned about this research project from her proseminar, I expressed my interest in the project and willingness to volunteer, which helped me to get an RA position afterward. I appreciate this opportunity to work with Dr. Lee. Her guidance and advice were very constructive. I gained more experience with quantitative research design, which will be very helpful for my future studies. I also learned more about the sociology of happiness and sociology of education through this project."
Sociology graduate students have been successful finding graduate assistantships and other paid positions outside of the department. Whenever the department learns of a position, the information is submitted to the graduate student listserv. Students are also encouraged to look for opportunities through Bullseye, the job search website maintained by UB's Career Services office, as they frequently post on-campus and off-campus positions. Successful students rarely wait for opportunities to present themselves--they work hard to seek out such opportunities, and they also make sure to market themselves appropriately for units that are hiring.
Examples of graduate assistant positions current students have found outside the department include:
My funding package was the result of relentless researching, tactful networking, and a little bit of good luck. I used Handshake/Bullseye as a targeting tool, and applied for every GA position I saw posted, and even visited departments with a resume to introduce myself as a motivated student. I also networked with every member of the sociology department, especially other graduate students who were funded outside the department. I made sure that all my colleagues knew that I was on the hunt for funding, and it paid off – another GA funded outside the department heard of a position in the office of Study Abroad Programs. I immediately sent a cover letter and resume, and got an interview. Through my work at the Office of Study Abroad Programs I have gained valuable experience in providing high level academic, professional, and personal advising to UB students. Through supporting and directing students through the entire arch of study abroad I have learned how to relate effectively and positively with students, parents, and administrators.
For students who have earned an MA in Sociology, the department may have adjunct teaching opportunities during regular semesters (on north campus and occasionally in Singapore) and summer/winter semesters, usually on north campus). Summer teaching opportunities are announced in the fall of each year, along with an application process for consideration for an adjunct appointment. If an eligible student is interested in teaching for the department during the academic year, they should contact the Director of Graduate Studies and/or the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Sociology graduate students have also found teaching positions outside the department, and adjunct positions may be available at other area institutions of higher education. Recent sociology graduate students have found adjunct teaching positions at a number of other local colleges and universities, including:
· Daemon College
· Buffalo State College
· Erie Community College
· Hilbert College
· Villa Maria College
· Medaille College
"I have been teaching at SUNY-Geneseo since Spring of 2017. I have taught Introduction to Sociology thus far, but was recently given the opportunity to craft an elective course called Race, Class, and Gender that will focus on an intersectional examination of inequality in the US. I found the position via the UB Sociology listserv. There was an email sent out to current graduate students notifying us that there were adjunct positions open at SUNY Geneseo. I followed up and was able to secure the position for the following semester. The experience at Geneseo has helped me as a new instructor by giving me more time in the classroom. It has allowed me to refine a single course in order to find the text, assignments, and lectures that work best for students and for myself. It has also helped to expose me to departmental and institutional settings outside of UB."
Sociology graduate students may also have the opportunity to participate in the new Social Innovation Fellowship summer program, which includes a modest stipend. After taking a week-long course in the business school on social innovation, sociology graduate students work on a team with an MBA student and an MSW student at a mission-driven community organization, where they collaborate to address pressing social issues to make an impact.
"The Social Impact Fellowship both provided and reinforced a valuable set of skills and perspectives that will be critically useful in my future life and work. During the summer at my placement, I learned how to engage in substantive research oriented toward providing a public good in the form of interviews and neighborhood analysis. I also gained potential future non-academic and academic skills and information, such as how to write business and development plans, learning about the organizational structure of non-profits, as well as built basic skills for how to write funding applications. Beyond the tangible skills that I developed during this fellowship, the environments that both the course and my placement provided were amicable and fun, while clearly geared toward student progress and fostering our ability to make an impact in the local Buffalo community."
UB-Specific Sources of Research Funding
Scholarships and Fellowships (UB)
The Mark Diamond Research Fund (MDRF) awards grants to graduate students for research expenses related to their thesis or dissertation. PhD students may apply for up to $2,000 and Master’s students for up to $1000. The MDRF grant is only for University at Buffalo graduate students in programs participating in the Graduate Student Association and who have not waived the student activity fee. Applicants should be in the latter stages of research.
The Gender Institute supports a small group of UB Ph.D. students engaged in dissertation research related to gender and/or sexuality.
The Humanities Institute provides four $6,000 fellowships to humanities students (broadly defined) working on dissertations of high quality and scholarly potential.
To pursue this avenue for funding, you need to plan ahead, since you often have to apply a year in advance of when you need the money, application deadlines are inflexible, and applying can be time-consuming. Generally, you will get application forms from the funding agency, complete and return the forms, and include all the additional materials the funding agency asks for, which may include university transcripts, essays, statements of research, and letters of recommendation.
The Department will do what it can to inform students about available fellowship opportunities, but learning about and applying for fellowships and scholarships is ultimately the responsibility of individual students. Keep in mind that you must ask for external funding if you want it, it won’t be offered to you. You may also need to cobble together several different packages of support to support your studies, so apply early and often for fellowship opportunities.
Students interested in fellowship opportunities may find the following (non-exhaustive) list helpful:
There are also many financial aid search engines, some more useful than others. Try the free financial aid service offered by Sallie Mae. The database includes thousands of private scholarships, grants, tuition waivers, internships and fellowships.
There is additional general information of interest to graduate students in sociology, including some information on funding from the American Sociological Association.
Some other, rather specific fellowship opportunities:
American Sociological Association Minority Fellowship Program. Deadline is usually December or January, check the web site for exact date.
The National Academies lists several fellowship opportunities, suitable for particular types of students or students with particular substantive interests.
Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program. Check website or call (202) 502-7542. Package available in summer, deadline October or November, for incoming students (new graduate students) based on ability, need, and promise.
The Japan Foundation. Check website for details and deadlines.
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, among others. Check website for exact deadline (usually early November). $30,000 per year plus fees for up to three years.
The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans. November deadline, awards $20,000.
Josephine de Kármán Fellowships. The Josephine de Kármán Fellowship Trust offers fellowships of $16,000 (for one year, but renewable upon application). Ten grants are made (in all disciplines) to students “exceptional ability and serious purpose.” Fellowships may be awarded to graduate students in any discipline. U.S. citizenship is not a requirement.
Louisville Institute. The Louisville Institute fellowship program, sponsored by the Lilly Endowment, offers fellowships designed to support the final year of writing on projects dealing with aspects of American religious life. Preference will be given to those proposals that address the current program priorities of the Louisville Institute. Up to ten fellowships of $18,000 awarded each year. Applications generally due in mid-January.
National Institute of Justice Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Provides dissertation awards covering research costs up to $15,000 for students writing dissertations that will fill “key gaps in scientific knowledge…relevant to criminal justice policy or to the concerns” of public agencies in the criminal justice field. Applicants must be ABD. No citizenship requirement is mentioned on the web site.
P.E.O. Scholars Award. Makes awards for graduate study up to $15,000 for exceptional women who are members of the P.E.O. Sisterhood (an association dedicated to providing educational opportunities for women). Nominations from local chapters accepted throughout fall.
Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowships. The Spencer Foundation provides generous dissertation fellowships (renewable upon application for one year) to students doing dissertations in the field of education, broadly defined to include informal education as well as formal schooling. Fall application deadline for fellowships beginning as early as June of following year. U.S. citizenship is not a requirement.
University of Virginia Miller Center Dissertation Fellowship. The Miller Center at UVA awards 8 dissertation fellowships every year in Contemporary History, Public Policy, and American Politics. Applications are due in early February; the fellowship provides a stipend of up to $18,000 to support one year of research and writing which focuses on important public policy questions, twentieth-century politics, and governance in the United States.
The Fulbright Graduate Student Program
The International Peace Scholarship. Grants are available to promote world peace and understanding for women who are citizens of any country other than the US or Canada. Usual deadline is December, grants up to $5,000/year for up to 3 years.
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC): Doctoral Fellowships. Annual awards to develop and expand the research skills of students at the doctoral level and to assist in the training of highly qualified personnel to meet Canada’s current and future needs. Canadian citizens who have completed at least one previous degree at a Canadian university are eligible to apply for these fellowships, which provide up to 4 years of support. The application deadline is generally in November.
Major Dissertation Support
American Association of University Women Dissertation Fellowship. AAUP Fellowships support women doctoral candidates completing dissertations, with women working on gender issues especially encouraged to apply. The American Association of University Women also awards International Dissertation Fellowships for full-time graduate research to women who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents through $20,000 annual fellowships.
American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). ACLS makes up to 70 awards, which include a $30,000 stipend plus up to $8,000 for research and university fees, to advanced graduate students in their final year of dissertation writing. Fellows are chosen from a wide range of fields of humanistic study through a rigorous, multi-stage peer review process.
The Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellowship. These grants provide fellowships of $18,500 to persons writing dissertations that provide “original and significant study of ethical or religious values in all areas of human endeavor.” Application deadlines tend to be early and the process is very competitive.
H.U.D. Dissertation Grants. These are provided by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of University Partnerships through its Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant program. H.U.D. awards one-time grants of up to $25,000 for a period of 24 months to doctoral candidates with approved proposals who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents enrolled at accredited institutions of higher education. These grants must be used to support direct costs incurred that support the timely completion of the dissertation.
Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy. The Horowitz Foundation awards 15-20 grants each year in the amount of $7,500 per grant ($5,000 initially and an additional $2500 upon completion of the project). The following categories of proposals are given priority in determining recipients: A) Proposals that address large-scale geographical situations, and those with policy applications beyond the research design itself; B) Proposals that rely on empirically informed, large sample sizes, often in historically rich time series, that make few presumptions of application; C) Proposals that are theoretically rich and emphasize policy issues of broad meaning to the larger public sphere; and D) Proposals in areas where few previous research applications are currently available.
National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant. The National Science Foundation awards grants to doctoral students to improve the quality of dissertation research. These grants provide funds for items not normally available through the student’s university. Additionally, these grants allow doctoral students to undertake significant data-gathering projects and to conduct field research in settings away from their campus that would not otherwise be possible. Proposals are judged on the basis of their scientific merit, including the theoretical importance of the research question and the appropriateness of the proposed data and methodology to be used in addressing the question.
Other Sources of Support
Santa Fe Institute. Scholarships provided for summer training, including: (a) Complex Systems Summer Schools and (b) Graduate Workshop in Computational Social Science Modeling and Complexity. Travel, accommodations and living expenses supported by the Institute.
IREX (the International Research and Exchanges Board) has Individual Advanced Research Opportunity (IARO) grants that are available to predoctoral students working on contemporary political, economic, historical, or cultural developments relevant to US foreign policy. The grants cover 2-9 months of fieldwork in countries targeted by the program.
ICPSR scholarships. A variety of fellowships, scholarships, and grants from the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) enables eligible students to attend ICPSR’s excellent summer courses in advanced statistical methods.
General Databases That May Be Helpful
Grant Forward database
InfoEd International, SPIN database