Ph.D. program to implement minimum stipend
Rice recently established a minimum yearly Ph.D. stipend of $32,000 that will go into effect July 1.
According to Provost Amy Dittmar, Rice previously did not have a minimum stipend requirement while several peer institutions did.
“We established [a minimum] last week to ensure that doctoral students who are in the funded period of their studies will have financial support above next year’s expected cost of education,” Dittmar said. “The stipend for Ph.D.s typically varies by department. It will result in an increased stipend for many departments’ Ph.D. students.”
Rice also announced an increase in the medical insurance subsidy, an increase in the emergency loan fund limit, an expansion of parental leave from six to 12 weeks and an expansion of graduate meal plans to include dinner options, among other changes.
Brian Udall, a math Ph.D. student, said this announcement will result in a pretty significant increase from his current stipend of $26,500.
“It’s a comforting feeling for sure,” Udall said. “Our old stipend is just low enough where there is definitely sometimes when I’m worried. Will I be able to save any real amount of money? And also just enjoy myself. There’s been a lot of times where I had to very carefully save money and say no to things I would want to do.”
Seiichi Matsuda, dean of postgraduate and doctoral studies, said he worked with the Graduate Student Association for input before implementing these changes. He said that he is grateful to the upper administration for identifying funds to make the changes possible.
“We will continue to stay connected to the graduate student community through regular meetings with individual students and student groups, take their insight and strive to improve the graduate student experience as a whole,” Matsuda said.
Matsuda said that considerations for a minimum stipend began around a year ago, when investigations for the initiative began.
“Provost Dittmar has now prioritized and established the minimum stipend with President DesRoches’ enthusiastic backing,” Matsuda said.
According to Dittmar, in addition to Ph.D. students’ stipend increase, the Doctor of Musical Arts, the only other doctoral program, will also see a stipend increase.
Udall said he hopes that Rice continues to make adjustments to the stipend to adjust for inflation and other circumstances.
“The fact that they weren’t already regularly raising [the stipend] with inflation is pretty frustrating,” Udall said. “So the fact that this is a pretty significant increase is pretty nice to see. I hope to see in the future more regular, smaller increases as the years go by.”
Dittmar said that enhancing and supporting graduate programs is one goal of the current administration, and these changes are a step towards it.
“We actively solicit feedback from graduate students about how to improve their experience at Rice, and we look forward to exploring more opportunities to support the communities that our graduate students create for one another,” Dittmar said.
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