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Rules for Funding Beyond Year Five

The process for funding beyond year five is under review by a committee of faculty members, students, and deans. This webpage will be updated during Fall 2014.

Brown University’s Graduate School offers a support guarantee to all doctoral students in good standing based on the expectation that five years provides adequate time to satisfy dissertation requirements. Even so, the Graduate School recognizes that the length of time required for a dissertation varies from field to field, depends on student-specific circumstances such as prior preparation, the amount of required language training and required field-work, as well as unpredictable developments inherent in the discovery of new knowledge. For this reason, the Graduate School provides a mechanism for limited support to graduate students beyond Year 5.

Students seeking funding for their sixth year of study must submit a Dissertation Completion Proposal (DCP).  Those students who need support beyond the sixth year need to submit a Dissertation Extension Proposal (DEP). Not all late-year doctoral students are expected to apply: Those expected to hold assistantships funded by external grants or contracts (including students in the physical or life sciences) or who have funding from other sources for the next academic year do not need to submit a proposal.  Please see the application package for details. 

Funding beyond Year 5 is based on the following principles:

  • The Graduate School allocates annually a limited, fixed amount of funds to support students beyond the fifth year who make excellent progress toward their degree.
  • Funding will be awarded based on meritorious Dissertation Completion Proposals or Dissertation Extension Proposals submitted by the deadline (5 pm on the second Friday in March of each academic year).
  • Any funding should incentivize and enable students to finish the dissertation as quickly as possible. It is the expectation that students will have completed the dissertation at the end of the extra funding period.
  • Individual graduate programs are expected to contribute to any sixth year support of their students. Sources of departmental funds could include:
    • Graduate Program funds associated with financial plan disbursements.
    • Temporary teaching funds allocated to departments by other units of the university, as permissible.
    • Departmental funds associated with the operation of master’s programs.
    • Departmental operating funds and endowment funds.
  • The following restrictions apply to all funding options beyond the basic coverage of tuition, health insurance and the health fee:
    • The Graduate School will not award any stipends beyond the sixth year.  DEPs will usually result in funding for tuition only. Only in rare exceptions will there be an award for health insurance and/or the health fee.
    • Students who receive stipend support need to reside locally and are expected to contribute to the intellectual environment and the academic life of the program. This applies even when the student does not hold a teaching assistantship. (Exceptions can be made for students who have received external funds that replace a fellowship year, see below).
  • Students who automatically receive sixth year funding as a result of having won external funding in a prior year will have an appointment that reflects the customary appointment of that prior year. For example, if a student won an external fellowship in year 3, where she would otherwise have been on a teaching assistantship, then the student will receive a teaching assistantship in year 6. If a student had an external fellowship that took the place of a dissertation fellowship, then the student will have the dissertation fellowship in year 6.

Dissertation Completion Proposals: Application and Selection Process
Funding beyond the fifth year is neither automatic nor guaranteed. Both excellent progress toward the dissertation and a sound reason for requiring the extra time are essential and need to be adequately documented. Students also need to submit a completion plan with a well-defined timeline. It is very important that students meet the proposed timeline to completion.

The following steps outline the process for submitting an application for sixth-year funding.

  1. January/February/March of the fifth year: Students should consult with their program’s director of graduate studies (DGS) and their thesis advisors to finalize the plan for completing the dissertation and determine the most suitable support option. Students need to submit the Student Section of the application form as well as a curriculum vitae to the program DGS. 
  2. The DGS of each program completes one form for each student that provides input from the program’s perspective on the student’s (a) rationale for needing sixth year funding, (b) academic standing at the time of the request, and (c) reasonableness of the proposed timeline to completion. 
  3. The department chair (or the DGS if the chair chooses to designate) completes the summary form that lists the financial matching commitments for all applicants in the program and, optionally, ranks the applicants of the department. One such form is needed per program.

Please email the complete set of forms to by 5:00 pm on the second Friday in March.

Support Options
Situations vary widely among students, necessitating flexibility of support options. For this reason, the Graduate School offers different choices. Students can apply for multiple options, except for the summer option, which allows no further academic year stipend support. As an overview, the table below shows the different support options.



Summer Only

June to August stipend at the Academic Year rate

Health Insurance

(full year)

Fall Term


Fall Term

Health Fee

Fall Term


Spring Term


Spring Term

Health Fee

Spring Term


Dissertation Summer
This is an option that the Graduate School introduced in 2011. It is a good choice for students who have almost, but not quite, completed in five years. It provides support for the summer months after the fifth year, allowing students to focus on dissertation completion and defense. It may also be a better choice than a semester of teaching assistantship, as complete concentration during the three summer months may allow more time for the dissertation than a partial focus during the semester.

Particulars are:

  • Students get a scholarship for the summer after the fifth year. The academic year stipend continues, prorated month by month. For example, in AY13 the stipend was $21,500. Consequently, in the summer stipend was $21,500/9 = $2,288 per month, for a total of three months.
  • Students need to finish the dissertation and defend by August 31. An extension of the defense date by up to one month is possible but no stipend support is provided during this extra month. No further stipend funding will be available beyond the summer after the fifth year, but, in exceptional circumstances and upon separate application, coverage of the tuition, health insurance and health fee may be possible during the sixth year.

This option is designed for students who are almost done with their dissertation and, possibly, have a job lined up for the fall.

This option covers the tuition only. It is a good choice for students who do not need stipend support, who can take out loans to cover the cost of living, or who can line up funding outside of the Graduate School.[1]  Since this option does not have a Graduate School residency requirement, it may also work for students who wish to focus on their writing elsewhere.

Health Insurance
All students are required to carry health insurance. Students who are insured through an alternate plan may request a waiver. Otherwise, students may apply for health insurance coverage through this option.

The health insurance coverage is for an entire year (August 15 to August 15 of each year).

NOTE TO STUDENTS: There is a limited number of health insurance ‘slots’. If you have the possibility to be covered by another plan then please do so, as it will make a slot available to another student.

Stipend Support
Stipend support units may be available to students submitting a DCP, for the Spring semester or the Fall semester or for both. If the Graduate School provides the stipend support, students are required to TA (see above for exceptions). Individual departments might also have support units that are not associated with teaching assistantships.


  • This option is always combined with tuition, health insurance (if needed) and health fee.
  • The availability of this option depends on there being a course to teach. The Graduate School will work to match students with instructional needs.
  • Stipend support is not available to students beyond their sixth year.

Sources of Funds
The Graduate School allocates a fixed dollar amount toward the support of doctoral students beyond the fifth year. While the amount is sizable, it is not expected to always cover the need (as defined by the sum of all DCP and DEP Proposal budget requests). To leverage the Graduate School’s funds, departments are asked to contribute to the support of each of their graduate students beyond the fifth year. The application forms include a section for programs to spell out their support commitment.

To enable the Graduate School to fund as many students as possible, it is requested that students carefully plan the path to completion and not request funds beyond what is truly necessary.

Selection criteria
Selection of DCPs and DEPs for funding is based on the following criteria:

1. Merit of the proposal:

  • Excellence, as evidenced by publications, presentations at conferences, other scholarly work, external or internal named fellowships or awards, grades, or passing of milestones. Particular attention will be paid to the extent to which the thesis has already progressed.
  • Reason why the dissertation will not be completed by the end of the fifth year.
  • Soundness of the plan to complete the dissertation within the time allocated by the chosen option.

2. Cost to the Graduate School: In order to fund the maximum number of students, the Graduate School will, other factors being equal, preferentially fund proposals that seek less funding.

3. Cost share by the departments: In order to leverage the limited funds of the Graduate School, the programs are incentivized to contribute to the cost of sixth year funding.

The selection process has the following steps:

The merit of proposals will be reviewed by a team of faculty and administrators and ranked. To receive a merit ranking, the student needs to be in good standing as verified by the DGS.

Proposals ranked for merit will be funded in the following sequence of priority:

  • Highest: Students who have received external funding in a prior year will receive priority as per the stated policy.
  • Next: All ranked proposals will be awarded the tuition; an effort will also be made to cover their health insurance (if requested).
  • Finally, proposals that compete for stipend support will be selected for funding in consideration of the follows:
    • The merit ranking.
    • The ranking of the cost to the Graduate School.
    • The ranking of the percentage cost share by the department.

This method assures that first and foremost, the Graduate School will only fund Dissertation Completion Proposals that meet the stated merit selection criteria. It gives highest priority to those students who have obtained external funding and it seeks to provide health insurance to the largest number of students. If the total dollar amount requested by meritorious proposals exceeds the allocated amount then the Graduate School will preferentially fund, for equal merit, proposals such that the maximum number of students can be served. Further, it seeks to reward programs that commit to high levels of departmental support, which directly benefits the department’s own students and, indirectly, benefits all students.

The Graduate School retains the right to allocate funding outside the numerical ranking to address cases of particularly pressing need.

[1] Examples of possible funding sources outside of the Graduate School include the student’s home department, the Office of Continuing Education, and the Writing Center, among others.