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Incentive Program for Doctoral Students

The Graduate School incentive program aims to encourage graduate students to independently seek external funding. The policy described applies to externally funded fellowships active on or after July 1, 2016, replacing earlier versions of the policy.

The Graduate School provides incentive supplements for external fellowship awards received by eligible doctoral students in good standing over the course of the academic year (defined as September-May) based upon the standard Graduate School academic year stipend. External fellowship awards are considered to be those awarded to graduate students via competitive external funding agencies based on the student’s initiative and application. Competitive internal fellowship awards and external fellowship grants based on faculty applications do not qualify for incentive funding under this policy.

Eligibility criteria:

  • The Graduate School’s incentive policy applies to doctoral students in good academic standing outside of BioMed. The award must apply to a year in which the student is scheduled to receive stipend support from the Graduate School as part of the guarantee period (i.e., usually years 1 through 5).
  • The external funding must have been won on account of the student’s initiative. Grants by faculty, even when they benefit a graduate student, do not count. Therefore, graduate student support through research grants and contracts, and awards such as IGERT, GAANN, etc., are not part of this incentive plan.
  • External funding sources include all sources outside of Brown University. In cases where regulations of the external agency prohibit, render ineffective or otherwise affect this incentive program, the rules of the funding source apply.

During the academic year (September 1–May 31), the Graduate School’s stipend award may be used to supplement the sum of all academic year external stipend awards to a maximum combined stipend equal to 119 times the Graduate School stipend. For multiyear awards received prior to July 1, 2016, the maximum combined stipend is equal to 114 times the Graduate School stipend.

If the sum of the Graduate School’s initial stipend award and all outside awards exceeds this limit, the Graduate School’s stipend award will be reduced accordingly.

Students who receive external fellowships providing academic year stipends that are more than 114 times the Graduate School stipend will receive no university supplement.

Examples of the Incentive Policy.


  • If the external fellowship award provides partial tuition and health fees or insurance, then the Graduate School will also supplement this partial support up to the standard tuition and fee levels provided to doctoral students.  If the award does not provide tuition and/or fees, the Graduate School will provide full standard doctoral tuition, health fee, and insurance coverage for funding-eligible students.

Full concurrent awards are not permitted. A student can accept, for example, both a Javits and a National Science Foundation award, but must take them in sequential years. A student cannot hold a Javits (or NSF, etc.) in addition to Brown’s full University support.

To qualify for a Graduate School incentive supplement award, students must submit their external award notification letter and terms to their home department with a copy to the Graduate School, Box 1867, by September 15 for the fall term and Jan. 15 for the spring.  Incentive supplement distribution will be coordinated with departments via the academic year appointment process, and stipend supplements will be disbursed in the same manner as the regular Graduate School stipend.

Students applying for external funding should contact the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs or the Associate Dean for Administration and Program Development for further information.

Students in programs in the Division of Biology and Medicine should contact the Associate Dean of Medicine, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for further information regarding that Division's incentive policies.