Financial Support Opportunities

Fellowship (tuition, income stipend, and teaching stipend)

All matriculating students to the graduate music program at Duke receive a Fellowship, which includes full tuition as well as an income stipend and a teaching stipend, for the first five years. The details of this Fellowship are outlined in admittance and service letters sent to Year 1 graduate students and the renewal letters sent to students in Year 2 and beyond.   Funding is contingent on maintaining good academic standing for the Fellowship period.

As part of the academic requirements of the doctoral program, all graduate students are required to serve as Teaching Assistants (TA) or Instructors of Record (IOR or GI, i.e., Graduate Instructor) for a total of eight semesters. The Fellowship stipend compensation consists of a teaching stipend (compensatory payment) and an income stipend (non-compensatory payment).  Ethnomusicology students begin teaching assistantships in Year 1, while Musicology and Composition students assume TA responsibilities in Year 2.  The teaching requirement is waived for Musicology and Composition students in Year 1 and is waived for Ethnomusicology students in Year 4.  All students receive the same total stipend regardless.  Year 1 students receive their first stipend payment in the August pay period.  Students in Year 2 and beyond receive their first stipend payment in the September pay period.

Financial assistance may be terminated upon the recommendation of the graduate faculty for any student whose academic performance or progress towards the degree is unsatisfactory. Full financial aid will be awarded only to students who are in residence.  Students may not perform TA or GI duties remotely; those who choose to take up residency elsewhere after the completion of coursework will not receive a teaching stipend.

Continuing students will be notified of their financial assistance for the following year in an award letter from the DGS sent out late in the spring semester.  The DGS will notify students about TA and GI assignments near the end of the semester preceding the assignment. Students receiving Fellowships and teaching assignments are expected to perform at a high level in their studies and their teaching. Evaluations of your teaching are considered when making subsequent teaching assignments.

After the five-year funding period, students must arrange for their own financial support. Some students may be nominated by the graduate faculty for special competitive Graduate School Fellowships that support dissertation research or writeup.  Several of our graduate students have successfully obtained external fellowships, e.g., Fulbright, JASSO Foundation, Scandinavian-American Research Fellowship, and others. Additional teaching opportunities may arise within the University, e.g., the Thompson Writing Program, and the Music Department. Students may also seek part-time employment.

Research Assistantships

Students who receive research assistantships (RA) are expected to assist a faculty member with research and occasionally with teaching (e.g., grading papers, preparing lectures). A minimum of 10 hours of service are required each week, as stipulated in the appointment letter. All duties must be completed by the beginning of the following semester. The faculty supervisor will write an evaluation of the student’s work that will be placed in the student’s file.

Teaching Assistants and Graduate Instructors

All graduate students must contribute a total of eight semesters of teaching during their doctoral studies.  Teaching Assistants assist faculty in lecture courses, run aural skills labs in theory courses, and perform additional duties such as grading papers and exams as assigned by the instructor. The work takes an average of 12.9 hours a week and is supervised by the instructor. The TA is expected to attend all class lectures and exams and be available to help students with course content. The instructor will meet regularly with the assistant to discuss the course and the assistant’s tasks. Normally, teaching assistants are given an opportunity to present at least one lecture, prepared with guidance from the instructor.

Advanced students, generally those in the dissertation stage, may be appointed Instructors of Record (IOR). An IOR has full responsibility for a course, although faculty supervision is provided.  Examples include MUS 161 (Introduction to Music Theory), MUS 190S, and the Bass Instructor of Record (a competitive Graduate School Fellowship).  The latter two are undergraduate courses designed by graduate students on topics related to their research.  Ordinarily, appointments as an IOR are made for a single semester.

The DGS will solicit teaching preferences from graduate students and notify them of their appointments near the end of the semester preceding the assignment.  Students should contact their supervising faculty member as soon as the appointment is announced.  A call for MUS 190S and Bass Instructorship proposals will be sent out separately. 

Summer Research Fellowships (SRF)

Students in Year 1 and Year 2 are guaranteed summer funding, but must apply to receive the fellowship. SRFs will consist of a monthly stipend, tuition, and fee payments. Students in Year 3 and beyond may be offered summer funding but must provide documentation that they applied for two other sources of funding either internal or external to Duke University and did not receive support. In such cases the student should meet with the DGS to apply for departmental support.

Other Opportunities for Employment

Individual faculty members and the Department of Music occasionally have funds to pay students to assist with faculty research. Faculty members select their own assistants. Departmental vacancies will be advertised when the need arises. Music students also frequently supplement their income by working a few hours a week in the Music Library.

Outside Employment and Other Activities

Students receiving Fellowships from the University are expected to work full-time on their studies and not engage in any significant amount of outside employment or performance activities not directly relevant to their academic work.  Duke University Graduate School policy states that “students enrolled fulltime in a degree program may not perform service-based opportunities more than 19.9 hours per week or their student status may be jeopardized.”  Students with multiple work assignments may not receive financial support for more than 19.9 hours of work per week and “must be actively and productively working toward completion of their degree.” (See the Graduate School’s Ph.D. Stipend Supplementation Policy for further details.)  Additional employment opportunities must be approved by the DGS and Ph.D. Adviser prior to accepting the position. Failure to do so may jeopardize your Fellowship.

TA Resources

While the graduate program trains, assesses, and supports Teaching Assistants as part of the Assistantship.  In addition, the Graduate School offers workshops, consultation, and support for TA training across the university. See the Graduate School website for information about professional development programs and TA training. The latter includes Duke TA Training via Coursera, developed by the Office of the Provost and Duke Learning Innovation.  It consists of five online modules that address legal and ethical issues for Duke students with instructional roles:

  • FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act  
  • DukeReach: Supporting Students in Distress  
  • Title IX Sexual Misconduct: Reporting is Supporting  
  • Student Disability Access Office: A One-Stop Shop for Accessibility Needs
  • Promoting Academic Integrity: The Duke Community Standard in Action

Conference Travel Funds

Students who have not taken the Preliminary Exam may apply for an internal professional travel grant of up to $350.  This grant supports attendance at a professional conference (e.g., AMS, SMT, SEM) or a significant performance of a piece by a graduate composition student.

Complete the application found at this link:

Students who have completed the Preliminary Exam are eligible for professional travel support from the Graduate School.  Complete the application at this link:

Private Teaching

Private teaching is not permitted in the building. This regulation applies to faculty (full-time and part-time), staff, students, and String School teachers.

Payroll Issues

Students who are hired by faculty members to assist in projects supported by university-administered funds must, before doing any work, notify the DGSA, who will prepare the paperwork necessary for payment.

Before you accept more than one job at Duke, be sure to discuss it with the DGSA to be certain it will not conflict with a congruent award. Also, inform each employer about all your jobs. Multiple positions require complex payroll accounting which can only be accomplished when all employers are aware of the complete scope of your employment.