Jump to content

Negotiate for Funding at Berkeley?


an_internet_person

Recommended Posts

Hey friends,

I have recently been admitted to both Berkeley and Harvard for doctoral studies. Berkeley and Harvard are more or less tied for my favorite program, but the PI at Berkeley carries considerably more weight in the specific field I'm interested in.

The only problem: funding. Harvard offers full funding + (generous) stipend for 5 years, but Berkeley has, so far, only offered me one year of guaranteed funding (tuition + teaching gig for a low stipend). My fear is that in trying to ask for more funding, I'll offend the leading PI in my field... and I suppose I'm also afraid of being told no, which is admittedly silly.

I also wonder if this is a sign of the general state of the UCs in general... should I take this as a sign that the UCs will be dropping in quality? (I know, another relatively silly thought).

On the other hand, Harvard is, well, Harvard, and is the overall biggest name in the general field (specific PI aside). Also, it's just Harvard... hard to pass up almost regardless of the field. So, this presents a genuine dilemma (and a phenomenal decision to be made... I realize I can't go wrong).

What do you all think? Is it worth probing for more funding at Berkeley, or is it pretty much futile at a UC these days? I'd love to hear from anyone with experience in negotiating, especially current doc students.

Thanks in advance!

werd

Edited by werd814
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi werd,

I didn't apply to any of the UCs for that very reason, even though they are doing great research. I had contacted recent grads at Berkeley--although the funding is guaranteed only for one year at a time, you will most likely be able to find funding for the rest of your years--you'll just have to work to find it every year. I also talked to another recent grad, and the reputation of your adviser is key to placing you in a good position after you are done with the program. He told me that, as a student member of a faculty search committee, he learned that the grades in your courses do not count. What counts is your adviser, conference presentations, publications, and ability to speak cogently about your research. So, hard to say what to do, but personally I would choose Berkeley over Harvard if the PI is more prominent in the field.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks wildviolet! Great thoughts. My Berkeley PI really is the name of all names in this field (he came up in two of my interviews with other schools, and his name illicited audible swoons when I mentioned going to meet with him to my lab/school mates). It's just so hard to pass up a full ride and trust that I'll get a TA/RAship with all this talk of UC money troubles. Le sigh.

Any thoughts on actually approaching my PI/dept. at Berkeley for more guaranteed years of funding?

In other news... I think I may have posted this in the wrong thread. Will a moderator kindly move this to "The Bank"? Thanks!! And sorry for the trouble.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you don't feel comfortable approaching the PI, you may want to try current grad students. Funding is a huge issue in grad school, and I've found that people are willing to share information about finances. Good luck! (By the way, my younger brother just finished his undergrad at Berkeley and loved it... he's still living there post-grad and working in SF!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The UCs have money somewhere in there. I got my best financial offer from a UC. I think it's worth a shot. Say something like... you understand the larger financial situation of the UCs but that, realistically speaking, it's hard to make a decision that will disempower you financially so extremely. You might even tell them that "some other program is offering ____, but I really want to go to Berkeley, instead. Is there anything you can do?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks koolherc and wildviolet! I emailed and made some telephone calls to the Berkeley folk, and was able to secure a bit of extra money for the first year, but that's all they were able to offer. I never flat out suggested that I wouldn't attend without more years of guaranteed funding-- just asked if there was anything I could do to find more monies-- but squeaking seemed to get this wheel a little extra grease. At least with one year, I can focus my energies on writing grant proposals, right?

Harvard is still looking pretty appealing, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi werd,

I didn't apply to any of the UCs for that very reason, even though they are doing great research. I had contacted recent grads at Berkeley--although the funding is guaranteed only for one year at a time, you will most likely be able to find funding for the rest of your years--you'll just have to work to find it every year. I also talked to another recent grad, and the reputation of your adviser is key to placing you in a good position after you are done with the program. He told me that, as a student member of a faculty search committee, he learned that the grades in your courses do not count. What counts is your adviser, conference presentations, publications, and ability to speak cogently about your research. So, hard to say what to do, but personally I would choose Berkeley over Harvard if the PI is more prominent in the field.

I agree with wildviolet. In our field, there are quite a few UC's in the top 20. I don't want to piss off everyone who applied to the UC system over in our forum, but none of my friends at UC are happy. They say the funding is more piecemeal and it causes them a lot more stress. There is also at least one department in the UC system (not Berkley) where my friend from UG told me they have sent out department emails about making payroll. We are in the process of poaching a top UC professor and another top 10 school just invited in 3 UC professors for a "colloquium". At this point, I wouldn't touch the UC system with a ten-foot pole. That's my two cents though. I was in a similar situation when I applied (one place offered 5 years without summer and one 5 years with) and I took the sure bet. Grad school is stressful enough without having to worry about your paycheck.

To qualify all of that, if Berkley is doing great research in an area you're interested in and current grad students say that the funding situation isn't that bad, then I'd say go for it! Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with wildviolet. In our field, there are quite a few UC's in the top 20. I don't want to piss off everyone who applied to the UC system over in our forum, but none of my friends at UC are happy. They say the funding is more piecemeal and it causes them a lot more stress. There is also at least one department in the UC system (not Berkley) where my friend from UG told me they have sent out department emails about making payroll. We are in the process of poaching a top UC professor and another top 10 school just invited in 3 UC professors for a "colloquium". At this point, I wouldn't touch the UC system with a ten-foot pole. That's my two cents though. I was in a similar situation when I applied (one place offered 5 years without summer and one 5 years with) and I took the sure bet. Grad school is stressful enough without having to worry about your paycheck.

To qualify all of that, if Berkley is doing great research in an area you're interested in and current grad students say that the funding situation isn't that bad, then I'd say go for it! Good luck!

Could you please expand?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Could you please expand?

On which part? I'm honestly getting a little nervous saying as much as I have. I hate dissing other schools, I just know that my friends in the UC system are really unhappy and they mostly attribute it to the funding situation. I think UC schools are still doing fantastic research and they are still ranked very highly in our discipline in USNWR. The poaching is what concerns me the most.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with wildviolet. In our field, there are quite a few UC's in the top 20. I don't want to piss off everyone who applied to the UC system over in our forum, but none of my friends at UC are happy. They say the funding is more piecemeal and it causes them a lot more stress. There is also at least one department in the UC system (not Berkley) where my friend from UG told me they have sent out department emails about making payroll. We are in the process of poaching a top UC professor and another top 10 school just invited in 3 UC professors for a "colloquium". At this point, I wouldn't touch the UC system with a ten-foot pole. That's my two cents though. I was in a similar situation when I applied (one place offered 5 years without summer and one 5 years with) and I took the sure bet. Grad school is stressful enough without having to worry about your paycheck.

Thanks!

I have to make my decision in a few more weeks, and I think funding is going to be the key issue. Let me explain.

School A accepted me way back in January, about one month after the application deadline. They offered me a 5-year guaranteed scholarship that includes a modest stipend + RA and TA positions. They also mentioned summer funding of 5K and travel funds, about 8K to 10K over the course of 5 years, for conferences. Plus tuition waiver (of the out-of-state portion, too). Plus medical. Plus travel funds to visit the campus for a personalized tour (not prospective student open house) before making my decision.

School B just accepted me this week. No word about funding. No direct contact with potential adviser, just his assistant (I guess he's super busy). No travel funds to visit. The school's website is not very encouraging... "limited" travel funds only for students who are presenting at conferences, "limited" RA and TA positions.

I guess I should follow the $$$.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.