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Humanities/Social Science Stipend Comparison


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While looking up a few things for I stumbled upon some information that I thought deserved a topic of its own. This is only about HUMANITIES/SOCIAL SCIENCE not Engineering/Physical Science/Biological Science. You guys can start your own club (naw, just kidding, that stuff just already has it's own spots: Wendy Chao has an updated list of high Biomedical stipends for example).


Source: Princeton's Annual Report on the The [sic] Graduate School 2008-2009, table 10

Further comparable stipends:

Chicago | $19,500 | $3,000 for 2 years | $103,500 (source)

Northwestern| $20,928| $??? for 3 years* | $94,640** (source)

*It's unclear if 20,928 includes summer, judging from results page post from last year in Economics "15k + 5k summer; TA years 2, 3, 5" it seems like it does. Also from the results page: one person had 4 summer funded, some people just listed "summers funded", several had three summesr funded

**Assuming 15,928*5 + 5,000*3. Admittedly, this is the least definite of all the numbers. If it is 20,928*5+5,000*3, then the total five year stipend is $119,640.

Unless noted, the figures were for 2009-10, the last round of admittance. Between 2008-09 and 2009-10, Princeton's stipend was raised by $750 dollars. Between 2009-10 and 2010-11, Columbia's stipend was raised by $500. That seems to be normal year to year. Between 2007-08 and 2009-2010, Chicago's raised by $500 (though it had been considerably lower before 2007). Not all departments pay the exact same. For example, the language departments at Chicago pay slightly more (see first Chicago source). Princeton, in addition, has Presidential Fellowships available to underrepresented minorities (including women in science and engineering, see table 8 or 9 [i forget] in the Princeton Source above). Slight variations are possible other places as well. This table only tries to collect the standard offers.

These charts all divide between summer and the school year. Some schools don't do this: Yale for instance advertizes a yearly stipend of 25,500 but that includes five summer.

There are more stipend numbesr available from the Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/stats/stipends/ if anyone sees a particularly noteworthy one in the Humanities or Social Science, post it here. NYU's is probably up here too, perhaps Duke's is as well. I just wanted to start collating the data.

Edited by jacib
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Cornell brags on their website about how they've been making an effort to increase their stipends over the last decade or so - increasing them several percentage points above inflation each year. I wonder if this policy will continue now that they're in the same range as their peers?

Engineering school stipends at Cornell are, I think, MUCH higher. MFA stipends might be higher, too, and there is some variation by department/college.

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So here's what I did with my evening. This is a comparison of costs of towns and cities with graduate programs. Please forgive me if I forgot any. I tried to list suburbs under a main city if I thought they substantially shared a housing market. The suburbs tend to illustrate the limits of "cost of living" as a useful indicator for graduate students. Much of the variation, especially within a metro area, is based on housing costs. Take Boston, for example. For a graduate student, Cambridge will not be 29% more expensive than Boston. The Tufts campus is in both Medford and Somerville; the town line literally bisects the library. The housing market in that area I don't think really differentiates between that invisible line, but according to this data there is a significant difference in terms of cost of living. That's just not true in this case. Basically, I would guess there is at least a 5% margin of error, especially in urban environments with extremely varied housing within one city.

Cost of living is determined from a variety of factors, but the biggest difference was usually housing. Again, Princeton, NJ will not be more expensive than Chicago for a graduate student. Santa Barbara, CA will not be more expensive than NYC. These clearly reflect conditions that don't affect grad students.

Individual notes: Queens was the only borough listed on the website so the only place listable that shares a housing market with New York. The Research Triangle is considered suburbs of Chapel Hill. Philadelphia's cost of living, as well as perhaps Baltimore's, seems artificially low.

This is all based on Northwestern's stipend--I was inspired by a little chart they made. Look how the cities stack up against each other there, or on this cost of living calculator. Notice Northwestern used Chicago's cost of living as their basis, even though everyone knows their is only one world renown university within the city limits of Chicago. Again, the cost of living is in comparison with the city of the big shoulders, hog butcher to the world.

Without further ado, here's what I spent a few hours on because I got interested.


Just to clarify, the "stipend" is the amount of money it would take in each place to maintain a standard of living comparable with one afforded by Northwestern's stipend in Chicago.

Edited by jacib
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  • 2 weeks later...

I think that must be quite a bit off for New York. I am living in Astoria, Queens with my fiance, and have done comfortably with less than $18,000 per year. He supports himself, and we split the rent for a two bedroom apartment. We eat in restaurants fairly regularly, but do not have very expensive tastes in alcohol, entertainment, or clothing.

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I don't think the Philly one is low. It is ridiculously cheap to live in that city. An apartment in Chicago that goes for about $800 would probably go for about $500 in Philly.

I would definitely disagree with that, though admittedly I'm not familiar with Chicago. I spent a lot of time looking in Philadelphia to rent or buy, and if you're able to get an apartment for $500, you are living in a sketchy part of town or it is really, really crappy. I know what I pay on my mortgage here in the city, what my friends pay in rent, and housing prices in the desirable areas--while it's not ridiculously high like NYC, it is not cheap for a decent place.

I think Philadelphia's cost of living (specifically housing) is low because of the diverse types of neighborhoods. If you want to live in the nice parts of center city (the priciest), surrounding areas, or near the campuses (e.g., UPenn), expect to pay higher prices. However, you go out to far west Philly, north Philly, or far south Philly, housing prices (and neighborhood quality in a lot of cases) drop significantly. So you get this average that's not really representative of what it would cost to live here if you want to be in the "good" areas. I would agree with Jacib that the cost of living seems artificially low, and it would for be for that reason, in my opinion.

That being said, as a city, Philly really isn't bad; having no taxes on food or clothing makes a big difference, and cost of living is still reasonable.

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