II. Financial Aid

Funding Package

All students admitted to the PhD program are guaranteed five years of full funding by the Graduate School, including tuition, fees, and health insurance. In EALC, the typical package includes 2.5 years of fellowship stipend, 1.5 years of teaching fellowship, and 1 year of fellowship during the final year of dissertation writing. (More on teaching fellowships is found in Section VIII.) Current funding levels provide a stipend of roughly $30,000 per year for living expenses. Complete details of the funding package, with specific amounts, appear in the information sent to admitted students in the spring.

Summer Study

Outside of the regular academic year, fellowship support (equivalent to two months’ stipend) is extended during the summers following the first and second (G1 and G2) years. Additional assistance for summer language study and/or research abroad is available through Graduate Summer Language grants and Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships. Both are competitive programs administered by the Asia Center. All graduate students are eligible for GSL grants, while competition for FLAS fellowships is restricted to US citizens.

Research and Writing Fellowships

Given the rigorous demands of the EALC and HEAL degrees, most students spend longer than five years in the PhD program. There are many forms of financial support the student may seek for years not covered by the GSAS funding package, and ample resources on campus to help students locate the funding they need. In many cases, funding is provided through additional teaching fellowships, research assistantships, part-time jobs in the Harvard-Yenching Library, and other types of campus employment. Students in more advanced years sometimes find teaching opportunities (as teaching assistants or instructors) at other Boston-area colleges and universities. The Graduate School also sponsors a range of Graduate Society Fellowships, including merit-based Term-Time Fellowships, and other grants. More information, including the titles of relevant publications, is available on the Graduate School’s fellowships web page.

Of particular value is the online Graduate Guide to Grants maintained by GSAS. 

See also the GSAS Fellowship Office’s publication, Financing Graduate Studies.

In many cases – particularly for students engaged in dissertation research, whether during the summer or the regular school year – financial support after the fourth year comes by way of research and travel fellowships. The Department does not have any fellowship funds of its own for which students may apply, but the University sponsors a number of Harvard-only fellowships, for which EALC students may apply. Information about these grants may be found on the website for the GSAS Fellowship Office, located on the third floor of the Smith (formerly the Holyoke) Center.

Dissertation and pre-dissertation research grants are also offered by the different regional institutes (Asia CenterFairbank CenterKorea InstituteReischauer InstituteWeatherhead Center). 

In addition, depending on the student’s field (and in some cases, nationality), there are other fellowship programs for which students are eligible to apply. These scholarships include the Fulbright and SSRC scholarships as well as scholarships offered by various foundations such as the Mellon, Blakemore, Chiang Ching-kuo, Japan Foundation, Korea Foundation, and others. Deadlines for these fellowships are typically in the autumn or early winter, but dates vary from year to year, as do requirements. Please check the websites for the respective funding agencies for current information. Note that applications for IIE and Fulbright-Hays Fellowships must be submitted through the GSAS Fellowships Office, which sets an earlier internal deadline.

Students are encouraged to seek out all possible sources of information about fellowships. One good source of information is the publication, “Asia-related Grants and Fellowships for Harvard Students,” published by the Asia Center.

Applying for fellowships is time-consuming and sometimes frustrating, but learning to write successful grant proposals is a valuable career skill. The GSAS Fellowships Office, mentioned earlier, stands ready to provide all kinds of assistance (including reading proposal essays), and runs a fellowship workshop early in the fall. Perhaps the best sources of guidance, however, are the student’s own advisor(s) and senior peers in the program. Do not forget to ask around and find out how others in your field have succeeded in the search for research support.

While few students are successful in every application for funding, Harvard’s resources to support graduate students, especially for language study and research abroad, are among the best in the world. Faculty and staff will make every effort to help you to ensure that financial worries do not interfere with your progress to completion of the degree.

Letters of Recommendation

Most fellowships require at least one, and usually two or three, letters of recommendation from faculty who know you and your work well. Such letters are a key part of your application for funding, and to write a good one may take a professor several hours. It therefore behooves you to plan ahead carefully, both in terms of consulting with faculty who can work with you to develop a strong proposal and in terms of making your request for letters early. Bear in mind that other students may also be approaching faculty for letters at the same time, and last-minute requests may well go to the bottom of the pile. It is often a good idea to request a very general letter from faculty who are writing for you that they can put on file in your permanent dossier with the Office of Career Services (see Section X), in case you need a letter urgently.

When approaching a professor for a letter, be sure to ask what supplementary materials s/he would like apart from the proposal itself (CV, transcript, description of fellowship, link to website, pre-addressed envelope). It is not rude to send a tactful reminder e-mail or two as deadlines approach, and it is good form to let your letter-writers know the ultimate outcome of your application once you find out the results of the competition in the spring. (All of these remarks, incidentally, apply to your future job search as well).

Some fellowship programs require a letter from the department affirming that the student is in good standing. Students requiring such a letter may request one from the Director of Graduate Studies at any time (allow at least two days for this to be produced). Please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator or the DGS directly.