Funding and Mentoring Program for Full-Time PhD Students

The Steinhardt School offers all full-time PhD students who have matriculated since September 2010 or later a complete funding and mentoring program. All students offered admission to our PhD programs are awarded a full funding package and are assigned to a faculty mentor. There is no special application required. In addition, a small cohort of part-time students are also admitted annually. Part-time students do not receive funding.

Financial Support Overview

The Steinhardt Fellows program is designed to help you undertake full-time study and research, to participate in superior academic and scholarly experiences, and to complete your studies in a timely manner. Depending on your program of study and degree requirements, financial support includes two or three years of full tuition and fees and a generous living stipend through the completion of the student's required coursework, and one to three years with a scholarship to support the development and completion of your dissertation. Approximately 75% of new incoming students are awarded Steinhardt Fellowships at the point of admission.

Selected doctoral students may alternatively be appointed to a Research Assistantship. Research Assistants are funded by external grants and work with a principal investigator on a funded research project. Unlike Steinhardt Fellows, RAs agree to work 20 hours per week on an ongoing research project, typically with a team of faculty and other students. RAs receive funding that includes full tuition, fees (excluding late registration fees), student health insurance, a living stipend (paid biweekly), and summer pay. Steinhardt Fellows may become Research Assistants when Steinhardt faculty win funding for projects that require research assistance. If you become a Research Assistant you may not perform additional work assignments such as teaching or grading while you are an RA.

Approximately 25% of new incoming students are appointed to Research Assistantships at the point of admission.

Fellowship and Scholarship Years

In each "fellowship" year of your department's plan, you will receive funding that includes full tuition, fees (excluding late registration fees), and health insurance (the NYU graduate assistant health insurance plan). In addition, you will receive a living stipend payable in 9 monthly payments. You can use your tuition funding to study full time in the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters (above 12 credits per term requires approval of your advisor).

In each “scholarship” year of your department's plan, you will receive a scholarship only, which you can use for living expenses, including healthcare coverage (you may purchase the University's standard student health insurance). Typical scholarships are paid in two semester payments.

The preparation of PhD students as effective teachers for the academy is an essential element of most PhD programs. Many department plans incorporate teaching experience and teaching mentorship as a component of their PhD programs. Such preparation will further enhance your CV as you seek academic positions. Teaching may take the form of instructor of record, reader, grader, or academic advising. If you teach, you will be paid above the fellowship or scholarship package for any teaching you undertake, either as an adjunct or an hourly employee depending on the nature of the instructional activity. Instructors of record are paid as adjuncts, while readers, graders, and academic advisors are paid on an hourly basis.

Your department's doctoral funding plan may also include grants to assist you with data collection or travel needed to complete your dissertation. Such grants are typically awarded through a competitive application process within your department. Grants may vary in size and duration depending on the scope of your project.

Mentoring Component

Each of the School's academic departments has developed a set of benchmarks and milestones for their doctoral students which prepare you academically and professionally for post-doctoral work. Your faculty mentors will work closely with you to help you prepare conference presentations or exhibitions, author or co-author manuscripts, prepare grant submissions, construct and write sample syllabi, and participate in other experiences essential to your professional education.

At the end of each academic year, you and your mentor will review your progress toward achieving milestones. Your mentor will notify you of your standing in the program no later than six weeks prior to the beginning of the new academic year.

Best Practices in Mentoring Research Doctoral Students

This suggested list of expectations and strategies for fostering a productive mentor-student relationship is the result of extensive conversations among doctoral faculty and student members of the NYU Steinhardt Doctoral Affairs Committee during the 2012-13 academic year. They are not binding, nor are they meant to replace specific suggestions and recommendations of eachdepartment for effective mentor-doctoral student relationships.  Instead, this document is designed to provide the framework for a  productive mentor-student relationship, one that  will not only benefit the student but will also provide rewards to mentors, including  enriched academic exchanges, increased research productivity, and lifelong collaborations.

Expectations of Mentors 1

Mentors guide the student through their doctoral experience, providing advice, opportunities, protection and resources. (see Appendix A) 2,3

Expectations of mentors include:

  • Meet regularly with student
  • Communicate expectations to student (e.g., projects they are expected to engage in, as well as , for research assistants, work hours, sick leave, vacation)
  • Treat students with fairness and respect
  • Provide an intellectually stimulating environment that is supportive and safe
  • Provide written, constructive feedback to submitted materials in a timely fashion
  • Serve as a role model for skills needed to be a successful researcher (e.g., communication skills, grant writing, lab management, human research poli­cies, the ethical conduct of research, and scientific professionalism)
  • Assist student in the development of a relevant research question and methodology
  • Assist student in preparing materials in a manner appropriate for peer-reviewed publication and creative works
  • Provide resources for student, as appropriate
  • Guide student through program requirements and deadlines
  • Assist student in selecting a dissertation committee
  • Encourage additional opportunities in career development training
  • Discuss authorship (including setting clear expectations for when students will and will not be represented as authors and clear expectations of order of authorship) and intellectual property issues (e.g., disclosure, patent rights and publishing research discoveries)
  • Recognize and address potential conflicts between the interests of mentor’s own larger research program and the particular research goals of the student
  • Encourage student to attend professional meetings (e.g., support students in securing funding for these events)
  • Offer career advice following his/her graduation (e.g.,  honest letters of recommendation, advice on career goals)
  • Write letters of recommendation for grants and job positions within deadlines
Expectations of Doctoral Students: 1
  • Meet regularly with mentor and provide him/her with progress updates
  • Prepare questions and send any written materials in advance of meetings with mentor
  • Meet with mentor to develop a dissertation project and select a dissertation committee
  • Be knowledgeable and conform to policies/requirements of the student’s graduate program, the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and NYU
  • Participate in and adhere to NYU’s Responsible Conduct of Research with Human Subjects (
  • Maintaining accurate research records
  • Discuss expectations about work hours, sick leave and vacation with mentor (i.e., RAs).
  • Discuss policies and expectations on authorship with mentor
  • Assume primary responsibility for the successful and timely completion of the student’s own degree
  • Acknowledge that, after degree completion, it is primarily the student’s responsibility to develop their career
The Mentor-Doctoral Student Relationship 1

To cultivate the next generation of scholars, mentors should:

  • Show interest in developing the students’ career and well-being
  • Customize mentorship to account for student diversity and varying needs
  • Clarify personal and professional boundaries with students
  • Facilitate transition from a structured undergraduate experience to the less predictable world of labs, research and dissertation writing
  • Understand that the timing of when the mentor-student relationship begins varies and may be discipline-specific
  • Encourage students to accept more responsibility and challenges, as the mentor-student relationship develops
  • Evaluate the success (or lack of success) of the mentoring relationship periodically 
Communication Between the Mentor and Doctoral Student 1
  • Choosing Dissertation Chairs and Members
    • Students are encouraged to engage in open-ended conversations with faculty inside and outside the department and NYU in developing their dissertation project, choosing a chair and committee.
    • Changing Dissertation Chairs, Members, and Readers
      • Students may engage in open-ended conversations with faculty within the department in changing a dissertation chair
      • Students may engage in open-ended conversations with faculty outside the department and NYU in changing a dissertation committee member
      • Students wishing to change dissertation readers do so in consultation with their dissertation chair
      • Clarifying what is Educational vs. Work-Related 
        • Mentors discuss which activities are considered work and which activities are educational/dissertation-related based on previously developed department guidelines for defining work
        • Providing Feedback1
          • Mentors communicate in a timely, constructive manner, balanced with praise when appropriate.
          • Mentors discuss how often feedback is provided, the type of feedback provided, and how long the student should expect to wait for feedback following work submission. 
          • Communicating Availability
            •  Mentors should inform students of their current and future calendars 1
            • Strategizing Solutions to Problem 2,3
              • When confronting problems, mentors and students provide a safe situation, start with the facts, describe the problem (recognizing there may be a gap between expected and observed), and ask for the other’s perspective on the matter (recognizing that each might have contributed to the problem)
              • Mentors and students agree on a plan (who does what by when), and follow-up steps
              • Mentors and students should be proactive if a problem is anticipated. 4 
The First Meetings between the Mentor and Doctoral Student 3

Meetings are used to clarify expectations, share information about their relationship, and modify communication when needed. 4

Mentor Preparation

  • Agree on means of communication  (email, phone, in person), how often, and how feedback will be provided
  • Establish frequency of meetings 2,3
  • Ensure student’s plan is doable and satisfies program requirements1
  • Establish deadlines and timetables for completing work
  • Communicate expectations on the quality of work 
    • Use a metric (outcomes) to measure student progress in achieving goals (these metrics may change over time)
    • Drafts:  Indicate how drafts should be formatted prior to submission 1
    • Discuss opportunities 4
    • Provide a summary of the conversation following meetings 4

Student Preparation

  • Prepare agenda
  • Take the lead in meetings 1
  • Discuss feasible short- and long-term goals
  • Bring necessary paperwork, if signatures are needed

Institutional Support for Successful Mentoring

Orientation 1

  • Provide a student orientation session
    • e.g., review program policies, practices, resources, expectations, benchmarks and expected milestones early on
    • Institute a “Point Person” - identify a person (e.g., advisor) for doctoral students to speak with about finding a mentor or if they are having issues with a mentor 1
      • distinguish roles of advisor vs. mentor,  if necessary (Appendix A)
      • Provide an orientation for students on applying for public and private grants so that they can begin thinking about external funding early in their careers
      • Provide department-specific forms to assist students in outlining expectations for the mentorship relationship, if available. 
  1. How to Mentor Graduate Students: A Guide for Faculty  (2012)  Retrieved from
  2. 2.       Patterson K, Grenny J, McMillan R, Switzler ACrucial Conversation: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High. 2002, McGraw-Hill.
  3. 3.       Wilson-Ahlstrom, A., Ravindranath, R., Yohalem, N., & Tseng, V. (2010, June). Pay It Forward: Guidance for Mentoring Junior Scholars. Washington, DC: The Forum for Youth Investment
  4. Ammerman, C. & Tseng, V. (2011). Maximizing Mentoring: A Guide for Building Strong Relationships. New York: The William T. Grant Foundation.
Appendix A

Mentor Roles

Mentors guide the student through their doctoral experience, providing advice, opportunities, resources, and protection for the doctoral student. 2,3  They socialize students into their professional culture and let the student know the expectations of a professional scholar. They advocate for the students, help them to transition from novice to professional, and help them embark on a new career1.

1. Advice:

  • Dissertation
  • Coursework
  • Training opportunities 4
  • Forming a dissertation committee 4
  • Finding additional mentors 1
  • Funding sources
  • Careers

2. Opportunities:

  • Professional development
  • Publications and conferences
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Performance and creative works
  • Work/study arrangements or internships for  students who do not have an option to work in the US

3. Protection:

  • Guidance for navigating the politics of the scholarly community 

4. Resources: 2,3 

  • Training and development
  • Equipment and technology
  • Meetings and conferences