Most universities in the US provide financial aid to Ph.D. students. When the universities accept a student they inform him/her what are they offering (scholarship, stipend as TA, etc.). What is the situation with the M.Sc. students? Do they also get (sometimes) offerings about financial aid?

Maybe their offerings are based on resources that remain after some Ph.D. students decline their admittance. Is it possible for some M.Sc. students to get scholarships (from the university - not counting outside resources) or positions as TAs or RAs and thus they can pay their tuition and maintain a monthly stipend? Is the situation dependent on the student's nationality?

It is not an answer to a single question. I would appreciate it if someone explains the whole procedure that is followed for the M.Sc. students in the U.S. universities regarding the financial aid that they can get from the university.

EDIT: I mostly interested for computer science, but in general, the same situation should be true for other engineering majors in general.

  • 1
    Financial aid for MS students can also come from industry scholarships and stipends.
    – Compass
    Dec 8, 2014 at 21:36
  • You need to at least specify what field you are in to get an accurate answer...
    – ff524
    Dec 8, 2014 at 21:52
  • Non-thesis, non-research, terminal master's programs are particularly common in computer science since many students are interested in getting a master's degree but not going on to a research career. Financial aid for such programs is extremely limited. Dec 8, 2014 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


This depends a lot on the university, the discipline, and the individual department.

A key factor is that many universities have "terminal masters" programs that are not research oriented. Students in these programs typically complete an MS degree by coursework only, and don't complete a thesis. Students in such programs almost never receive financial aid in the form of fellowships or teaching or research assistantships. Other MS programs are research oriented and include a thesis or significant master's project. Some departments have two different MS programs, one with thesis and one without.

Even if the MS program is research oriented, departments with strong PhD programs tend to focus on supporting PhD students and MS students may either not be eligible at all for assistantships or they may be given lower priority than PhD students.

Some departments that do not have PhD programs do have research oriented MS programs and will provide financial support to MS students. This is one option, although these departments are not going to be as highly regarded as the departments with strong PHD programs.

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