I am a Spanish student who is intending to apply for a PhD in electrical engineering in some US colleges. As far as I read in the web pages of the graduate schools, they financially support all the students they admit to their programs.

Anyway, in the application program they ask for information about the external funding I am asking for. I will be asking for It, but the period to ask for is after the university application is over.

Also, lots of the fellowships i have seen are only for PhD students that are already in 2nd or 3rd year,while the TA and RAs are also starting from 2nd year(as far as I know), so I wonder how important is it to have the external funding to get accepted? And if I would not get It would I get funding from them?


  • External funding is not expected at most US graduate schools. If you do have external funding it's important to say so, because it lets you effectively choose wherever you'd like to go. You become "free" to the university that admits you.
    – David
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 20:22

1 Answer 1


You do not need to have external funding to be accepted to graduate schools, and your situation is the same as every other student who applies: most of the time, the results of the fellowship applications won't be known until after the application deadlines.

As for RA's and TA's, that's a field-dependent thing. You may find that some departments use "central" funds to support students in their first semester or even first year (especially in programs where there is a lot of coursework to complete).

  • So, just to be clear, the process goes as follow, right ? : 1. Student applies to universities for graduate studies. 2. Application deadline is over. 3. Universities give their offer (including whether they are accepted, and the fund that they are providing) to the students. 4. Student accepts one of those.
    – Our
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 5:21
  • 1
    Step (1) should be: "Student applies to universities and external funding opportunities." But otherwise it's pretty close to what happens.
    – aeismail
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 15:31

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