Funding for Graduate Students

Assistantships, fellowships, awards, and scholarships are available on a competitive basis for the most qualified students.

August 2018 Graduate Assistantships Are Available

Departmental Support


Applicants to the graduate program in plant pathology may compete for a limited number of graduate assistantships awarded by the department. Financial assistance is available most commonly through research assistantships funded in part by the department, extramural grants, and College and University Fellowships and Awards and enhancements. Apply by Dec 15 for full funding consideration.

Graduate assistantships provide a stipend, tuition remission, and subsidized health insurance. All available assistantships are controlled by individual faculty members who may or may not have an open assistantship to offer at a particular time.

Prospective applicants should correspond directly with individual faculty members to inquire about assistantships, and applicants should indicate their desire to be considered for assistantships in their statement of purpose letter.

Enhancement Funding

Graduate students in the Plant Pathology M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs are encouraged to seek educational experiences outside the department that will enhance their professional development. Each year Graduate Studies Enhancement Funding is made available on a competitive basis to support graduate student travel to other research facilities for the purpose of participating in research and educational activities that enhance the student’s graduate training. Two awards of $500- $1,000 may be given each year, based on fund use and availability. This funding program does not cover costs to attend professional meetings. Deadlines for applications are October 1 for fall semester and March 1 for spring and summer semesters through August 30. Proposals will be considered outside the stated deadlines if funds are available.

Research and/or Travel Support Grants

Herbert Cole Jr. Fund for Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology
The intent of the endowment is to support graduate students and faculty professional development in international agricultural systems associated with food crop production. A periodic call for proposals will be made by the department head.

Leonard J. Francl Memorial Endowment
The intent of the endowment is to support Plant Pathology graduate student studies associated with plant disease epidemiology, including studies of pathogen survival and spread, pathogen virulence, and environmental factors influencing disease spread. Funding may be requested to support graduate student travel and supply costs associated with field projects, participation in career development activities such as workshops, or travel to work in other labs. Proposals are solicited each spring semester and due by May 1 for funding to begin by July 1. Proposals are limited to $1,000 but may be used to match other sources of funding.

Larry J. Jordan Memorial Endowment
The intent of the endowment is to enhance graduate student field-oriented research in plant pathology. Graduate student proposals are solicited each spring semester for summer support. Funding may be requested to support various aspects of graduate programming related to field research, including supplies, travel to research plots, and travel costs associated with professional development opportunities, including workshops. Proposals are due by May 1 of each year for funding to begin by July 1. Proposals are limited to $1,400 but may be used to match other sources of funding.

Alan A. MacNab Memorial Endowment
This endowment was established to foster research and extension work in vegetable crop diseases and their management. Funding may be requested for but limited to participation in professional meetings to show impact of research to attendees or provide growers with informational findings, field supplies, travel to research plots, resistance management, greenhouse space costs, and graduate student research associated with vegetable research. Proposals are due May 1 of each year for funding to begin by July 1. Proposals are limited to $1,700 but may be used to match other sources of funding.

James and Marilyn Tammen Memorial Endowment for International Plant Pathology
The intent of the endowment is to foster international studies and collaborations in plant pathology. Funding may be requested to support costs of graduate student (and faculty) research done through international collaborations, participation in international professional meetings, international career development activities, or costs of instructing courses or workshops in international plant pathology, including instructor salaries or travel expenses of guest lecturers. Proposals are solicited at the beginning of each fall semester and are due by October 1 of each year for funding to begin by November 1. Proposals are limited to $1,500 but may be used to match other sources of funding.

James Oscar Watts Memorial Potato Research Endowment
The intent of this endowment is to enhance the Penn State Potato Research Program in the department. The goals of the potato research program are to explore, understand, utilize, and transfer knowledge concerning the biology, genetics, and production of potatoes in Pennsylvania.  Funding may be requested to support the following activities: attend meetings and give presentations to inform stakeholders and potato growers of PA, field and/or lab research to include, but not be limited to, testing, seeds, fertilizers, chemicals, field management, and irrigation supplies. Proposals are due May 1 of each year for funding to begin by July 1. Proposals are limited to $6,800 but may be used to match other sources of funding.

Travel Support Grants
Students in Plant Pathology are encouraged to participate in scientific professional society meetings to enhance their professional development, the exchange of scientific knowledge, and to increase networking skills.  Plant Pathology graduate students are eligible each year to apply for Graduate Student Travel Grants of up to $500 to supplement travel to one professional meeting per academic year. To be eligible, the applicant must present an oral or poster presentation on their thesis research at the meeting.

Applications may be submitted for any disciplinary professional meeting sanctioned by the student’s major adviser.  Applications may be submitted any time of the year. Applications are evaluated and approved by the head of the Graduate Program. Include travel costs on the application.  The application will be sent to the Head of the Graduate Program with a copy to the Graduate Program Coordinator.  The student will be notified by email as to the outcome of the travel request.

Scholarships and Awards

Nominations from the student’s adviser or other nominator are required. Awards are made to outstanding students based on merit and timely completion of degree program milestones. Students do not apply directly.

L. Earl and Veronica Casida Graduate Scholarship
Consideration shall be given to full-time graduate students enrolled in Plant Pathology who have achieved superior academic records or who manifest promise of outstanding academic success.

Arthur and Rita Gaspari Memorial Scholarship
Consideration shall be given to graduate students enrolled in Plant Pathology whose studies involve mushrooms and who have a demonstrated financial need. If there are no qualified recipients or an insufficient number of qualified recipients, then the scholarship may be awarded to undergraduate or graduate students enrolled in the College of Agricultural Sciences whose studies involve plant sciences.

Lester P. Nichols Memorial Award
This award is presented in recognition of outstanding research accomplishments by a graduate degree candidate in Plant Pathology. Consideration shall be given to students who have performed outstanding research as graduate degree candidates in Plant Pathology with a primary emphasis on diseases affecting ornamental plants. Secondary consideration goes to other degree candidates in the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology.

James P. Roberts Scholarship
Recognizing outstanding students pursuing studies in Mushroom Science Technology in the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology. Consideration shall be given to full-time undergraduate or graduate students who plan to study or are currently studying mushroom science technology and have achieved superior academic records or show promise of outstanding success. Primary consideration is given to undergraduate students.

College of Ag Support

The College of Agricultural Sciences has many scholarship and funding opportunities for graduate students. These include:

  • Graduate Student  Competitive Grants Program
  • Graduate Student Achievement Awards
  • College Fellowships and Awards for incoming students (Graduate program nominates students)
  • Travel Awards

University Support

New Opportunity!
Graduate School Dean’s Distinguished Fellowship Program

Consideration shall be given to prospective students eligible for admission to a research doctorate (Ph.D.) program and demonstrating the highest academic caliber, who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and who will contribute to diversity in graduate education at the institution. This award is intended for entering (new to the university) Ph.D. students who are nominated by the Graduate Program.

Recipients will receive fellowship appointments funded by the Graduate School during their first year of enrollment, to include a stipend of $30,000, tuition grant-in-aid, and a student health insurance subsidy. Colleges/programs will need to commit to fund the student for half-time, fall/spring assistantships at a grade level consistent with that provided to other Ph.D. students in the program, but not less than a grade 12, providing recipients make satisfactory academic progress; for those four additional years, the Graduate School will provide supplemental funds in the form of scholarship support equivalent to the differential between the award recipients’ assistantship stipends and $30,000 in order to maintain a level award value throughout the 5-year period. Because the first-year appointments will be fellowships, no duties can be required of the recipients during that time frame.

Distinguished Graduate Fellowships

Global Programs Graduate Student Travel Grants
The Office of Global Programs maintains a fund to support graduate travel related to the presentation of the scholarly work of Penn State graduate students at international conferences or other major professional meetings outside the United States.  The goal is to promote and support global leadership in scholarship and international engagements.

Penn State Graduate School Funding Opportunities

Penn State Sloan Scholars
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation provides funding for underrepresented students to pursue doctorates in mathematics, science, and engineering. The Sloan Scholars Program specifically targets African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans. All must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Students receiving Sloan Foundation grants may use the money to pay for professional travel, research, equipment, books, and to cover many other needs during their doctoral studies. These funds are in addition to any assistantships and fellowships awarded to a student.

Summer tuition assistance is available through the Graduate School's Summer Tuition Assistance Program (STAP). STAP is designed to provide tuition assistance to graduate students who have had assistantships supported on general or restricted funds or university fellowships for the two preceding semesters, so that they can continue graduate studies during the summer.

Plant Pathology Graduate Research Assistantships beginning August 2018 are available for highly-qualified applicants.