Funding & Financial Aid
All applicants to Carolina Planning are automatically considered for merit-based departmental funding, and those that apply by the December deadline are considered for fellowships from The Graduate School. Each year, Carolina Planning graduate students receive $1 million of support from the University. This support takes the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships, conference travel funding, and professional development funding.
In addition to merit-based funding, significant levels of support, mostly in the form of student loans, are provided to graduate students by UNC’s Office of Scholarships and Student Aid. A separate application for assistance is required and generally requires completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
During the admissions process, the department identifies candidates for merit-based funding. Students receiving these fellowships will work directly with faculty as research or teaching assistants. These prestigious fellowships provide stipends and may also provide tuition and health insurance benefits. Much of this support comes from generous donors and includes:
- John A. Parker Fellowship created by alumni and friends of the department in honor of its founder and first chairman, John A. Parker.
- Robert E. Stipe Fellowship in Historic Preservation Supports a student with career interests in historic preservation and its application to land use planning, urban revitalization, or real estate development.
- Stu Chapin Fellowship honors F. Stuart Chapin Jr.’s teaching, research and writing, which established our department as one of the best planning programs in the country.
Outside the admissions process, prospective and current Carolina Planning students have successfully found support for their graduate education from many sources including:
- External Grants: These include US DOT’s Eisenhower Fellowship, Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships, and the Holzheimer Memorial Student Scholarship.
- Carolina Planning Excellence in Diversity Fellowships: Second-year Carolina Planning students may apply for this fellowship, which supports students that bring diversity—broadly defined—to the department. Selected students have the opportunity to work with a faculty member on a research project.
- Paid Internships: Because of Carolina Planning’s deep connections and long history of high caliber students, a number of governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations provide internships for planning students locally during the academic year and globally during the summer.
- Research Assistantships with Affiliated Centers: Carolina Planning supports a number of affiliated institutes and centers that often hire graduate students as research assistants. These include Highway Safety Research Center, Center for Urban and Regional Studies, Coastal Resilience Center, Institute for the Environment, Development Finance Initiative, and Center for Community Capital.
- Teaching Assistantships with Other Departments: These departments include Geography, Public Policy, Asian Studies, and other UNC programs that hire Carolina Planning students to serve as teaching assistants.
The department also supports students’ professional development and networking by providing:
- Conference Travel Funding – Students presenting research at a planning-related conference are eligible for up to $500 in support from the department and can also supply for Graduate School Support. Students focusing on transportation also receive partial support to attend the annual Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington D.C. in January.
- Research & Professional Development Funding – Each spring, current students can apply for funds to pursue summer research travel and/or professional training off-campus (ex. travel to research site, short-course on big data analytics, etc.)
Support for doctoral candidates comes from the department, Graduate School, research grants, and external fellowship programs. The majority of admitted doctoral students receive multi-year funding packages that offer competitive stipends, tuition, and health insurance. Students receiving departmental or research grant support generally receive stipends of up to $18,000 for the academic year. The Department’s policy is to provide this support to doctoral students for the first three years of study, after which virtually every student retains financial support by working with a faculty adviser on a sponsored research project or by teaching.
Graduate School Royster Fellowships provide five years of support with academic year stipends of up to $24,000, plus tuition benefits and health insurance. Students receiving this fellowship serve as teaching or research assistants for three years and have two years to dedicate to their research and professional development. Many current Carolina Planning students have received this award; no separate application is required.
Finally, Carolina Planning doctoral students have been successful in securing competitive external grants for academic and summer support. Sources of support include US DOT’s Eisenhower Fellowship, Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships, and NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
The department also supports students’ professional development and research by providing:
- Conference Travel Funding – Students presenting research at a planning-related conference are eligible for three grants of up to $500 each from the department and can also apply for Graduate School Support. Students focusing on transportation also receive partial support to attend the annual Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington D.C. in January.
- Research Funding – Each spring, current students can apply for funds to pursue summer research projects and training (ex. travel to research site, short-course on big data analytics, etc.)