Applying to Graduate School 101: What does it cost?

Graduate students in Pi Alpha Chemical Society (funded by student activity fees) practice a cloud demo for an outreach event.
Graduate students in Pi Alpha Chemical Society (funded by student activity fees) practice a cloud demo for an outreach event.

This Fall, we are publishing a special series of blog posts about applying to graduate school–at Emory and in general. Our goal is to demystify the application process and help applicants feel confident as they seek a home for their graduate studies. This post provides an overview of the costs–and benefits–of applying to and attending graduate school.

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There are two key financial issues to consider when applying to graduate school–the cost to apply and the cost to attend. While other financial issues may come into play, these are the basic concerns most students face and the areas this blog will cover.

Cost to Apply

Most graduate schools require an application fee. The fee goes to pay for everything from the admissions management system (Emory uses CollegeNET) to the salaries of the admissions representatives who spend time reading each application. At Emory, we are committed the the practice of whole file review–this means that every application is read from cover to cover by an admissions representative. We do not use test scores or any other factor to weed students out of the pool preemptively. Because of this, reviewing each application takes time and has a real cost. An application fee can help ensure that students are serious about applying while also contributing to the costs of a thorough review.

That said, we never want the application fee to be a burden that keeps students from being able to apply. This year, the Department of Chemistry is offering an automatic, full waiver of the application fee for all students who submit their application before midnight on October 31st. To our knowledge, we are among a very few programs that offer this blanket waiver and we hope that it provides easy access to applicants. Your scores and letters may arrive later (ideally by the final deadline of January 1st) as long as the rest of the application is complete.

After October 31st, we still offer a waiver to applicants who are affiliated with any one of the following programs:

  • ABRCMS
  • SACNAS
  • McNair Scholars
  • MMUF-Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship
  • NIH Graduate Professional School Fair
  • …and several more.

If you do not qualify for a waiver via one of these programs, you can still request one on the basis of financial hardship. Applicants applying under this designation should meet the U.S. Department of Education definition of “low income.” If you qualify, fill out the form at this link and keep in mind that it may take up to ten days to receive a reply. We cannot extend the deadline for students waiting on the fee waiver process. Additionally, there is no need to apply for a waiver if you apply before October 31st.

Beyond the application fee, there can be costs related to the GRE and TOEFL and a fee for a transcript from your undergraduate institution. The Educational Testing Service offers some support for students facing financial hardship related to the GRE. Please contact us if you have exhausted these options and the GRE is still a financial barrier for you. Emory accepts unofficial transcripts for the application–these are often available free to the student. We do require an official, sealed transcript be submitted directly to the graduate school if a student accepts an offer of admission.

We hope that cost will not be a barrier for any Emory applicant. Please contact us if you need assistance.

Cost to Attend

Beyond the application fees, there are some costs associated with attending graduate school. Emory offers a stipend, tuition waiver, and health insurance subsidy to ALL admitted students. In Fall 2018, this includes:

  • $28,000 base stipend to all students (some students will receive merit fellowships above this amount; all applicants are automatically considered for these fellowships)
  • 100% tuition waiver (worth $61,200 in 2017-2018)
  • 100% health insurance subsidy (worth $3,164 in 2017-2018–this covers the full cost of enrollment for health insurance. Students pay insurance-negotiated co-pays and other fees for actual services rendered.)

There are some costs that students are responsible for. At this time, Emory does not offer a moving subsidy. Additionally, students are required to attend orientation during the month of August prior to the start of their stipend paychecks. Most students will need a computer (although Emory offers several computer labs and individual research groups will have computers available as required for specific projects.) Additionally, Emory requires students to pay fees each semester of about $100-$400. A full fee schedule is available on the graduate school’s website. Fees pay for a wide range of student benefits including:

  • access to campus athletic facilities
  • computing
  • a one-time transcript fee that pays for all future transcripts
  • student activities, including Pi Alpha Chemical Society, our graduate student social and service group that provides free and low-cost activities to all graduate students

Importantly, Emory’s financial support is not contingent on research or teaching services. All students do some teaching as part of their education and all chemistry students will engage in research, but only through structured activities that are part of their training–not as work in exchange for scholarships and fellowships. Support is also guaranteed to continue at the same level as long as students make sufficient academic progress. We do not require advanced students to compete for their core funding. In fact, advanced students are eligible to apply for special fellowships, such as the Dean’s Teaching Fellowship–and chemistry students have been very successful in securing these fellowships. All Laney students are also eligible to apply for up to $7,500 of non-competitive research and training funds called Professional Development Support (PDS) Funds.

Beyond the Numbers

Without a doubt, pursuing a graduate education comes with a cost: though they can come close, fellowships may not cover 100% of your living costs, and by going to graduate school you are delaying or interrupting your professional career and the climb up the salary ladder.

If you decide to make that sacrifice — because you are committed to pursuing your curiosity, to develop your capacities, to contribute to the development of knowledge and the advancement of the public good, or for some other reason — and if the Laney Graduate School turns out to be the place for you, then we are committed to providing the financial assistance to make it a feasible and attractive option.

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Ready to apply? Visit chemistry.emory.edu/apply. Applications are due by December 1st, 2018 for entry in Fall 2019.

Want to learn more about chemistry @ Emory? Fill out an inquiry form and join our mailing list!