SIPS MS/PhD - Financial Support

A range of financial support and internal grants are available to graduate students in the five graduate fields affiliated with Cornell's School of Integrative Plant Science.

PhD or MS students

Financial assistance is available to MS and PhD students on a competitive basis and includes tuition, a stipend, and health insurance. Admitted PhD students and funded MS students are guaranteed a stipend during the academic year (~$30,000 for 2022-23) as well as a summer stipend (~$10,000) if they do research in the summer, as most do. If you are considering a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degree be aware that the MPS is self-funded with MPS candidates responsible for all costs associated with the degree (i.e. tuition, insurance, living expenses).

Grand Challenge Fellowships

The School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) is offering four two-year fellowships to graduate students for research tackling our Grand Challenges.

  • Fellowships are for August 2024 admission.
  • Application deadline is December 1, 2023. (November 15, 2023 for Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology.)
  • More information.

NSF Research Traineeship

This National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) award to Cornell University is structured to create a transformative experience that integrates interdisciplinary team learning and professional development to equip future plant scientists with the tools needed to investigate, comprehend, and engineer plant processes to improve plant productivity and sustainability in the 21st century. The project will train approximately 120 graduate students, including 18 funded trainees from the graduate fields of Plant Biology, Plant Breeding, Plant Pathology, Soil and Crop Sciences, Biological and Environmental Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Computer Science. 

Learn more about the NSF Research Traineeship including coursework, research rotations, and internship opportunities

Research support seed grant: Schmittau Novak

The Schmittau-Novak grants program is made possible by a one-time gift of $640,000 from the estate of Jen Schmittau in honor of Professor Joseph D. Novak and in support of research related to the integrative plant sciences. This is a current use gift made with the expectation that funds will be spent down over a defined period of several years. To leverage this gift in a manner that maximizes its impact, potentially reaching hundreds of people over time, it is being used to fund a small grants program for graduate students in the plant sciences.

The primary goal of the Schmittau-Novak grant program is to catalyze collaborative and innovative research in the Integrative Plant Sciences, and to provide graduate students with experience in proposal preparation and review. It is hoped that these projects will catalyze new collaborative relationships, provide a funding source for higher risk student-led research with the potential for novel discovery, and promote graduate student cohesion and community building within SIPS.

Learn more about the program, read about past awards, and review application information

Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) awards are based on each student's qualifications and interests. Recipients are expected to make a commitment to research programs in these respective sections. Students typically have considerable freedom to choose a research program within the section offering the GRA, although some constraints may apply at the discretion of the section chairs.

The faculty member in whose lab the student is conducting research may provide the funding in the form of a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA). This type of funding is usually from research grants awarded to the faculty member by a government agency or from private sources. Availability of this type of funding is sometimes difficult to predict in advance.

Students who serve as Teaching Assistants (TAs) receive compensation in the form of stipend, health insurance, and tuition. A number of Teaching Assistantships (TA-ships) are available to graduate students affiliated with SIPS. If you are a continuing graduate student (M.S., M.S./Ph.D., or Ph.D.) in SIPS and you are looking for teaching experience, or if you are looking for financial support,  you can apply to serve as a TA in one of the many courses taught by SIPS.

Learn more about the SIPS TA Application Procedure. and the SIPS TA Management Plan.

SIPS students are also eligible to serve as TAs in the Undergraduate Biology Program. Biology TAs assist in the instruction of Core Introductory Courses in Biology. Teaching in the biology program satisfies the teaching requirement for those fields having a teaching requirement.

The Graduate School of Cornell University offers several fellowships specifically for recruiting outstanding graduate students. These include but are not limited to:

The School of Integrative Plant Science offers the Denison Graduate Fellowship for recruitment of outstanding graduate students.

  • Cornell Assistantship for Horticulture in Africa (CAHA) provides a doctoral assistantship in the Graduate Field of Horticulture to a student from Sub-Saharan Africa. Successful candidates must already have a Master’s degree, originate from a country in Sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, and be of native African ancestry.  Course work will be completed at Cornell University while dissertation research will be conducted primarily in Africa under the supervision of a local thesis advisor. Depending on the nature of the research and associated costs, it may be necessary for the student to secure additional outside funding.  The assistantship will require 15 – 20 hours per week of teaching and/or research responsibilities. Acceptance into the program is contingent on the student’s agreeing to return to Sub-Saharan Africa after completion of the doctoral degree. More information and application form.
  • William Frederick Dreer Scholarship provides a worthy undergraduate or graduate student, specializing in the Department of Horticulture or Landscape Architecture, with an opportunity to study or engage in directed practice related to the field of floriculture and ornamental horticulture abroad. Scholarship, character, maturity, seriousness of purpose and potential are considered. William F. Dreer was an innovative seeds man from Philadelphia. Read more about the Dreer Scholarship.
  • Sellew Family Excellence-in-Mentoring Fellowship.  Recipients of the Sellew Family Excellence-in-Mentoring Fellowship are selected by their respective fields based on demonstrated excellence in mentoring one or more undergraduate students. The Fellowship will be awarded to a student in a different SIPS graduate field for each of five years, with the first award to begin in August 2017 and supporting a student in the Field of Horticulture.  In subsequent years the awardee will be selected (in order) from the Fields of Plant Pathology and Plant Microbe Biology, Plant Biology, Soil and Crop Sciences, and Plant Breeding and Genetics.

All students are strongly encouraged to apply for external fellowships. The Graduate School maintains a comprehensive fellowship database available to Cornell students. Included among these are:

  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship: all students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are urged to apply in their first and second years of graduate school.
  • Fulbright Program
  • Rockefeller Foundation
  • Governmental scholarships from the native countries of international students

Note that many deadlines for applications are in the autumn, so early inquiries and applications are necessary.  Additional information on funding and taxes can be found through the Cornell Graduate School. To be considered for financial support, students must submit their completed applications to the Graduate School by December 1. 

Whatever the funding source, continuance of graduate scholarships is contingent upon satisfactory performance and progress in each student’s academic coursework, research, and thesis or dissertation completion. Most scholarships also require that graduate students be engaged full time in their research projects during the summer months and inter-semester recess.

University housing for single graduate students is available in residence halls and apartments.  For students accompanied by another adult and/or children, unfurnished or furnished apartments maintained by the university are available.

Private, off-campus housing is also available.  The quality and cost vary widely.  The university maintains a list of vacancies, but it is not practical to negotiate for off-campus accommodations until you arrive in Ithaca.