Hi everyone! Fall is coming along and leaves are colored in Minnesota. So beautiful!
Before moving to Minnesota, I lived in Seattle, Washington. So why did I move to Minnesota? To start the PhD program! Then why did I choose U of M??
1. Great multidisciplinary program
I am in the PhD program in Epidemiology. Most of you may not be familiar with this word (so as most of American people), but epidemiology is the study to identify risk factors for disease at the population level for the preventive purpose. My background is nutrition, but faculty is a blend of many fields such as epidemiologists, behavioral scientists (ex. psychologists), clinical researchers (physicians), public health policy researchers, and nutritionists. It is a perfect place to get involved in multidisciplinary research! Our office building, West Bank Office Building (WBOB) is in West Bank.
2. Academic adviser
To explore my interest area, which is nutrition and cancer prevention, finding a faculty who is an expert in that field was a big factor to choose a school. Luckily, my current adviser and I have similar background and work experiences and she found me during the admission process!
3. Financial support
Honestly, this was the critical factor that I decided to come to U of M. As many prospective students, I applied for multiple schools including one in Seattle, where I was living then. I received acceptance letters from a few schools, but most of them asked me to find a financial support for the first year by myself. But the program at the U of M finds and offers financial supports to all the applicants who are accepted. That made me feel very supported and welcomed by the program.
Let me introduce major financial supports available in my program.
GA is an employment opportunity offered to both Master's and PhD level students. Its benefits include tuition and medical/dental coverage, and we can get paid to cover living costs. There are two kinds of GA - research assistantship and teaching assistantship. Research assistants usually do data analysis, study coordinating, and manuscript preparation for a research project. Teaching assistants help professors in classes by attending classes to answer questions from students, holding lab classes/office hours, and grading and such. For the past 4+ years, I have been a research assistant for the division and Masonic Cancer Research Center as well as a teaching assistant. I have to add one more great feature - I (and my husband) could take paid-maternity/paternity leaves under GA!!! Check with the program of your interest for the availability of GA!
Many students are supported by trainingships, which support students' training activities with similar benefits as GA. However, unfortunately, usually only US citizens and permanent residents are eligible for this support...
I'm delightfully introducing this great fellowship for PhD students offered by the graduate school!! Every year, at least 75 fellowships are awarded to students from school-wide programs. I am awarded this fellowship this year and find this support is great! This fellowship is to give final-stage doctoral students more time to spend on dissertation, so it does not come with any work obligations. It does come with almost same benefits as GA including a full coverage of tuition and medical/dental coverage for 9 months (Sep - May). It also allows students to hold up to 25% GA along with the fellowship. I'm now under this fellowship but also have a 25% research assistantship.
Remember - this information is solely from my experience in my program or in the School of Public Health. Available financial supports may vary depending on the program.
Hope you found it helpful. See you next time!