A message to all Ph.D. students and faculty regarding the President’s Ph.D. initiative

Long before this public health crisis, we have affirmed our strong commitment to advance our core missions of teaching and research. With the start of the pandemic, we have redoubled our efforts to provide the strongest counterweight we can to these extremely challenging circumstances. We believe that it is precisely during moments like these when institutions of higher education are called upon even more to help set the intellectual agenda of the future and to produce the next generation of the most creative, thoughtful, and engaged scholars. To further our missions and to support doctoral education at Penn, we are announcing today the President’s Ph.D. Initiative, a six-year $30 million commitment above and beyond the funds already dedicated for doctoral education, to begin this year.

For this academic year (2020-2021), we will provide a Supplementary Stipend to help support our Ph.D. students as they shoulder additional expenses incurred by the pandemic. Every enrolled Ph.D. student at Penn will receive a President’s Ph.D. Supplementary Stipend of $1,200, paid in two equal parts, one this semester and the second in the Spring semester.

Over the ensuing five years, the President’s Initiative will create and support Presidential Ph.D. Fellows, drawing from the most accomplished and diverse Ph.D. trainees and also enabling competitive recruitment of new Ph.D. students in future years. We will dedicate $10.6 million to support an inaugural class of Presidential Ph.D. Fellows who will be selected from Penn’s current Ph.D. students. Also recognizing the need to strengthen the pipeline of Ph.D. students, we will devote an additional $12.7 million to recruiting new applicants to Penn. Each Presidential Ph.D. Fellow will receive a three-year fellowship, including summer support and funds to support their research. Early in the Spring semester 2021 we will launch the nomination process for current students to join the inaugural class of Presidential Ph.D. Fellows to start next academic year (2021-2022).

The effects of the global pandemic have impacted every Penn student. Penn’s Ph.D. students are among those adapting to the unique challenges of the pandemic as they navigate their scholarly research, childcare and other family responsibilities, and an even more competitive job market. Our Ph.D. students embody our profound mission of creating new knowledge, understanding, and teaching that will shape the future. They make a tangible impact by tackling the world’s most significant challenges and most perplexing questions. Sustaining their innovative teaching and world-changing scholarship will be more important than ever in a post-pandemic world.

We will follow up in the weeks ahead with more details and an FAQ about the Initiative and the selection process for Fellows. In the meantime, please also check our webpage on Valuing Graduate Students for helpful programs and updates on this new Initiative.

For media inquiries, please contact: Ron Ozio at University Communications: 215-898-8658, ozio@upenn.edu.