As a general rule, physics PhD students are paid to attend graduate school. Through various types of financial awards, a student can expect all tuition and fees to be covered and to receive an additional stipend, typically $21,000 to $25,000 per year, for living expenses. The three main types of awards are teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and fellowships. In general, students making satisfactory progress towards their physics Ph.D. at UC Davis are supported financially throughout their time in graduate school.
Teaching assistantships (TAs) are available each quarter, both in the academic year and over the summer. The most common appointment involves requires up to 20 hours of work per week leading labs or discussion sections for introductory physics classes. Nearly all first-year Ph.D. students have teaching positions. The TA includes payment of in-state tuition and fees.
Research assistantships (GSRs) are paid from a faculty member's research grant. In most cases the work required for the GSR is exactly the student's thesis project. The norm in the department is that GSR appointments are nominally for just under 19 hours per week. Students should be aware that once they have completed classes they will certainly be expected to work more than 19 hours per week on their research! The research is also a learning experience, and senior students typically receive course credit for it equivalent to about 40 hours per week. GSRs are common in certain subfields of physics and very rare in others. Students may want to inquire about possible GSR support when selecting a research adviser. A GSR position includes payment of both in-state and out-of-state tuition and fees.
Fellowships may be awarded by the department, the university, or external agencies. They provide stipends and/or tuition payments without any explicit work demanded in return, although the student is expected to be working full-time towards his or her degree. The department usually awards fellowships for non-resident tuition to first-year Ph.D. students who are not California residents and to international Ph.D. students whose tuition is not paid through other avenues. The department also provides a few fellowships for student stipends. University fellowships are awarded through Graduate Studies. The application deadline is January 15 for students also applying for admission, and December 1 for continuing students. Graduate Studies or departmental advisers can provide information on external fellowships from NSF, DOE, NASA, and other places. These are often both prestigious and lucrative.
All graduate students who are US citizens or permanent residents are required to file a "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" (FAFSA) by March 1st. The form is available online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. Incoming students must also file the FAFSA. Doing so is required for most fellowships and other financial aid, even fellowships that are not awarded based on financial need.
Housing is the single largest expense for a typical graduate student. Most students live in the city of Davis within easy bicycling distance of the campus. Some rental units are also available on campus.
On-campus housing: www.housing.ucdavis.edu
Community housing: www.davishousing.com
Students with young children may receive a subsidy for part of their childcare costs. UC Davis also has a parental leave policy for graduate students when a child is born. The graduate coordinator can direct students to further information.