Presidential Scholars

The Presidential Scholarship

The Presidential Scholarship is a program of support for incoming Doctoral students. It is intended to help Mason doctoral programs become more competitive in recruiting students who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement and are committed to excellence in their field of study. This scholarship includes a 12-month Graduate Research Assistantship with a stipend of at least $36,000, 18 tuition credits (9 in the Fall and 9 in the Spring semesters), health insurance subsidy, and is renewable for up to four years.


Presidential Scholarship 

  • The Graduate Division will fully fund two presidential scholarships per doctoral program.  

  • The scholarship provides:  

    • Up to a four-year Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA)** from August 25 through August 24 (dates for spring appointed scholars are from January 10 through August 24), and 

      • This involves 20-hour-per-week research-based work requirement towards their dissertation. 

    • A stipend of $36,000 from August 25 through August 24 ($22,500 for spring appointed scholars), and 

    • A tuition grant covering nine credit hours in the fall and nine credit hours in the spring (only nine spring credit hours for spring appointed scholars and there is no tuition grant for any appointed scholar during the summer term), and  

    • Scholar must be enrolled in nine credit hours each semester (fall and spring) of this scholarship (contact the Graduate Division if this is not possible) 

      • Scholars are not required to be enrolled during the summer term 

    • The tuition grant will also fund the Mandatory Student Fee 

    • Subsidized health insurance (provided that eligibility is met). 

  • Cost-share Model: Doctoral programs will have the opportunity to have a third and fourth presidential scholarships under the same condition as above and the following cost-share funding model: 

    • A stipend of $27,000 from August 25 through May 24 ($13,500 for spring appointed scholars) funded by the academic department/college/school, and 

      • The academic unit is responsible for entering the GA assignment into the system. 

    • A summer stipend of $9,000 from May 25 – August 24 funded by the Graduate Division, and 

    • A tuition grant funded by the Graduate Division, and  

    • Subsidized health insurance (provided that eligibility is met) funded by the Graduate Division. 

  • 2+2 Option: In addition, every doctoral program will have the option to choose a 2+2 funding arrangement for each of their new Presidential Scholars under the same condition as above and the following funding model: 

    • A two-year Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) – years 1 and 2 - funded by the Graduate Division, and 

    • A two-year Graduate Assistantship (GA) – years 3 and 4 - funded by the academic department/college/school. 

    • This arrangement will allow for the recruitment of scholars on a two-year cycle (vs. four). 

  • The term of each scholarship is up to four years renewed on a yearly basis, but non-renewable past four years. 

  • Regardless of the funding arrangement, all Presidential Scholars will remain under the same title and funding conditions for the duration of the scholarship, assuming renewal criteria are met. 

  • Scholarship restrictions: 

    • The scholarship may not be used to support a Graduate Professional Assistantship (GPA). 

    • Students holding the Scholarship may not engage in other on-campus employment (including additional assistantships), without explicit written approval from the Senior Associate Provost for Graduate Education, Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs or equivalent, Department Chair and Program Director. 

      • The maximum additional appointment for a student holding the Presidential Scholarship is 10 hours (for international students, consult OIPS for restrictions) 

    • The Graduate Division will not offer partial scholarships: if a Scholar does not consume the full four years of the scholarship, the remaining is not available for another student. 

  • Tuition grant restrictions (as related to the Presidential Scholarship): 

    • Tuition grants will not be awarded for courses taken in any summer term. 

    • Tuition grants may not be used for noncredit courses, undergraduate courses, or course work taken through audit. 

    • The scholar’s academic unit will be responsible for paying for required coursework taken more than nine credit hours in any given semester. 

    • Tuition grants do not cover the new student fee, course, or lab fees. 

    • Scholars are required to pay full or partial tuition for courses they drop after the last day to drop with full tuition refund date. 

Scholar Nomination


  • Each doctoral program may have up to two Presidential Scholars per academic year under the fully funded model and add two additional scholar(s) under the cost share model. 

  • Nomination requirements: 

    • Incoming full-time Doctoral student, and 

    • Justification of the merit-based process for selecting each scholar, including a program-specific written metric for degree completion and excellence, and  

    • Commitment from academic/research mentor to guide Doctoral studies, and  

    • Minimum GPA of 3.5 in the most recently earned degree, but exceptions can be made by the program when strong justification is provided, and 

    • If a GRE is required by the program's admission requirements, a minimum combined math and verbal GRE score of 310 is needed on the new revised GRE scale for exams taken August 1, 2011, and beyond. Scores must have been earned within the last five years.  

  • Nominations are to be submitted for a fall semester start. If a spring semester start is necessary to recruit a high-potential student, accommodations can be made, with restrictions*. 

  • Only the Graduate Division may award this scholarship. 

  • Steps for nomination:  

    • All nominations of eligible applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis starting February 1st and must be submitted no later than July 1st through the submission platform.  

    • All nominations should include: 

      • Doctoral program must identify one eligible applicant at a time, and 

      • Justification of the merit-based process for selecting each scholar, including a summary description of the candidate’s achievements and qualifications for the scholarship, and 

      • Commitment from the academic/research mentor to guide Doctoral studies.  

      • The student’s full name and G number, and 

      • GRE scores and GPA(s), if appropriate. 

      • Supervisor’s name, email, and G number   

    • Doctoral programs have the option to add a top-off amount (or stipend increase) in addition to the academic year stipend of $27,000.  

      • Departments must indicate on the nomination form their intent to provide a stipend top-off.  

      • Funding information must be indicated on the form. 

    • The academic unit’s Graduate Admissions Office must “accept” the student in Banner as quickly as possible to avoid a delay in the review process. 

    • Each doctoral program may choose to advise the applicant that they are being nominated for this prestigious scholarship. 

    • The Senior Associate Provost for Graduate Education will review the nomination and the notification of decision will be sent no later than one week after the nomination submission. 

      • If the nomination is approved, an offer letter will be emailed to the student via all email addresses provided by the student in Banner (cc: Nomination submitter and the Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS), if applicable), as quickly as possible. 

      • If a top-off stipend amount is provided, the department must send the attached approved stipend addendum (p.6) to the student after the initial scholarship offer has been made copying the Graduate Division ( The stipend addendum template can be found on the Graduate Division’s website.  

      • Original hard copies can be mailed to the student upon request. An address and phone number must be provided. 

  • Nominees are granted a maximum of three weeks to respond to the offer letter (exact date will be specified). - Council of Graduate Schools deadline – April 15, then 3 weeks. 

  • If the nominee declines the scholarship in writing (or via email), another nomination may be submitted, if it is received by the July 1 deadline noted above.   

Processing the Scholarship


  • Scholar returns the signed offer letter and top-off addendum (if applicable) to the Graduate Division (via traditional mail or email) within the timeframe specified on the offer letter. 

  • The Graduate Division will email the Scholar to confirm receipt, the nomination submitter will be cc’d as notification of the acceptance of the scholarship. 

  • Scholars must complete the hiring paperwork through the HR onboarding system for the assistantship. An email will be sent with information on how to go about completing this process. See Graduate Student Hiring and Support Guidelines on the Provost website for additional information. 

  • Upon notification that hiring paperwork is complete, the Graduate Division or the academic department/school/college (based on the selected funding model) will: 

    • Complete the Electronic Approval (EPAF).  

    • Complete the top-off stipend spreadsheet (department/school/college budget team – fully funded model only).  

      • Access to the spreadsheet link will be sent out to the department financial liaisons before the EPAF upload deadline.  

    • Post the tuition grant. 

    • Code eligible students for subsidized health insurance (Graduate Division only). 

Scholarship Expectations and Renewal


  • Under the guidance of their research mentor, each scholar must submit a yearly progress report by June 1, summarizing all curricular, research and scholarly activities aligned with their doctoral studies.   

  • Scholars are expected to conduct research or work aligned with their Doctoral degree over each summer. 

  • Scholars are expected to present their research and showcase their work in at least one Mason Graduate Event (e.g. 3MT, Mason Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference, etc.) during the duration of their scholarship. 

  • Scholars who have advanced to candidacy are required to apply and participate if accepted in the annual Three Minute Thesis® competition held each fall semester.  

  • Scholars do not have to request the renewal of their scholarship. 

  • Renewal requirements (verified after spring semester by the Graduate Division): 

    • Cumulative GPA of 3.5 (GPA’s will be checked at the end of each semester) 

    • Departmental support for the renewal based on a program-specific written metric for degree completion and excellence 

    • Renewal letters must be uploaded to the portal to the Graduate Division by June 15. 

    • Renewal notifications will be emailed to students from the Graduate Division between June 16 – July 1.  

  • Local academic units must notify the student and the Graduate Division if a scholar is not eligible for renewal by June 15.  

  • Students found not to be eligible for renewal by their local academic unit will have one level of appeal available to the Senior Associate Provost for Graduate Education up to five business days following notification. 

Additional Information


  • Scholars desiring to terminate their scholarship should speak with their advisors. If it is decided that the student will terminate his/her Presidential Scholarship, notify the Graduate Division (via email: 

  • Scholars in noncompliance of the terms outlined within the offer letter are subject to scholarship termination (initiated by the Graduate Division). 


  • The Graduate Division will only support the student for seven semesters (Spring plus three years). This decision will likely have implications on the program’s recruitment schedule. Please contact the Graduate Division ( with questions. 


  • Any presidential scholar may request to use up to two consecutive semesters during year 2, 3, or 4 of their presidential scholarship as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). 

  • Terms: 

    • All requests must be submitted at the time of nomination renewal with a justification about why a GTA position is for the best interest of the scholar and their professional and career goals. 

    • All GTA positions will be funded by the Graduate Division as long as the respective GTA line from the academic unit is being used towards another doctoral student.  

    • All presidential scholarship terms and conditions as described above apply.