Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) Awards and Other Sources of Funding

GRA Awards

GRA Awards are provided to full-time students who are candidates for a J.S.D. primarily on the basis of scholastic ability and promise of
achievement. Other sources of funding are encouraged and highly valued by both Cornell Law School and by future employers. The ability to obtain external funding is noted in a very positive light for a future career in academics.

Cornell Law School aims to provide a full tuition waiver, stipend for living expenses, and health insurance premiums (if needed) to all first and second year J.S.D. students in residence, contingent on satisfactory academic progress.  The tuition waiver, living expense stipend, and health insurance premiums are determined by the Graduate School and/or Cornell Health. If a student has sufficient health insurance coverage, they must notify the GFA and submit a SHP waiver request to Cornell Health. Only upon denial of coverage will the Law School reinstate health insurance premiums. The GRA award will not cover expenses such as CU student health fee, late fees, or any other fee you may incur.

J.S.D. GRA awards are limited to three years.  Additionally, awards are not guaranteed for all three years, as funding decisions are based on a combination of financial need and ongoing assessment of the J.S.D. candidate’s progress towards the degree and research.  Support in the third year may come from a combination of GRA funds and appointment as a Graduate Student Lecturer.  The first two years are presumptively funded depending on academic performance constituting good standing in the J.S.D. program and the Graduate School.  Third year funding is conditional on academic progress and availability of funds.

External Funding

Demonstrated (and ideally, successful) attempts by J.S.D. students to secure alternative sources of funding throughout the degree program are highly valued by both Cornell Law School and by future employers.  If you secure outside funding, notify both Financial Aid and the Graduate Legal Studies office as soon as you accept.  An external fellowship or award will replace fellowships offered by Cornell Law School, but your status as a scholar will be significantly enhanced.

Student Employment

Per CU Policy 1.3 Graduate Student Assistantships, a GRA may accept employment of no more than eight hours per week, including assistantships, hourly student appointments, or outside employment. Since a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) is an academic appointment focused on thesis or other degree-related research there are limits imposed to ensure students can dedicate the necessary time to maintain satisfactory degree progress.

Appointment as a CLS Graduate Student Lecturer is contingent upon your ability to hold an assistantship under current university policy and federal law, including successful completion of Form I-9.  If you are awarded a first-time lecturer position, you will need to review and complete any Cornell Center for Teaching Innovation (CTI) requirements prior to assuming instruction.

Conference Grants

The Graduate School provides grants to all graduate students (in residence or in absentia) who are invited to present papers at professional conferences.  Award amounts are based on geographic location, not actual expenses (i.e., a student attending a conference in Italy may receive the full $700, but a student attending a conference in Washington, D.C., may receive $225).  Awards will not, under any circumstances, exceed $700.  The Graduate School tries to fund most requests from students who meet the eligibility criteria.  Eligibility requirements may be found on the Conference Grant Application.

A student must submit the Conference Grant Application within 30 days after the START date of the conference.  It is strongly encouraged that students submit their application materials as early as possible, preferably by the first of the month prior to the conference date month to be approved for funding.  For example, if a conference is April 25th, the form should be received by March 1st.  Students are limited to one conference award per year.