PSD Fellowship Challenge

The COVID-19 pandemic has a direct impact on almost every aspect of our lives and institutions, and the Physical Sciences Division at the University of Chicago is no exception. The virus’ impact on the global economic outlook—specifically the resulting economic employment anxieties—has created an unprecedented issue for the Division: we will have 93 more doctoral students than planned for in the 2020–21 academic year, at an additional cost of $3.6 million to the Division.

This is a direct result of the timeline of virus awareness in the United States and how it aligned with the University’s admissions calendar. Between making offers to potential students (September 2019–January 2020) and the deadline for acceptance (April 15, 2020), the nation’s reaction to the novel coronavirus moved into high gear. Our data suggest that this impacted student yield across the board in our doctoral programs. Budget ramifications aside, this is a good problem to have: these students have chosen the PSD at the University of Chicago, and the result will be an even richer academic environment with all of the vibrancy and engagement that a larger class of doctoral candidates can provide.

In response, the PSD is mounting a significant campaign to close its expected funding gap and support these students and others like them. A generous alumnus and his wife have committed $1.8 million as a challenge gift to inspire PSD alumni and supporters to help meet this need. Your gift to the PSD Fellowship Challenge will be matched dollar-for-dollar, and the impact of your gift will be doubled. To make your gift now, visit our giving page.

  • 2019–20: 838 total students
  • 2020–21: 931 total students
  • Our three largest departments—Chemistry, Computer Science, and Physics—will see a combined total of 66 additional students
  • 60‑plus additional first‑year doctoral students
  • Approximately 30 advanced students have delayed graduation for a year with the endorsement of their advisors.
  • Stipends or teaching assistantships: $35,000/student
  • Health insurance premiums: $5,000/student
  • Total (90 students): $3.6 million.

For more information about supporting the PSD Fellowship Challenge or to sponsor a student, please contact the
PSD Development Team.