GSOC Stipend Transparency Project

A grassroots conversation about the reality of graduate worker stipends at the University of Pittsburgh.

Pitt releases a stipend summary of the four major job classes (GSR, GSA, TF, and TA) every year through Graduate Student Resources, but the data are not as transparent as we’d like.

This project is made possible by pooling together our own stipend data. If you’re a graduate student employee at the University of Pittsburgh, please consider filling out this form and providing your stipend data.

Stipend Rates, according to Pitt

The following table of per-semester rates is lifted directly from Pitt's Graduate Student Resources.

Year GSA TA TF GSR (Min) GSR (Max)
2019–20 $8,030 $9,740 $10,125 $8,030 $11,135
2018–19 $7,720 $9,455 $9,830 $7,720 $10,810
2017–18 $7,530 $9,225 $9,590 $7,530 $10,545
2019–20 $8,030 $9,740 $10,125
2018–19 $7,720 $9,455 $9,830
2017–18 $7,530 $9,225 $9,590
Year GSR (Min) GSR (Max)
2019–20 $8,030 $11,135
2018–19 $7,720 $10,810
2017–18 $7,530 $10,545

Retrieved September 30th, 2019.

Stipend Rates, according to Grads

The following table shows average per-term pay by job class, based on data volunteered by our fellow grads.

$8,185 $8,886 $9,190 $8,503 $9,407 $10,833
$8,185 $8,886 $9,190 $8,503
$9,407 $10,833

Of course, averages don't show the full distribution, so here's an interactive histogram to try to get a more complete picture.

(These plots look a whole lot better and are easier to interact with in a desktop browser than on mobile!)

Are some departments better off than others?

There is a fairly wide range, but the majority (~70%) make between $8,900 and $9,600 per term. A smaller group makes around $7,200 to $8,400 per term, and only a few make more than $9,600.

There's a common perception that grads in STEM disciplines are better-paid than those in the social sciences and humanities. Looking at the distributions, that doesn’t seem accurate.

Although the very few outliers on the high-end are from STEM departments, the lowest-paid grads are actually a bit more likely to be from STEM disciplines. The vast majority of wages fall in a relatively narrow range regardless of discipline. If you're interested, check out some more detailed stats on this!

We don't currently have enough data to make accurate assessments of average differences in pay between individual departments, but if you want to see what our current data is showing, you can check out that plot here.

Our benefits

As far as we can tell (and according to the Pitt's own resources), everyone in the four main job classes, regardless of department, has the same healthcare and tuition benefits.

There is, however, some other variation in fees, such as GSRs in Electrical and Computer engineering who have to pay lab fees around $380/term.

Where are we getting our data?

We've been collecting appointment letters from fellow grads.

About a third of the letters come from our colleagues on the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC). The rest were released by Pitt’s administration during hearings in which we fought to uphold your status as graduate employees.

The letters we have right now cover 39 different departments. About 57% are from STEM disciplines. Click here to download the raw (though anonymized) data.

Please note that our data are from the last few years. We're confident the kind of trends we're exploring are visible even accounting for the slight yearly incremental raises.

If you're concerned about these sorts of things, we encourage you to explore the more detailed raw data, which include the school year for each appointment.

What we still want to find out…

Contribute to our data

If you're a grad worker at the University of Pittsburgh, please consider filling out this form.

We'll be doing our best to update this site as we continue to get more data.

Our Union

The myth of “stipend leveling” has been particularly effective in misleading some grads away from our union.

Although we are legally prohibited from promising a specific outcome of collective bargaining, no one from GSOC or the USW will ever put forth any proposal that would lower the wages of any grad.

Unions are democratic. Even if the university proposed to raise only the wages of one department, that would need to be agreed upon by the entire bargaining unit.

Especially for STEM grads worried about how a union would affect them, it's important to remember that our bargaining unit is about 70% STEM. We are the union.

As a union, we democratically decide what we're bargaining for -- why would we ever advocate against ourselves?

Will you be voting in our upcoming election?

Please confirm your vote here!

Want to get the word out?

Share your thoughts on twitter with @PittGrads or with the hashtag, #GSOCStipendProject

Want to hear more about our union?

Check out our website.