Our department offers Graduate Assistantships (GAs) to a number of graduate students each year. Graduate Research and Lab Assistants generally work on faculty research projects while Graduate Teaching Assistants may assist with teaching undergraduate courses, grading or perform administrative duties as needed.
An Assistantship includes a $2,000 stipend per semester, as well as a full tuition waiver. Students holding GAs also have a 10% discount at the University Bookstore and may purchase a variety of software at a discount from the Department of Information Systems and Technology (IS&T). The GA does not cover the mandatory student activity fees and health insurance costs.
Since we always consider all students for funding, there is no application process. The faculty work on the assumption that all students are interested in obtaining a GA; students not interested will decline the GA offer made to them. When/If an offer is made and subsequently declined by the student, the Director of Graduate Studies will consult with the rest of the faculty and select somebody else according to faculty needs.
Position yourself to compete for an assistantship
Overall, faculty members tend to select students who have distinguished themselves in their classes, and they usually renew GAs who have performed more than satisfactorily. In most cases faculty members tend to choose one of their own advisees. If they don’t have any or if they need additional assistants, they will ask their colleagues to help them pick a suitable student. When positions become available, new and continuing students are selected on the basis of their qualifications, their skills, their academic performance and GPA and the faculty member’s specific needs.
Renewal of assistantships
We have lots of deserving students, and we can afford to fund only less than 1/3 of them. This means that a lot of great and highly competitive students are not funded. We truly wish we could keep funding everyone; however, our budget is very limited. The faculty evaluate GAs every semester, and only renew those students whose performance as faculty assistants has been stellar. Given the scarcity of funding, renewal is not automatic.
The Role of evaluations
Assistantships positions are contingent upon the choice of individual faculty members. Each semester faculty evaluate their current GAs. After evaluating them using the GRA Evaluation Form, each faculty member gets to choose one or in some cases two assistants for the following semester. The evaluations along with the names of the GAs they have selected are reviewed by the Director of Graduate Studies. All Graduate students are then notified of whether or not they received an assistantship.
GAs are evaluated on a scale–ranging from Poor to Excellent–in the following 5 areas:
5. Potential as a teacher (if applicable)
The faculty are also encouraged to elaborate and comment further if necessary.
NOTE: A copy of the GRA Evaluation Form can be found on the notice board outside the office of Director of Graduate Studies.