Graduate Assistantships

All Ph.D. students receiving department funding are required to serve as a graduate assistant (GA) for both research and teaching apprenticeships.  These apprenticeships are an integral element of the department's emphasis on both research design and methods and the development of the skills needed for an academic career.

Except when serving as a teaching assistant for the department, as described below, students will serve as a GA under the supervision of their faculty member. This GA apprenticeship begins in the Ph.D. student's first semester of residence and continues for a minimum of four semesters, exclusive of summer sessions.  Each Ph.D. student is assigned to work under the supervision of a faculty member as an apprentice scholar-researcher.

Assignments of Ph.D. graduate assistants to faculty supervisors will attempt, whenever possible, to link each student with a faculty member who specializes in one or more areas in which the student has expressed an interest.  One objective of the research apprenticeship is to have the student serve as an apprentice scholar-researcher.  In many instances a graduate assistant's faculty supervisor will become the student's academic advisor.  

In addition, to ensure that all Ph.D. students obtain experience in the classroom, beginning with the incoming class in August 2015, all Ph.D. students receiving four years of funding from the department will be required to support a class for three semesters as a teaching assistant (TA) at some point before the end of the spring semester in their fourth year in residence.  This experience would include grading, help sessions for students, and must include at least one formal session in front of students, preferably in a regularly scheduled class session.  A faculty member teaching the course would serve as the student’s mentor for the FPP program for that year.  Experience with summer courses do not count towards this requirement.  Students receiving external funding or the Maxwell Dissertation Fellowship will be exempt from TA requirements while receiving those funds and will have their overall TA requirement reduced.

To ensure that the TA needs of all faculty are equitably met, TA allocations will be made by the chair and Ph.D. director.  Students will serve as the GA to their faculty mentor in those semesters when they are not serving the department as a TA.  Faculty members may choose to have Ph.D. students do additional TA work as part of their GA responsibility.  These assignments will not count towards the three semester requirement, so as to ensure that TAs are available for all faculty as needed.

As described in the graduate assistant's letter of appointment and in the Benefits and Responsibilities information, which accompanies appointment letters, an assistant is required to perform her or his duties satisfactorily in order to retain the assistantship.  Therefore, it is important that each graduate assistant understand clearly what her or his supervisor expects from the assistant.  

The maximum time commitment involved in a research apprenticeship is 20 hours per week while classes are in session.

While certain faculty needs for graduate assistants with particular skills must be satisfied, a Ph.D. graduate assistant may request a change in assignment and supervisor if such a change is likely to serve their interests better.  Normally, however, a graduate assistant is expected to remain in his or her current assignment for an entire academic year. The desire to change mentors should be first discussed with the Ph.D. coordinator. 

University procedures do not permit the department to guarantee assistantships for more than a year at a time.  Nevertheless, when the faculty admits a student to the Ph.D. program and awards a graduate assistantship, its intention is to renew the assistantship for additional years of study if the student remains in good academic standing and performs his or her assistantship duties satisfactorily.

The department does not renew graduate assistantships for a fifth year.  Although there are a few fellowships for which advanced Ph.D. students are eligible, including the Maxwell Dissertation Fellowship, funding beyond year four should not be assumed.  You are strongly encouraged to apply for an external dissertation fellowship for additional funding, even within the first four years of study.  Students are encouraged to look closely in their second and third years at available dissertation fellowships and to discuss possible fellowships with their faculty mentor.  While we cannot guarantee funding beyond year four, students who have received external funding in their first four years will receive priority consideration for any additional funding that may be available after year four.