Graduate assistantships offer students the unique opportunity to gain valuable work experience and earn money while in graduate school. These positions provide access to various disciplines, provide invaluable practical work experience and enable you to finance your studies while earning a stipend that’s usually tax-exempt.
How to Find a Graduate Assistantship
The initial step is speaking to your graduate adviser and asking about assistantship opportunities available within the department or program you are interested in. You may also search job postings online and reach out to faculty members who might need assistants.
Networking, persistence and professionalism are essential when applying for a graduate assistantship. You’ll need to build connections within the department as well as those who can recommend you for future opportunities.
Applying for Assistantships
Graduate assistantship applications vary based on the department or program and require various application processes and deadlines. Some require applicants to submit a resume/cover letter along with a statement of interest; others ask for a personal statement outlining why you want the assistantship and what contribution you plan to make during your employment.
You may also reach out to the director of student services at any campus organization to see if there are any graduate assistant positions available at that time. Many colleges and universities have websites where they advertise job openings for both undergraduate and graduate students alike.
Graduate assistantships come in two primary forms: research assistantships (RA) and teaching assistantships (TA). In addition to providing a stipend, these positions often come with tuition waivers, subsidized health insurance plans and an often tax-exempt living stipend.
Research assistantships are an excellent opportunity for professionals to gain professional experience and collaborate directly with faculty on a research project. While they tend to be more prevalent in STEM fields, research assistantships can also be found within many graduate programs.
Teaching assistantships offer students an unparalleled chance to learn from experienced instructors and hone their teaching skills while working closely with a professor. Furthermore, these positions often come with additional stipends and tuition waivers which enable them to finish their degree sooner than if they hadn’t received such support.
Financial aid for graduate students is typically decentralized, meaning individual departments manage the funds for graduate assistantships and other academic awards. This distinction stands in stark contrast to undergraduate programs where the university’s financial aid office administers all money for students within that discipline.
The stipends provided to assistantships often don’t cover all expenses, so it is wise to seek additional funding sources for your graduate education. Scholarships, fellowships and other forms of financial aid may be available from nonprofit organizations or companies that support research or teaching activities.
No matter the type of assistantship you seek, make sure the position fits with your graduate goals and academic objectives. This is an essential consideration since it will influence your progress academically and potentially prevent you from obtaining your degree on schedule.