What Are Graduate Assistantships?

Graduate assistantships

Graduate assistantships (GAs) offer students an unparalleled opportunity to collaborate with faculty mentors and expand discipline-specific knowledge. Students accepted into GAs perform tasks ranging from teaching to research that aim to enhance the student’s academic experience and facilitate progress toward earning their degree. GAs are awarded through a competitive process which evaluates each applicant based on academic merit and potential for success within their chosen field.

Graduate students enrolled in their respective departments can apply to be Graduate Assistants in those departments, with individual departments setting their own hiring numbers, application processes, deadlines and expectations for GAs. Generally, departments prefer candidates with prior experience in their area of study as well as an outstanding undergraduate GPA for these positions.

GAs typically receive financial stipends and full or partial tuition scholarships. Students receiving GA awards should consider how it may impact their loan eligibility or tax status before consulting the Office of Graduate Student Affairs (OGSA) for further advice.

Graduate school GA funding differs significantly from undergraduate programs; departments and faculty members usually hold onto their funds directly and can offer positions tailored specifically to student interests and student needs. To gain information on possible GA opportunities in graduate school programs, it’s wise to speak with both your graduate coordinator and any professors whose research you find interesting.

GAs should attend departmental meetings and seminars related to their assignment, complete relevant coursework or exams in their area of study and carry out their duties professionally in accordance with their contract.

Graduate teaching assistants (TAs) are responsible for lecturing and providing instruction within classroom-based settings. Their duties typically include creating course materials and conducting observations; additional tasks may include evaluating student performance, monitoring attendance and grading students.

Research assistants (RAs) typically oversee various aspects of research projects in fields related to their discipline. This may involve designing or populating databases, conducting experiments or literature reviews. Furthermore, research assistants must often attend departmental seminars and lectures as well as participate in team research meetings or projects.

Both TAs and RAs are evaluated three times throughout the year by their supervisors on various competencies. Evaluation results are then discussed with student employees before setting goals to promote growth and development. Weekly newsletters feature GAs with their supervisors, provide resources, and promote open dialogue about mentoring relationships – check out Synergistic Supervision to learn more!


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