What Are Graduate Assistantships?

Graduate assistantships

Graduate assistantships are on-campus jobs in which students receive both tuition remission and a stipend, making this an attractive opportunity. Available across academic departments and offices on campus, those wishing to be considered should check off the box on their graduate admissions application to indicate interest. Afterward, contact their desired department for consideration.

Working as a GA not only offers financial compensation, but it can also give you valuable professional experience and open doors to future job opportunities. Most importantly, working as a GA allows you to network among graduate students and professors as a source of recommendations for employment after graduation. Furthermore, unlike off-campus part-time jobs that take up time away from your studies – working at GA allows for seamless management of responsibilities while still working toward your degree!

Most GA positions focus on teaching, research, or administrative support and have similar duties; however, the amount and number of hours may differ depending on the type of assistantship appointed to. GAs usually receive a formal job description from their department in which they were appointed stating the hours per week and total number of weeks responsible; course/section assignments; faculty member overseeing their teaching duties and overall project contributions to which they will contribute.

The selection and appointment process is rigorous. Students applying for assistantships must meet a set of criteria in order to be considered, such as an interview and recommendation by faculty or staff members in their department; an appropriate background; competitive GPA; evidence that they are making progress toward their degree program, among others. In order to retain an assistantship, matriculated in the degree program for which they were appointed; also being required to participate in their employer’s health and welfare benefits program as well as paying applicable taxes may all apply.

Though a GA stipend can provide a substantial increase to your income, it’s important to keep in mind that it only covers part of your expenses. Students must still cover food, housing and other essential living costs when planning for academic year expenses. Therefore, when budgeting, planning ahead for these costs can make all the difference!

Balance can be challenging when trying to manage their GA responsibilities along with coursework and personal obligations such as family or jobs, which makes establishing communications early with faculty and staff in your department regarding scheduling conflicts early and often is essential. Though faculty may accommodate scheduling conflicts when possible, it cannot always be guaranteed. Also it’s essential that new incoming students recognize that their duties could prove demanding at times; making time to learn these responsibilities before semester begins is vital so you can adjust quickly and efficiently to life on campus.


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