Graduate Assistantship (GA)

"Graduate Assistantship (GA)" submitted by SchoolGrantsfor Editorial Team and last updated on Thursday 21st July 2011

The teaching assistantship offers students opportunities to learn how to teach - and develop an excellent understanding of the course material - in exchange for tuition remission and often a stipend.

A graduate assistant (GA) is a position who serves in a support role (assistantship) at a university, usually while completing post-graduate education. The individual typically assists professors or with instructional responsibilities as teaching assistants, coaches with an athletic team, or university department such as housing, academic advising or works in another entry-level capacity.

There are two types of graduate assistantships: teaching assistantships (TA) and research assistantships (RA). TAs and RAs receive a full or partial tuition waiver and a small living stipend. TAs are required to perform teaching duties. RAs are required to perform research duties, not necessarily related to the student's thesis research.

A graduate assistantship is a way for graduate students to work for their university in their chosen field, generally being paid a small stipend in combination with the bonus of free tuition. Graduate assistantships are quite competitive, and vary by university and provide support that enables graduate students to complete their degrees in a timely fashion.

Graduate assistant pay ranges are established each fiscal year by the University's central administration and approved by Board of Regents. Each GA is appointed to a rate of pay within this range. There are a number of different types of graduate assistantships available. As a graduate Teaching Assistant (or TA), you can typically expect to receive an annual stipend between roughly $6,000 and $15,000, as well as free tuition. At some larger universities, you may be eligible for additional benefits. In essence, as a TA, you're paid to pursue your degree!

Assistantships provide much needed experience and a specific area of competency, aiding the graduate in his or her search for a career in the future. Graduate assistants are sometimes called Graduate teaching assistants or TA's. Not all Graduate assistants teach or assist in research. A graduate assistantship will require an application process, a minimum grade point average (GPA), and typically at least one interview. Though most graduate assistants work in their own department, i.e. an English major will work in the English department, this is not always the case. Sometimes one department will require the skills of another, which can be another great way to get varying types of experience.

Most departments routinely evaluate graduate admission applications for the possibility that the student can fill an available assistantship position. The department will contact newly accepted students to inform them if a funding offer is available. Current students in search of funding should check with their departments to discuss the availability of assistantships and assistantship eligibility requirements.