Graduate Assistantships

The Department offers graduate assistantships to both MA and Ph.D. students.

Assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis. The Department uses a number of criteria in deciding which students will receive them. The Department seeks assistants who are going to be full-time students, who have excellent academic records, and who have established a record of service if they have held an assistantship previously.

Graduate assistants are assigned to work as research or teaching assistants to faculty members. They are expected to work roughly 8 hours per week. TAs typically help with attendance, grading, and course management, while RAs may work with faculty members on research projects in various capacities. We have more students working as RAs than as TAs.

The current average assistantship for doctoral level students is $14,000 for the academic year. The stipend for M.A. students is $4,000 for the academic year. Additional funding may be available in the summer. Special awards beyond the base amount may be given to exceptional Ph.D. students. All assistantships come with full waiver of tuition and matriculation fees, although they do require payment of student fees. Assistantships are renewable yearly.

With satisfactory progress through the program and with satisfactory performance as an assistant, students may receive up to two years of assistantship support for the M.A. program, and up to four years for the Ph.D. In addition, students in the Direct Admit Ph.D. program will normally receive a fifth year of funding.  An additional year for the Ph.D. may be requested. Recipients of assistantships who fail to provide the required services or maintain the required credit hours may have their assistantships terminated during the academic year.

The deadline for admission for students who wish to apply for an assistantship is February 1 for Fall admission, though we will continue to consider applicants up to the regular admission deadline as long as funds are available. The application form for assistantships is available here: GRA & GTA Application Form. Please submit it with your application materials.

There may be assistantships opportunities outside the department for students not awarded a departmental assistantship.  Interested students should contact the Director of Graduate Studies for more information. Applicants can also refer to the College’s website for additional funding opportunities (, and admitted students can access the university’s jobs portal for information about assistantship and employment opportunities beyond the political science department (


Assistantship Requirements

Assistantships are for full-time students only, defined as students carrying a 3-course load each semester. Graduate assistants are expected to register each semester for a total of 18 credit hours - nine hours of coursework, and nine hours of graduate research or teaching internship. Students must obtain authorization from the Graduate Director in order to register for research or teaching internship hours. Students who have already completed their coursework should register for a combination of thesis research hours and research or teaching internship hours to reach 18 hours per semester.

Priority for assistantships goes to Ph.D. students, but we generally expect to fund a number of MA candidates each year as well. An assistantship comes with a tuition waiver and a stipend. Assistantships are renewable each year, contingent upon the student's performance and budget contraints. We expect to fund Ph.D. students for up to 4-5 years, and MA students for a maximum of 2 academic years. Doctoral students are funded over the 12-month calendar year rather than the academic year, and are expected to work during the summer months. While the department encourages students on assistantship not to work outside the department, we do understand that some outside work may be necessary. To ensure that this does not interfere with assistantship responsiblities or progress to degree, however, students on assistantship should not work more than 12 hours per week outside the department. 

Advanced Ph.D. students (i.e. those mostly finished with their coursework) typically have an opportunity to teach one or more classes on their own before going to the job market. All graduate students teaching a course (doctoral students only) must take or have taken the departments teacher training course, and have served previously as a teaching assistant. Upon invitation from a faculty member, students may also team teach an upper-division course with a faculty mentor.