Applicants interested in being considered for Fellowship and/or Assistantship opportunities for the Fall term, must have a complete online application with required supporting documents by no later than January 15th. The Department of Physics does not generally offer assistantship opportunities for the Spring term.
Assistantship opportunities may be available as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) or Graduate Research Assistant (GRA). Current GTAs receive an annual stipend of $22,307. The annual stipend for current GRAs may range from $20,000 to $33,245. GTAs on a full-time assistantship (or two half-time assistantships) receive free tuition (in the manner of a tuition waiver) and free health insurance. Tuition coverage for GRAs will depend on their advisor’s funds. In essence, as a GTA or GRA, you’re paid to pursue your degree!
The financial rewards of a GTA position are only part of the story. You’ll gain valuable experience in and out of the classroom and have the opportunity to interact closely with faculty members in your department. The relationships you develop with your professors are crucial to your future success. Therefore, working with them more closely, as colleagues of a sort, can help you to establish yourself and become better known within the department.
A teaching assistantship is no “free ride” of course. While the duties of a TA will vary, you can expect to be responsible for one or more of the following:
- teaching or assisting with one or more sections of a course
- running laboratory sessions
- grading undergraduate student papers and exams
- holding regular office hours and meeting with students
- conducting study and review sessions
- proctoring mid-term and/or final exams
If you plan to pursue an academic career, testing the waters as a GTA can prove to be an invaluable learning experience where you can gain some practical on-the-job skills. Even if your career path will take you beyond the ivory tower, the position can still be excellent way to pay your way through graduate school, develop leadership skills, and get some great experience.
The faculty in the Department of Physics offer several GRA positions. Some of these positions are filled with incoming students, but most students start in the Physics PhD program as GTAs. Typically, after a year as a GTA, students find an advisor who financially supports them through a GRA position that may (or may not) include tuition and fee coverage. As a GRA you are conducting research, which ultimately leads to a doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis.
We expect that students and their advisors present their research at conferences and publish in peer-reviewed journals. In addition, faculty in research centers like NSTC, AMPAC and CREOL often work with Physics students as GRAs.