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What Are the Best Tips for Earning a Graduate Assistantship?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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To earn a graduate assistantship, a student will typically need to be enrolled in a graduate program and both have and maintain a reasonably high level of academic achievement while enrolled in school. Depending on the university at which a student wishes to obtain a graduate assistantship, he or she may also need to submit to an interview process, particularly if he or she wishes to work with a particular faculty member. As the process for becoming a graduate assistant varies by school and academic department, it is a good idea for applicants to contact the school prior to filling out an application to find out the school’s process for selecting students for these positions.

Many graduate students seek to subsidize their tuition and improve their curriculum vitae by working as a graduate assistant during school. Depending on their areas of study as well as the policies of the educational institutions at which they work, these students may be able to obtain teaching or research experience while they work on their own degrees. For many graduate students, obtaining a graduate assistantship is an important way of reducing the cost of their education.

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Prospective graduate students will typically begin their efforts to earn a graduate assistantship by researching their availability at the schools to which they apply. Many university websites contain information on assistantship programs, including instructions on how to apply for an assistantship. A student may, for example, be asked to indicate on her program application whether she is interested in becoming a graduate assistant. The school may also restrict graduate assistantships to those students who have strong academic records or who have demonstrated a capacity for completing quality research as undergraduates. Working as a teaching assistant as an undergraduate may also increase a student’s chances of obtaining a position as a graduate assistant.

Students who are already enrolled in a graduate program should contact the head of their academic department for information on becoming a graduate assistant. Many departments have their own rules for awarding assistantships, so the student should pay careful attention to his department’s policies. Typically, a student will be required to earn good grades while in school and may also need to be enrolled in a certain number of classes to earn or maintain his graduate assistantship. Students who are unable to uphold the required level of performance may lose their assistantship, along with the financial support that it offers.

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