Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA)
Graduate Teaching Assistants are students who instruct undergraduates. Teaching conducted by GTA's constitutes an important part of the instruction at MSU.
Duties of Graduate Teaching Assistants
- actual instruction in a classroom setting
- instruction in recitation sections
- conducting help sessions and holding office hours to advise students on class assignment
- assisting with laboratory set-up
- grading papers, exams, laboratory reports, and homework
- other duties pertaining to the instructional mission of MSU
GTAs are usually assigned to work from 15 to 20 hours per week. Funding is derived from each college's instructional budget. GTAs enrolled in six or more credits are eligible for tuition waivers from the Graduate School.
Graduate Research Assistants (GRA)
Research conducted by Graduate Research Assistants (GRA) is at the heart of a significant portion of the total sponsored research at MSU. GRAs conduct research in a relevant area of their major course of study, under the direction of a faculty member.
Graduate student research is typically part of an advisor's externally funded research program. GRAs are expected to design and carry out a specific project, which usually forms the basis for a thesis and advances faculty research.
Duties of Graduate Research Assistants
- purchasing, installing, maintaining and operating scientific instrumentation and / or computer equipment
- locating reading, and summarizing pertinent research articles
- reflecting on the state of the field and proposing new research problems
- performing experiments, calculations, and analyzing the results and disseminating new knowledge orally or in written publications
- attending conferences to present results and collaborate with other researchers
- training and supervising less experienced research personnel
GRAs are expected to work 15 to 20 hours per week. Any additional time is normally associated with their academic research. Primary sources of funding are faculty grants or contracts sponsored by federal, state, or private sources.
Graduate research or teaching assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis given the applicants qualifications and potential ability to perform the duties of each position. Only applicants who have been accepted by the College of Graduate Studies as regular graduate students may be awarded assistantships. However, being accepted does not mean that a research or teaching assistantship is automatically awarded. If an assistantship is awarded, it will be stated in the acceptance letter.
Teaching assistantships are awarded based on the needs of the department and whether a graduate student can effectively communicate in English to undergraduate students. International students must pass a "speaking" test to qualify for a TA position.
Research assistantships are generally funded by faculty research grants. Individual faculty decide which admitted graduate students will receive these assistantships. Thus, it is a good idea for applicants to contact individual faculty members via email to discuss research interests and potential research assistantships. More information can be found on the department's research webpage.
If an assistantship is not offered in the acceptance letter, then one semester and possibly up to one year in residence will be required before an equitable evaluation of an application for assistance can be made. The number of applicants exceeds the number of assistantships. As a result, it is not realistic for first year students to expect, or count on financial aid from our departments if an assistantship has not been initially offered.