Most entering graduate students are supported by a teaching assistantship or a grading assistantship. The teaching done by graduate assistantships is an important part of the overall instructional effort of the department. Such teaching is also a professional benefit to the graduate student, since it strengthens a studentís mastery of the subject. After successful completion of the coursework, students are usually taken into one of the research groups and may be supported by a research grant while working toward a degree. Students who have not yet demonstrated proficiency in English are appointed to a grading assistantship.
Appointments for teaching and grading assistantships for entering students are usually made for the twelve-month academic year beginning in August. The awards are based on faculty evaluation of the applicantís undergraduate record, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation. If a student plans to apply for financial support, transcripts and GRE scores should be sent directly to the Department for early evaluation. For the 2007-2008 academic year, the twelve-month stipend will be $20,000 for a first-year teaching graduate assistant, and grading assistantships at a level of $17,250 was offered to those international students who are unable to pass the required Test of Spoken English, which must be taken on arrival. Both types of graduate assistant appointments come with a waiver for tuition fees (see fees below), so the students are only responsible for the student fees ($1000 for the 2006-2007 academic year). Graduate assistants register for a minimum of nine (9) credit hours.
The Department does its best to offer financial support to all graduate students in good standing for at least 5 years. However, from time to time, there may be occasions when Teaching Assistantships are limited, and an advisor has no funds to support students as Research Assistants. In this case, the Graduate School Advisory Committee (GSAC) will recommend to the Chair of the Department a prioritization of the students who require Teaching Assistantships. In general they will:
Give priority to junior students over senior students; in particular first year students are guaranteed full support for 12 months.
Give priority to students working with physics faculty, over those working with faculty who have other home departments.
Give priority to those who have demonstrated excellence as a teacher.