An assistantship is a part-time job involving teaching or research duties. Not only does it provide practical training for graduate students, but the pay may include a full or partial tuition waiver plus a small living expense stipend.
Graduate students with teaching assistantships may be expected to teach a class, hold office hours, run tutorial sessions, lead discussion groups, grade student assignments and exams, supervise lab sections and answer student email messages.
Based on the 2011-2012 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), 5.6% of graduate students received teaching assistantships, with an average value of $11,572. A similar percentage of graduate students (5.8%) received research assistantships, with an average value of $14,314. Teaching and research assistantships are much more common among students in doctoral degree programs than Master’s degree programs. Almost a third of Ph.D. students (30.3%, $16,857) had research assistantships and almost a quarter (24.2%, $14,155) had teaching assistantships, compared with 2.9% and 3.8% of students in Master’s degree programs, respectively.
Teaching and research assistantships may be offered by the student’s faculty advisor or through the student’s graduate academic department. Research assistantships may be tied to the student’s academic advisor’s research contracts.