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Graduate Assistantships

Research Assistantships and Teaching Assistantships are available  in many graduate departments to top applicants each year.

Assistantships are usually accompanied with a work commitment generally 20 hours a week. Students are usually awarded a tuition waiver and stipend for the work provided.

Interested graduate applicants should contact the department of interest directly for current funding, requirements and application procedures.

Graduate students may also hold employment in other capacities (i.e., student employment such as custodial, cafeteria help, tutoring, as well as classified, professional or adjunct positions). 

Any non-assistantship position must be approved by the College of Graduate Studies prior to accepting employment. (Refer to the section below on Other Student Employment.)

Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA)

Graduate Teaching Assistants are those graduate students who are involved in instruction, usually of undergraduates. Teaching conducted by GTAs constitutes a significant portion of the total instruction at MSU. Qualified GTAs perform instructional duties in an area of their particular expertise, most often within their home departments, although qualified GTAs may perform teaching duties outside their departments.

Duties include:

  1. actual instruction in a classroom setting;

  2. instruction in recitation sections;

  3. conducting help sessions and holding office hours to advise students on class assignments;

  4. assisting with laboratory setup;

  5. grading papers, exams, laboratory reports, and homework; and

  6. other duties pertaining to the instructional mission of MSU.

MSU faculty members oversee all GTA teaching duties. GTAs are usually assigned to work from 15 to 20 hours per week. Funding is derived from each college's instructional budget through the State of Montana Budget Office's funding for Higher Education.

GTA tuition waivers are available on a limited basis, and eligibility does not guarantee a waiver. By approval of the department or the Graduate Dean, graduate assistantships may be terminated, tuition waivers withdrawn, or salary rates changed at any time.

Appointment approval and continuation authority reside with the Graduate Dean. The College of Graduate Studies is in no way obligated to award tuition waivers based on promises made by departments.

Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs)

Research conducted by Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) 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.

The research, often in consultation with the student's major advisor, is usually a component of the advisor's research that is directly supported by external funding. GRAs are expected to design and carry out a specific research project, which usually forms the basis for a thesis and advances the faculty member's research at the same time. The research and related duties performed by GRAs directly support the research activities of entire departments at MSU.

Duties include:

  1. purchasing, installing, maintaining and operating scientific instrumentation and /or computer equipment;

  2. locating, reading, and summarizing pertinent research articles;

  3. modeling;

  4. reflecting on the state of the field and proposing new research problems;

  5. performing experiments, calculations, and analyzing the results and disseminating new knowledge orally or in written publications;

  6. attending conferences to present results and collaborate with other researchers; and

  7. 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 from the faculty member's grant or contract funds sponsored by federal agencies, state granting agencies, private industrial funds, and other private sources. Additional sources include departmental returned indirect costs, scholarship and endowment funds.