Types of Assistantships offered:
Most of the students find assistantship with out much difficulty. The main point that plays a vital role in deciding whether the student gets these assistances is the students ability of excel in his course. There are 5 different kinds of assistantships that a student can seek while applying for admission to these courses They are
Scholarships from external agencies
- Research Assistantships
- Teaching Assistantships
- Tuition Fee-Waiver
These are offered to students brilliant in their studies by third parties. This I the scholarships offered by people to students excelling in their studies but are unable to find sponsorship. The funds from the scholarships help cover either the education or some expense related to education of the student. NeoVeda has a scholarship scheme as an encouragement for students. There also many available resources though which the student can recover most of the money spent on the application procedure.
Fellowships are normally granted to students whom the Universities feel will be resourceful to their departments. A student who has fellowship is paid a stipend along with the exemption of paying the course fee. The student has to only concentrate on his studies and take care of himself. This is the best likely form of assistantship a student can hope to achieve. Though, it has to be said, the competition for the fellowship grants are very tough.
Research Assistantship (RA)
A research assistant is expected to assist a specific professor with his/her research, writing papers etc. It is crucial that the student puts in a total of 10 – 20 hrs every week, besides his study timings. Through RA the student may gain partial or total wrap up of his tuition fee and also earn a stipend.
Teaching Assistantship (TA)
Sometimes the students are assigned with helping a professor in his teaching tasks. In such cases the student would be required to conduct tutorial or correct the homework of students. The student would be required to put in about 10 to 20 hrs a week for his TA job. The deciding quality in getting TA is the student’s proficiency over English and how well he is able to communicate his thoughts.
Earning within the campus
Students who are brilliant in their study group occasionally get partial or full exemption from paying their course fees. In spite of such exemption the department may not be able to support the student due to the lack of funds. Under such circumstances the student is permitted to find a job to support him. Any kind of job in the cafeteria or library or computer lab is permitted, as long as it is within the university or college premises. No job is considered as menial or undignified to the student. The only criterion is that the student is required to put in regular, allotted timings for these jobs.
A key attraction of US universities is that in addition to quality education and research, plenty of funding opportunities exist. Most of the applicants are very much interested in getting funded. While there is no magic wand for funding, it helps to understand the root cause and the reasons behind the existence of funding. Lets start with a trivia quiz:
Q. US Universities provide funding opportunities to local and international students because:
(a) America is a rich country and universities have a lot of money
(b) They want to help bright students from different countries
(c) The funding helps increase the research output and in turn helps enhance the reputation of the universities
(d) Funding helps attract the best and brightest students
d is a good answer, a and b are correct to a very limited extent, but c is the best answer.
It is important to understand the following facts about the funding:
- Funding is available to further the cause of the university, student welfare is a good side-effect of that.
- The keyword is research output. Funding exists where research is done (MS/PhD). Funding is very limited for non-research degree programs (MBA, M Engg, MCS).
- The criteria of funding is the same as admissions – but more stringent.
- All US Universities offer TA RA and Fellowships.
- All US Universities offer admissions with and without funding.
- Higher ranked universities do more research and more research is the primary cause of their high ranking.
- At top universities professors are judged, evaluated and promoted based on their research output, with very little emphasis on the quality of their teaching.
- The best and the brightest are offered fellowships – they typically get paid more than TA or RA salary. The idea is to let the best students focus on research and not be burdened by a 20 hour responsibility.
- While GRE score does not play a crucial role, but there are minimum standards of English prescribed for TA positions. This can be enforced by a higher minimum requirement at the TOEFL and the TSE or a university specific test of spoken English.
Here is what you should understand:
- Your statement of purpose should focus on one thing – your planned research and past activities to support the plan.
- A career goal in research is more coherent for funding rather than a goal of teaching
Opt for research based degrees and the research/thesis option as against non-thesis(project option)
- A degree exactly named MS (Master of Science) is most likely a research based degree. Other variations like MCS (Master of Computer Science) M Engg (Master of Engineering)
- Some universities have policies that prevent MBA students take up assistantship positions in other departments, whereas a non funded MS student is free to do so.
Now the key question: Who gets funded?
- Students with exceptional academic record AMONG those who get admitted.
- Students who have prior research and publications.
- Students who demonstrate a potential and desire for research that matches the goals of the program.
- Students who are good enough to get admitted to, say, 10th ranked program are likely to get funded at the 25th ranked program.
Wisdom Mart key to funding:
- Study and improve your marks CGPA and class rank.
- Participate in research as early as possible and try to publish your work at a reputable journal, else at an ordinary conference.
- Have a genuine interest in research. If you have no interest in research, the funding is not for you.
- Apply wisely with a good distribution of realistic universities as per and below your perceived ability.