There are a number of ways to help finance your graduate education at the University of Texas. Among the types of aid offered are teaching assistantships, research assistantships, departmental fellowships, university fellowships, and federal loans and grants. Each of the aid and fellowships programs has specific eligibility requirements and application guidelines and deadlines.
Graduate students are eligible to receive a total of twelve semesters (Fall and Spring) of support through various university appointments both within and outside of the Department of Government. These appointments may take the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships, graders, or assistant instructorships. Students may be appointed as a teaching assistant for a maximum of ten semesters (of the total twelve permitted). Each appointment is typically for twenty hours. Students with less than thirty hours of graduate coursework at U.T. are permitted to accept university appointments that are less than or equal to twenty hours. Students with more than thirty hours of graduate coursework at UT may accept appointments equal to or less than thirty hours. During the summer sessions, students are permitted to accept appointments up to or less than forty hours regardless of the number of graduate credits they have obtained. However, due to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) restrictions, international students are only permitted appointments up to twenty hours per semester regardless of how many graduate credits they have obtained.
Teaching Assistantships (TA)
The main form of financial aid available to graduate students in the Department of Government is the teaching assistantship. Teaching Assistants teach discussion sections, hold office hours to meet with undergraduate students, and grade exams or papers for professors and instructors who teach courses with large enrollments. This part-time appointment (20 hours per week) provides students with a monthly stipend and, for those students who are not Texas residents, the opportunity to pay tuition at the in-state fee level. Stipends are based upon the highest degree completed prior to September of the year in which a student is appointed. In 2005-2006 students with a B.A. or equivalent degree and less than thirty hours of graduate work received approximately $11,800 for a nine-month appointment and students with a M.A. or equivalent or higher degree or more than 30 hours of graduate work received approximately $13,000 for a nine-month appointment. Teaching Assistants also receive tuition assistance based on the number of hours of the appointment. Tuition assistance covers tuition up to 9 semester hours and most required fees. Payment is made in a lump sum on a semester basis, is paid separately from the monthly stipend, and is subject to applicable tax withholding.
Graduate students can be funded as teaching assistants for ten long semesters. Competitions are held every Spring for all eligible students. Announcements of these competitions are made by the Government Graduate Program Office. All continuing students who wish to be considered for teaching assistantships are required to complete the Department's "Departmental Financial Aid Application Form" available through the Forms link under Program Information. A faculty review committee evaluates applicants on the basis of their performance and progress in the program. The committee evaluates students on the basis of faculty evaluations of their coursework, grades, letters of recommendation, prior teaching assistant performance, evidence of other forms of scholarly activity (e.g., publications, conference papers, etc.), and the student's statement of purpose. Timely completion of program requirements (e.g., second year review, preliminary exams, oral qualifying exam) is also a factor taken into account in allocating financial assistance. The committee is composed of faculty from various fields in the Department. The committee meets in April and final decisions are announced by the end of the month. While no students are guaranteed continuing support, many students receive financial support for a full ten semesters.
Teaching assistantship appointments are available for each semester and students are appointed accordingly. (International students are required to successfully pass the English Proficiency Assessment and Orientation prior to being eligible to be appointed as a teaching assistant or assistant instructor.) A small number of these teaching assistant appointments are available to students who were assigned to assist in the computer laboratory. Requirements and procedures for this appointment are the same as those noted above with the additional requirement of demonstrated computer proficiency.
All TA appointments are subject to University guidelines. Students should be aware of the following conditions:
- Be registered for at least nine semester hours that can be counted toward the graduate degree in the long session and three semester hours during the term of employment during one of the summer sessions. During the summer sessions, teaching assistants need to be registered for three semester hours. Coursework can be taken during either summer session but for the student's appointment to be processed, the student needs to have registered and paid for his/her coursework prior to beginning his/her teaching assistantship. A minimum of 3.0 grade-point average is also required.
- Have no more than one "X" (temporary incomplete) and one "I" (permanent incomplete) or two "X's" at the time of such appointment or reappointment.
- Not be appointed alone or in combination with other appointments for more than 20 hours if the number of graduate credit hours is less than thirty hours and not be appointed for more than 30 hours thereafter. This does not apply to International Students who, due to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service regulations, are limited by J-1 and F-1 visas to appointments of no more than 20 hours.
- Teaching Assistants are assigned shared office space and are expected to schedule a minimum of three hours of office time during which they are available to meet with students. TAs are responsible for maintaining in their possession all course related materials (i.e., completed exams, uncollected papers, etc.) for at least one long semester following the end of the course. If a TA will not be present at the University during that time, they need to give these materials to the faculty member who taught the course.
Students who have been awarded a Teaching Assistantship need to complete University employment and insurance forms which are available through the Government Graduate Program Office before their appointments can be finalized. Those students who are out-of-state residents also need to complete an online Resident Tuition Entitlement Form that permits them to be billed at in-state tuition rates. Students are strongly encouraged to complete the necessary paperwork far in advance of the beginning of their appointment to ensure they will be billed and paid correctly.
Upon completion of a teaching assistant assignment, students will be provided with a Teaching Assistant Evaluation Form to complete and give to the faculty member for whom they have been a TA. These completed evaluations are included in each student's academic file and are reviewed by the Financial Aid Committee in determining teaching assistant awards for the upcoming year.
All students with TA appointments are expected to comply with University regulations and responsibilities related to these appointments including those related to Scholastic Dishonesty and Sexual Harassment. These regulations and policies are available on the Policies and Procedures for Teaching Assistants and Assistant Instructors page on the Office of Graduate Studies website.
For more information, the Office of Graduate Studies has developed the University Resources for Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Assistant Instructors (AIs) webpage with links to various offices on campus that may provide useful resources and services.
Assistant Instructors (AI)
Most years the Department is able to appoint a few senior graduate students as Assistant Instructors. In addition to providing financial support, these positions provide an opportunity for graduate students to develop their teaching skills.
Competition for these appointments is held in the Spring at the same time as the TA competition. Appointments are made by the Chair in consultation with the Graduate Adviser. Applicants are evaluated on the basis of their academic performance in the graduate program and their teaching record at the undergraduate level. Students must submit one letter of recommendation from a faculty member in the Department, teaching evaluations, a course syllabus for an introductory class on American politics, and a copy of their graduate transcript. These appointments are considered official faculty appointments and thus AIs serve as the "instructor of record". Assistant Instructors are required to have successfully completed the GOV 398T Supervision in Teaching course and to have advanced to candidacy prior to their first semester appointment. AIs are supervised during their appointment period by the Graduate Adviser or by another faculty member. Students who are appointed as Assistant Instructors are not eligible to receive a future appointment as a teaching assistant.
University Continuing Fellowships
These awards are made to students who are currently enrolled in a U.T. graduate program. Nominations to the Graduate School are reviewed by the Financial Aid Committee and are submitted by the Graduate Adviser. Awards are based on the student's major accomplishments since entering Graduate School, publications, a well-defined research project, a strong personal statement, and letters of recommendation. Application deadlines are announced late in the Fall semester. For information, go to the University of Texas at Austin Graduate Fellowships webpage.
Malcolm Macdonald Dissertation Fellowships and Summer Research Internships
In the Fall of 1999, the Department of Government implemented a new fellowship program endowed by one the department's former chairs, Professor Malcolm Macdonald. This highly competitive fellowship is reserved for advanced students (ABD) and provides a yearly stipend of $17,000 as well as tuition and a supplementary amount equal to the cost of the premium for student medical insurance. Additionally, all students are able to compete for summer Macdonald Research Internships. These internships will enable students to work closely on a research project with one of the department's faculty members during the summer months. Application deadlines are announced early in the Spring semester.
Joe R. Long Fellowships and Research Awards
A principal benefactor of the Department and University, Mr. Joe R. Long, created a sizable endowment from which one or more Joe R. Long Fellowships, as well as one or more Summer Research Awards are made to worthy incoming or advanced graduate students each year. A Long Fellowship currently provides a stipend of $17,000 for an academic year of study and covers tuition and fees. A Summer Research Award is currently in the amount of $5,000.
Professional Development Awards
Students who present research papers at major conferences may receive up to $300 in travel support from a combination of the Patterson Fellowship Awards and the Professional Development Awards. The support is limited to one conference per student per academic year and is not available to first-year students or students who are not full-time students. Students are required to have their papers posted on the departmental website in order to receive this award.
Public Policy Institute Assistantships
In September 1995, the Department of Government, with the support and funding of the Texas Legislature, established the Public Policy Institute. The Irma Rangel Public Policy Institute oversees graduate-level research seminars designed around faculty supervised research projects involving public policy issues salient to the state of Texas. It offers an opportunity for graduate students to acquire hands-on experience in conducting public policy research. Appropriately qualified students who are enrolled in the seminar are eligible for graduate research assistantships for one or two semesters, and also for the summer. Graduate research assistantships obtained during the Fall and/or Spring semesters are counted towards the total semester eligibility requirements for all graduate students. Interested students should contact the Institute's Director.