Assistantships are awarded to students on a competitive basis. These assistantships are usually available only to students who have been granted full or provisional admission to the Graduate College. Students on restricted admission status may be eligible to hold assistantships, but such awards can be made only on a semester-by-semester basis. Assistantships are not available to students on non-degree status. Assistantships include monthly stipends for 9 months during the academic year (summer appointments are separate), tuition scholarships, and health insurance benefits.
Beginning in fall 2013, M.A., M.F.A., and Ph.D. teaching assistantships will usually be 1/2-time appointments. M.A. and M.F.A. TAs will be required to teach four courses per academic year, usually English 150 and 250, or ESL courses if appropriate. Some will be assigned to Speech Communication 212, where TAs will be responsible for attending lectures and conducting three recitation sections per semester. Ph.D. TAs are responsible for teaching four courses per academic year, usually 150, 250, 302, or 314. Some TAs fulfill all or part of their obligation by working in the Writing and Media Help Center. For students in the M.A. TESL/AL or Ph.D. ALT programs, assistantships are sometimes available through the Intensive English and Orientation Program (IEOP) or the Graduate College Oral English Certification Test (OECT) Program. English graduate students may be eligible for teaching assistantships in other units or departments on campus as well (e.g., the Women’s Studies Program or Classical Studies Program).
The English Department may occasionally have research assistantships to offer. These assistantships require a student to assist one or more faculty members with research projects for a specified number of hours each week. Occasionally faculty in other departments will hire English graduate students for special projects (see Tuition scholarships).
Occasionally the English Department offers administrative assistantships through which graduate students support particular programs and projects (e.g., editorial assistant for a journal).
If you indicate on your admissions application that you wish to apply for an assistantship, you are automatically considered at the same time you are evaluated for admission, if you are applying for fall entry. Spring admits can be considered for assistantships in the fall following their spring admission if they request to be considered for an assistantship.
Already enrolled students
If you wish to be considered for an assistantship after you are admitted and enrolled, watch for the call for applications issued by the Graduate English Office in January. You will be responsible for submitting an assistantship application and updating your graduate file. Check with the Graduate Secretary for more information and specific details.
For tuition purposes, all graduate assistants are considered to be Iowa residents. English Department graduate students holding half-time (or greater) assistantship appointments in the English Department receive tuition scholarships at the level determined by the Graduate College (50% M.A.; 100% M.F.A. and Ph.D. during the academic year; the same percentage levels in summer according to the number of enrolled credits); students on at least quarter-time (but less than half-time) assistantship appointments receive half of the standard tuition scholarship benefit. Additional tuition scholarship information and policy can be found in the Graduate College Handbook under Tuition Scholarship Awards.
The Department of English will fund Graduate Tuition Scholarships at the rate established in the Letter of Intent for English Department graduate students who meet all of the following criteria. The student must
Graduate College Funds
The Graduate College offers two financial assistance programs for qualifying teaching assistants: the Graduate Minority Assistantship Program (GMAP) and the Graduate Disability Assistantship Program (GDAP). Information on these funding programs and financing graduate study is available on the Graduate College website. The English Department Policy Statement on GMAP and GDAP Funding articulates the way in which such funding will affect the teaching or research load for graduate assistants.
Length of eligibility: M.A.
Master of Arts students are eligible for up to 2 years of assistantship support so long as they are making satisfactory progress in their programs of study and are satisfactorily fulfilling all aspects of the assistantship appointment. Semesters of eligibility for assistantships are reflected in the table below:
Semesters of eligibility are determined by the number of POS hours students have completed in the first major or specialization by the end of the semester in which the assistantship is offered. POS hours include only those hours students are using to fulfill requirements in the graduate major. Hours taken outside the major--for example, credits taken to fulfill a graduate minor or undergraduate credits in foreign languages taken to fulfill a language requirement or courses taken as prerequisites--are not POS hours and are not considered when calculating assistantship eligibility. For overall eligibility purposes, two semesters on a quarter-time research assistantship are considered the equivalent of one semester on a half-time teaching assistantship.
Length of eligibility: M.F.A.
Master of Fine Arts students are eligible for up to 3 years of assistantship support so long as they are making satisfactory progress in their programs of study and are satisfactorily fulfilling all aspects of the assistantship appointment.
Length of eligibility: Ph.D.
Doctoral students are eligible for up to 5 years of assistantship support so long as they are making satisfactory progress in their programs of study and are satisfactorily fulfilling all aspects of the assistantship appointment. To receive support in the fifth year, students must have achieved ABD status by the end of their fourth year in the program.
As a graduate student you maintain eligibility for your assistantship from semester to semester by demonstrating the following:
Not meeting such criteria for satisfactory progress and/or satisfactory performance can result in suspension or revocation of your assistantship.
Course load requirements
All graduate assistants employed by the English Department must carry at least 6 credit hours, 3 of which must be in English Department course offerings. These may be graduate or undergraduate credit hours (but undergraduate credit hours will count for your graduate degree only if they are listed for non-major graduate credit in the University course catalogue). New teaching assistants for the ISUComm Foundation Courses program should count English 500 as part of their credit hour load. M.A. and M.F.A. students normally take at least fifteen credit hours per year. To get a good start on fulfilling graduate requirements, teaching assistants should consider taking 9 credit hours during their initial fall semester (two graduate courses in addition to English 500). M.A. and M.F.A. teaching assistants finishing their degrees may take 6 credit hours of 599/699 to meet the course load requirement, but only 3 of these hours will count toward their degree. Ph.D. teaching assistants finishing their degrees may take 6 credit hours of 699 to meet the course load requirement, but only 12 credit hours will count toward their degree. Graduate assistants may take up to 12 credits a semester but, normally, do not carry more than 9 credit hours of course work. If you are a teaching assistant and you want to take more than 12 credits in a given semester, you need to get special approval from your GA supervisor and your program adviser/major professor.
While finishing their thesis or creative component, M.A. students may audit courses (to fulfill the 6 credit hour course load requirement). To do so, they must meet these criteria:
M.F.A. students on assistantships may take English 699 credits or audit courses (to fulfill the 6 credit hour course load requirement) while finishing their thesis.
Ph.D. students on assistantships may take English 699 credits or audit courses (to fulfill the 6 credit hour course load requirement) while finishing the dissertation.
Graduate students teaching upper-level courses that enroll primarily majors
Highly qualified teaching assistants in the RPC Ph.D. program are sometimes assigned to teach upper-level undergraduate courses (200-400) for English and Technical Communication majors. However, such an assignment requires a mentoring and supervision program.
Our majors naturally expect that the instruction in these upper-level courses will be of comparable quality to that they would receive from professorial faculty. Thus it is crucial that the department provide extensive mentoring and supervision for graduate assistants who teach such major courses. And graduate students should expect that their apprenticeship in this important work be conducted thoroughly and professionally.
The department will make every effort to see that all RCPC courses in the English major are taught by tenure-track faculty. In the event that courses in the major are to be taught by a doctoral student instead, staffing will draw from RPC Ph.D. TAs who have completed mentoring and supervision as described in the next section. Because teaching assignments depend on a whole range of budget, staffing, and enrollment contingencies, TAs undergoing the mentoring process should understand they may not get to teach a course even if they have completed the mentoring. When there are more eligible teaching assistants than sections available, assignments will normally be based on progress toward the degree.
Courses covered by this policy include 205, 213, 310, 313, 415, and 416. Note that advanced composition courses (302, 309, 314) have separate requirements for eligibility and a separate program of preparation and supervision.
Mentoring and Supervision
In order to be eligible to teach an upper-level course for majors, an RPC Ph.D. TA must:
Summer course work
The English Department is sometimes able to make a few summer assistantship appointments. Such appointments depend on summer budgets, which remain uncertain until late spring, and on available graduate assistantship funding. The Department Chair and Associate Chairs make these appointments. To be eligible for consideration, a student must be making good progress toward the degree and must be enrolled for at least one credit hour or the equivalent (e.g., R credit, Examination Only) in summer session.
Summer tuition costs
If you have been on a graduate assistantship appointment during the previous fall and spring semesters but do not hold an assistantship in summer, you can continue to be eligible for the graduate assistantship resident tuition rate (but not for the tuition scholarship) by submitting an Application for Summer Resident Tuition form. Therefore, you would pay for 5 credits at resident rate even if you were taking 6 credits. This benefit is available only during a summer term following two consecutive terms (fall and spring) on a graduate assistantship appointment.
Leave of Absence
Under unusual circumstances, students may request a leave of absence from their academic program. However, it is not possible to take a leave of absence from your graduate assistantship. If you discontinue your enrollment, you must resign your graduate assistantship position.
Students who continue in their graduate program but take a leave of absence from their assistantship in order to accept an appointment with another university department or office will have these semesters counted against their continuing eligibility.
Resigning a Graduate Assistantship Contract
If circumstances require you to resign an assistantship after you have signed a contract (Letter of Intent/LOI) but before the final date of the appointment, you should immediately notify the Department Chair by email and copy both the Associate Chair for Curriculum and Scheduling, the Director of Graduate Education (DOGE), and the Graduate Secretary. You will be expected to fulfill assistantship responsibilities and complete duties for the current semester unless extraordinary circumstances warrant being excused from these duties. Since resignation may affect you financially, you should contact the English Department Office Coordinator, Christy Kadner (firstname.lastname@example.org; 201 Ross Hall) regarding payroll issues.
Once you resign your assistantship, you must reapply for an assistantship appointment by February 15 to be considered for the following academic year. Your application will then be competitively judged with those of others seeking admission to the graduate program. Reappointment to a graduate assistantship position is not guaranteed.