Assistantships are awarded to students on a competitive basis. Assistantships include monthly stipends for 9 months during the academic year (summer appointments are separate and have limited availability). Currently, the MA & MFA starting 1/2-time 9-month stipend level is $19,200 and the starting 1/2-time 9-month PhD stipend level is $19,300.  Tuition scholarships (see below), and health insurance benefits are also provided. Please refer to the ISU Tuition and Fees website for more information on these topics. Graduate assistants receive single student health insurance coverage free of charge for the duration of their appointment. Graduate students may also enroll their lawful spouse or domestic partner, and unmarried dependents at the student’s expense. Dental insurance plans and prescription drug benefit programs are also available at the student’s expense.

English Department graduate students may be eligible to apply for graduate assistantships in other units or departments on campus as well (e.g., the Writing and Media Center, Engineering—LAS Online Learning, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, Center for Communication Excellence, etc.).


Teaching assistantships

Graduate teaching assistantships (TAs) will usually be 1/2-time 20 hours per week nine-month appointments, which is the amount of employment needed to qualify for tuition scholarships and health insurance benefits. TAs are required to teach the equivalent of four courses per academic year, usually courses that are part of the following programs:

ISUComm Foundation Communication (English 150 and 250) is part of an ISU innovative program called ISUComm, which is managed by faculty from the Rhetoric and Professional Communication program and includes instruction in written, oral, visual, and electronic communication. New TAs enroll in a proseminar training course (ENGL 500: Teaching Multimodal Composition) that prepares them to teach these classes in general and this material in particular. Some Foundation Courses are also part of a Learning Community, in which a cadre of first-year students take several classes together, thus building a small community within the larger one of the university. When TAs teach in a Learning Community, they frequently have the opportunity to collaborate with a teacher from one of the other  linked classes to coordinate their work. These courses are all part of a program and therefore instructors must adhere to course outcomes, agreed-upon assignments, and policies. Materials are provided to guide instruction and ensure course consistency for students.

Speech Communication 212: Fundamentals of Public Speaking. In this course, undergraduate students study oral communication, developing their ability to compose, deliver, and analyze public speeches. New TAs enroll in a proseminar training course (SpCm 590/SpCm 513: Proseminar: Teaching Fundamentals of Public Speaking) that prepares them to teach this foundational course. Instructors must adhere to agreed-upon outcomes, assignments, and policies. Materials are provided to guide instruction and ensure course consistency for students.

ISUComm Advanced Communication (English 302, 314, etc.) is also part of the ISU innovative program called ISUComm. Teaching these courses requires special processes and require experience teaching English 150 and 250 for at least two semesters and taking English 504: Teaching Advanced Communication.

ESL (English as a Second Language) Courses (English 99 and 101) are offerings for international undergraduate and graduate students to support their academic English skills. English 99 addresses oral communication and reading skills, while English 101 addresses written communication. TAs in our MA TESL/AL and PhD ALT programs are assigned to teach these courses as determined by the Applied Linguistics faculty and based on academic preparation, experience, and staffing needs of the English Department.

Special note for nonnative speakers of English: It is extremely important that nonnative speakers of English possess excellent English speaking and writing skills in order to be considered for teaching appointments. Nonnative speakers must meet the English Department’s minimum TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE score requirement in order to be considered for admission and teaching assistantship support unless a bachelor’s or higher degree has been earned (or will be earned) prior to the requested entry term from a country where English is the only official language. Nonnative speakers are required to take the English Placement Test (EPT) upon their arrival at ISU unless they qualify for one of the exemptions. Those with teaching assistantship appointments must also take the Oral English Certification Test (OECT) upon arrival at ISU before they begin teaching and must receive a Level 1 or 2 pass unless they qualify for exemption from one or both parts of the exam.

Research assistantships

The English Department may occasionally have research assistantships to offer. These assistantships require a student to assist one or more faculty members with grant funded research projects for a specified number of hours each week. Occasionally faculty in other departments will hire English graduate students for special projects as well.

Tuition scholarships

For tuition purposes, all graduate assistants are assessed tuition equal to resident tuition rates (ISU Tuition and Fees). English Department graduate students holding 1/2 (or greater) assistantship appointments receive tuition scholarships at the level determined by the Graduate College (50% MA, 100% MFA, and 100% PhD during the academic year; the same percentage levels apply in summer according to the number of enrolled credits).  Students on at least 1/4-time (but less than 1/2-time) assistantship appointments receive half of the standard tuition scholarship benefit.

Eligibility guidelines

Length of eligibility: MA

Master of Arts students are eligible for assistantship support for up to 2 years as 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: MFA

Master of Fine Arts students are eligible for assistantship support for up to 3 years 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: PhD

Doctoral students are eligible for assistantship support for up to 5 years so long as they are making satisfactory progress in their programs of study and are satisfactorily fulfilling all aspects of the assistantship appointment. PhD students can be approved for only one (1) additional year of support through their sixth (6) year.

Maintaining eligibility

As a graduate student you maintain eligibility for your assistantship from semester to semester by demonstrating the following:

  • for ALL graduate assistantssatisfactory progress toward your degree, defined by the following conditions:
  • you are not on academic probation with a GPA of 3.0 or below
  • you have no more than 6 credits of I (Incomplete) excluding Engl 599 or 699 credits
  • you have completed the Graduate College English Language Requirement if applicable
  • you have filed appropriate forms (e.g., the POS) by the required time, and
  • you have taken and passed any required examinations (e.g., the PhD portfolio assessment) by the required semester.
  • for teaching assistants—satisfactory performance of assistantship duties and obligations depending on the type of teaching assignment you receive:
  • Teaching assistants in the ISUComm Foundation Courses program (Engl 150 and 250) are reviewed each semester. Satisfactory performance of your assistantship duties and obligations includes following the guidelines established by the ISUComm Foundation Courses program, receiving satisfactory classroom observations, making satisfactory teaching adjustments following evaluations from faculty mentors, and completing English 500 with a grade of B or higher. Letters of Intent (LOIs) for first-year/probationary TAs in the ISUComm Foundation Courses program will not be issued until Friday of the week final grades are due.
  • Teaching assistants in the Speech Communication program (Sp Cm 212) are regularly reviewed. Satisfactory performance includes meeting the fundamental obligations of the teaching assignment as set forth in the course orientation materials. Positive contributions to the staff, positive outcomes from class visits and reviews of grading practices, as well as responsiveness to faculty recommendations are also measures of satisfactory performance.
  • Teaching assistants teaching ESL courses (Engl 99 and 101) are regularly reviewed. Satisfactory performance includes meeting the obligations inherent to the assignment, including participating in preparatory activities, assisting in English Placement Testing, having satisfactory observation reports by course supervisors, attending regular meetings with course coordinators and other instructors, and following recommendations for improvement. Reappointment for the second year will also be dependent on satisfactory course evaluations.
  • Teaching assistants assigned more advanced courses must also meet the obligations inherent to such assignments; these may include participating in preparatory activities, arranging course observations, attending meetings with course committee personnel, and following recommendations for improvement.

Not meeting such criteria for satisfactory progress and/or satisfactory performance can result in suspension or revocation of your assistantship.

Credit hour load requirements

All English Department graduate majors employed by the English Department as graduate assistants must carry at least 6 credit hours of coursework per semester (excluding summer), 3 of which must be in English Department course offerings. These may be graduate or undergraduate credit hours. New teaching assistants in the ISUComm Foundation Courses program (teaching Engl 150 and 250) should count Engl 500 as part of their credit hour load. MA and MFA students normally take at least 15 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.

Summer assistantships

The English Department may have a few summer assistantship appointments available to offer to graduate students. Such appointments depend both on summer budgets (which remain uncertain until late spring) and on available graduate assistantship funding. The Department Chair and Associate Chair of Operations make these appointments. To be eligible for consideration, a student must be making satisfactory progress toward the degree and must be enrolled for at least one credit hour in summer session. If a student has been on a graduate assistantship appointment during the previous fall and spring semesters but does not hold an assistantship in summer, they are not eligible for the tuition scholarship if they register for summer coursework.