Graduate assistantship: Teaching and research assistant jobs
Written by Sameer Kamat
After a securing a place in a business school, planning and arranging your MBA finances is of top priority. Assistantship jobs are a good way to financially assist your education expense by working in part-time positions within the university. Assistantship jobs offer a monthly salary or stipend and sometimes a reduction in the tuition or loan amount. Assistantship can be in different areas of work. Teaching assistantship, graduate assistantship and research assistant jobs come under this category.
How is an MBA assistantship different from an MBA scholarship?
MBA scholarships are the best form of MBA financing as they give you free money. These can be merit or need based. The decision to grant students MBA scholarships are generally taken before the program starts. In most cases there are no strings attached.
Assistantships, in contrast, expect you to put in a pre-determined number of hours. So you are getting benefits for effort that you continue to put in during the course of the MBA curriculum. So you’d be studying full-time and working part-time.
However, the common benefit is that these are MBA financing options that can bring down your MBA cost and reduce the post-MBA loan burden substantially.
What kind of work is involved in an assistantship?
The responsibilities vary depending on whether you take up teaching assistant or research assistant jobs or any other variations of on-campus jobs.
Teaching assistants may be required to assist the professor by performing various tasks like conducting recitation sessions, tutoring students or help in grading assignments.
Research assistant jobs would involve assisting a faculty member in any research project. The nature of work would vary depending on the workload and the requirements of the project.
These positions are usually not available for students in the first semester. However in most colleges, students can get started in the second semester of the first year.
What benefits can I expect in an assistantship?
These positions can offer a rich learning experience, help develop interpersonal skills, enhance leadership qualities and acquire research abilities.
Students usually have to work 10-15 hours a week. In return, they would receive a stipend and depending on the college, you may expect a partial or complete tuition waiver.
Some schools offer attractive incentives for taking up assistantship positions. At Smeal College of Business, students work in the research centers for ten hours a week and in return get a free ride (read this story of how an Indian applicant got a 100% tuition waiver at Smeal), subsidized health insurance, and a stipend of approximately $6,500 per year. In the second year they’re allowed to work twenty hours a week and the stipend doubles to $13,000.
At Ohio Fisher College of Business, graduate assistants can put in ten hours of work each week and in return expect a 50 percent tuition waiver as well as a monthly stipend.
At the Kelley School of Business (Indiana University), graduate assistants can expect a partial fee remission and upto $34,150 for a two-year assistantship.
Are there any downsides to graduate assistantships?
You have to be able to dedicate the required number of hours each week which you may have otherwise spent socializing, networking or studying. You’ll be left with lesser time in hand; however considering the learning experience and the financial aid these positions offer, they can often become irresistible.
MBA students looking for financial assistance should make it a point to check if assistantship positions are available in the university they’re applying to and the various requirements for being eligible for these positions.
The eligibility criteria may vary; schools usually consider your academic performance while others may also wish to look at your background knowledge and work experience.
Students also need to explore other possible options available for funding which includes the various MBA scholarships available from a particular university or general graduate scholarships from your home country.
Each of these awards can help relieve your financial burden and considerably reduce your MBA cost and loan amount.