In addition to scholarships and grants provided by the state or educational institutions, there is another way to finance your studies in American universities – an assistantship. In fact, is a paid job as an assistant at the university, directly related to the training in the chosen disciplines. Most US educational institutions offer this program for students.
Assistantships provide students with great opportunities. This is a good way to not only earn on education but also to deepen your knowledge, acquire skills and gain experience. As a rule, students of postgraduate study (doctoral studies) and magistracy can apply for such a job. But some vacancies are suitable for students of the last bachelor courses.
Types and possibilities of the assistantship
Every year, US educational institutions allocate jobs for applicants for the position of assistants in three areas: teaching, research and administrative activities.
Teaching Assistantship (TA)
TA – position of assistant teacher. The duties of an assistant in this area include working with students of junior courses and comprehensive assistance to the teacher in his work. The assistant can be entrusted with checking and evaluating homework, student projects and abstracts, preparing materials for classes and even lecturing or conducting certain classes. Depending on the educational institution and the faculty, the duties of such an employee may vary. Somewhere you have to solve technical issues, for example, to equip the audience with a projector before the session. And somewhere various work in the laboratory. The number of working hours a week can differ.
Who is suitable for: the students of the last courses of magistracy and graduate students. Students who have previously studied with a particular teacher (for example, in the previous semester) or completed a course close to the chosen discipline can apply for the position.
Research Assistantship (RA)
This area is research activity, that is, working with a professor conducting any scientific research. A research assistant is quite popular, especially in universities that specialize in scientific research and have doctoral programs. In many ways, its popularity is because special funds and the state fund scientific activities in the US. Professors engaged in scientific research receive grants and have the opportunity to hire assistants from among students. All the duties of a research assistant will be related to the scientific activities of the professor. They can include searching for necessary materials, collecting statistical data, conducting experiments, writing reports, filling out special documents and so on.
Who is suitable for: graduates of magistracy, graduate students who study in the same or a close specialty.
Graduate Assistantship (GA)
Assistant GA performs various administrative work at the faculty. The duties of such an employee may be very different, but not directly related to the subject, specialty or scientific activity. For example, it can be work with documents, bills, equipment, a faculty website or even a university as a whole and so on. GA – the most common program of assistantship for almost all universities in the United States. Since the work in this position is not related to teaching or science, it is the most accessible for applicants.
Who is suitable for: graduate students, sometimes students of senior undergraduate courses.
Work as assistant
Like any other employment relationship, activity in the framework of an assistant is governed by a contract between an educational institution and a student (employee), which prescribes duties, monetary compensation and a rate (full or part-time employment). It should be borne in mind that in this case, the full rate is 20 hours per week (0.5 FTE – Full-Time Employment), and part-time is 10 hours per week (0.25 FTE). Most positions offer a full rate. If the selected position provides for part-time work (10 hours), then the student can apply for two positions of the assistant in two different spheres, half-time each. Most assistantship vacancies are opened only during the school year.
It is also important that for such activities at the foreign university students do not need to obtain a work permit or a work visa. Student visa, in this case, will be enough.
Assistantship financial compensation
For each of these positions, financial compensation is provided. As a rule, the assistants receive a monthly salary in the amount of 500 to 1500 dollars depending on the university, the position, duties and the number of working hours. At the end of the year (academic) earned money are sufficient for full or partial payment for study and/or for payment of other expenses. Sometimes, instead of a salary, assistants receive a scholarship, which can cover the cost of training. Also, some universities give such employees the opportunity to study free of charge for certain courses (subjects). In some cases, assistants are provided with free medical insurance.
How to become an assistant?
First of all, students should contact the Career Service Office at the university and learn about open vacancies in the assistant’s office. Then you need to talk with a professor, teacher or supervisor about the opportunity to work with him as an assistant, and then fill out the necessary documents and apply.
After the application is accepted and reviewed by the university staff and by the teacher (professor, researcher), the applicant must pass an interview. During the interview, you need not only to make a good impression and show yourself as a qualified and responsible person, but also to demonstrate the necessity of getting this work. For example, to prove that this is the only opportunity to pay for studies.
In many universities, to work on Teaching Assistantship, it is necessary to pass special preliminary training and pass the exam.
All these steps will be more successful if the student is applying for a vacancy in the second semester. As a rule, applicants for work at the very beginning of the school year are refused. This is understandable: in the second semester, unlike the first, students already have more knowledge, are familiar with the teachers, understand the subject and, quite possibly, have already proven themselves well. But there are exceptions: Graduate Assistantship has a chance to receive an offer at the very beginning of the academic year.
Assistantships useful links
Description of the assistantship programs, general requirements for job seekers, duties, types of employment, average salary and forms of remuneration by the example of the Universities of Florida and Illinois.