There are many reasons to become a graduate assistant, not the least of which is financial support for your education. In exchange for service, an assistantship provides a monthly salary, tuition remission, and an institutional contribution toward the graduate assistant-only health insurance premium. Teaching assistantships (TAs) may include leading a discussion, delivering lectures, grading papers, or supervising a laboratory. Research assistantships (RAs) typically assist faculty in conducting research projects. As OSU is a teaching and research institution, it follows that the work of our graduate assistants is essential to fulfilling the university's mission.
Many teaching assistants teach introductory undergraduate courses or assist faculty in the delivery of upper division and graduate courses. This requires not only a mastery of the course content, but it also challenges your ability to communicate ideas clearly (a skill that is central to success in your graduate studies and professional life). For many students planning a career in academia, a TA position is an excellent training ground for issues of pedagogy, lesson planning, and classroom culture.
Research assistants typically work on a faculty research project. The money that is funding the research is also funding the assistantship position. The research grant market is highly competitive, and funding agencies expect results, thus your professors need the most motivated graduate assistants who are capable of getting the work done, communicating results, and being a team player. In exchange, you get hands-on experience with cutting-edge research in your field of interest. You may eventually be able to tailor your duties to conduct specific research that leads to the completion of your degree.
Assistantship appointments range from 0.20 FTE to 0.49 FTE (FTE meaning full-time employment). An assistant on a 0.30 FTE appointment, for example, is expected to provide 156 hours of service during a 13-week academic term. When a student is offered an assistantship, the administering academic department provides the details of the appointment (e.g. contract dates, FTE, monthly stipend, expectations of position). Contact your department for more information on possible assistantship positions available in your graduate program.