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Fellowships and Assistantships

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Graduate Assistantships

West Virginia University annually awards about 1,800 graduate assistantships supported from state appropriations, federal funds, private grants, and contracts as well as approximately 200 fellowships and traineeships derived from federal agencies and from industries and private foundations. Fellowships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and require no service in return. Graduate fellows are expected to be engaged full time in their studies, but may teach to the extent that the particular degree program requires. Most traineeships, provided through institutional grants, are also for full-time study without scheduled duties.

All graduate assistants and fellows must be accepted into a graduate degree program and are required to be full-time (nine hours or more) graduate students. The individual is primarily a student and secondarily an employee. Tuition and some fees are remitted (see below). Awards are made by degree programs or by the nonacademic unit where service is to be rendered. Applications should be made to the dean or director concerned or to the chairperson of the program in which the graduate work will be pursued. Early application is strongly recommended.

Graduate assistantships and fellowships at WVU are accompanied by a waiver of tuition. These waivers cover the cost of coursework required by the students’ Plan of Study. Students covered by assistantships or fellowships during the academic year may also qualify for summer tuition waivers through their departments. Some programs may limit the number of credit hours that can be taken under a waiver in a given semester. In addition, programs and departments are allocated “meritorious waiver hours,” which can be used at the discretion of the departments for recruiting and/or retaining students in their degree programs. Students should inquire of their departments whether such waivers are available. In general, online programs and summer courses are not covered by tuition waivers.

Graduate Teaching Assistant

A person who holds a graduate teaching assistantship (GTA) is obligated to teach two three-hour courses per semester, the equivalent in laboratory classes, or, for other forms of departmental assistance, except research assistance, the equivalent of a minimum of 15 hours and no more than 20 hours per week. The terms of employment would be stated in the letter of appointment. These assistantships are generally available only through the academic units. No graduate student can be appointed to a GTA position after the second week of the semester.

English Language Proficiency and Graduate Teaching Assistantships

To be considered for a graduate teaching assistantship (GTA), students must complete GTA Application Forms for the department in which they seek the GTA. Students must be accepted into a graduate program within the university and be registered as full-time students to receive a GTA.

International students whose native language is not English must score a 50 on the WVU SPEAK test in order to qualify for a GTA. Students who do not score a 50 on the SPEAK test should take (English as a Second Language offered by the Department of Foreign Languages) to improve their speaking skills and retake the SPEAK test in order to qualify for university graduate teaching assistantships. Students with speak scores below 45 should sign up for .

Those who are seeking to teach English as a Second Language in the Intensive English Program must present a minimum TOEFL score of 600 (paper version)/250 (computer version)/100 (Internet version) and a minimum SPEAK test score of 60.

More information on the SPEAK test, see

Graduate Research Assistants

A graduate research assistant (GRA) is a graduate student whose duties consist of assisting in the research of a faculty member with an obligation of not fewer than 15 or more than 20 hours per week in any semester. No graduate student can be appointed to a GRA position after the fifth week of the semester.

Graduate Administrative Assistants

A student employed as a graduate administrastive assistant (GA) works part-time in one of the administrative offices of WVU. Assistantships obligate the student to no fewer than 15 or more than 20 hours of work per week in any semester. The terms of employment should be stated in the letter of appointment at the time of assigning the assistantship.

Graduate Residence Assistants

Resident assistant (RA) positions are available for single undergraduate and graduate students. The University-supervised residence halls house approximately 4,500 undergraduate residents. Resident assistants are required to provide educational, cultural, recreational, and social opportunities and programs for their residents. Remuneration for resident assistant positions is room, board, and monthly stipend. Graduate students may also receive a tuition waiver for a few specialized, live-in positions.

To obtain further information about the resident assistant recruitment and selection process, contact the Associate Dean of Residential Education, P.O. Box 5430, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506–6430.

Graduate Advising Assistants

Graduate assistantships are available through the Undergraduate Academic Services Center (UASC) for students who have been admitted to a graduate program. Those awarded a UASC assistantship will provide academic advising services to undergraduate students. A tuition waiver is provided and a stipend is paid and the graduate student. Contact the UASC for information and applications.

Remission of Tuition and Fees

Students appointed as GAs or as University fellows or trainees are eligible for remission of tuition and certain fees. Some colleges have non-waivable college-specific fees that are the responsibility of students. All students must pay Special Fees, i.e., the Mountainlair, radio station, student health service, recreation center, athletic, technology, library, and Daily Athenaeum fees.

Terms of Employment

The terms of employment for GAs should be explicitly stated in the GA letter of appointment. This should include the title of the position (e.g., teaching assistant, research assistant), department and college of appointment, term of appointment, salary, and provision of injury insurance. The total hours of work, as well as the particular days of service (e.g., weekends and/or holidays) required, must be made clear to the student by the appropriate graduate department at the time of assigning the assistantship.

Federal law requires that all employees, including graduate assistants, must complete an Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) on or before the day they begin work for the University. It is important that GA’s not be given a work assignment until they are formally processed as an employee. Violation of this rule places the University in a situation where substantial fines may be imposed against it.

Stipends for graduate assistantships are generally stated in terms of nine or 12-month appointments, although single term appointments are acceptable. The term of assistantships normally runs from August 16 to May 15 for nine-month appointments, or from August 16 to December 31 for the fall semester, or January 1 until May 15 for the spring semester.

Students may not hold more than the total equivalent of one assistantship. This rule applies even if the appointment comes from several sources (e.g., graduate teaching assistantship, graduate research assistantship, graduate administrative assistantship, graduate residence hall assistantship, and/or teaching fellowship).

Graduate teaching assistants, in order to fulfill their teaching obligations, must be appointed by no later than the end of the second week of classes. Since graduate research assistantships are primarily funded by grants and other third party sources, and since the arrival of these funds at the University often does not coincide with the beginning of an academic semester, University policy is that the deadline for GRA appointments is no later than the end of the fifth week of classes. Exceptions to these deadlines generally will not be made unless extenuating circumstances exist. Requests for late appointments must be made in writing from the hiring unit, signed by the college/school dean, and sent to the assistant vice president for Graduate Education.

Any student who has a full-time graduate assistantship may not be employed at the University for more than 100 hours per regular semester beyond the assistantship without the permission of the Office of Graduate Education and Life. The 100-hour rule allows units to hire a graduate student for incidental hourly work that is not normally associated with the assistantship, such as tutoring, grading, ticket collections at sports events, etc., without seeking permission prior to hiring the student. In cases where a unit wishes to hire a graduate assistant in an hourly position beyond the 100 hours during a regular semester, written permission must be sought from the student’s home academic unit(s) (department, college) and the Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs. The memo should describe why the hiring is critical for the individual involved and how the assignment will reinforce that student’s academic program.

Termination of a GA’s employment at a time other than at then end of the stated contract period must follow the standard procedure for termination of any university employee. This includes initial verbal counseling, written warnings, etc. Such a termination will generally result in the immediate suspension of the GA’s pay and tuition waiver.

Policy on Remuneration

The following principles apply to remuneration for duties performed by graduate assistants.

  1. Graduate assistant (other than GRHA) salaries must meet or exceed the University minimum on a nine-month equated basis as set by the Office of the Provost, with the minimum salary for doctoral (post-master’s) students set higher than the minimum for master’s-level students. The University mandated minimum stipend in effect for 2012–2013 is $10,000 for nine months. Many academic units provide substantial salary caps augmenting this minimum stipend.
  2. Academic and other units are required to establish discipline-based salary ranges by student level (i.e., master’s, doctoral, first-professional) for graduate assistants funded in their units.
  3. International students must meet financial support criteria for 12 months (includes tuition and fee charges, living expenses, etc.) from an assistantship and/or other sources in order to qualify for a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or IAP-66) and, subsequently, a student visa.
  4. Graduate assistants who have worked for academic and non-academic units in both the fall and spring semesters may have their summer session tuition waived. This policy is college specific.
  5. Graduate assistants are salaried, not hourly, employees and are not eligible for over time.

Graduate Fellowships

Teaching Fellows

A teaching fellow is an advanced graduate student, usually in a doctoral program, who would qualify for a junior faculty position if he or she were not a graduate student at WVU. A teaching fellow may be given major responsibilities for the design and/or operation of a course.

Swiger Fellowships

Arlen G. and Louise Stone Swiger are special benefactors who have established this fellowship program through the West Virginia University Foundation, Inc. Both were WVU graduates. Arlen G. Swiger, a successful New York attorney, bequeathed to the University half of his estate, which became available to the WVU Foundation upon the death of his widow, Louise Stone Swiger. These fellowships are open to doctoral students only. The stipend amount is $22,000 for 12 months, and the award requires some teaching or other academic service obligation. Selection is competitive on the basis of academic merit. Application should be made early in the year proceeding the year of anticipated enrollment in a doctoral program. Inquiries should be directed to the graduate program of choice or the Office of Graduate Education and Life. Application materials can be found at .

W. E. B. Du Bois Fellowships

Dr. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, born in 1868, was educated at Fisk University and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1896. Dr. Du Bois was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Pan-African Congress Movement. The author of many historical and analytical studies of American and African society, Du Bois provides a standard of excellence for scholarship in any discipline and an especially inspiring model for black scholars. Because of the achievements of Dr. Du Bois, West Virginia University has named this fellowship program in his honor. The fellowships are open to African American graduate and professional students, excluding those in the Health Sciences, who are native or naturalized U.S. citizens. The stipend amount is $18,000 for 12 months, and requires some service obligation. Selection is competitive on the basis of academic merit and potential for success in graduate or professional study. Inquiries should be directed to the graduate or professional program of choice or to the Office of Graduate Education and Life. Application materials can be found at .

WVU University Fellowships

The WVU University Fellowship Program consists of three fellowship opportunities that support doctoral or terminal degree students within the general university. Provost Fellowships are first year awards designed to attract highly competitive students to WVU and to provide them with support for the first year to concentrate on establishing their programs of study. A $16,000 stipend and waiver of tuition accompany the Provost Fellowships. The Enrichment Fellowships are designed to attract doctoral students who contribute to the diversity of the campus community in the broadest sense. Students may be underrepresented minorities, students with unique experiences within their fields, or students who in some other way enhance the cultural experience of the WVU academic community. A $16,000 stipend and waiver of tuition accompany the Enrichment Fellowships. Dissertation Fellowships are provided to students in their last semester of dissertation writing to facilitate timely completion of students’ doctoral programs. A $8,000 stipend and waiver of tuition accompany the Dissertation Fellowships, which support students for one semester. Application materials can be found at .

WVU Foundation Fellowships

To commemorate its 50th anniversary in 2005, the West Virginia University Foundation established the WVU Foundation Distinguished Doctoral Fellowships. Each year, the University awards four $5,000 fellowships to exceptional doctoral students in the humanities, social sciences, life sciences, and physical sciences and technology. The award may be used to defray expenses of travel, supplies, and other costs that may be incurred in the final stages of completing a dissertation. Nominees for the WVU Foundation Distinguished Doctoral Fellowships must be absolutely excellent students with academic records to match. Moreover, nominees must contribute to the teaching mission of the institution by serving as teaching assistants. Research assistants are not eligible. Inquiries should be directed to the graduate or professional program of choice or to the Office of Graduate Education and Life.

Other Fellowships Within the United States and Abroad

Students are encouraged to submit applications to outside agencies that support graduate-level study and research. Among the opportunities available are programs sponsored by the Fulbright-Hays Training Grants, the National Science Foundation, the Marshall Scholarship Program, the National Institutes of Health, the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, and the Rhodes Scholarships. Several national agencies publish information about fellowships and financial aid opportunities for graduate students. Individuals interested in reviewing this information should consult the reference personnel at the Charles C. Wise Jr. Library as well as the Office of Fellowships and Graduate School Advising at .