Applying for a GRA or GTA

Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA) and Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA)

Assistantships are forms of employment and involve a responsibility to perform to the satisfaction of the supervisor. A one-third time assistantship requires an average of fourteen hours per week be devoted to the assigned activities during the semester, including finals week. Successful and timely completion of an M.S. thesis or a Ph.D. dissertation generally requires that you spend significantly more than fourteen hours per week on thesis research.

Many students are offered some form of financial aid upon admission to the graduate program. This aid is promised for a specific period of time, usually for a one-year period. Summer support is not guaranteed in advance, but our experience has been that those promised support and who wish to stay for the summer semester generally will be supported. However, do not assume that summer support is automatic.

While studying at the Woodruff School, we expect you to be supported by externally-supported graduate research assistantships or fellowships. The Woodruff School does not use GTA assignments for long-term support. Rather, GTA assignments are intended as a safety-net for Ph.D. students needing short-term support. The following priorities are used for assigning GTA support:

  • Ph.D. students who have passed the qualifying exam and presented their Ph.D. proposal;
  • Ph.D. students who have passed the qualifying exam;
  • Ph.D. students; and
  • M.S. thesis students.

Nonthesis master's students generally are not given GTA support. In general, a graduate student will not be supported as a GTA if they have been in the Ph.D. program more than three years beyond the award of their M.S. degree, or more than five years beyond the award of their B.S. degree, not counting any periods of full-time, external employment.

Students are assigned as GTA's for a period normally less than one year. In the case of the lead GTA in a course or for critical lab GTA positions, students may be assigned for a period not to exceed two years. This additional time is provided for continuity and overlap with a suitable successor, and for training incoming GTAs. Faculty members teaching a course also provide training. As a general practice, GTA's do not serve as primary instructors. In addition, the Director of Instructional Laboratories works closely with GTA's to assess, develop, maintain, and operate the laboratory courses in which they are assigned.

If you are a new student and want GRA support, you should visit faculty members in your area of interest to ascertain if such support is available. Don't be shy about making faculty members aware of your special qualifications. Also, the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) employs several Woodruff School graduate students as graduate research assistants. New positions become available throughout the year as new research contracts are awarded. Contact Mr. Todd Phillips at 404.894.3020 about these opportunities.

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