Teaching Assistants (TAs) are generally assigned duties that support faculty in their teaching responsibilities. Typical duties of TAs include (but are not limited to) grading of undergraduate and graduate student course paperwork, supervision of undergraduate science and engineering laboratory course sections, as well as individual and small-group conference sections associated with faculty lecture courses. TAs are required to be on campus and available for their assignments 10 days before undergraduate classes begin in the fall, and every day the university is open during the academic year, until the spring graduation (see the Academic Calendar). TAs are expected to work 20 hours per week on their assigned duties.
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Some departments have more stringent requirements. TA assignments are made by the academic department and, with rare exception, are awarded starting with the fall semester. Consult the graduate coordinator in the academic department for specific information. In general, international students need to score 100 or better on the TOEFL iBT to be considered for a TA.
Research assistants (RAs) are selected by the faculty to participate in sponsored research projects. Typical duties of RAs include, but are not limited to, conducting laboratory experiments and assisting in the development of theoretical advances related to faculty research projects. Research projects are typically funded by grants and contracts awarded to the university by government agencies, industrial firms, or other private organizations. RAs who perform research directly connected to their thesis/dissertation must recognize that research is a full-time professional commitment.
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The tuition and other financial support provided to graduate students who have been selected for an assistantship varies depending on the department, the specific nature of the coursework, the project, and the student's status. Students interested in RA funding should contact individual faculty members to find out whether such cost support is available.