Students who want to go for higher education abroad definitely have one question in their mind – how big is the hole in their sponsor’s pocket going to be?Although we know that the value addition that the higher education from one such excellent university shall be a differentiating factor and make the student stand out among the crowd, it is simultaneously worrying. But every problem has a solution… Other than merit based scholarships, which are on the basis of our past education, most universities in the USA are known to provide financial assistance in the form of assistantships. As a common rule, assistantships are more commonly received by students with certain desirable set of skills, which can help in some cases a considerable reduction of tuition itself, thus reducing the overall finance required to finish the course. A student is given the responsibility to engage in teaching and research for advancement in university’s goal as well as self-education and financial support is provided for the same.

All assistantships during the course cannot exceed 20 hours in a week. Below mentioned varieties of assistantshipsvary from university to university. These vary with respect to a number of available positions, assigned duties, waiver in tuition, etc. These assistantships are awarded by the respective departments or fields. Also, they do not require any separate application.


A teaching assistant is one who assists professors during classes, labs, exams of previous grade levels. The responsibilities range from solving students doubts, correcting assignments, taking lectures on some topics and invigilation during exams.


A research assistant is one who assists professors on a research topic. The responsibilities involve conducting experiments, analysis of recorded data and publishingfindings in research papers. These students are chosen normally based on the relevance of their previous projects to the current research topic.


A graduate assistant is one who assists in administrative duties of the department. It involves providing support services and advice to new as well as existing students.  It may also involve assisting a faculty member in arranging and coordinating for academic conferences or applications and admission.


A graduate research assistant is one where the student’s thesis is directly supported by the research topic for GRA.


These positions are given to non-TA and non-RA students for them to gain necessary experience connected to their field of study.

Scholarships and Fellowships are different from Assistantships. Scholarships are awarded to students on the basis of their academic profile and results in direct fee waiver. No responsibilities are required to be handled other than maintaining their grades for continuation of scholarship. Fellowships on the other hand are professional development opportunities on short term basis which results in stipend.

All assistants need to maintain their grades during the course as well as have strong time management and communication skills to complete their assigned work. Assistantships not only significantly reduces the cost of earning a higher degree but also provides experience on resume. It can also be followed by recommendations from faculty for higher education or jobs.

To get an assistantship, students must apply to the student office, and an earlier application and previous experience is strongly considered…! Good luck saving…

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