Graduate Assistantships: The department offers a limited number of graduate assistantships, divided into grading
and teaching assistantships. M.A. students normally apply for grading assistantships
and Ph.D. students for teaching assistantships. Renewal of assistantships is normal,
but it is not guaranteed. In addition to the department and university budget, which
has never yet been a factor in renewals, it depends on academic performance and the
fulfillment of the assistantship duties. We require no lower than a 3.25 GPA for the
first renewal and no lower than a 3.5 for the second. Anyone applying for an assistantship
who is already in the program will have to meet this requirement at the time of application.
No one may hold an assistantship for more than five years (seven years for a Ph.D.
student who had an assistantship for two or more years as a M.A. student at The University
of Memphis). The normal assistantship period for M.A. students is two years, which
is rarely if ever extended, and only for a compelling reason. You must apply for an
assistantship (get the application at http://www.memphis.edu/history/pdfs/assistap.pdf (pdf)) by January 15.
Whether or not you have applied for an assistantship, you may be presented with confusing
information on the university’s financial aid webpages that may sound as if you have
been awarded an assistantship. They mean this as hypothetical, in case you get one,
but it is easy to misread. They will not change the wording, and every year it confuses
several applicants to our program. Unless you have applied for an assistantship from
the History Department and received an e-mail from the departmental Graduate Coordinator
awarding you one, you do not have an assistantship.
At present grading assistantships pay $7300 per academic year, plus all tuition and
fees; teaching assistantships pay $8600, plus tuition and fees. In addition, in the
recent past we have able to offer an additional stipend to many assistants because
most assistants are eligible for government financial aid (not a loan, but pay for
work as a graduate assistant). To make this possible, we strongly encourage all potential
assistants who are U.S. citizens or holders of green cards to submit an application
for federal financial aid at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.
Time is of the essence in obtaining this government money, since the Graduate School
will stop awarding work-study money when its budget is exhausted. This may happen
even if the government tells you are eligible for such aid. The first week day in
January is the first day you can file, and you should do so in January, as soon after
January 1 as possible. While you will have to know your basic income for the previous
year to file, you do not have to have all the exact financial information needed for
filing income tax, or even have your W-2 form, since you can revise your application
when new information becomes available. Waiting to get it all may make your application
too late. You must indicate that you are interested in college work-study funds (you
will not have to do any additional work for this).
Please e-mail the Graduate Coordinator (currently firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as you apply, and as soon as you get notification of eligibility or non-eligibility
for FAFSA college work study, please send the Graduate Coordinator a copy of your
financial aid eligibility letter. You do not have to provide us any financial information
that you want to remain confidential; the eligibility letter merely tells you what
financial aid you are eligible for.
This is very important for our graduate assistants, and I urge you to do it, although
I know it is annoying to have to take this trouble when you don’t even know if you
will have an assistantship or not.
Normally, grading assistants assist a professor in a large lecture section, attend
the professor’s lectures, grade examinations and papers, lead discussion sections,
and consult with students. Teaching assistants normally grade for the first year that
they have an assistantship and then teach one class the first semester of the second
year, an online course if possible. After that the normal assignment is to teach two
sections of World History (History 1110 or 1120) or U.S. History (History 2010 or
2020) per semester. However, we are increasingly asking teaching assistants to grade
after the first year, because we believe that doing so will leave much more time for
their work. We normally give priority in this to three kinds of teaching assistants:
those studying for comps, those near the end of the dissertation, and those requesting
it. We may also ask some assistants to teach off-campus classes. In addition, assistants
are often asked to assist in Department of History activities like History Day. Instead
of their normal duties, we may ask either kind of assistant to assist a professor
or the department in research or other activities or lead discussion sections.
You must have an M.A. before you can be a teaching assistant; M.A. students may apply
only for a grading assistantship.
All new assistants, whether grading or teaching assistants, must take History 7020/8020,
Seminar for Teaching Assistants as soon as possible, optimally in the first semester.