There are several types of financial assistance available to graduate students in the Experimental Program. All assistantships are governed by The Graduate School policy, as published in the current Graduate Catalog.
A graduate assistantship includes receipt of a stipend, plus waiver of tuition and fees for the entire year including summer semester. Only the stipend amount is received by the student directly, in twelve equal checks, the first in August and the last in July of the year in which he or she holds the assistantship.
Ordinarily, a student is expected to render service to the Department at the rate of 20 hours per week (50% time) for a period of nine months beginning about the middle of August, when the academic year begins, and ending about the middle of May when the academic year ends. Listed below are the three types of assistantships used for first year students in the Psychology Department:
- Graduate Research Assistants (GRA). Graduate Research Assistants perform duties in support of University research, which may or may not related directly to the students' dissertation. In some cases, these duties may include the collection, tabulation, and analyses of data, library research, etc..
- Graduate Teaching Associate (GTA). Graduate Teaching Associates are advanced graduate students who have been given primary responsibility for teaching undergraduate courses, including the assignment of final grades. GTAs teach these courses under the supervision of a faculty member. Ordinarily, assignment as a Graduate Teaching Associate does not occur until after the completion of Psychology 528 and upon the recommendation of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
The specific assignment is made based on the needs of the Department, availability of funds for assistantships, and the competence of the student as evaluated by the faculty. Recommendations for Graduate Research Assistants, Graduate Assistants, and Graduate Teaching Associates are made by Program Directors in consultation with the Department Head. Assignments may be revised each semester, and you may or may not be assigned to the same faculty member or task you were in the preceding semesters.
The Department seeks to fund all students in good standing in its doctoral programs and for students who enter without funding, every effort is made to secure funding as early in their graduate program as possible. However, except under extraordinary circumstances and at the discretion of the Department, funding is not available past the fourth year of enrollment. This means that students who begin the program on funding might ordinarily expect four years of assistantship support, whereas a student who is not funded until his or her second year, would ordinarily expect only three years of funding, and so on. Also, time spent on probationary status in the Department may, at the discretion of the faculty, count against the period of eligibility for funding.
Fellowships are offered by The Graduate School with no requirement that the student render any service to the University or the Department in return. In additional to a stipend, fellowships include the waiver of tuition and fees for three full semesters. Regular fellowships are offered without regard to financial need, solely on the basis of academic excellence as determined by grade-point average, scores on the GRE, and three letters of recommendation. There are usually about 25 to 40 such fellowships awarded in the entire University each year. Fellowships are also available for members of recognized minority groups who are residents of the state of Tennessee. Application for both types of fellowships is available beginning each November by contacting the Office of Graduate Admissions and Records, 218 Student Services Building.
Although the University allows recipients of University Fellowships to receive additional monies from departments, the Department of Psychology has voted not to extend assistantships to students on University Fellowships in order to provide support to as large a proportion of the graduate student body as possible. On the other hand, students who begin the program on a University Fellowship are ordinarily placed on a Departmental assistantship at the end of the Fellowship period.
Additional student support is available via faculty research grants which have such positions in their budgets. The stipend amounts of these assistantships may differ from those of the Department, and the waiver of tuition and fees is not always available. Other important facts to remember about grant-supported research assistantships include:
- they are available dependent upon the presence of faculty grants during any given period of time
- the time commitment, duties, and other particulars may differ from those awarded by the Department
- they are often restricted by the terms of the grant or contract.
Summer Teaching Assistantships
Nearly all summer assistantships involve teaching an undergraduate course. The stipend varies from year to year. The summer assistantship does not include waiver of summer tuition and fees; to be eligible the student must have completed the Departmental course on teaching and be recommended by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Evening School Opportunities
The Evening School is a separate, self-supporting branch of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville which offers many courses in psychology primarily to part-time students, such as adults who want to continue their education. The Evening School usually calls upon the Department of Psychology in search of people qualified to teach these courses, and it has been our practice to suggest to them the names of advanced graduate students whom we consider best able to do the job.
Other UT Assistantships
From time to time, institutes and centers at UT offer research and administrative assistantships to graduate students. Typically, the information about these assistantships is conveyed to faculty members who contact or recommend graduate students personally. The assistantships are competitive and students from several departments are likely to apply. The hours and stipends vary, and are often determined by experience, schedules, deadlines, etc.