Assistantships and Other Forms of Financial Aid

Graduate assistantships are available for qualified students in approximately 25 academic areas and 20 non-academic areas. Recipients of these assistantships serve as laboratory assistants, research assistants, or teaching assistants.

The primary goal of an assistantship is to augment the student’s educational objectives and to assist in the prompt and successful completion of the student’s degree program. The student and the department share a central responsibility in the student’s education. The graduate assistant is clearly a student who, while making progress in the degree program, has special opportunities to receive experience in a profession under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Although such students serve the University of Central Arkansas with teaching, research, and/or administrative duties, they are considered students – and not employees – of the university, and the tasks assigned to them must be clearly and justifiably consistent with the student’s educational and career objectives.

Various funding sources exist for graduate assistantships. In addition to assistants who receive funding from the Graduate School, other sources for support include grants, gifts, contracts, community service agencies, or various university departments, divisions, or centers. Approximately 260 graduate students receive assistantship funds each semester.

To qualify for an assistantship, a student should have achieved an excellent academic record and completed substantial course work in the major field. The student must have been admitted with full qualifications in accordance with the admission policies and procedures of the Graduate School. The English language proficiencies of international students must be thoroughly evaluated in relationship to the demands of the assistantship assignment prior to the start of the appointment period. All teaching assistants must demonstrate competency in spoken English through procedures established by the controlling department and the Graduate School.

Graduate assistants on Graduate School sponsored appointments may be appointed for up to 12 months per contract period. Nine-month appointments would generally correspond to 36 weeks of service (nine monthly pay periods). Twelve-month appointments would generally correspond to 52 weeks of service (12 monthly pay periods). The start and end dates of all Graduate School sponsored appointments must be within the university’s fiscal year, July 1 to June 30.

In order to continue an appointment from semester to semester during the academic year, a graduate assistant must remain in good academic standing. If an assistant’s cumulative GPA falls below 3.00 during the academic year of an appointment, the student will be terminated from the assistantship during that academic year.

Graduate assistants who are performing satisfactorily in their studies and duties are eligible for annual reappointments. Academic and professional performance and progress are measured by the following criteria: (1) GPA, cumulative and over the past academic year, of at least 3.00; (2) student academic record with not more than one incomplete grade; (3) report of the academic advisor; (4) formal evaluation by the faculty mentor; (5) length of time holding the assistantship; and (6) length of time in the degree program.

Normally, a graduate student may hold an assistantship for a maximum of two years while pursuing a master’s degree and four years in a doctoral program.

Application forms and specific requirements for assistantships may be obtained from Mackenzie Taylor in the Graduate School or online from the Graduate School web site.  Information about other forms of financial aid, including loans, may be obtained from UCA’s Financial Aid Office, (501) 450-3140. Students receiving graduate assistantships and other forms of financial aid should contact the Financial Aid Office to determine their combined financial package.