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What are TA RA and GA? Types of funding in US Universities?

What are TA RA and GA? Types of funding in US Universities?

What are TA RA and GA? Types of funding in US Universities?

This article explains what are TA, RA, and GA and the types of funding in the US Universities. Teaching Assistantship involves assisting professors during lessons, preparing necessary materials for students, preparing for laboratory sessions of assigned classes, organizing related events, evaluating students’ performances.

Research Assistantship will require you to carry out tasks that include collecting data, analyzing data, preparing experiments, reviewing research papers, writing articles, and organize events like workshops. Graduate Assistants have general duties that are similar to RA and TA. They administrate the lectures. University funds are used to pay these assistants. Besides payment fee waivers are also a possibility for this on-campus job.

When students are unable to receive scholarships they have other options to receive fee waivers. This article talks about what are TA, RA, and GA and the types of funding in US Universities. You may want to know about assistantships in universities of the US as it can be a great help to manage the financial burden.

International students usually lookout for these assistantships. Not only do these programs provide funding and payments but also experience in your field of study. 

What is assistantship?

 The assistantship is when a graduate student is assisting professors, lecturers, and other staff members. They receive payment and fee waivers during the assistantship. It is an on-campus job for students that help them gain experience and also relieve their financial concerns.

When it is difficult to get scholarships from the institute assistantship can be an alternative to it. There is a lot of competition when it comes to applying for scholarships.

You will face competitive applicants during assistantship too however it is not the same. You will have more chances of showing your determination, skills, and knowledge to the person in charge of assigning students as assistants. 

In the USA the three main types of assistantships are :

  • Teaching Assistantship (TA)
  • Research Assistantship (RA)
  • Graduate Assistantship (GA)


Any student cannot apply for the assistantship like students on academic warning cannot hold the position. You must meet the requirements to acquire the position o fa graduate assistant. Each University has its requirements however here is a list of the general requirements :

The basic requirements include: 

  • a registered and enrolled in a graduate degree
  • a good academic record with a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • prior experience in some leadership positions
  • good organizational skills
  • communicative skills 
  • basic computer skills

What is Teaching Assistant (TA) ?

A teaching assistant, also known as TA, is someone who aids a professor. The teaching assistants take over and conduct classes in the place of the professors because they tend to have many other tasks to complete besides teaching their students. The amount of work teaching assistants have can vary greatly, depending on the school and level of education – for example, TAs in undergraduate courses tend to have a greater workload than TAs in graduate-level courses. Job scopes of teaching assistants are generally wide and are inclusive of many responsibilities (that begin on the first day of classes and end of the course) as mentioned below:

  • Managing Materials – In many American universities, the major role of teaching assistants is to help the professors by comprehending the course goals so that the material can be communicated effectively to the students by preparing relevant and apt material.
  • Attend related objects – They must take part in all course meetings and respond appropriately to emails from the professors or the Head TA. This includes discussing alterations made to marking schemes, keeping up, and staying familiar with the course content.
  • Conduct parts of lectures– Some TAs may even be required to conduct review sessions. When meeting scheduled classes for review sessions, they must identify the important content of the lectures, highlight it to students, and summarize the material to allow students to understand the material. To do so, it may sometimes be vital for them to attend the lectures themselves.
  • Helping students– Teaching assistants would need to work individually with students and understand their problems with the course material so that they can be solved. However, they must also ensure that all of this is done within the routine working hours.
  • Laboratory Tasks– When teaching assistants conduct lab sessions, they need to go through experiments before the actual session with the students and must be able to questions and provide responses to students’ questions and evaluate their work.
  • Evaluate exam results – Grading assignments, tests, and exams are also necessary. They must have sufficient knowledge about content and grading policies to be able to elucidate answers. Importantly, they must report any suspected breaches in academic integrity and plagiarism. 

What is Research Assistantship (RA) ?

In universities, you will have research as part of your course. As a graduate student, experiencing research journeys with professors can be extremely helpful. To involve yourself more in research you can take up the job of a research assistantship.

A research assistantship means helping professors with their research before they introduce it to the class and lessen the workload. Just like the other assistantship, you will be paid. The payment is usually provided by the University funds which are financed by the USA government, private agencies, or funds from research projects. This position is available to graduate students after the first semester. You will typically have to work 10 – 20 hours per week and receive payments ranging from $500 – $1500. 

The payment depends on the program and institute. 

Duties of RA

Research Assistantship is common for Ph.D. programs. As the duties involving research assistantship is more difficult therefore requires more experience. The tasks that research assistants are responsible for include :

  • Conduct Reviews: Review research papers that the professor wrote or other professors wrote from the same field of study.
  • Data – Collecting data and analyzing them is also a part of RA student’s tasks. To complete a research paper the professor must gather proper data. The professor usually instructs the students about it. 
  • Prepare materials – Preparing materials for agencies to approve it. You will need to prepare the necessary equipment for experiments as well. 
  • Interview – You will be responsible to recruit members and interview them based on the agendas. To recruit you to need to prepare interview questions, record interviews, and summarise interviews. 
  • Managing – Managing projects and emails to your related subject and managing websites, like updating contents in it are other duties carried out by the research assistants. 
  • Supervise – undergraduate students will need some guidance for projects and other assignments. Usually, RAs work on helping undergraduate students out. They attend project meetings and seminars as well. Help to summarize the results of the projects. 
  • Writing – As collecting data is an important part of the research, research assistants require to write a lot. Besides writing articles and reports the graduate could co-write a research paper with the professor in charge. 
  • Assisting events – Participate in organizing workshops and other educational events with departments. 
  • Maintain laboratory – You will be responsible for setting up the right tools for the laboratory classes conducted by the professor. Making sure the professor has access to all the research equipment. 

What is a Graduate Assistantship (GA) ?

A graduate assistantship is very similar to that of a research assistantship but the work is more analytic as it is on a department level. A graduate assistant is a student who is supported financially for working in a teaching or academic unit.

The major funding types include fee waivers, which may be full or partial, and some universities might provide stipends. Other funding types include scholarships, fellowships, or other tech jobs.

Financial aid inquiries can be made in the universities’ financial support centres or individual department offices. Duties of a graduate assistant include:

  • Supporting departments with administrative work, organizing undergraduate events like workshops, and even work with the management department of ceremonies and campus occasions. Graduate assistants may also be required to conduct staff meetings.
  • They undertake a variety of fieldwork research and experiments that allow them to co-author professors with research papers and reports by analyzing data obtained. They also review internet sources, find data from information in libraries, and may design methods of research.
  • They can assist professors by attending seminars and grading papers. Sometimes, in certain universities and situations, they can undertake the roles of teaching assistants as well. 
  • Graduate assistants get paid, but the amount varies from university to university and can range from $500 to $1500.

In conclusion, assistantship could lead to plenty of advantages for you however do not forget the responsibilities that come with it. Earning this position is no easy task with all the competition among the graduates. With proper planning and by meeting the requirements you have a high chance.

The assistantship on-campus paid experiences will help you learn exceptional skills and help you acquire job positions. The tuition fee waivers mentioned in this article are general therefore it is recommended that you look into the university’s terms and conditions for the assistantship. 

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