Teaching Assistantships and Time to Degree

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Update 1/19/08: I've updated the list below based on a conversation at WPA-L, and I'd be happy to fill in the 20+ schools listed below that don't currently provide this information to prospective students. I want to stress that the data below lists the number of guaranteed years of funding (assuming satisfactory performance of duties, of course), not "actual" or "possible" years. At Syracuse, for example, a number of students are supported beyond the 4th year, but the 4 years are guaranteed.

Also, I'd like to recommend, as strongly as possible, two things: if you are a faculty member in one of these programs, particularly one for which I couldn't find data, providing this sort of information is an ethical imperative--you owe it to incoming students to tell them, up front, what they're getting into. Seriously. Secondly, I'd love to see us as a field have conversations about these kinds of data, and to provide them in a centralized (online, updatable) location, whether it's attached to the Doctoral Consortium, NCTE, Rhetoric Review, or whatever. It's not the kind of project I have the time or energy to initiate, but clearly I've already contributed my fair share.


In light of Steve's mention of the Consortium list (which was painstakingly mapped by Derek last year), I thought I might share some information that could be of use to those shopping for graduate programs. One of the factors that prospective students should consider is not only the fact of financial support, but its amount and length.

One of the things that we've been working on here at Syracuse is the amount of guaranteed support we can offer to students. Currently we guarantee 4 years (as with most places, that guarantee is contingent upon adequate progress and performance), and as almost anyone who's gone through a PhD can tell you, that places a pretty serious burden on both incoming students and on that 4th year, when the equally full-time activities of the job search and the dissertation coincide. The prospect of being able to uncouple those activities is an appealing one, particularly if we heed Semenza's (Amazon) advice, which suggests no less than 2 publications, in addition to having drafted a substantial chunk of dissertation prior to sending out applications.

One of the questions that's come up in our discussions about funding is a field-related one. Namely, we've asked what other programs in our field guarantee and/or expect of their students. So I did a little digging, and came up with what follows. It's a list of programs and how many years each guarantees. Some caveats:

  • I only looked at assistantships, assuming (rightly, I believe) that this is the most common form of financial support for PhD students
  • Because we only offer a PhD, I restricted myself when possible to information about PhD students only
  • I made a good faith effort to locate the information, but I didn't perform an exhaustive search of each site.
  • "No Data" means that I located information about TAships, but that I couldn't readily infer information about how many years were guaranteed
  • "Couldn't locate" means that I was unable to find any page that provided information about TAships. That may be my fault.

If there is a program missing, let me know, and I'll add it. Likewise, if you know where a page is located that I've missed, please leave the URL in the comments for me. If there's more up-to-date information than can be found on the web, ditto. I've tried in each case to link to the webpage where this information either is or should be (imho) located.

Alabama: No Data
Albany: 3 years
Arizona: 5 years
Arizona State: No Data
Ball State: couldn't locate
Bowling Green: 3+ years (see comments)
Carnegie Mellon: couldn't locate
Case Western Reserve: 5 years
Central Florida:No Data
Clemson: 4 years (specifies length of program, not TAship)
Connecticut: 4 years (Not guaranteed)
East Carolina: No Data
Florida State: No Data
Georgia State: 4 years (apply for 5th)
Illinois: No Data
Illinois (Chicago): 6 years
Illinois State: 4 years (see comments)
Indiana U of Pennsylvania: 4 years max (2 years asst./2 years assoc.)
Iowa State: 5 years
Kent State:4 years (see comments)
Louisiana-Lafayette: 4 years
Louisiana State: 4 years (apply for 5th)
Louisville: No Data (4 years)
Maryland: 3-4 years (Lectureships beyond 4th yr)
Massachusetts-Amherst: 5-6 years (see comments for link)
Miami (OH): 4 years
Michigan: 4 years
Michigan State: 4 years
Michigan Tech: 5 years
Minnesota: 4-5 years
Missouri: 5 years
Nebraska: No Data
Nevada-Reno: 5 years
New Hampshire: 4 years
New Mexico: 5 years
New Mexico State: 5 years
North Carolina: No Data
North Carolina-Greensboro: 4 years
North Carolina State: 4 years (specifies length of program, not TAship)
Northern Illinois: 5 years
Ohio State: 4 years (conditional on progress--see pp. 64-65 of PDF Handbook)
Oklahoma: 5 years
Old Dominion: No Data
Penn State: 6 years (MA/PhD)
Pittsburgh: No Data
Purdue: No Data (5 years)
RPI: No Data
Rhode Island: No Data
South Carolina: 4 years
South Dakota: 4 years
South Florida: 4 years
Southern Illinois: 4 years
Syracuse U: 4 years (Apply for 5th)
Tennessee: 4-5 years
Texas: 4 years (max of 5, if funding is available)
Texas A&M: 5 years
Texas-Arlington: No Data
TCU: 4 years
Texas-El Paso: 4 years
Texas Tech: couldn't locate
Texas Women's: couldn't locate
Utah: 4 years
Virginia Tech: No Data
Washington: No Data (5 years)
Washington State: 4 years (No data on site; personal correspondence)
Wayne State: 4-6 years (6 may include MA)
Wisconsin: No Data


I earned my PhD at Illinois at Chicago, which is not on your list (and that may be because the year after I finished, the Rhet/Comp program pretty much got folded into their general PhD in English studies. I can't remember what we were guaranteed. I only took two years of funding for coursework and then moved back home.

Back "in the day" (and this was over 10 years ago now), the deal was you got 3 years of funding for sure and then the fourth year was more up in the air-- some teaching chances, some fellowships, etc.

BTW, good link on the Semenza book too. That certainly seems worth checking out.

Done and done. Thanks!

And yeah, I ordered a copy of Semenza for the grad office here. It's not specific to R/C, but the advice is pretty concrete and relevant all the same...

Nice compendium. When I was at Minnesota, the situation was that (starting from the time you began the PhD program) you got five years of funding. Then, at the end of that five years, if you still needed more time, you had the option of applying for a sixth year of funding. This entailed appearing before a committee of professors in the department and pleading your case. I don't know if they still have this policy, though; at any rate, there are funding opportunities outside the department, and several graduate students took advantage of those when I was there.

Have you left some out intentionally? Missing programs:

U of Central Florida
Virginia Tech
Case Western Reserve
U of Connecticut
Georgia State
Indiana U of Pennsylvania
Kent State
U of Louisiana Lafayette
Louisiana State
U of Maryland
U of Michigan
U of Nevada Reno
SUNY Albany
SUNY Stony Brook
U of North Carolina Greensboro
U of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Northern Illinois
U of Oklahoma
U of Pittsburgh
U of Rhode Island
Southern Illinois
Texas (Arlington)
Texas A&M
Texas A&M Commerce
Texas (El Paso)
Texas Woman's U
U of Utah
U of Washington
Washington State

Oh yeah, and seems like Georgia Tech ought to be on there too, even though it isn't on the consortium list.

New Mexico (not state) has a 5 year guarantee for the PhD (with good progress) with the possibility of more.


At UMass, it's five guaranteed plus the possibility of applying for a sixth year. See page 8 of this document.

UNH guarantees 4 years for PhDs.


(From a current UNH dissertator).

Thanks, everyone.

Clancy, I already have some of those on your list: Pitt, URI, SIU...

I wasn't working from the Consortium list, although I suppose I should have. When I have a little more time, I'll add those in. But I will say that I was sort of keeping myself to schools with actual R/C programs that I knew of. I'm definitely not meaning to snob it up, since I know people at some of these schools, but I probably wouldn't advise a student interested in R/C to consider some of them.

D'oh! I'm embarrassed to have missed those...

Hmm. I don't see this info on our website at UIUC and it used to be there. I'll have to follow up and find out why it disappeared.

At UIUC, if you do the MA/PhD, you are guaranteed 7 years of TA-type funding and may pettition for an 8th. During the MA years teaching is restricted to 1/1, which carries a much smaller stipend, but once you get into PhD work you teach a 2/2 load (and get a livable stipend). If you come in with an MA, you get 6 years guaranteed and may petttition for a 7th. If for some reason you find yourself still at UIUC after a 7th or 8th year, the department guarantees you 3 years of adjuncting. So all and all, you can count on 9-10 years of funding. The department has also gotten better about getting everyone fellowship money for at least 1 year while they are dissertating. Sometimes it's a full year, sometimes it's a course release per semester, but it does give each student some pretty focused diss time. It's pretty teaching intensive, but as PhD student, if you live carefully, you can live on the stipend in central IL.

I'm starting the PhD program at Illinois State in the fall, and my assistantship's guaranteed for four years.

At Kent State, 4 years are guaranteed. Currently, it takes 2 to 2.5 years to complete course work.

I find this information very useful. Great work! We study this article on the regular basis :-). And we recommend this to every body.

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This page contains a single entry by cgbrooke published on February 23, 2007 6:48 PM.

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