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Graduate Assistantship: Everything You Need To Know

A graduate assistantship is a pivotal aspect of graduate education, blending academic and professional development. Here's everything you need to know to get one.

Dec 13, 2023
  • Student Tips
  • Education
Teaching assistant tutoring a student

Graduate assistantships are a cornerstone of graduate education, offering students a unique blend of academic and professional development. These roles not only provide financial benefits but also pave the way for significant growth in various skills and networking opportunities.

Understanding what a graduate assistantship entails is crucial for students aiming to maximize their graduate school experience.

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What is a graduate assistantship?

Graduate assistantships are key components of graduate education, merging academic and professional development.

These part-time work opportunities for graduate students offer roles in teaching, research, or administrative tasks, and are a financial boon, providing tuition fee waivers and stipends.

Types of graduate assistantships

Graduate assistantship positions come in various forms. Each one requires a different skill-set:

  • Teaching assistantships: Involves undergraduate course instruction, lab management, and grading.
  • Research assistantships: Encompasses support in academic research, project involvement, and potential lab work.
  • Administrative assistantships: Focuses on departmental or university administrative support.

Becoming a graduate assistant

Crafting a graduate assistant resume


  • List your highest degree first, typically your ongoing graduate program.
  • Include the name of the institution, degree type, major, and expected graduation date.
  • Highlight any academic honors, awards, or a high GPA if relevant.

Relevant academic and research experience

Detail any previous experiences that align with the graduate assistantship, whether in teaching, research, or administrative roles.

  • On a research assistant resume, emphasize involvement in research projects, lab work, or relevant academic studies.
  • For a teaching assistant resume, list any experience in teaching, tutoring, or educational program involvement.

Work experience

Include part-time jobs, internships, or volunteer work, especially if they have relevance to the assistantship.

Use bullet points to describe your responsibilities and achievements in each role, focusing on how these experiences have prepared you for the assistantship.


List skills relevant to the assistantship, such as:

  • Laboratory skills for research assistant roles
  • Communication and presentation skills for teaching assistantships
  • Organizational skills for administrative positions

Certifications or additional training

Include any certifications or extra courses that enhance your qualifications for the assistantship, such as teaching certification, research methodologies, software proficiency, or administrative training.

Professional affiliations and extracurricular activities

Mention any relevant membership in academic or professional organizations, participation in clubs, or engagement in campus activities.

Writing a graduate assistantship cover letter

Crafting a cover letter for a graduate assistantship is a pivotal step in showcasing your suitability and enthusiasm for the role. This document serves as a personal introduction and a persuasive argument for why you are the ideal candidate for the position.

The best thing you can do to maximize your chances of landing the role is to tailor the letter to your specific role.

Begin by thoroughly researching the specific graduate assistantship role. Whether it's a teaching assistant, research assistant, or administrative assistant position, understanding the nuances of the role is crucial. Familiarize yourself with the department’s focus, the faculty’s research interests, or the administrative duties involved.

Your cover letter should clearly demonstrate how your previous experiences, whether in academic settings, research projects, or relevant work environments, make you a strong fit for the assistantship.

  • For a teaching assistant role, emphasize any prior teaching or tutoring experiences.
  • For a research assistantship, highlight your involvement in similar research projects or lab work.

Teaching assistantships

Teaching assistantships are the most common type of graduate assistantship. Here are a few things you should know if you'd like to work as a teaching assistant (TA).

Teaching assistant responsibilities

Lesson preparation: TAs are often responsible for developing lesson materials, creating presentations, and preparing instructional resources. This requires a deep understanding of the subject matter to ensure that the content is accurate, relevant, and engaging for students.

Leading discussions: In many courses, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, TAs lead smaller discussion groups. This role involves facilitating debates, encouraging student participation, and ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the course material.

Student consultations: TAs often hold office hours to provide additional support to students. This includes clarifying lecture content, offering guidance on assignments, and sometimes providing mentorship and career advice.

Grading: An essential part of a TA's role is grading assignments and exams. This not only involves assessing student work based on a rubric but also providing constructive feedback to help students improve.

Collaborating with faculty: TAs work closely with faculty members to develop course content, coordinate class activities, and sometimes assist in research related to the course.

Becoming a teaching assistant

Teaching assistant qualifications

  • Enrollment in a relevant graduate program, demonstrating expertise in the subject area
  • Strong communication skills in order to deliver lessons effectively and engage with colleagues
  • Organizational skills and adaptabilities as TAs have to juggle various tasks and adjust to different teaching environments

Teaching assistant resume

If you want to work as a TAs, you should craft a strong teaching assistant resume covering your:

  • Previous teaching, tutoring, or mentoring roles
  • Curriculum development skills
  • Ability to engage and captivate an audience
  • Ability to engage students in learning

Frequently asked questions

1. What is a graduate assistantship?

A graduate assistantship is a part-time employment opportunity offered to graduate students, involving roles in teaching, research, or administrative tasks, along with financial benefits like tuition waivers and stipends.

2. What are the different types of graduate assistantships available?

The main types of graduate assistantships include:

  • Teaching assistantships
  • Research assistantships
  • Administrative assistantships

3. What are the teaching assistant responsibilities?

Teaching assistant responsibilities encompass preparing and delivering lesson plans, leading discussion sessions, holding office hours, and grading student assignments.

4. What roles and responsibilities do research assistants have?

Research assistants are involved in conducting literature reviews, performing experiments, collecting and analyzing data, and assisting in the publication of research findings.

Sara Evans


Sara is the Content Designer at Keystone Academic Solutions, in charge of creating and curating content for students across the globe. Due to her background in UX and teaching, she's always in pursuit of new ways of presenting information more clearly.

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