Assistantships are awarded to students on a competitive basis. Assistantships include monthly stipends for 9 months during the academic year (summer appointments are separate and have limited availability). Currently, the MA & MFA starting 1/2-time stipend level is $19,200 and the starting 1/2-time PhD stipend level is $19,300. Tuition scholarships (see below), and health insurance benefits are also provided. Graduate assistants receive single student health insurance coverage free of charge for the duration of their appointment. Graduate students may also enroll their lawful spouse or domestic partner, and unmarried dependents at the student’s expense. Dental insurance plans and prescription drug benefit programs are also available at the student’s expense.
Graduate teaching assistantships will usually be 1/2-time appointments. TAs are required to teach four courses per academic year, usually ISUComm Foundation Courses (Engl 150 and 250), ISUComm Advanced Communication (Engl 302, 314, etc.), or ESL courses (Engl 99 or 101) if appropriate. Some will be assigned to Speech Communication 212, where TAs will be responsible for attending lectures and conducting three recitation sections per semester. For students in the MA TESL/AL or PhD ALT programs, assistantships are sometimes available through the Intensive English and Orientation Program (IEOP) or the Graduate College Oral English Certification Test (OECT) program. English Department graduate students may be eligible for teaching assistantships in other units or departments on campus as well (e.g., the Writing and Media Help Center, Women’s Studies Program, or Classical Studies Program).
Most teaching assistants will be teaching what are known as ISUComm Foundation Courses (ENGL 150 and 250) which is part of an ISU innovative program called ISUComm. It is managed by faculty from the Rhetoric and Professional Communication program and includes instruction in written, oral, visual, and electronic communication. New TAs enroll in a proseminar (ENGL 500) that prepares them to teach these classes in general and this material in particular. Many Foundation Courses are also part of a Learning Community, in which a cadre of first-year students take several classes together, thus building a small community within the larger one of the university. When TAs teach in a Learning Community, they frequently have the opportunity to collaborate with a teacher from one of the other linked classes to coordinate their work.
It is extremely important that nonnative speakers of English possess excellent English speaking and writing skills in order to be considered for teaching appointments. Nonnative speakers must meet the department’s minimum TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE score requirement in order to be considered for admission with teaching assistantship support. All nonnative speakers are required to take the English Placement Test (EPT) (link to
https://apling.engl.iastate.edu/english-placement-test/) upon their arrival at ISU. Those with teaching assistantship appointments must also take the Oral English Certification Test (OECT) (link to http://cce.grad-college.iastate.edu/ita/oect) upon arrival at ISU and before they begin teaching in order to determine whether they meet the oral English language proficiency requirements or need additional language training.
The English Department may occasionally have research assistantships to offer. These assistantships require a student to assist one or more faculty members with grant funded research projects for a specified number of hours each week. Occasionally faculty in other departments will hire English graduate students for special projects as well.
For tuition purposes, all graduate assistants are assessed tuition equal to resident tuition rates. English Department graduate students holding 1/2 (or greater) assistantship appointments receive tuition scholarships at the level determined by the Graduate College (50% MA, 100% MFA, and 100% PhD during the academic year; the same percentage levels apply in summer according to the number of enrolled credits). Students on at least 1/4-time (but less than 1/2-time) assistantship appointments receive half of the standard tuition scholarship benefit.
Graduate College funds
The Graduate College offers two financial assistance programs for qualifying teaching assistants: the Graduate Minority Assistantship Program (GMAP) and the Graduate Disability Assistantship Program (GDAP). Information on these funding programs and financing graduate study is available on the Graduate College website. The English Department Policy Statement on GMAP and GDAP funding articulates the way in which such funding will affect the teaching or research load for graduate assistants.
Length of eligibility: MA
MFA students are eligible for assistantship support for up to 2 years as long as they are making satisfactory progress in their programs of study and are satisfactorily fulfilling all aspects of the assistantship appointment.
Length of eligibility: MFA
Master of Fine Arts students are eligible for assistantship support for up to 3 years so long as they are making satisfactory progress in their programs of study and are satisfactorily fulfilling all aspects of the assistantship appointment.
Length of eligibility: PhD
Doctoral students are eligible for assistantship support for up to 5 years so long as they are making satisfactory progress in their programs of study and are satisfactorily fulfilling all aspects of the assistantship appointment. PhD students can be approved for only one (1) additional year of support through their sixth (6) year.
As a graduate student you maintain eligibility for your assistantship from semester to semester by demonstrating the following:
- for ALL graduate assistants—satisfactory progress toward your degree, defined by the following conditions:
- you are not on academic probation with a GPA of 3.0 or below
- you have no more than 6 credits of I (Incomplete) excluding Engl 599 or 699 credits
- you have completed the Graduate College English Language Requirement if applicable
- you have filed appropriate forms (e.g., the POS) by the required time, and
- you have taken and passed any required examinations (e.g., the PhD portfolio assessment) by the required semester.
- for teaching assistants—satisfactory performance of assistantship duties and obligations depending on the type of teaching assignment you receive:
- Teaching assistants in the ISUComm Foundation Courses program (Engl 150 and 250) are reviewed each semester. Satisfactory performance of your assistantship duties and obligations includes following the guidelines established by the ISUComm Foundation Courses program, receiving satisfactory classroom observations, making satisfactory teaching adjustments following evaluations from faculty mentors, and completing English 500 with a grade of B or higher. Letters of Intent (LOIs) for first-year/probationary TAs in the ISUComm Foundation Courses program will not be issued until Friday of the week final grades are due.
- Teaching assistants in the Speech Communication program (Sp Cm 212) are regularly reviewed. Satisfactory performance includes meeting the fundamental obligations of the teaching assignment as set forth in the course orientation materials. Positive contributions to the staff, positive outcomes from class visits and reviews of grading practices, as well as responsiveness to faculty recommendations are also measures of satisfactory performance.
- Teaching assistants teaching ESL courses (Engl 99 and 101) are regularly reviewed. Satisfactory performance includes meeting the obligations inherent to the assignment, including participating in preparatory activities, assisting in English Placement Testing, having satisfactory observation reports by course supervisors, attending regular meetings with course coordinators and other instructors, and following recommendations for improvement. Reappointment for the second year will also be dependent on satisfactory course evaluations.
- Teaching assistants assigned more advanced courses must also meet the obligations inherent to such assignments; these may include participating in preparatory activities, arranging course observations, attending meetings with course committee personnel, and following recommendations for improvement.
Not meeting such criteria for satisfactory progress and/or satisfactory performance can result in suspension or revocation of your assistantship.
Credit hour load requirements
All English Department graduate majors employed by the English Department as graduate assistants must carry at least 6 credit hours of coursework per semester (excluding summer), 3 of which must be in English Department course offerings. These may be graduate or undergraduate credit hours. New teaching assistants in the ISUComm Foundation Courses program (teaching Engl 150 and 250) should count Engl 500 as part of their credit hour load. MA and MFA students normally take at least 15 credit hours per year. To get a good start on fulfilling graduate requirements, teaching assistants should consider taking 9 credit hours during their initial fall semester (two graduate courses in addition to Engl 500). MA and MFA teaching assistants finishing their degrees may take 6 credit hours of Engl 699 to meet the credit hour load requirement, but only 3 of these credit hours will count toward their degree. PhD teaching assistants finishing their degrees may take 6 credit hours of Engl 699 to meet the credit hour load requirement, but only 12 credit hours will count toward their degree.
The English Department is sometimes able to make a few summer assistantship appointments. Such appointments depend both on summer budgets (which remain uncertain until late spring) and on available graduate assistantship funding. The Department Chair and Associate Chair for Curriculum and Scheduling make these appointments. To be eligible for consideration, a student must be making satisfactory progress toward the degree and must be enrolled for at least two credit hours or the equivalent (e.g., R credit, GR ST 600: Examination Only) in summer session. If a student has been on a graduate assistantship appointment during the previous fall and spring semesters but does not hold an assistantship in summer, they are not eligible for the tuition scholarship if they register for summer coursework.