Guidelines for graduate student awards

Graduate assistantships are appointments made to students enrolled in a master's or doctoral program at Wayne State University. Appointments may be made for one, two or three semesters of the calendar year. Graduate student appointees must be in good academic standing (i.e., have a minimum 3.0 honor point average or its equivalent). The graduate assistant must be enrolled for a minimum of six graduate credits each per fall and winter semester appointments.

Assistantship positions provide a salary and a tuition scholarship. Graduate assistants have the option of accepting subsidized medical, dental and vision insurance. The salary must meet at least the discipline category minimum listed in the compensation schedule. The tuition scholarship provides payment for up to 10 graduate credits for each of the fall and winter semesters and up to two graduate credits for the spring/summer semester appointment. The scholarships will pay for only graduate credits listed on a student's plan of work.

Graduate assistant contracts are renewed yearly. Students who receive an initial award of funding upon admission or in a later application will receive information about the number of years of funding they can plan on receiving, given continued satisfactory academic standing and teaching excellence. For those years, students do not need to submit new application materials each year, although they will need to review and sign a new contract every summer. If students wish to apply for an additional year of funding after the initial award, they should submit application materials as described below.

There are a limited number of funding opportunities in the department, so the awards are competitive. For a full list of available opportunities, visit the English department's scholarships and financial aid.

Timing and availability

Nine-month graduate teaching assistantships (GTAs) typically begin in the fall term, but may be available to start in the Winter term in special circumstances. Depending on availability and approval by the Graduate School, some number of English graduate students may also be supported via graduate student assistantships (GSAs) and graduate research assistantships (GRAs); these are typically twelve-month appointments that begin during the fall term. Current GTAs, GSAs and GRAs interested in such an assignment may also apply to teach summer courses in the department of English via a GTA appointment. Fellowships provide an academic year (nine months) of support and, when available, are awarded for both recruiting new students and the completion of dissertations.

Due date of applications: Jan. 15

  • Admission and funding for M.A. and Ph.D. students
  • Funding for unfunded graduate students already enrolled

Award decisions will begin on March 1 and continue until Apr. 15. Decisions regarding the reappointment of assistantships are communicated to students no later than June 15 for appointments beginning the following fall term and Dec. 1 for appointments beginning in the following winter term. Applications for summer teaching under a GTA appointment are typically due April 15 for positions beginning the following spring/summer term; notifications are made on a rolling basis between the time of application and the start of the semester and are made by the department Scheduling Committee.

Application materials

Students who are seeking new admission to the graduate program in English will find materials about applying for funding at and on the admissions section of the Department of English website.

Application materials for the reappointment of funding or for students applying for funding who are already enrolled but are currently not funded are distributed to all students on an annual basis via the graduate student listserv.


According to English department bylaws, graduate teaching assistantships, graduate student assistantships and fellowships are approved by the chairperson of the Department of English.

Assistantships and fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis to superior students admitted to the M.A. and Ph.D. programs:

  • In the case of new student awards for nine-month teaching assistantships and recruiting fellowships, the department considers the promise of and/or present achievement in research and teaching
  • In the case of internal or extended student awards for nine-month teaching assistantships or dissertation completion fellowships, the department considers all of the following criteria: the applicant's current academic standing, progress toward the degree, teaching excellence and related professional development and the applicant's promise of and/or present achievement in research
  • In the case of GSA positions, specific hiring criteria are identified at the time of posting

Important: For students who enter the Ph.D. program with the M.A. degree, transfer credit and four years of support who are seeking additional support for their fifth year of studies, the prospectus must be approved before the date of application (Jan. 15). Ph.D. students who are awarded GTA or GSA funding who have the M.A. degree and transfer credit are limited to a maximum of five years of support for that degree, depending on good academic standing and excellence in teaching or service, as relevant to the appointment. Students who enter with the B.A. only are limited to six years of support.

Summer teaching

Graduate teaching assistantships appointed during the spring/summer term are recommended by the department's Scheduling Committee (consisting of the chair, associate chair, director of composition, director of graduate studies and the academic services officer working with the Scheduling Committee) and approved by the chairperson of the department. Current GTAs and GSAs may apply to teach summer courses in the Department of English via a GTA appointment. Applications for summer teaching are typically due Apr. 15 for positions beginning the following spring/summer term; notifications are made on a rolling basis between the time of application and the start of the semester. In the case of hiring for summer teaching, hiring criteria will be identified at the time of posting.

Non-discrimination statement

(Article X of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between WSU and the Graduate Employees Organizing Committee-American Federation of Teachers)

Wayne State University and the GEOC recognize an obligation and reaffirm their commitment to achieve equal employment opportunity, non-discrimination and non-harassment within the university. Accordingly, it is agreed that, consistent with university policies, the university and members of the bargaining unit shall not discriminate or harass based on race, color, veteran status, height, weight, ethnicity, religion, creed, political affiliation, political beliefs, membership in any social or political organization, national origin, ancestry, marital or parental status, age, gender, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, sexual orientation, disability or HIV status, of those capable of performing their professional duties.

Job descriptions

Graduate teaching assistant (GTA)

Graduate teaching assistants provide approximately 20 hours of instructional service per week over the course of a semester. While GTAs may be assigned teaching duties, including grading, in undergraduate-level courses or discussion sections, in the English department GTAs usually serve as instructors of record for undergraduate courses such as ENG 1010 Basic Writing, ENG 1020 Introductory College Writing, ENG 2450 Introduction to Film, ENG 3010 Intermediate Writing, ENG 3050 Technical Communication I: Reports, ENG 3060 Technical Communication II: Presentations, ENG 3800 Introduction to Creative Writing and other courses. Specific course assignments will depend on the scheduling needs of the department. Day-to-day duties include but are not limited to teaching the assigned curriculum in one- to three-hour classroom sessions, leading class discussions, evaluating student essays, projects, tests and other assessments, and maintaining records on student progress and reporting grades.

Graduate student assistant

GSAs provide approximately 20 hours of service per week over a semester. GSAs may be assigned research, administrative and scholarly duties for the primary benefit of the university or granting agency under the supervision of a university faculty member or administrator. Students who are engaged in work whose product is reasonably expected to be used among other purposes for the student's dissertation, thesis, essay or independent or directed study or who are engaged in other work for the primary benefit of the student's research, scholarly or education program, should not be classified as graduate student assistants but as graduate research assistants. All graduate student assistant appointments must include a Graduate Student Assistant Certificate of Relevancy. The English department typically offers GSA positions in the Writing Center as tutors and in administrative support positions such as the assistant director of composition. Specific duties are posted when openings are available.

Graduate research assistantship

Graduate research assistants are Ph.D. students who provide approximately 20 hours of service per week over the course of a semester in research or academic activities relevant to their own academic programs of study. These activities should relate directly to the student's degree requirements and should be reasonably expected, among other purposes, to contribute to a student's dissertation, thesis, essay, independent or directed study or otherwise be undertaken for the primary benefit of the student's research, scholarship or academic program. All graduate research assistant appointments must include a Graduate Research Assistant Certificate of Relevancy. Graduate research assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis to graduate faculty members who apply for them through an annual competition.