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Funding Your Graduate Education
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Graduate Students: Types of Aid
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Financial support for graduate education can also be obtained from other various sources. In the U.S, there are national fellowship competitions for U.S. citizens. An internet search can provide application information. Within OSU, there are a variety of mechanisms to obtain funding for graduate education. These can be divided into fellowship (both university and industrial), graduate teaching associateship (GTA) and graduate research associateship (GRA). All funded positions pay a monthly stipend, provide a tuition waiver, and subsidize health insurance. The duties associated with each position and the processes in which the students are selected for the support are outlined below.
The University Fellowship program is administered by the Ohio State Graduate School. Each year the ECE department submits a list of prospective students to the fellowship competition. Eligible students must have submitted a graduate application by December 1, been recommended for admission to the ECE department and must have indicated on their application that their final goal is to obtain a PhD degree at OSU. In addition to satisfying the above requirements, the applicant should be ranked in the top 10% of their class and score well on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Competitive GRE scores for the the fellowship competition are a combined 75th percentile average on the general exam’s Verbal and Quantitative components and a 4.0 on the Analytical Writing component. A committee in the graduate school evaluates the prospective graduate students in a university-wide competition, and awards are announced in March. Extraordinary evidence of academic accomplishments especially in research can significantly enhance your chance of receiving a fellowship.
There are several types of university fellowships. Most university fellowships provide one year of support. For some candidates, there are two and three year university fellowships awards. Students who are making good progress toward a PhD are generally supported continuously (as a GRA or GTA after the fellowship year or years) until they complete the PhD.
There are a number of fellowships that are provided by industry. These fellowships are generally associated with a specific laboratory or faculty member, and are usually limited to students who perform research within a specific area in ECE. Industry fellowships are awarded with the recommendation of the department and concurrence of the companies involved. Most of these fellowships are intended for students who plan to obtain a PhD. A student cannot apply directly for these fellowships. Applicants are evaluated based on their application materials, their area of research interest and the availability of fellowship funds.
Graduate Teaching Associateships (GTAs)
GTA positions are awarded by the department based on the student's academic record and research progress, teaching interest and past performance, and departmental needs. Priority is given to continuing students. Most positions are allocated to PhD students or those whose degree objective is PhD. In addition to pursuing a graduate degree, a GTA is responsible for 20 hours per week of teaching duties, which could include conducting lab or recitation sessions, grading homework and quizzes, and otherwise assisting the professor with the class.
GTA appointments are typically awarded on a semester by semester basis. The appointments usually occur during the autumn and spring semester with summer appointments available to a lesser extent.
Interested applicants should contact Prof. Betty Lise Anderson, ECE Associate Chair. Note that students for whom English is not a native language are required to pass a spoken English test before they can be a GTA with student interaction. This qualification can be met by obtaining a score of 28, 29, or 30 on the iBT TOEFL speaking component administered by ETS, passing an Ohio Proficiency Assessment (OPA) that is given locally at OSU, or completing EDUTL 5050 and passing the Mock Teaching Test. For further information on English testing, contact our English as a Second Language Program.
In addition to GTA opportunities in ECE, many ECE students have obtained GTA positions in other departments once they enroll in graduate school at Ohio State. In the past, students have obtained positions in the College of Engineering (as GTAs for the freshman honors program), Department of Mathematics, Department of Physics, Department of Chemistry, Department of Near Eastern Studies, etc.
Graduate Research Associateships (GRAs)
The majority of supported graduate students in the ECE department are funded through a graduate research associateship (GRA). GRAs are responsible for performing research tasks on a particular budgeted contract secured by an individual faculty member, research staff member, or laboratory group. The appointment is halftime (20 hours/week) and the research usually leads to the satisfaction of thesis or dissertation requirements. Since the stipend is paid by individual research contracts, a student who seeks a GRA appointment must contact individual faculty members or research groups in their area of research interest and see if there is a research need and funds exist to provide support. Mass mailings to faculty members do not work well. Faculty are seeking students who have a strong background and interest in the faculty research area. It is important to note that the amount of funding in different research areas within the department can be uneven and the funding distribution among the areas can change very rapidly in a short time. We recommend that prospective students thoroughly investigate ECE faculty research records and determine which faculty best fit their research interests. Contact with faculty members should be made once students have gone through such a process.