Financial support is available to Sociology graduate students. The most common types of financial support are teaching assistantships, in which students assist instructors with courses, and research assistantships, in which students work on faculty research projects. These assistantships provide tuition remission, an academic-year stipend, and the opportunity to purchase low-cost health insurance. Assistantships are typically awarded when a student begins the program, with the number of years of funding specified in an offer letter.
Students may also apply for various competitive fellowships through the Graduate School, and our graduate students have a strong record of success in securing these fellowships. Although similar to assistantships financially, the fellowships are especially attractive because they do not include the work obligations that characterize an assistantship. Information about these fellowships and links to other UWM resources is available at Graduate School Types of Funding.
Graduate students may also apply for campus-wide scholarships in the UWM Panther Scholarship Portal, through most opportunities here are for undergraduates. See instructions for how to apply.
Teaching Assistant Program
Teaching Assistantships provide funding for a specified period and include a stipend, tuition remission for both in-state and out-of-state students, and eligibility for low-cost health insurance for students and their families. Teaching assistantships are for full-time study only. The Graduate School Guidelines for the appointment of teaching assistants are available for review. Prospective students can indicate their interest in a teaching assistantship when completing the Panthera online application.
The graduate teaching assistantship program provides teaching assistance to the Department as well as financial support and professional training to students. Teaching assistants are considered University employees with the responsibility to discharge the duties prescribed by the University and the Department of Sociology. In return, the Department will ensure that the teaching assistant has a valuable experience that develops skills relevant to undergraduate teaching in sociology. When possible, students’ interests and preferences may be taken into consideration when assistantship assignments are made, but the constraints inherent in making these assignments for many students mean that this cannot be guaranteed.
Duties and Hours
MA and beginning PhD teaching assistants support instructors in in-person or on-line undergraduate courses or act as the primary instructor for lab sections of certain courses. Teaching assistants with a 50% appointment work approximately 760 hours over the course of the academic year; average of 20 hours per week. Teaching assistants are required to register for and complete a minimum of six graduate credits per semester (with a lower minimum for advanced PhD students who are in dissertator status).
After their first year of employment, PhD teaching assistants may be assigned as the primary instructor of a lower-level undergraduate course(s). Because students must complete Sociol 794, The Teaching of Undergraduate Sociology, before serving as the primary instructor of a course, PhD teaching assistants will normally enroll in this course in the spring semester of their first year in the program.
Note that nature of a teaching assistantship is such that the weekly workload is somewhat variable across an academic semester, due to the timing of course assignments, quizzes, exams, and papers. As a result, there may be some weeks in which the workload exceeds the average time commitment, balanced by other weeks that do not reach that average. Because of this, the teaching assistant and their supervising faculty member should discuss the workload, including assignments and schedules, at the beginning of each semester, so that students may plan in advance.
Renewal of Teaching Assistantships
Assistantship contracts cover one academic year at a time. A student’s assistantship will be renewed up to the number of years of funding specified in their original assistantship offer, contingent on satisfactory performance in their assistantship duties and satisfactory academic performance as a student in the graduate program.
Research Assistant Program
Research assistantships involve work on externally funded faculty research projects. Research assistants work on a variety of tasks as assigned by their faculty supervisor, including such activities as searching for relevant literature, collecting and analyzing data, and writing reports, presentations, and journal articles. Normally, students who take on a research assistantship during an academic year will do so in place of a teaching assistantship. Like teaching assistants, research assistants must be enrolled as full-time students during the academic year.
The availability of research assistantships depends on faculty members obtaining external research support that provides for graduate research assistants, and the nature of research assistant work and the expected length of an assignment depend on the terms of that external support. It is therefore difficult to specify in advance when research assistantships will be available and what the details of a research assistantship position may be. When there are research assistantship opportunities available in the Department, the faculty members involved may issue an open call for applications or they may approach particular students whose skills and interests are an especially close fit with the position. In either case, students will be informed of the exact terms and expectations involved in the specific assignment before deciding whether to accept the position.