The English Department offers “academically promising students” tuition benefits, a stipend, and useful career experience in the form of a Graduate Assistantship (Department of English Language and Literature, “Graduate Assistantship Information Sheet”). GA positions are awarded on a competitive basis for one academic year with the opportunity for renewing the position for a second year. Some general information about English Department's GA positions can be found here.
Typically, GAs receive a total of twenty credit hours of tuition waiver per academic year, to be used over the fall, spring, and summer semesters of the year in which the position was awarded (Department of English Language and Literature, “Graduate Assistantship Information Sheet”). If the position is awarded or renewed for a second year, this allows a grad student to potentially fully fund their degree, which is only thirty credits.
GAs are awarded a yearly stipend along with their tuition benefit. This stipend is conservative. It is paid on a biweekly basis, and the amount varies from academic year to academic year. The amount of the stipend depends, in large part, on the terms set forth in the collective bargaining agreement between the university and the Graduate Student Union (GSU). Generally, the stipend is around $11,000 dollars per academic year (Department of English Language and Literature, “Graduate Assistantship Information Sheet”). Broken up over the semester, it amounts to a payment between $550 and $600 dollars, depending upon tax deductions and union membership. It is important to note that the stipend and the tuition benefit typically do not cover the cost of attendance, as calculated by the university. In addition, health benefits are not available to GAs as a result of their employment with the university.
Being a Graduate Assistant comes with a great deal of responsibility. Generally, the English Department has three types of GAs—Composition Assistants, Writing Center Assistants, and TESOL Assistants. Each assistant position comes with its own specific duties and responsibilities, the breadth of which will be covered in the practicum courses required to hold the positions and through the direction and mentorship of the assistant’s supervisor: Dr. Steven Bailey, Director of Composition; Dr. Daniel Lawson, Director of the Writing Center; and Dr. Catherine Hicks Kennard, Director of TESOL.
This increase in responsibility can, and most likely will, lead to an increase in stress. Working one-on-one and in classrooms with students is very rewarding professionally and personally. However, it also demands a GA's time and energy, which your own classes will also demand. I recommend taking a look at the "Wellness" section of this website for advice about reducing stress, managing time, and maintaining a good work/life balance while a GA and grad student.
Josh Whicker is a second year Master of Arts student in the Creative Writing Program.
His focus of study is fiction and creative non-fiction. Josh enjoys reading flash fiction in literature magazines such as Brevity and believes that our stories, in whatever form, are what creates the connections between us.
Central Michigan University respects the diversity of values and opinions held by members of its community. The views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of Central Michigan University or its officers and trustees. The content of this page has not been reviewed or approved by Central Michigan University, and the author is solely responsible for its content.