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What is a fellowship in graduate school and how is it different from getting a stipend?


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Saurav’s Answer

In graduate school, fellowships are awarded to limited number of students based on their credentials and achievements. Receiving a fellowship is considered a scholarly achievement. Most fellowships do come with a stipend to support your graduate education, grants for travel and professional development. You have the financial independence to work with a professor and design a plan of mutual interest to you both and need not have any links to the existing projects in the professor's group. Most importantly, fellowship provides you the independence to explore directions of research without being tied to any research assistant(RA) or teaching assistant(TA) expectations. You can consider fellowship to be "no strings attached" money.

RA/ TA are the roles which most graduate students perform and are provided with a stipend for performing that role. There are expectations set for these roles and you are expected to deliver at a certain level just like any other job.

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Clement Willard’s Answer


What is an RA (Research Assistant) at US Universities?

RA is short for Research Assistant to a Professor. Every University in US has experienced Professors working for some or the other project. The grants are provided by the University funds which are in turn sponsored by the government of USA or other private agencies. Each Professor requires assistants who can help out in the research work and generally these assistants are students preferably graduate students. The duties of the research assistants in US Universities generally includes performing experiments, simulations, setting up labs, setting up experiments, writing research papers and writing programming codes. Most professors in US look for a dedicated and eager student who wishes to work long hours and give the desired results to the Professor.

How to apply for an RA at US Universities?

You can apply for research assistantship during your application itself. Some RA positions are available after your 1 st semester of education and you can then apply for an RA position at your respected field of education. The general guidelines to be followed for obtaining an RA are as follows:

1. Study the profiles of the professors at the University very carefully and shortlist the professors who are working in the fields that interest you.

2. Study about the professor and the research area that he/she is currently working on in depth.

3. Schedule an appointment with the professor to discuss about possible opportunity to work on the particular research area.

4. Explain in detail your experience and all relevant work you have performed in this area.

5. The professor will make a decision regarding your employment as a research assistantship and the compensation provided.

What is a TA (Teaching Assistant) at US Universities?

TA is short for Teaching Assistant to a Professor. Every University in US has a number of experienced Professors working for some or the other project. Each Professor requires assistants who can help out in the teaching course work duties of the professors and generally these assistants are students preferably graduate students. The duties of the teaching assistants in US Universities generally includes assisting students, checking assignments, helping professor with daily activities and other similar responsibilities . Most professors in US look for a dedicated and eager student who wishes to work long hours and give the desired results to the Professor.

How to apply for a TA at US Universities?

You can apply for teaching assistantship during your application itself. Some TA positions are available after your 1 st semester of education and you can then apply for a TA position at your respected field of education. The general guidelines to be followed for obtaining a TA are as follows:

1. Study the profiles of the professors at the University very carefully and shortlist the professors who are currently working in your department.

2. Study about the professor and the research area that he/she is currently working on in detail.

3. Schedule an appointment with the professor to discuss about possible opportunity to work as a teaching assistant.

4. Explain in detail your teaching experience, if any, and all relevant work you have performed in teaching.

5. The professor will make a decision regarding your employment as a teaching assistantship and the compensation provided.

What is an GA (Graduate Assistant) at US Universities and how to apply for this assistant-ship

GA or Graduate Assistant is same as Research Assistant or RA, but only for graduate students. The duties of a GA are same as that of an RA. The process of applying for a GA at US Universities is also same as that to apply for an RA. Refer the above details for an RA assistant-ship

Hi Clement, Are you building upon Saurav's answer on different stipend roles available to students? Gurpreet Lally

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Aaliyah’s Answer

Great response Saurav! Fellowships are also highly competitive. According to ProFellow, here are the top 10 fellowships from 2019:

- #1 Mira Fellowship
- #2 Fulbright U.S. Student Program for Study/Research
- #3 Greenlining Institute Policy Fellowship
- #4 European University Institute Policy Leader Fellowship
- #5 Obama Foundation Fellowship
- #6 Knight-Hennessy Scholars Fellowship
- #7 The Leadership Incubator
- #8 The Camelback Fellowship
- #9 Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship
- #10 NEH Summer Stipends

They can provide a great learning experience as well as networking opportunities once completed. Hope this helps.

-Aaliyah

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