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Graduate Assistantships: Why They Matter and How to Apply for One

Posted by Shelly Quance on 8/15/19 7:03 AM

  August 15, 2019    

Graduate Assistantships

Your graduate education is more than what you learn in the classroom — it’s also the work experience you gain and the networks you cultivate.

One way to obtain work experience in graduate school is through a graduate assistantship. A unique experience during graduate years, graduate assistantships provide an excellent learning environment, exposing students to what it is like to be in the workforce (and will also help you in financing graduate school!).

Here are a few reasons graduate assistantships are worth thinking about, applying to, and working towards.

Note: Are you looking to secure a graduate assistantship position? Explore our  new digital resource page — Your Guide to Understanding Graduate Assistantships  in Graduate School — for tips and advice on doing just that!

You'll network with faculty members, staff, and industry thought leaders.

A graduate assistant often works alongside professors or staff members. Mentorship is an important part of learning, whether you’re in school or in your career — and it’s a built-in part of becoming a graduate assistant. Not only does working with experts in their fields provide a great learning environment, but it also comes in handy after school when you’re looking for references for job applications.

You'll gain quality, practical, hands-on work experience.

By working in a graduate assistantship, you'll experience juggling multiple tasks at once in which you will be expected to meet deadlines, outside of the classroom that is. You'll learn to move forward with your own goals and responsibilities while helping others progress as well.

Not to mention — you'll have hands-on experiences that will make you more marketable in finding a career. 

You'll collaborate with other students in your field of study.

In leading others, you have the opportunity to relay your experience in the field to others in hopes that they will be inspired to pursue your field. You will be surrounded by younger, like-minded students. This opens the opportunity for not only you to gain experience by working with these students, but students to learn from you.

Whether you are in the classroom or directly in the field, you have the chance to see what younger generations have to contribute to the field, essentially forming mentorships between you and those of the younger generation.

What about graduate assistantship opportunities at West Virginia University?

West Virginia University awards approximately 1,700 graduate assistantships annually to incoming and continuing students. Students considered for a graduate assistantship must be accepted into a degree program and are required to be enrolled full time — nine credits or more.

Here are the types of graduate assistantships offered at WVU:

  • Graduate Teaching Assistantships
  • Graduate Research Assistantships
  • Graduate Service Assistantships

How do you apply for a graduate assistantship at WVU?

At WVU, each program has a limited number of Graduate Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Research Assistantships, so the process for securing one can be competitive. Talk to your program representative to learn what might be available and to see if you are a good fit for available positions.

Graduate Service Assistantships are housed across the university, assisting a number of different departments and programs.  These positions are posted and students must apply to be considered. For information on these assistantships, please visit the WVU Office of Student Employment.

A graduate assistantship is truly a rewarding experience. Serving as support to some of the best in your field, getting a glimpse of what it is like to be a professional in the field, and building those who are the future of your field exemplify why a graduate assistantship is essential to your graduate education.

We invite you to explore our new digital resource page — Your Guide to Understanding Graduate Assistantships in Graduate School — for insight into the value of securing a GA position in grad school.

Explore the Resource

Topics: Funding Your Graduate Education, Graduate School Resources


Posted by Shelly Quance

Shelly Quance has spent almost 20 years working in higher education marketing communications. She currently serves as Director for West Virginia University’s Office of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment where she works collaboratively with College leadership to develop, implement, and evaluate creative and effective comprehensive communication and marketing plans to increase graduate student enrollment.

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