Last Update: 8 March 2007

Note: NEW or UPDATED material is highlighted


General Information

Three types of assistantships from the Department are available to graduate students:

UPDATED Most supported students start out as TAs or GAs (unless approached prior to arrival by a faculty member who wants you as an RA). Later, when you choose a major professor, that faculty member might have funding to support you as an RA.

All assistantships require an average of 16-20 hours of work per week (see Your Responsibilities). The Department will renew your teaching or graduate assistantship if

UB requires all graduate students who are non-native speakers of English and who are not permanent residents or US citizens to pass the SPEAK test in order to teach (and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering can also require the test for other students who are non-native speakers). If you are required to take this test but have not yet passed it, the Department cannot guarantee financial support to you as a TA or GA.

UPDATED M.S.students are normally not supported, and Ph.D. students are normally not supported for more than NEW 10 semesters as a TA or GA (but additional semesters of support as an RA are permitted). (See the schedule.) Exceptions may be obtained by petition to Graduate School. Petition forms may be required after 4 years; see the Graduate Secretary for details. Summer support is available for a limited number of students.

In addition to assistantships, some University fellowships are available to 1st-year students, which may be renewed in subsequent years. Woodburn Fellows must sign up for 12 credits per semester.

If you believe that your supervisor is giving you too much work to do, discuss this first with your supervisor. If this does not satisfactorily resolve the problem, discuss it with the Assistant Chair (currently, Ms. Helene Kershner). If it is still not satisfactorily resolved, see the Director of Graduate Studies.

Tuition Scholarship

A student with one of the three types of assistantships (RA, TA, or GA) ine{is eligible to have a tuition scholarship for up to normally 9 hours of credit per semester towards a degree. Students are eligible for tuition scholarship only up to the number of credits required in any given semester for the degree for which they are working (e.g., students who only need to register for 1 credit of thesis guidance are only eligible for 1 credit of tuition scholarship). The maximum number of credits of tuition scholarship is 30 credits for a M.S. student, and 72 credits for a Ph.D. student through the first 4 years. University policy strictly prohibits tuition scholarships during the summer.

According to UB policy,

Your Responsibilities as an Assistant

This policy is stated formally

The responsibilities of RAs, TAs, and GAs are as follows:

No supported student is required to accept an RAship with a particular faculty member. If you accept an RAship, you should know that research is not a 9-to-5 activity. Accept an RAship only if you desire to work with the faculty member for academic and scientific reasons, not just for the money. The work you do as an RA should always be integrated into your academic career. For these reasons, the guidelines given above (e.g., 16-20 hours per week) are open to negotiation. You should understand clearly what the faculty member expects from you before you accept the RAship. Faculty members and their RAs may agree to variations from the above guidelines.

Department Resources

TAs may use the Department's office supplies and equipment, but only for the courses they are helping to teach. When you write a dissertation or project, we expect that you will pay for the materials and copying.

The University prohibits graduate students from using the telephones for long-distance calls. If you must make a long-distance call in an emergency, please notify the office so that we can arrange for you to pay for your call.

You may not take university-owned equipment out of the Department unless you fill out a Property Removal Authorization form and have it signed by the Executive Officer.

Advice for Teaching Assistants

The Appendix contains a sample teaching-evaluation form that TAs are encouraged to use in their recitation sections. It is strongly recommended that you ask for an evaluation twice during the semester: once at mid-semester (just after the midterm exam, if any) and once again at the end of the semester. The mid-semester evaluation will be the most useful one, since it will indicate what you are doing right and what you still have time to improve on!

If you have never taught before, or if you are a foreign student not familiar with American undergraduate education, or even if you are an experienced teacher, you should find the following book useful.

Case, Bettye Anne (1989), Keys to Improved Instruction by Teaching Assistants and Part-Time Instructors: Responses to the Challenge, MAA Notes No. 11 (Washington, DC: Mathematical Association of America).

Of special interest in this book are the following items: