The ECE Department has limited funding resources for graduate students. The Department uses two different mechanisms for funding students:
- Teaching assistantships
- Research assistantships
Teaching assistantships are usually offered at the beginning of each semester; they are recommended by the Graduate Committee and approved by the Department Chair. Research assistantships are offered by faculty members, and the funding commitment belongs to individual faculties. Students interested in research assistantships should contact directly the faculty members and not the Graduate Committee. Please note that the Department is not required to sustain the support if the faculty member withdraws support.
All the assistantships are contingent upon satisfactory performance and progress towards the MS or PhD degrees. In addition to financial support from within the department, there are also various fellowships available from the College of Engineering, the university, industry, philanthropic organizations, and from several U.S. government agencies. Information is available through the graduate program office or from the Graduate School office. Many of these fellowships are restricted to U.S. citizens.
The Department offers three types of teaching assistantships:
Graduate Laboratory Teaching Assistantship (GLTA)
A GLTA assignment is made to a regular laboratory section that requires students to meet for a specified 2 or 3 hour time slot on a weekly basis. Recipients of GLTAs are expected to prepare and present lab lecture and pre-lab materials, assist students in conducting the laboratory, and collect and grade lab reports.
Graduate Grading Teaching Assistantship (GGTA)
A GGTA assignment is made to a regular lecture section for the purpose of grading student homework and other assignments. The GGTA is not expected to meet with students except as to explain the grading of a particular assignment when needed.
Graduate Special Teaching Assistantship (GSTA)
A GSTA assignment can be made for a variety of reasons. The GSTA recipient is assigned to a particular faculty member and is responsible for assisting the faculty member in executing one or more courses.
More details about the Department-Offered Assistantships can be found in the Graduate Teaching Assistant Handbook (Guidelines and Regulations). Below is some useful information:
- All the TAs are required to attend training on Sexual Harassment, Academic Honor Policy and the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This training is usually done by the university at the beginning of the Fall semester. Sometimes, the university also offers a training session at the beginning of the Spring semester. More information about the university wide-standards for TAs.
- Students are encouraged to work with faculty on sponsored research projects.
- Continuation of assistantships and fellowships is contingent upon satisfactory academic performance, as well as satisfactory performance of assigned duties associated with the assistantship.
- Some assistantships are available in the summer but are not guaranteed. Efforts will be made to distribute summer support equitably, based on needs of the department and the qualification and seniority of students.
- Each year, the department establishes fixed pay rates for state-supported assistantships. The pay rates are a function of the type of assistantship, the number of hours per week assigned, and whether the student is a Master's or Ph.D. candidate. Rates for externally funded assistantships are at the discretion of the individual faculty providing support.
- If the department has committed an assistantship to a student at a particular biweekly rate, and a faculty researcher offers the student partial support, the Department reserves the right to reduce the level of support from state funds so as to maintain the same total biweekly or semester rate. (This reduction of state funding may be necessary due to overall budgetary constraints of the Department.)
- Individual faculty members are not empowered to offer teaching assistantships or grading positions to graduate students. This decision is determined by the department chairman.
- The Department maintains a list of all current students who have been awarded an assistantship by the department and of all non-supported students who have requested assistantship support. Faculty researchers will normally review this list and consult with the Graduate Program Coordinator before committing assistantship support to a student.
Award Policy for Department-Offered Assistantships
The Graduate Program Committee is in charge of assigning teaching assistantships to graduate students. The following items are used in making these assignments:
- Students who have a written financial commitment from the department have the highest priority.
- Doctoral students are usually given priority over master's students.
- How many times the student was awarded a TA position in the past. The department usually awards up to 4 semesters (20 h/semester) of TA to graduate students. After 4 semesters of receiving TA the chance the student will receive additional funding in the form of a TA is decreasing.
- Students with higher GPA have priority over students with lower GPA.
- Students whose focus area indicates a good match for a position also have priority.
- Adviser's recommendation and evaluation of the student.
In addition to the above items, the committee is also looking at if the student has passed the necessary exams for the completion of his or her degree in a timely manner. For instance, if the student has not passed the Preliminary or Prospectus Exams within the time limits recommended by the department, the student will loose priority when receiving a TA position. Therefore, it is particularly important for students to pass all their exams in a timely manner and not delay them to the end of the program.
To apply for a teaching assistantship students need to fill in the TA/Grader Application Form. approximately 1 month before the start of the semester.
International students willing to apply for teaching assistantships should first take the speaking section of the TOEFL and get at least 26 points in order to be eligible for a TA position. International students who have not obtained 26 points on the speaking section of the TEOFL might be admitted in the MS or PhD Program but they cannot be awarded a teaching assistantship. In this case the student can either take the speaking section of the TEOFL while they are enrolled in the Program or pass the FSU-SPEAK test in order to become eligible for a TA position. These are a university-wide requirements and the Department cannot waive them.
If you are an international student interested to enroll to in one of our graduate programs and would like to obtain a teaching assistantship you need to first apply to our university in order for us to be able to review your application and decide if you will receive a teaching assistantship or not. Please do not send emails to the Graduate Program Director or Graduate Program Coordinator asking about your chances of getting teaching assistant. Due to the large number of emails that we receive with this inquiry we cannot reply to all of them.
If you are an international student interested to enroll to in one of our graduate programs and would like to obtain a research assistantship you need to contact individual faculties in our Department in order to see if they have any funding available. Please do not email the Graduate Program Director or the Graduate Program Coordinator asking about the availability of research assistantships since they do not have this information.
Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards
Other funding opportunities
You can also consider the following funding opportunities. If you are an incoming or a current student in our Department we strongly encourage you to apply to one or more of these funding sources.
Microsoft Research Graduate Women's Scholarship Program
One year scholarship program for outstanding women graduate students. Must apply during first year of graduate studies. Award includes $15,000 with an additional $2,000 travel allowance.
Students at the beginning stage of graduate study. Stipend, cost of education allowance, and Research Travel Allowance.
Individuals committed to a career in teaching and research at the university level, especially those who will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students. Programs for both predoctoral as well as dissertation level students. Annual stipend of $20,000
The National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program
Doctoral students at the beginning of their studies receive full tuition and required fees, and $30,500 stipend. Application scheduled to re-open in September, application usually due in December.
Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation Defense Scholarship (SMART)
Aims to increase the number of scientists and engineers in the Department of Defense. Award amount between $25,000 and $38,000
M.S. students beyond their first year and first year Ph.D. students with a M.S. degree can apply for a $36,000 fellowship.
Women in Defense HORIZONS scholarship
Women graduate students interested in pursuing a career related to national security or defense.
Female graduate students studying computer science or computer engineering. Recipients receive a $10,000 award.
Ph.D. students who have an interest in solving problems that are important to IBM and fundamental to innovation.
Fellowships and Grants offered to advance educational and professional opportunities for women in the United States and around the globe. Awards include American Fellowships, Career Development Grants, International Fellowships, Selected Professions Fellowships and Community Action Grants. See the website for details on each award.
Visit https://grad.illinois.edu/ to search for more funding opportunities.