It is the policy of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences to offer research or teaching assistantships to most of the graduate students accepted into the program. Students may also apply for other aid including graduate fellowships from federal agencies or from the University. Fellowships and teaching assistantships are often supplemented with a part-time research assistantship. Tuition and service fees are waived for most students who are receiving support.

Research Assistantships

Research assistantships can be either 9- or 11-month appointments. They are usually half-time appointments requiring 20 hours of service per week. Typical responsibilities include data analysis, computer programming, and background reading essential for research. The responsibilities are typically, but not always related to the student’s thesis work. The number of research assistantships available fluctuates from year to year and depends primarily on the number of active research grants obtained by the faculty. Most Department faculty maintain between one and three active grants and typically support 2-5 students. Assuming research funds are available, Master’s students normally are supported for two to three years depending on their progress and availability of funds. Support beyond this time period is at the discretion of the advisor and depends on the student’s overall progress toward the degree. Most Master’s degree students in the Department finish their degree in two to two and a half years; nearly all who do not finish within this time period finish in the following semester. The length of time for support for Ph.D. students is more variable, but normally extends at least three years and is at the discretion of the advisor.

Students are not expected to work on University holidays, but are expected to work on all other University work days. Students are not given paid vacation days. However, students are not expected to work during the month that they do not receive a paycheck (generally the August pay period). If the advisor agrees, the student can apply this time to other periods during the year (such as Winter Break) so that an extended absence can be taken. The student will then be expected to work an equivalent amount of time in the August period. Generally, the Department treats these matters flexibly and agreements concerning absences during the year are worked out between the student and the advisor.

The University does not grant students paid sick leave. Students are expected to make up time lost due to illness. The Department treats the issue of sick leave flexibly, leaving the details of makeup time to be settled between the student and the advisor.

Teaching Assistantships

The Department generally has several teaching assistantships available each semester. Hourly graders are also hired when needed. Students who have teaching assistantships have the responsibility for assisting the professor with preparation of course materials and/or grading papers and exams. In some cases, a limited amount of classroom teaching is also required. Teaching assistantships are normally given for one or two semesters, after which the student is transferred to a research assistantship. Work associated with teaching assistantships is supervised by the professor or instructor teaching the course. Students with teaching assistantships are also expected to conduct thesis-related research under the direction of their advisors. Teaching assistantships are 4.5 month assistantships. Fall semester assistantships begin on 15 August and end on 31 December. Spring semester assistantships begin on 1 January and end 15 May. The remaining months are sometimes paid through a research assistantship or summer TA. Students with teaching assistantships are not expected to work on University holidays, but are expected to work on all other University work days. As with research assistantships, students with teaching assistantships do not receive vacation days. Any time off, such as Winter Break (outside of university holidays), must be approved by the professor of the course for which the student is assisting. Students are expected to meet all responsibilities associated with the assistantship before taking any approved time off.

Assistantship monthly salaries

Pre-MS degree RA AY 2024/2025 (pre-tax)
Monthly $2,808.61

Post-MS degree RA AY 2024/2025 (pre-tax)
Monthly $2,885.16

PhD Post-Prelim RA AY 2024/2025 (pre-tax)
Monthly $2,961.71

TA AY 2024/2025 (pre-tax)
Monthly $2,954.06

Note that RAs and TAs are paid a maximum of 11 months (and are not paid in the August pay cycle).  Thus, an annual rate can be calculated for full time graduate student appointments by multiplying the above rates by 11.

Yearly increases for research and teaching assistants are determined by the Department Head and are based primarily on University-wide raises for the year and the level of funding available to the Department.