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If you're considering attending West Virginia University in pursuit of an advanced degree, you may have questions regarding the various opportunities available to excelling students.

This guide will showcase the various graduate assistantships that students at West Virginia University can apply for while enrolled in an advanced academic program along with the benefits of being a part of a graduate assistantship.

We invite you to check out this guide and learn what kind of graduate assistantship opportunities we offer!


As you consider investing in a graduate degree, you have a lot to think about. Of course, you want to know that the decisions you make will result in a well-rounded and worthwhile graduate school experience. 

One of the most important aspects of obtaining a graduate degree is ensuring that you receive hands-on, practical experience in your field of interest. 

One strategic option for making sure that you do exactly that? By securing a graduate assistantship position.

If you’re a prospective or current graduate student, you’ve probably heard a little bit about graduate assistantships — but you also probably have questions: 

  • What is a graduate assistantship exactly? 
  • What does a graduate assistant do?
  • What are the benefits of a graduate assistantship?
  • Do graduate assistants get free tuition?
  • What about how to become a graduate assistant?

West Virginia University’s admissions professionals are here to answer your questions and educate you on the value of a graduate assistantship — like how securing one can help you finance graduate school and augment your professional resume with real-world, transferable professional experience.

Allow us to help you sharpen your competitive edge by giving you the necessary information regarding how to research, pursue, secure, and make the most of a graduate assistantship.


What is a
Graduate Assistantship?

Graduate assistantships are a form of academic employment for which students must apply and be accepted based on academic excellence and faculty referral. 

A graduate assistant is a graduate student who secures a specific academic job for which students are selected based on academic excellence and faculty referral. Most graduate assistants receive a tuition waiver and small stipend for the tasks they perform for faculty members or departments.

In addition, graduate assistantships are a strategic way for master’s and doctoral degree students to gain practical field experience, deepen academic understanding, and network with thought leaders and students in their field.


Are you interested in learning more about the graduate programs offered at West Virginia University? Connect with us by requesting more information!

 Female graduate teaching assistant, Tabitha Lowery, stands in the WVU classroom with fellow graduate assistant.


Graduate Teaching Assistant
Ph.D. in English at WVU

"In my graduate teaching assistantship, I've learned better ways to enhance students’ experiences in the classroom and to make the writing process more enjoyable. If I could give any prospective graduate assistant a piece of advice, it would be that self-discipline is the key to success!"

Read More Stories

Graduate Assistantships
 vs. Fellowships

While many universities and colleges offer graduate assistantships and fellowships, it’s important to understand the differences between the two.


are a form of financial aid similar to scholarships in that they are granted to cover a variety of student costs. Fellowships are typically sponsored by associations and generally provide money in exchange for short-term professional development opportunities.

While fellowships are incredibly helpful when it comes to financing graduate school, fellowships are simply a gift of money and do not provide opportunities for real-world work experience.

At West Virginia University specifically, doctoral students must be nominated for fellowships and may not apply directly.

Graduate Assistantships

are institution specific and offer a tuition waiver for work completed on campus; assistantships are considered a salary as opposed to financial aid.

While the money awarded to graduate students during an assistantship definitely offsets the cost of graduate school, the real value of a graduate assistantship is in the experiential, practical professional experience that graduate students gain by working alongside expert industry leaders and researchers. 

West Virginia University offers a variety of graduate assistantship positions, and graduate students — both master’s and doctoral — are encouraged to apply for the positions that align with their field of study and professional ambitions.




A Guide to Graduate
Career Changer Programs



The admissions professionals at WVU are dedicated to helping you figure what you want professionally and academically. That's why we crafted a digital resource — a resource designed to encourage and educate you on how to change academic fields and ultimately, your career — Make the Change: A Guide to Graduate Career Changer Programs.

Explore the Digital Resource

Graduate research assistant and Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cullen Boyle, smiles in front of wooden door.


Graduate Research Assistant
Ph.D. in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at WVU

"Make sure you find a project you are genuinely interested in. Graduate assistantships are valuable! Don't choose something just to fulfill your graduation checklist. In turn, you will have a higher understanding at a faster rate … which can be used as a foundation to help shape you into the person you hope to become."

Read More Stories


The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Higher Education has classified approximately 146 U.S. institutions as having R1 status. R1 institutions are recognized as the best research universities in the country — and WVU is one of the 146 R1 status institutions in the nation and the only R1 institution in the state of West Virginia.



WVU's Gre Cheat Sheet



Here are a few reasons graduate assistantships are worth thinking about, applying to, and working towards — no matter your field of study.


A female graduate student chatting with a male graduate student.

A graduate assistantship will deepen and enrich your education.

Graduate assistantships provide students with the opportunity to augment their educational experience by allowing them to reach a deeper level of subject comprehension. Students can then apply the skills they build and the knowledge they gain in the classroom, and beyond.

You will be encouraged to use your graduate assistantship to gain a range of new perspectives, gain deeper insight into your field, and choose what particular area of study aligns with your career goals.

A female research graduate student studies the contents of a beaker.

A graduate assistantship will give you quality, practical work experience.

While time in the classroom is important, in order to advance your knowledge and skill set, you need focused, applicable work and/or research experience in your field. A graduate assistantship can offer you this experience because you’ll have the opportunity to work with and learn from professors and other industry experts.

Further, in a graduate assistantship, you'll have the responsibility of balancing multiple tasks with deadlines. You'll learn valuable time management and organizational skills that are transferable to the workforce.

Female graduate student shares a laugh with another graduate student in a WVU common area.

A graduate assistantship will help you grow your professional network.

From an educational standpoint, the benefits are clear, but graduate assistantships can also provide you with a valuable network of contacts to look to for references and advice post-graduation.

Mentorship is crucial, whether you’re in school or already in the workforce — and it’s a built-in part of becoming a graduate assistant. Not only does networking with experts who have on-the-ground experience provide a fantastic learning opportunity, it is also valuable once you graduate and as you navigate the workforce.

Male college graduate in a cap and gown smiling in front of West Virginia University’s campus.

A graduate assistantship will help you to finance your degree.

While the academic and networking benefits far outweigh the monetary gains, many graduate assistantships are also paid positions. So, in addition to augmenting your academic experience, a graduate assistantship position will help you to fund your graduate education.

Female WVU graduate research assistant and Ph.D. in Public Health, Sara Warfield, poses in front of a brick wall.


Graduate Research Assistant
Ph.D. in Public Health at WVU

"I know that many of the leaders at WVU that I have met and work with will make a difference in this world, in particular with the opioid crisis. I am confident that the skills I have gained in my graduate research assistantship at WVU will help me continue to make a difference."

Read More Stories

10 Tips for Applying to a 
Graduate Assistantship

Graduate assistantship positions are competitive to secure. Not only do you have to demonstrate academic excellence in your program, you will be competing for the position among many other qualified and dynamic applicants.

How can you set yourself apart and give yourself a competitive edge? Following a list of recommended tips might help you to do just that.

Cover Your Bases


Before starting the application process, start by checking your institution’s website for available graduate assistantship positions and figure out if you meet the requirements to apply.

Focus On Your Studies


The higher your GPA, the more attractive you’ll be to a hiring department. Students should also establish strong relationships with professors in the department in which they’d like to be employed.

Collaborate with Other GAs


Chat with other graduate assistants and ask them for their insight. Ask for advice, add them to your professional network, and they may be able to refer you to a department that you’re interested in!

Know the Requirements


Before applying to a GA position, make a list of necessary application requirements, which might include course load, GPA, available working hours, immigration authorization (if applicable), letters of recommendation, etc.

Customize Your Application(s)


If you’re applying to more than one GA position (and even if you’re not), make sure your GA application and resume contain up-to-date information and position-appropriate information.

Spell Check


Do yourself a favor. Don’t turn in an application without conducting a thorough editing process. If your application contains errors of any kind, the likelihood of you landing the GA position is low.

Provide References


Don’t list your friends or family as references. Have 3-4 references ready to list on your application: These can be previous employers, current or past professors, or an admissions professional with whom you have a good relationship.

Prepare for an Interview


If you are invited for an interview, this is a good sign. Make sure to dress the part, BE ON TIME, and conduct yourself in a way that is professional, friendly, socially aware, and intelligent.

Understand the Expectations


Speaking of the interview, once you’re in the door, make sure to inquire about the expectations for the position and the working hours. Be sure you can meet those hours and expectations.

Follow Up Respectfully


If you are offered a graduate assistantship position, you should be proud of yourself! You've proven yourself to be a qualified asset to the department and institution at large. Be sure to follow up with the department in a timely manner.

Graduate Assistantships at 
West Virginia University

WVU’s graduate assistantship options:

West Virginia University awards approximately 1,700 graduate assistantships annually to incoming and continuing graduate students. These graduate assistantships are supported by state appropriations, federal funds, and private grants and contracts.

All graduate assistants must be accepted into a graduate degree program and are required to be enrolled full-time while employed during the fall and spring terms (9 credits or more).

Here are the types of graduate assistantships offered at WVU:


Graduate Teaching Assistants:

teach courses, laboratory sections, and recitation sections, or provide other forms of instructional assistance.


Graduate Research Assistants:

help faculty members with their research activities.


Graduate Service Assistants:

typically work in one of the administrative or service offices of WVU in positions related to their program of study and that contribute to their educational experience.

Regular graduate assistants work an average of 20 hours per week and partial graduate assistants work an average of 10 hours per week as teaching, research, or service assistants.

For additional information on Graduate Assistantships visit the Graduate Education and Life website.



The graduate admissions team is proud to bring you research news, industry expert interviews, and noteworthy student stories on our newest form of media: The Summit Ahead Podcast. 

Subscribe today to receive monthly episodes right in your inbox.



WVU's Gre Cheat Sheet


How to 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 our website.

More Reading from
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3 Ways Women Can Thrive in Male-Dominated Fields

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

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My Experience as a PhD Student in a WVU Graduate Research Assistantship


A Guide to Graduate Assistantships at West Virginia University is designed to showcase the various graduate assistantships that students at West Virginia University can apply for while enrolled in an advanced academic program along with the benefits of being a part of a graduate assistantship.


WVU's Gre Cheat Sheet



Here at West Virginia University, we know that for driven and ambitious graduate students, obtaining 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 working professional, and building a network with those who are thought leaders in your area of study are just a few reasons a graduate assistantship is a strategic and excellent way to augment your graduate education.

We hope that this guide has been helpful to you as you make a decision regarding this very exciting phase of your academic journey. The admissions team at WVU is here to help you in whatever capacity you need — don’t hesitate to reach out!

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