Assistantships | Philosophy | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

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Purposes of Assistantships

The primary purpose of the assistantship program is to provide experience and financial support for worthy graduate students so that they may complete the requirements for M.A. and Ph.D. degrees and become more qualified and experienced as teachers. A secondary purpose is to assist faculty to whom graduate students are assigned and offer a meaningful experience to the undergraduates in their classes.

Number and Variety of Assistantships

The number of assistantships available in any one year is a function of the enrollment in the courses in which assistants work and the financial position of the University divisions which support the program. M.A. candidates are usually offered only quarter-time appointments (25% assignment averaging 10 hours per week), while Ph.D. candidates are offered 25% appointments, 50% appointments (averaging 20 hours per week), or some percentage in between. 

A tuition waiver is included with either half- or quarter-time appointments. However, the student must pay the “fees” portion of the “tuition & fees” semester expense. “Fees” cover such things as student health insurance and the use of University facilities.

Typical Awards and Workloads

The Philosophy program strives to fund Ph.D. students at the 50% level and MA students at the 25% level. In years in which this is not possible, the Philosophy program gives priority to its Ph.D. students by reducing the number of M.A. assistantships, and by offering Ph.D. students funding that comes as close to 50% assignments as funds allow. Funding at 25% for Ph.D. students is a last resort. Ph.D. candidates who become Federal Work-Study qualified through the Financial Aid Office will receive 50% contracts, because of the reduced cost to the program.  In addition, those Ph.D. candidates who are assigned to assist with a book series or a journal or who are in their final year of funding are given priority for a half-time assistantship.  Ph.D. student applicants should contact the Director of Graduate Studies to learn what level of funding has been the recent pattern and what the future most likely will hold.

Some graduate assistantship appointments are only for one semester (4.5 months), but initial graduate assistantship appointments are usually for 9 months of support, Fall and Spring semester, each 4.5 months.

Typical workloads for philosophy graduates teaching their own courses have been as follows: 50% assignment entailed a class with a maximum enrollment of 50 students; 37.5% contract, for a class with a maximum enrollment of 37 students. For those students assisting instructors, with sections of 25 maximum enrollment, an assistant on a 50% contract would be responsible for four sections; an assistant on 37.5% contract, three sections; a 25% contract, two sections.

The Graduate Committee and the Philosophy Chair will determine eligibility and selection based on what the program regards as the primary purpose of the assistantships. The following guidelines will give graduate students a recognized set of criteria by which they can estimate their own chances for assistance.

Procedures and Criteria for Deciding Appointments

Each year the Graduate Committee will meet to rank all eligible graduate applicants for the M.A. and Ph.D. programs on a competitive basis. Students will be evaluated independently for an assistantship, upon entering the Ph.D. level from Philosophy's MA program. There is no automatic guarantee of support from the M.A. to the Ph.D. level.  All deadlines and notices will be announced on, the Philosophy program's listserv.

Incoming graduate students who are recommended by the Graduate Committee for a fellowship but do not receive the fellowship, may be eligible to receive a graduate assistantship.

The Philosophy Chair will decide whether the assistantship will be half or quarter-time or somewhere in between, based on the criteria in III, above.  Then, the Graduate Committee taking all indications of the student’s performance into account makes a professional judgment that the applicant’s pursuit of the degree will be fruitful. Among the documents consulted and facts noted in making this determination are the following:

at the Ph.D. level:

  1. Letters of recommendation (no specific number required)
  2. GPA
  3. Performance on the comprehensive examination
  4. A course paper submitted to the Graduate Committee
  5. Breadth of professional accomplishments such as publications, conference papers and course work
  6. Teaching performance for previously assisted students (defined in VIII below) or potential for good teaching for those not previously assisted
  7. For previously assisted students, satisfactory progress (defined below in VI) and completion of course work.

at the M.A. level

For incoming Master’s candidates, selection of graduate assistants will be based on application materials. Beyond that, selection will be based on 1, 2, 5, and 7 in A above.

Limits on Expected Support

Once an assistantship has been awarded, the program anticipates on the basis of past experience continued support with the following provisos:

M.A. students chosen for assistantship can receive no more than 24 months support at the M.A. level. Support is contingent on satisfactory progress as defined below in VI.

Ph.D. students chosen for assistantship can expect 36 months, but can receive no more than 48 months of support. The 36/48 months of support for Ph.D. students is not limited by the support they received as a Master’s candidate. Support is contingent on satisfactory progress as defined below in VI.

“Months of support” is not defined or limited by the percentage of assistance received by the student. In other words, a quarter-time, nine month assistantship counts the same as a half-time, nine month assistantship when meeting the months of support limitation.

Summer support will be included in the counting of months of Philosophy program funding.

Previously Assisted Students

Those graduate students who are holding or have held assistantships or fellowships in the program and who are making satisfactory progress toward their graduate degrees have first consideration on available assistantships. Satisfactory progress shall mean:

  1. That the students have no outstanding “Incompletes” on their transcripts at the time of application. (An “Incomplete” is not deemed outstanding if the student has already completed sufficient course work to satisfy degree requirements or if the "Incomplete" was awarded for a course in the same semester in which the student received letter grades for three other graduate courses.)
  2. That the student has a minimum grade point average of 3.5 (A-).
  3. That the student completes the M.A. degree at the end of the second year of graduate work (where the assistantship or fellowship begins with a person’s first year of graduate study). That history comps be attempted by the third semester and passed by the fourth semester of the Master’s program. (M.A. students who are late in meeting degree requirements and graduate in December of their third year will not be eligible for an assistantship at the MA level in the Spring semester of their third year, so if they are admitted to the PhD program in the Spring semester of their third year, funding at the PhD level will probably not be available until the following Fall semester.)
  4. That prelims are attempted and passed by the end of the third year and that a dissertation prospectus is approved by a dissertation committee by the end of the sixth semester of the Ph.D. program.
  5. That the student's performance in assisting a faculty member has not been rated as not meeting expectations.  (See VIII, B, below.)
  6. That there is no serious reservation in the instructor's evaluation in PHIL 551 about the student's teaching abilities.
  7. That the Graduate Committee taking all indications of the student’s performance into account has made a professional judgment that the student’s continued pursuit of the degree will be fruitful.

“Previously Assisted” and “New” Applicants

If assistantships are still available after all “previously assisted” applicants have been considered for support, unsupported persons already in the program will be given consideration, along with new program applicants. In all cases, selections shall be made in accord with IV above.

A limited number of University Fellowships are available to students in the Master’s and Doctoral programs. Those interested in applying for one of those Fellowships should contact the Director of Graduate Studies in the fall. GRE scores are required when applying for Fellowships. Doctoral level students are encouraged to apply for Graduate School dissertation research awards during the year they are admitted to candidacy.

Procedures for Evaluating Graduate Assistants' Performance

Review of graduate assistants will be conducted once during the term of the student's contract by the faculty members of the graduate committee in consultation with the supervising faculty (i.e., faculty members under whose guidance or direction the graduate assistants are working).

The evaluations of the supervising faculty will be available to the graduate assistants who will be allowed the opportunity to comment in writing before the evaluation is placed in the student’s contract folder.  The evaluation form can be found here.

For information on Assistantships outside of Philosophy