February 25, 2021

Bucks: Graduate Teaching Jobs Harder to Find

A graduate teaching assistant at the University of Kansas. Students are finding assistantships are harder to come by.Steve Hebert for The New York TimesA graduate teaching assistant at the University of Kansas. Students are finding assistantships are harder to come by.

Earning a doctorate while working as a teaching assistant sounds like a great deal: Get your Ph.D. for free!

And in many ways, it is a good deal. But graduate students who have their degrees fully financed typically work hard in exchange for that money, often toiling long hours while pursuing their own studies, as I learned while reporting an article for the Education Life section.

You probably remember teaching assistants from your college days: older students who helped make clear what was blurry after a big, hourlong lecture, coaching you in discussion groups to unlock the meaning of “Paradise Lost.”

Most doctoral students rely heavily on their assistantships, essentially a type of merit-based financial support, to pay for their studies. These days, due to tight budgets and a slow academic job market, there’s more competition for them. Students I interviewed on several campuses report that while they’re generally able to get assistantships — T.A.’s, after all, are crucial to the functioning of a university — they sometimes have to scramble more than in the past.

Elite schools dangle packages of financing, typically a mix of teaching assistantships and fellowships, to lure top students. If you’re truly an academic rock star, you still probably won’t pay a dime for your Ph.D., and you’ll be assured of a teaching assistant job upon admission. (Teaching assistantships generally come with a tuition waiver and a stipend, in exchange for part-time work helping to teach undergraduates.) But tight budgets have caused even some highly selective programs to shrink, meaning fewer doctoral students are admitted in the first place — especially in the humanities.

The graduate students I interviewed are passionate about their studies and dedicated to their students. Yet some schools are opting instead to hire more lecturers or adjunct professors, who are cheaper because they don’t need tuition waivers.

If you’re already in the work force, you may want to take a look at another article in the section, which examines the costs and benefits of getting an executive M.B.A. These programs are tailored to working professionals.

Take a look at the articles and let us know what you think. Is it worth it to be a T.A. these days? Or to pursue an executive M.B.A.?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=4797ada3fa2e4ff5ab4efca3260e4455

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