PhD student support

We offer 5-year funding packages to a maximum of 3-4 PhD students per year. A typical funding package as a Graduate Assistant (see below) includes a complete tuition waiver for 9 credits (usually 3 courses) per semester (fall and spring), health insurance, and a stipend sufficient to live a graduate student lifestyle in the East Lansing area. Funding is contingent from year to year on satisfactory academic progress in the doctoral program. In the final semester, most PhD students are supported by a Dissertation Completion Fellowship, which releases them from assistantship responsibilities so that they can focus on writing.

Graduate assistantships

As part of the 5-year support for the PhD, students serve as Graduate Assistants in research, teaching or administrative roles for 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters.

Research assistants are usually assigned to a specific Linguistics faculty member or to one of our labs. Activities will vary depending on the assignment, but typically include bibliography creation, data management, mentoring undergraduate researchers, attending meetings, running experiments etc.

Teaching assistants teach courses in linguistics, integrated arts and humanities, or in particular languages. See the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures’s resources for graduate students page for more information about regularly-offered teaching opportunities. Full training is provided.

Administrative assistants might work in a variety of roles. In the past these have included administrative support for the department’s website, working with the department’s academic adviser to undergraduate students, assisting a faculty member who is a journal editor, and helping to run language programs for the wider community. These assistantships can be of particular benefit to students interested in exploring careers in academic administration, non-profit work, and industry.

How graduate assistantships are assigned

New students

Applicants to the program who are longlisted for an interview will be contacted with a request for additional information. They will be asked to provide details of their prior teaching experience (if any), research and technical skills, and proficiency in any language sufficient for teaching it at a basic level. This information is used to match successful applicants with available assistantships. In practice, we strive to offer all new PhD students a research assistantship in the first year, so that they can familiarize themselves with the Linguistics program courses, labs, and community before taking on the responsibilities associated with teaching.

Continuing students

PhD students in their second year or beyond provide information about their experiences and preferences to their advisor and to the Linguistics graduate program director. We take those preferences into account wherever possible when assigning students to assistantships. In particular, we try to scaffold teaching assignments in such a way that students move from more ‘background’ roles (e.g. as graders, or as instructors for recitation sections) to more ‘foreground’ roles as sole instructors of their own courses.

MA student support

We do not routinely offer funding to MA students, but we will do so if we happen to have an available assistantship. Preference is always given to second year MA students over incoming MA students. The MSU Graduate School maintains a list of internal funding, some of which is available to MA students, and a list of external funding sources to explore.

Summer support and funding for travel, research, and conferences

All graduate students in the Linguistics program are eligible for competitive summer research fellowships, including fellowships for research trips abroad. Most PhD students can assume that they will receive at least one such fellowship in the course of their time here, and often two or more. MA students are less frequently funded but no less eligible for most summer fellowships. There are also opportunities to teach Linguistics and other courses during the summer months.

Generous funding for travel to conferences (and research sites) is available, usually permitting students to attend one or two conferences per academic year to present their work. We also have funds for paying research participants and buying equipment.