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Graduate Assistantships, Fellowships and Financial Matters


Teaching and research assistantships contribute important experiences to doctoral students’ development as mathematics educators. Some assistantships are campus-based, while others provide opportunities to work in local schools. It is expected that mathematics education doctoral students will obtain experiences in both teaching and research positions while a graduate student at MSU.

Students can teach in the College of Education and in the Mathematics Department, working with preservice elementary and secondary teachers in MSU’s five-year, field-based teacher preparation program, with undergraduates in lower division mathematics courses and programs such as Emerging Scholars, and with practicing teachers in Master’s courses.

Courses that typically have assistants:

Research assistantships enable students to work closely with faculty on a variety of research and development projects as well.

Research and teaching assistantships include a salary and tuition credit (up to 9 credits in the fall or spring semester, up to 5 credits if employed in summer), and enrollment in the university’s graduate student medical plan. All students accepted into the doctoral program who indicated they wanted an assistantship on their application and are not self or government funded, are offered an assistantship for five years, which includes the health insurance and free tuition as indicated above, given satisfactory progress in the program and in assistantship duties.

The assistantship salary, or stipend, depends on the level of the assistantship, which is based on prior academic background, advancement in the program, and semesters of experience in a related assistantship. For each 25% appointment, the assistantship holder is required to provide an average of 10 hours per week over the course of the 19-week pay period. Most students are appointed at 50% for 20 hours per week. Continuation of assistantships depends on a student’s record of fulfilling his/her assistantship obligations (indicated by faculty review) and on satisfactory academic progress.

International teaching assistants must satisfy an English proficiency requirement, described on the Teaching Assistant Program website.

The GEU Contract for Teaching Assistants can be found on the Graduate Employees Union website.

See the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) webpage for more information about assistantships, fellowships, and financial matters.


The MSU Graduate School and the Colleges of Education and Natural Science offer a variety of multi-year recruiting fellowships for incoming doctoral students. To be considered for these fellowships, students must complete their application by December 1 of the year preceding enrollment. Entering students to the doctoral program who have completed their application by the December 1 deadline are automatically considered for all of the fellowships for which they are eligible; there are no additional procedures or forms applicants need to complete.

MSU University Distinguished Fellowship Program

This program, funded jointly by the Graduate School and the college, will support outstanding students by providing assistantships (at a bi-weekly rate of $1200 per pay period for approximately $31,400 for 12 months) and a $10,000 yearly fellowship from the Graduate School totaling approximately $41,400 annually for five years, plus health insurance. In addition, tuition and related fees will be waived within some limits.

Doctoral students receive five years of support. The first year is funded completely by the Graduate School, with a half-time Graduate Assistantship (GA) for 12 months, and the $10,000 fellowship. The fellows will participate in programmatic activities offered by the Graduate School, such as career development and mentoring workshops, to fulfill their GA duties.  During the remaining four years of support, students receive departmental assistantships that may require them to assist in research and/or teaching, in addition to the $10,000 fellowship which has no work duties.

Recipients must study full time, maintain strong academic performance, and make normal progress toward their degree during the period of their award. Newly admitted doctoral students are automatically considered.

Lappan-Phillips-Fitzgerald Fellowship

These five-year awards combine an annual fellowship of $3,000 – $8,000 with a half-time graduate assistantship. This fellowship is funded by and named after Glenda Lappan, Elizabeth Phillips, and William Fitzgerald (deceased), co-authors of the middle school curriculum Connected Mathematics Project. The LPF fellowship is offered to incoming mathematics education doctoral students who show exceptional promise for advancing the field of mathematics education. Newly admitted mathematics education doctoral students are automatically considered.

Dean’s Scholars Award

The Dean’s Scholar Award, will provide up to a five-year commitment, conditional upon adequate academic progress and successful performance in a half-time graduate assistantship. The package includes for each academic year a combined fellowship and assistantship stipend, which together will provide a total stipend of $28,000 (Fall and Spring only). Tuition and health benefits are also included. Recipients of this award are guaranteed a Summer Research Development Fellowship of $7,000 to fund research the summer after their first year. If that summer is otherwise funded, the student may postpone this award. Newly admitted doctoral students are automatically considered. For more information on the above fellowship, please visit the College of Education Graduate Student Scholarships & Fellowships page.

Erickson Research Fellowship

These five-year awards combine an annual fellowship with a half-time graduate assistantship, which provides $28,000 plus fringe benefits (tuition waiver and medical insurance) per year to each recipient. Students must have a strong research trajectory. Recipients of this award are guaranteed $4,000 in summer funding after their first year of study; if they are selected for a Summer Research Development Fellowship, this will increase to $7,000. If that summer is fully funded, a student may postpone this award. These students are also each allocated $3,000 to support the “hard” costs of research (i.e. participant incentives, software subscriptions) and/or conference travel during their first two years. Newly admitted doctoral students are automatically considered. For more information on the above fellowship, please visit the College of Education Graduate Student Scholarships & Fellowships page.

University and College Recruiting Fellowships

These various fellowships, awarded to promising new doctoral students, range from providing  $3,000-$5,000 for one year during the first year, on up to the highest award: a university fellowship that provides a $41,4000 award for a full year in each of the 5 years, which also includes tuition for fall and spring semesters, (and summer, if needed), plus health insurance. Recipients must study full time during the period of their award. Newly admitted doctoral students are automatically considered.

The MSU Graduate School, the College of Education, the College of Natural Science, and external agencies all offer various forms of support for graduate students.

Outstanding Scholar Award Fellowships

The Outstanding Scholar Award fellowship from the College of Natural Science is in the amount of $7,500 to allow students time to devote to their research at the pre-dissertation stage. Students may apply for this fellowship more than once. Many apply for this award for summer support.

Summer Research Fellowships

The College of Education offers Summer Research Development Fellowships (1st year students only) and Summer Research Fellowships (2nd year and beyond students) in the amount of $7,000 to support a student for 2 months of full-time summer research, which is their own original, independent work. Students who are already on a university fellowship or CNS fellowship for summer are not eligible to apply for this at the same time, but can apply the following summer.

Dissertation Completion Fellowships

The Graduate School provides a $7,000-$10,000 fellowship through the colleges that allows students to devote considerable time to completing their dissertations.

Travel/Professional Development Fellowships

Doctoral students may request support for travel to national or international conferences in which they present the results of scholarly research. Such funds are available mostly from the Mathematics Education Graduate Program (see the Math Ed Travel Request Form on the Current Student site, under Forms). PRIME offers $1,200 for first year students to attend a conference. In subsequent years, PRIME offers $1,200 for students who present their research at a conference.

At the university level, there is funding available for one-time support of $600 from the Graduate School, a one-time $300 Conference Award and/or a one-time $500 Professional Development Award, both from the Council of Graduate Students (COGS).

At the college level, The Tracy A. Hammer Graduate Student Award is presented to an outstanding graduate student in support of their professional development. Nominees must be pursuing a degree in the College of Natural Science. The award includes a one-time stipend of $1,000 funded by the NatSci AA Endowed Scholarship Fund.

There is also an international study abroad fellowship for doctoral students, to help future researchers develop global perspective on educational policies and practices. Students have visited China, Indonesia, Cuba, Vietnam, and other countries. In Summer 2023, a group is visiting South Africa. Visit https://education.msu.edu/international/students/graduate/ for more information.

There are quite a few fellowships at the university level that support professional development. Many of our students have been Cohort Fellows, where they work on a project for an academic year, typically with a $5,000 stipend for additional support. Please also visit the Graduate School site for professional development around teaching.

Research Enhancement Fellowships

These small fellowships are designed to support auxiliary expenses directly related to students’ research activities. Funding is shared by the Graduate School and PRIME. Such fellowships help fund, for example, students’ travel to a remote research location and/or purchase research-related software. Applications for these fellowships can be submitted at any time, and fund up to $1,000.

Outreach Fellowships

Fellowships are designed to support doctoral students’ educational outreach initiatives that exemplify and enhanced the university’s outreach mission into the community. Applications for these competitive fellowships are submitted early in the spring semester.

Please see the Graduate School Cohort Fellowships site for additional fellowship opportunities.

Emergency Fellowship funds

These funds are available from the Graduate School for unusual or unforeseen emergency expenses. Funds are provided on a one-time only basis and are contingent upon eligibility and available funds. Emergency funds may also be obtained under similar criteria from the Department of Teacher Education.

Further information of fellowships available to doctoral students can be found in the Graduate School Funding section.

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP)

The purpose of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is to help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce in the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding new graduate students who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in fields within NSF’s mission. Each Fellowship consists of three years of support usable over a five-year period. For each year of support, NSF provides a stipend of $34,000 to the Fellow and a cost-of-education allowance of $12,000 to the degree-granting institution. Students who are early in their graduate studies (first year) are encouraged to apply. The due date for the STEM Education and Learning application is typically in mid October or November.

Other Financial Matters

Tuition and Fees

MSU Controller’s Office maintains an up-to-date website that outlines all tuition and fee schedules for the university.