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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:

  • Methods/field instruction for elementary or secondary mathematics. Contact Sandra Crespo
  • MTH 201/202, math content courses for elementary teachers. Contact Lisa Keller or Monica Karunakaran
  • MTHE 430 History of Mathematics. Contact Lisa Keller. Instructor is expected to have taught MTH 201/202 at MSU or the equivalent at another institution.

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, 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 18-week pay period. 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 and fellowships totaling $29,000 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 and fifth years are funded by the Graduate School, with no teaching or research service required of the student. During the second, third, and fourth years of fellowship support, students receive departmental assistantships that may require them to assist in research and/or teaching.

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 (now 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 Program

The Dean’s Scholar award, will provide up to a five-year commitment, conditional upon adequate academic progress and successful performance in a graduate assistantship. The package includes for each academic year a combined fellowship and assistantship stipend, which together will provide a total stipend of $24,000 (Fall and Spring only). The fellowship is approximately $5,000. A half-time assistantship (for which you will work 20 hours per week) provides salary benefits over the nine-month academic year of roughly $16,000, depending upon the assistantship level, which is based on your academic background and prior assistantship experience. In addition, the assistantship provides a waiver of the “out-of-state” portion of the tuition; a waiver of the “in-state” portion of tuition on nine course credits each semester; and medical plan benefits in the form of health insurance. 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 Program

These five-year awards combine an annual fellowship with a graduate assistantship, which provides  $22,000 plus fringe benefits (tuition waiver and medical insurance) per year to each recipient. The awards are made to entering doctoral students who demonstrate a strong preparation for and aspiration toward a career in educational research. Recipients must study full-time during the period of their award and make good progress toward their degrees. Recipients may also seek additional teaching or research assistantships. 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 one-year fellowships, awarded to promising new doctoral students, provide from $3,000-$5,000 for the first year, on up to a full $29,000 fellowship that includes 10 credits of tuition for fall and spring semesters and 5 credits during the summer, plus health insurance for the first year of graduate study. Recipients must study full time during the period of their award. Newly admitted doctoral students are automatically considered.

Continuation Fellowship Awards

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.

Dissertation Completion Fellowships

The Graduate School provides a $7,000-$10,000 fellowship 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:), but there also is funding available for one-time support from the Graduate School and from the Council of Graduate Students (COGS). There is also an international study abroad fellowship for doctoral students, to help future researchers develop global perspective on educational policies and practices. Visit http://globalfellowship.educ.msu.edu/ for more information. 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. Provided by the Graduate School, Colleges and unit, such fellowships help fund, for example, students’ travel to a remote research location and/or purchase research-related equipment. Applications for these fellowships can be submitted at any time.

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.

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.

Mathematics Education Graduate Program

Ralph Putnam, Director of PRIME and Math Ed Doctoral Program

Lisa Keller, Assistant Director of PRIME

Freda Cruél, Academic Program Coordinator/Grad Secretary
North Kedzie 
354 Farm Lane, Room 211
Michigan State University 
East Lansing, MI 48824 
(517) 432-1490