The department offers various forms of funding for graduate students, including teaching assistantships (TA positions) and graduate part-time instructor (GPTI) positions (GPTIs teach stand-alone courses), research assistantships, summer dissertation fellowships and summer research assistantships, professional travel awards and summer partial tuition fellowships. Each of these forms of funding is explained below.
Generally, master’s students receive two years of funding and PhD students receive four years (in both cases, continuous from the first semester enrolled), unless they enter the PhD program directly from CU Boulder’s MA communication program, in which case the typical funding for the master’s and PhD degrees combined is five years. Enrolled students who have not been funded may be appointed on a semester or yearly basis when funding is available.
TAs and GPTIs are half-time (50%) appointments, and as such are expected to devote, on average, approximately 20 hours per week to their teaching responsibilities. In addition to normal classroom responsibilities (e.g., preparing for classes, testing, and grading), they are expected to:
Attend fall graduate student orientations and regularly scheduled teaching workshops
Meet regularly with course supervisor(s)
Consult with the Lead Graduate Student
Hold regular/consistent office hours
Arrange for evaluations of teaching performance (e.g., Faculty Course Questionnaires (FCQs) and classroom observations by course supervisors, the Lead Graduate Student, and/or their academic advisors
Comply with department and university policies about teaching and examination schedules
Meet specific expectations for courses taught, as set by any course supervisor(s) and by good academic practice
Summer teaching often is available to graduate students, with assignments determined by the department chairperson on the basis of seniority, need and expertise. The summer pay schedule for GPTIs (the type of appointment) is: Term A: approximately 75 percent of total paycheck received on July 1, with remaining 25 percent received on July 31; Term B: approximately 75 percent of total paycheck received on July 31, with remaining 25 percent received on August 31.
TAs and GPTIs are evaluated on their teaching performance at the annual faculty review of graduate students. They also receive regular feedback from any course supervisors.
Lead Graduate Student Fellowship
Each year, the department faculty appoints a graduate student to serve as the Lead Graduate Student (LGS), which is part of the Lead Graduate Student Fellowship through the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). The Lead program has two goals for graduate students who serve as LGSs: (a) to develop the leads themselves as future academic managers, leaders, teachers and consultants; and (b) to assist departments with internal TA preparation to improve undergraduate education. Lead training focuses on academic management, leadership, college pedagogy, consultation and teamwork. Requirements include: serving as a liaison between the CTL and the department, meeting with the lead coordinators, negotiating and writing a plan that is acceptable to the CTL and to the department, presenting on CTL opportunities that are available to graduate students and faculty, consulting with TAs during office hours and in videotaped consultations, developing and presenting at least one discipline-specific workshop, working on a cross-disciplinary team, and turning in a final report.
LGSs also do a TA support activity of their choice within the department. LGSs must have excellent working relationships with the chairperson, associate chair of graduate studies, and graduate program assistant; preference is given to those with an average score of 3.0 or better on the Faculty Course Questionnaire (FCQ) for courses previously taught, five to six semesters of teaching experience, and continued progress toward completion of the CTL certificate in teaching or professional development. LGSs receive a stipend. LGSs are nominated and voted on by department faculty. Interested students should consult with their advisor and with the associate chair of graduate studies.
Summer Dissertation Fellowships
Summer Dissertation Fellowships areawarded to students to provide time to work on their dissertation. PhD students may be awarded only one dissertation fellowship during their program, typically in the summer after completion of the PhD comprehensive examination. Students submit to the associate chair of graduate studies a one-to-three paragraph description of the proposed dissertation work, along with a letter of support from their advisor.
Professional Research and Travel Awards
Professional research and travel awards are given to students pursuing particular research projects or traveling to present scholarship at professional conferences (in addition to any other university travel support). The associate chair of graduate studies puts out a call for these awards early in the fall and the spring. The typical range of awards is $100–$600.
Some PhD students are offered Pre-Doctoral Fellowships, typically in the summer, funded by CMCI. The fellowship involves working for and with a faculty member on that faculty member’s research. To the extent possible, students are matched with faculty members who are engaged in research that connects to the student’s desired expertise area. These fellowships give students research-related experience that is part of their paid work and, thereby, helps them to build a stronger profile that will enable them to do better on the job market.
Graduate School Summer Fellowship
After passing their comprehensive exams, PhD students with no summer funding from the university become eligible for a Summer Fellowship funded by the Graduate School. The purpose of the fellowship is to support PhD students’ dissertation research. Each year, the department nominates one student for the fellowship who receives a biweekly stipend throughout the summer.