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How to get Graduate Assistantship in First Semester – Student Experience, Tips

By Guest Author

Getting funding can be a big deal for international students as it helps them focus on education without any financial concerns.  Typically, you can get funding by proper planning in second semester, but if you are proactive, you might get it in first semester. Mradul is one of those proactive guys, who took initiative and got funding in first semester itself. He was gracious to share his experience and tips with our readers. Thanks to Mradul for taking time to share his experience.  If you do not know about funding types, read this article : What are TA, RA and GA  ? Funding in US Schools ?

Graduate Assistantships in US schools

One of the biggest advantages of doing MS in the United States is the chances of getting a Graduate Assistantship. It not only fetches a monthly stipend but also in most cases waives off your tuition fees. Getting a GA mostly depends on the funds available with the school. Usually, a public University will have more funds available than a private(Also, tuition fee for public University is usually lower). There are some rare Universities that offer Graduate Assistantship with the admit, but usually people don’t get it from other Universities. Overall, it would be extremely difficult to get a GA in the first sem. However, it would be better to sort out universities that offer GA and apply to them, expecting to get it in the second sem.

How to communicate with Professors ?

You have sorted out the Universities and have applied to them. Now, you know that you have a fair chances of getting a GA in the second sem. Let’s give it a try for the first sem. Find out who’s the person responsible for appointing GAs and get in touch with him/her. Don’t directly show your interest in being appointed, go slow. E.g., if the person is an Advisor, seek help in deciding on the courses, getting to know the department and start showing interest in his work. If it’s a professor, ask him about his works, research interests, etc. In the conversation, get to know him, show your interest in learning new things, and show that you have strong communication skills. In short, tell him you have got whatever he wants in a potential GA and later tell your interest in the position and state how it will corroborate to achieve your goals. A person in the second sem has more chances of getting a GA because he is already there for one sem and people know him. So, by letting the concerned person know you, you are putting yourself to the same level as that of a student in the second sem.

NOTE: It would be a bad idea to continuously ask the person about a GA position. All it would do is hampering your chances, rather than increasing them.

My Story of Getting Graduate Assistantship in First semester :

I applied to 6 schools for MS in IT/CS and kept talking to the concerned authority. When I finalized ISU, I applied to GA positions in various departments and got rejections from all of them. Graduate advisor of my department is concerned with recruiting the GAs, I kept contact with her, asking about the GA positions. The conclusion was GA positions are available but will be filled before I reach there. After coming here, I had a pre-requisite course in Java (everyone coming to ISU has this pre-req). To avoid taking the course, you may take a placement exam. I did well in the exam and got mail from the advisor that she wants to interview me informally for a GA position she may have. In the interview, I proved my communication and technical skills and demonstrated financial needs. Next day, I got the offer.

The journey to get the GA was marked by serendipity, but it was important to believe in myself and hope for the best. There would always be people who’ll tell you that it’s not possible; it’s up to you on how to shut them up.

If you have not, read  article ” How to get Scholarships in US schools ?

If you are a TA, GA or RA, please share your story of getting funding with our readers. Send it as email to redbus2us(at) gmail.com


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  1. Respected Sir

    I am planning to do my MS in US and I would like to know how to apply for scholarships .It would be very helpful if you could guide me sir.

  2. Hi Kumar,
    Does these assistantships relate to any prior work experince we have?
    For ex: if a student was a working professional in a MNC and has prior exp of 2-3 years. Academics are good.In such cases what factor does really matter? Exp is a major advantage or the college foes only with academics? Please let me know.

    • Abhi,
      It totally depends on the position you apply. it may help in some positions..especially research assistantships or Graduate Assistanships, if your experience is relevant to the role you apply. You would have to highlight such aspects in your application or in-person if you are already there…

  3. Hi kumar, I am in my first semester of MS in UNC. I wanted to know how did you approach professors of other departments for assistantship. I guess these positions are hard to get and why would a professor fund a student outside his research lab , let alone department . Secondly why would a professor fund a student doing thesis under him, for the student’s thesis would anyways not add on to the personal research and projects of the professor. Kindly guide me. Thanks and all the best

  4. I dont see any Graduate assistantship forms in the admission application. Is it we should contact professor of our areas through email to ask about the fundings given for GA once we get admitted in the universities?

  5. God bless you Kumar ! I hold a B.Tech degree with nearly 4 years of work experience and I am thinking of doing an MBA in US. This site has everything I am looking for. Thanks for walking us through the process and sharing your personal experience.

  6. I have applied 3 universities in usa for ms and applied all of these universities.I have received GA for the first semester.my story is :First i have received the offer letter and they asked to communicate with the professor of my department(ECE).I communicated with all of the department and professor for a position and called to their phone number.Finally i received it.

    • No worries buddy 🙂 Thank You for Sharing !
      I am sure your experience will help prospective students plan proactively and get funding.


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