Addressed below:

  • Departmental teaching and research assistantships
  • Other assistantship opportunities on campus
  • Diversity fellowships
  • National fellowships
  • GrantSearch for Graduate Students (GSGS)
  • Departmental summer fellowships
  • Anca Romantan Graduate International Research Fund
  • Departmental graduate student travel grants

Departmental teaching and research assistantships

A limited number of teaching assistantships are available in the Department of Communication, although typically each admitted student is funded through either a teaching assistantship or, less often, a research assistantship. The stipend for the nine-month academic year is about $17,300 and comes with a tuition/curriculum fee waiver and health benefits. Students rarely but do occasionally receive additional funding in summer and winter, and some are offered the opportunity of summer teaching online.

How to be considered

  • On your application, check the appropriate box under “financial aid” —visit the Graduate School website to apply online.
  • Your application file must be complete.
  • You must be registered for 9 credits, unless the department's Graduate Studies Committee has granted a waiver. Generally, a waiver is granted only once in the course of your MA or PhD program. For a waiver request form, visit the department’s Graduate Office.

Funding details

How many semesters?  MA candidates in the department are eligible to receive at least 4 semesters of funding upon good academic standing through teaching and occasionally through research assistantships; PhD candidates, 8 semesters; candidates undertaking both degrees, 12 semesters. Department funding is not lost if you do not need it for one or more semesters. For example, as a PhD student, you may receive 4 semesters of funding from the department, then be funded elsewhere for 3 semesters, and then return to the department for another 4 semesters of funding.

Mind the contract.  Note that assistantship contracts are for either one semester or one academic year. These limits are inherent to the Commonwealth's annual budget process, in which funds do not carry over from one year to the next. Although the department's policy is to support students who are doing well academically and in their assistantship assignments for the duration of their studies, there is no obligation beyond the limits specified in a given contract.

Learn more … about minimum pay rates, health benefits, tuition and curriculum fee waiver, vacation time, and more at the Graduate Employee Organization website.

Other assistantship opportunities on campus

Assistantship opportunities occasionally arise in other units on campus, such as the Writing Program, IT (Information Technologies), and the Housing Office.  The Graduate Assistantship Office posts these opportunities as they become available and processes graduate appointments and associated waiver benefits for them.  It does not make the actual appointments, however.  For more information, visit the GAO website.

Diversity fellowships

The Graduate School provides fellowship assistance for graduate students from groups that have been historically underrepresented in graduate education. Students do not apply directly for diversity fellowships; instead, they are nominated by the graduate program committees of their respective departments.  

About the diversity fellowships:

  • Only US citizens and permanent residents are eligible.
  • The diversity fellowships do not constitute a special admissions program, nor are they related to any such program. 
  • Candidates must be recommended for admission to a graduate program before they can be nominated for funding.

National fellowships

Graduate applicants are also strongly advised to seek national fellowships: Ford Foundation, Javits Fellows, NSF Fellowships, and those provided by national professional organizations. The university participates in Project 1000 (a national program created to assist underrepresented students applying to graduate school) and strongly encourages McNair Scholars to apply, to name just a few opportunities. For further information, contact the Graduate School.

GrantSearch for Graduate Students (GSGS)

The GrantSearch for Graduate Students program helps graduate and postdoctoral students apply for grants and fellowships from funding sources outside the university.  Sponsors include federal government agencies, corporations, and public interest groups.  Awards can include money for research and stipends for tuition and/or living expenses.  GSGS maintains and updates an extensive online database to aid in the search of graduate funding.  Visit the GSGS website for more information.

Departmental summer fellowships

Communication summer fellowships are available for two sets of graduate students: dissertating Ph.D. candidates, and students who have been admitted to the department’s graduate program but have not yet accepted the admission offer. Each is discussed below.

Dissertating Ph.D. candidates. The Department of Communication invites current Ph.D. students to apply for summer fellowships to help them complete their dissertations. The Graduate Studies Committee, which oversees the summer fellowship awards, will consider a variety of factors when evaluating the applications. These factors include the students’ personal statements, the scholarly merit of the proposed projects, the students’ academic records and progress toward degree, and the advisors’ letters of support. Each applicant must have received an “In Good Standing” rating at the most recent meeting of the Communication graduate faculty. Special consideration will be given to international students and others with limited summer employment options.

Graduate program admittees. A portion of the Communication summer fellowship funds will be used to recruit incoming students. The incoming-student fellowships will fund research during the summer between the students’ first and second years in the program.

The Graduate Studies Committee will make at least two awards to dissertating Ph.D. students and at least two awards to members of the incoming graduate cohort. Each fellowship stipend will be no less than $2000, and the Graduate Studies Committee may award as many as ten fellowships per summer during the fund’s initial three-year period. Any leftover funds will be used to support applicants to the fund who were unsuccessful but met the evaluative criteria noted above.

Each fellowship recipient is expected to complete a research project (e.g., a conference paper, a dissertation chapter) with the guidance and approval of her/his advisory committee. The success of the program will be determined by the number of dissertating students who finish their degree requirements within a year of receiving the summer funding and by the number of top graduate applicants who accept our offer of admission. For more information about the Communication summer fellowships program – including application deadlines – please contact the department’s Graduate Program Director, Leda Cooks, at or 413-545-2895.


Anca Romantan Graduate International Research Fund

The department offers an annual award to support international research among graduate students, in honor of a late colleague whose work spanned global interests. Please click here for more information about this award. Download the Anca Romantan Graduate International Research Fund PDF on the upper right-hand side of this page.

Graduate Student travel grants

These grants are awarded exclusively for travel to recognized conferences for the purpose of presenting research or original artistic works resulting from graduate coursework at UMass Amherst. They are not awarded for the purpose of attending a conference, facilitating a session, or conducting research. 

What they pay for: Grant funds apply to registration, transportation, and lodging expenses documented by receipts. Meals, copying, and other incidentals are not reimbursable. Students are strongly encouraged to share travel expenses with others attending a conference. Typical amounts covered: $300-$400 for Domestic travel and $500-$800 for International travel.

Eligibility: Awards are made to an individual student rather than to a project (divided among several students). Each graduate student is eligible for one grant per semester, and amounts may vary depending on overall budget and numbers of students that apply.  Additional funding for graduate students presenting at conferences is often available from the department to those students not funded through the Graduate School.   

Application instructions

As soon as you have been formally notified that your work has been accepted for presentation, e-mail the completed application to the department's Graduate Program Director (GPD).  Include an expense summary page and the confirmation from the conference organizers.

Ask your advisor or project faculty member to send an e-mail of support to the GPD.   If a grant is awarded, take the e-mail notification and your receipts for approved travel expenses to the department's bookkeeper within 30 days of travel to receive reimbursement.

Your application packet must include the following items:

  • Application form
  • Evidence or confirmation of invitation to present
  • Expense summary