Funding

Addressed below:

  • Departmental teaching and research assistantships
  • Other assistantship opportunities on campus
  • University fellowships
  • Diversity fellowships
  • National fellowships
  • GrantSearch for Graduate Students (GSGS)
  • Department dissertation research fund
  • Anca Romantan Graduate International Research Fund
  • Graduate School travel grants

Departmental teaching and research assistantships

A limited number of teaching assistantships are available in the Communication Department, 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, OIT (Office of 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.

Department dissertation research fund

The Department of Communication offers small grants that help PhD students pay dissertation research expenses. Specifically, the fund is for material items needed to complete your research.

To be eligible, you must:

  • be in good standing
  • have your prospectus officially filed with the Graduate School
  • have a letter of support for your advisor

These funds are reviewed by the Graduate Studies Committee each semester. Receipts are necessary for reimbursement. Download the application at right.

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. See Anca Romantan Graduate International Research Fund to the right.

Graduate School 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. Download the application at right.

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. See the Graduate School travel grant website for typical amounts covered.

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 year, although the Travel Grant Committee typically awards only a small number of grants to the department annually.  Additional funding for graduate students presenting at conferences is often available from the department to those students not funded through the Graduate School.  The Graduate Program Director makes a call for requests for department-sponsored travel grants each semester. 

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.  The GPD will notify the Graduate Council Travel Grant Committee of his/her approval within 10 days of receiving your application.

  • The Travel Grant Committee will respond to you by e-mail within 14 days of communication from 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:

  1. Application form

  2. Evidence or confirmation of invitation to present

  3. Expense summary

  4. Approval form to be completed by the GPD