Graduate assistantship positions are available to higher education students in a variety of areas on the UMass campus. The assistantships are 10-30 hours/week, provide a full tuition credit, excellent benefits (including health care), roughly $30 hourly wage, and all are unionized positions. Some students choose to remain at one assistantship throughout graduate school, while others may have several.
Application Process and Opportunities
The application process for assistantships is separate from the program’s admission process. Once you are accepted to the program, it will be your responsibility to seek out and apply for assistantships, with support from the program.
Master’s and doctoral students undergo the same process for securing an assistantship. In addition to administrative positions around campus, doctoral students may also apply for a limited number of teaching- or research-focused assistantships through the College of Education.
The Higher Education Program cannot guarantee an assistantship upon acceptance. Historically, every student who needs funding has been able to eventually secure a position, but for some students, this may mean taking a leap of faith and accepting admission to UMass without a confirmed assistantship in hand.
That said, our students are in very high demand for hiring. Employers know that they come with prior higher education experience and that they are very invested in the work as part of their education.
The higher education program can provide guidance for students seeking assistantships, but students need to be very proactive in their search. If you are accepted into the Higher Education Program, you should regularly check the Graduate School’s Graduate Assistantship Job Opportunities website and the Beacon to learn about opportunities. (Check postings carefully for the number of hours per week and the semester appointment.) The program sponsors a Master’s Student Welcome Day in late February or early March, and some offices schedule interviews with accepted students then.
UMass offices post assistantship opportunities throughout the spring, summer, and into the fall semester, so we encourage you to be patient even if you do not have an assistantship lined up immediately. If you receive an assistantship of at least 10 hours after the start of the fall semester, your tuition waiver will be retroactive to the beginning of the semester.
Some campus offices come directly to our program seeking graduate students, so we encourage you to make sure the program knows that you’re in the market for a position. You can also peruse the UMass Amherst Organizational Chart to identify offices where you’d like to work and contact them directly.
Most assistantships are 20 hours a week, but some may be 10 and some 30. As long as you work at least 10 hours a week per semester, you are eligible for tuition credit, health insurance, and other benefits.
You can vary the numbers of hours you work from semester to semester and still maintain your benefits. For instance, if you work 20 hours a week in the fall and 0 hours a week in the spring, both semesters will be covered. If you work 0 hours in the fall and 20 hours in the spring, you will have to pay out of pocket for the fall, but you can be reimbursed for your fall payment once you work a certain percentage of your hours in the spring.
Higher Ed Students’ Recent Assistantship Sites/Positions
- Academic Advising
- Center for Education Policy & Advocacy
- Student Activities and Involvement
- Center for Student Success Research
- Commonwealth Honors College
- Dean of Students Office
- International Programs Office
- Learning Resource Center
- Off Campus Student Life
- Office of Fraternities & Sororities
- Research Assistant for Faculty Members
- Residence Life
- Student Bridges
- Student Conduct
- Teaching Assistant for EDUC 115 – Embracing Diversity
“After working for five years in a professional position within higher education, I wanted to fully immerse myself into doctoral study work. After being accepted to the doctoral program, I started to look for assistantship opportunities and knew that I had to search and apply to assistantships on my own. On a daily basis, I would check the Graduate Student job opportunities website and the Beacon. Three weeks before my first semester, I received an assistantship in Workplace Learning & Development that gave me an opportunity to be part of a Five College collaborative group that focuses on intergroup dialogue initiatives for faculty and staff. This assistantship gave me an opportunity not only to learn more about the organizational structure of UMass faculty and staff but also gave me the ability to connect and network with colleagues at the other four campuses (Amherst College Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College). My advice to doctoral students looking for an assistantship is to be persistent with searching and make connections with offices and departments across campus that may not have an assistantship posted, but may in the future.” –
“Apply before you get here. Network. Try and meet as many people as you can in the areas on campus you wish to work. After arriving here I had a number of assistantship offers…”
“Continue to search for an assistantship if you enter the program without one. Job postings go up all the time!”
“Be picky and choose an assistantship you are interested in. Understand the process can be handled late in the game. I didn’t land my assistantship until August.”