Assistantship Policy

Clinical program students are typically funded with Teaching Assistantships (TAs), Research Assistantships (RAs), and/or competitive University or external fellowships.  TAs are funded by the Department, whereas RAs are typically funded by faculty with active research grants.  As one annual source of funding, some students may receive an incoming University Fellowship.  In our Department, the Graduate Studies Committee selects such Fellows during the admissions process, and awarded students receive the fellowship support during the second semester of their first year in the program.  The types of external fellowships available will often depend on students’ sub-discipline, though the National Institutes of Mental Health National Research Service Award (predoctoral F31) is a common program to which clinical students apply.  Additional information on fellowships is available from the UMass Graduate School here.

Note that 20 hours of assistantship per semester is considered full funding. Also, students supported on an assistantship, fellowship, and/or traineeship that pays the equivalent of at least a 10-hour assistantship can expect to have their tuition and most of their fees waived.  Additional information is available on the Department’s Assistantship and Fees webpage.  Students who do not have full funding (or their desired level of funding if that is less than 20 hours) through alternative means will be considered for TA support.  The number of TA hours available to each Departmental Program is typically determined by the proportion of tenure-stream faculty associated with each program, though this allocation decision ultimately rests with the Department Chair and can change depending on various budgetary and/or special appointment considerations for any given semester.

Although the clinical program’s goal is to provide enough TA support for each student to attain full funding (across all personally pertinent funding mechanisms), or their desired level of funding if that is less than 20 hours, this may not always be feasible.  When it is not possible, the program’s foundational principle is to use TA positions to have as many students as possible receiving at least 10 hours of financial support (in order to meet the minimum criteria for tuition remission and fee waivers).  In some semesters, ensuring 10 hours of support for clinical students will be the sole way in which Departmental TA support will be distributed, with students who are earlier in the program generally having higher priority for these funds over those later in the program (i.e., reverse seniority).  As noted, though, there may be circumstances when Department-level budgetary and/or special appointment considerations will override this program priority (e.g., when a more senior student has a specific skillset for a course that a more junior student does not possess). In these cases, the Department Chair reserves the right to approve an appointment that does not align with this program priority.

In most semesters, though, there will be enough additional TA support to fund clinical students beyond 10 hours. In these semesters, students are again generally prioritized based on reverse seniority; that is, students who are earlier in the program have higher priority for such additional TA funding (beyond 10 hours of overall existing support) over those later in the program.  For example, if every clinical student is being funded in some way for 10 hours, and there are still 40 hours of TA support left to allocate, the four most junior students will generally receive these positions to attain 20 hours of support. Again, though, the above caveat about Department-level circumstances that might override this program priority applies.

Also, across the entire Department, and therefore including the clinical program, students who have already secured 20 hours of non-TA funding (e.g., RA, external fellowship) are the lowest priority to be allocated a TA position. Put differently, students who have yet to receive full, or their otherwise desired, funding will always have priority over students who already have 20 hours of funding.