Funding Your Graduate Education

The Department of Aerospace Engineering has the goal of providing funding for all full-time graduate students who are making good progress towards their degree.

Teaching Assistantships are generally awarded for the first semester or two, with the expectation that all TAs will become RAs by the end of their first year in the program. It is the policy of the department not to award Teaching Assistantships to students from other departments - a student would have to transfer into our department (ENAE) in order to be considered for such a position.

Teaching Assistants usually assist professors and other experienced instructors in a classroom setting by preparing or conducting lectures and discussion sections, assisting students, or grading exams, lab reports, papers, or other assignments. These assistants are hired by the department, and are assigned a faculty mentor. In some cases, the Teaching Assistant will assume responsibility, under faculty supervision, for teaching a course on his or her own.

Research Assistants work primarily with faculty or other investigators on some facet of a research project. These assistants are selected by the faculty with whom they will be working. At times, RAs are paid from grant funds.

Fellowships are merit-based awards designed to enable the recipient to focus full-time on graduate study, do not have to be repaid, and in many cases include both the remission of tuition and a stipend for living expenses.

The Aerospace Department offers the following awards to full-time Graduate Students:

  • Aerospace Research Fellowship
  • Aerospace Research Scholarship
  • Aerospace Teaching Fellowship
  • ARCS Fellowship
  • Minta Martin Fellowship
  • Gustave J. Hokenson Fellowship

Fellowships are different from Graduate Assistantships. Graduate Assistantships require graduate students to teach classes, work on a research project, or perform administrative tasks to earn their stipend and tuition remission.

All applicants and current students in the department are automatically considered for these awards. Most fellowship awards are part of a recruitment package; others are made to current students through a competitive awards process. Both applicants and current students should contact the graduate program for more information on available fellowships.

  • Amelia Earhart Fellowship Program
    Women of any nationality are eligible. Be registered in an accredited Ph.D./doctoral program in a qualifying area of science or engineering closely related to advanced studies in aerospace-related science or aerospace-related engineering.
  • The Ford Dissertation Diversity Fellowship Program
    Ford Foundation Fellowship awards are offered at the Predoctoral, Dissertation and Postdoctoral levels.  Fellowships are awarded in a national competition. Awards are made to individuals who have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.
  • The Graduate Student Researchers Program (GSRP)
    The program offers competitive fellowships to U.S. citizens who are pursuing graduate degrees at the Masters and Doctoral levels, at U. S. accredited colleges and universities in areas of science and engineering that support the NASA research and development mission.
  • The Hertz Foundation's Graduate Fellowship Award
    Awards are based on merit (not need), and consists of a cost-of-education allowance and a personal-support stipend. College seniors wishing to pursue the Ph.D. degree in any of the fields of particular interest to the Foundation, as well as graduate students already in the process of doing so, may apply.
  • The NASA Aeronautics Scholarship Program
    The Program is open to U.S. citizens who are accepted or enrolled in an accredited program, and remain in good academic standing at their respected college or university.
  • The National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. (GEM) Fellowship
    GEM assists underrepresented minority students in obtaining M.S. degrees in engineering and Ph.D. degrees in engineering and the natural and physical sciences.
  • National Defense Science and Engineering (NDSEG) Fellowship
    The NDSEG program is currently administered by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). ASEE and the DoD use guidelines to determine the eligibility of an applicant. These guidelines relate to the academic status of applicants and are designed to ensure that students at or near the beginning of their graduate studies receive fellowships. To be eligible, applicants must either be enrolled in their final year of undergraduate studies or have completed less than two full-time years of graduate study.
  • Naval Research Enterprise Intern Program (NREIP)
    Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), NREIP is a 10 week summer research opportunity for undergraduate juniors and seniors, and graduate students, under the guidance of a mentor, at a participating Navy Laboratory. The stipend amounts for the program are $5,500 for undergraduate students and $6,500 for graduate students. U.S. citizenship is required; permanent residents accepted at certain labs.
  • NSF - Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)
    The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees in fields within NSF's mission.  The GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant achievements in science and engineering research.
  • Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program
    The SMART Scholarship for Service Program is open only to U.S. citizens, and students must be at least 18 years of age to be eligible.

Finding Graduate Assistantships

  • Finding an assistantship is, in many ways, equivalent to finding a job.
    Assistants are hired, paid, and supervised by the program or office that offers the appointment.
  • Start looking for your assistantship in the most familiar places.
    Most departments hire their own students as TAs, and RAs. Find out the criteria and application process in your department, and let them know that you want an assistantship. Ask your chair or graduate director, your advisor, or other professors who know you, and the support staff (including other graduate assistants) in your department. Many assistantships are never publicized and are filled only through word-of-mouth.
  • Look for assistantships everywhere.
    Centers, Institutes, individual professors with research grant money, other departments, and non-academic offices all hire graduate assistants.
  • Be prepared to seize an opportunity when it becomes available. Have your resume and references ready.