Graduate Assistance

The Physics & Astronomy Department is committed to supporting graduate students throughout their degree programs through research assistantships (RAs), teaching assistantships (TAs), fellowships, or a combination of these.

Departmental Assistance

Research & Teaching Assistantships

The stipend for 2013-2014 is $1830/month, plus contributions toward tuition and health care. See below for more details on assistantships.


New students are eligible for Othmer and Chancellor's Fellowships, which add $4,000 to $8000 to the annual stipend. All students accepted into the program are automatically considered for fellowships. Current graduate students are also encouraged to apply for the department's GAANN Fellowship.

Tuition and Fees

Assistantships include contributions toward tuition and health insurance. The Office of Graduate Studies has more information on tuition and fees.

External Funding

Graduate students are also invited to apply for external sources of funding. Fellowships and scholarships offer financial support while also providing such support as networking opportunities, career options, and enhancing the student's profile. Visit the websites below for more information.

Teaching & Research Assistantships

Minimum Registration Requirement

The Department requires that all graduate students holding either a teaching or a research assistantship (TA or RA) be registered for at least 9 credit hours during each semester of the academic year.

English Requirement for ALL Graduate Teaching Assistants

(see Graduate Studies Catalog)

The university requires all foreign teaching assistants to successfully complete an International Teaching Assistant Institute. This three-week-long institute is offered mid-July through early August.

Getting Paid

Graduate students are paid on a monthly basis on the last working day of the month. All students must be registered for classes before their personnel appointment will be processed. Assistantships for the academic year are paid in ten equal installments.

Limitations on Graduate Teaching Assistantship Support

In order to improve research productivity, decrease the average length of graduate study, and mitigate problems arising from the minimum class size policy, the Department limits the extent of TA support as follows:

  1. All students are restricted to 12 semesters of full-time TA support after enrolling with a B.S. degree (or Nebraska equivalent), and eight semesters of full TA support after enrolling with an M.S. degree (or Nebraska equivalent). Support during the summer is not restricted.
  2. If normal funding is available, students making satisfactory progress will be guaranteed 10 semesters of full-time TA support toward the Ph.D degree (6 semesters if entering with an M.S. degree) or 5 semesters toward the M.S. degree. Beyond these limits, support will be granted only at the convenience of the Department.

Tuition Credit

During the Academic Year

To be eligible for tuition credits, graduate students must give evidence of some combination of teaching and research assistantships equivalent to at least a 2/3 assistantship. Students will get credit toward tuition for up to 12 credit hours. Note however, that graduate college regulations restrict full TAs or RAs to registering for no more than 10 credit hours per semester.

During the Summer Sessions

Students having a graduate assistantship during the academic year may receive tuition credit during the following summer sessions. The amount of tuition credit depends on the level of the academic year graduate assistantship stipend. Details are available from the Main Office, the Graduate Committee Chair, or the Graduate College. Graduate assistants not on appointment for both semesters are not eligible for the summer session tuition credit. However, a graduate assistant on appointment during the spring semester may be eligible for a reimbursement of summer session tuition if he/she receives a graduate assistantship appointment for the following fall semester. To obtain such reimbursement, graduate assistants must apply to the Student Accounts Office, 110 Administration, after the fall semester has begun and after their assistantship appointment has been processed.

Social Security Taxes

Some graduate students unnecessarily pay social security (F.I.C.A.) taxes every summer on their summer income. The Payroll Office (ext. 2-2010) describes the regulations as follows:

  1. Foreign students here on an F-1 or J-1 visa generally do not pay social security taxes. Those on F-2, H-1, H-2, or J-2 generally do pay social security taxes. For further information, consult the Payroll Office.
  2. American students who have a graduate teaching or research assistantship do not pay social security taxes provided they have half-time status. This means that they must be registered for a total of three credits over the course of the summer. Note that there are two 5-week summer sessions and one 8-week summer session that runs concurrently with the two 5-week sessions. For example: You can register for 1 credit hour during the first summer session and two credit hours during the second summer session to avoid paying social security taxes. You could also register for two credit hours during the first summer session and one the second; however, if you choose not to register during the first session, you will have to pay social security taxes for June since the second session starts in July, but the first session extends over both June and July. See the Graduate Program Associate for details.

Full Time Status

(See the Graduate Studies Catalog)

During the summer, students required to maintain full-time graduate student status must register for at least 3 credit hours during each 5-week summer session.