Research Assistants, Project Assistants & Traineeships

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Teaching Assistantships

  • Teaching assistants lead weekly discussion sections with small groups of students who are enrolled in large lecture courses or, in the case of statistics courses, conduct weekly laboratory sessions.
  • They attend lectures, plan classes, meet with students during office hours, and evaluate homework assignments, papers, and exams.
  • Other duties depend upon the requirements of the particular course.
  • Description of the Department of Sociology’s hiring process for teaching assistants is here.
  • TAs typically have a half-time appointment for a fall or spring semester.
  • They must be enrolled at least half time during that semester if they are not yet dissertators and enrolled in three thesis credits if they have attained dissertator status.

Project Assistantships

  • Project assistants are often employed to assist with research, training, or administration of academic programs or projects.
  • Their work may involve data collection, data analysis, writing and editing, outreach, and/or program support.
  • The activities that PAs engage in are not expected to be directly related to their own thesis or dissertation research.
  • PAs typically have a half-time appointment for either nine months or twelve.
  • They must be enrolled at least half time during the academic year if they are not yet dissertators and enrolled in three thesis credits if they have attained dissertator status; they do not need to enroll during the summer.

Research Assistantships

  • Research assistants work on a faculty member’s grant-funded project and thus must have the methodological skills required to achieve the goals of grant.
  • The tasks involved vary depending upon the needs of the professor and the nature of the project.
  • Often there is a good fit between the faculty member’s research interests and those of the RA, so RAs are able to combine work toward a degree with assistance given to a professor.
  • Ideally, the activities that RAs engage in benefit their course of study and are directly applicable to their thesis or dissertation research.
  • RAs typically have 12-month appointments.
  • They must be enrolled full-time during the academic year and enrolled in two credits (three thesis credits if they are dissertators) during the summer.

Traineeships

  • Trainees collaborate with Center for Demography and Ecology (CDE) – and Center for Demography of Health and Aging (CDHA) -affiliated faculty on NIH-funded research.
  • They must be student affiliates of CDE/CDHA, have a commitment to a career in demography, and, because their positions are federally funded, be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  • Trainees have 12-month appointments.
  • They must be enrolled full-time during the academic year and enrolled in two credits (three thesis credits if they are dissertators) during the summer.
  • Trainees are expected to pursue a career in demographic research and must submit annual research updates to the CDE/CDHA directors for 15 years following completion of the Ph.D.

Lectureships

  • Lecturers provide classroom or laboratory instruction—effectively engaging students, delivering material, and evaluating work—and are responsible for the organization, content, and all activities of the course.
  • If they are in charge of a large lecture course that has several discussion sections or labs, lecturers are also responsible for supervising teaching assistants.
  • Lecturers have teaching experience, strong teaching evaluations, and expertise in the area the course focuses on.
  • Graduate students are usually appointed as lecturers only after they have reached dissertator status.
  • They typically have a 40% appointment for either a fall or spring semester and must be enrolled in three thesis credits.

Fellowships

  • Fellows focus on their own coursework, research, and writing. Because they do not have teaching or service obligations, they have the freedom to pursue their degree full-time.
  • UW-Madison offers two types of fellowships to incoming students: Advanced Opportunity Fellowships, for under-represented minority and economically disadvantaged students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and University Fellowships, for outstanding admitted students. Both are two-year awards.
  • Students generally use the first year of the award during their initial year in the program and use the second year of the award after they have attained dissertator status.
  • Fellows have nine-month appointments and must be enrolled full-time.

External Awards

  • The above list does not contain all available positions at UW-Madison, but rather only those for which information has been provided to department staff.
  • Students are encouraged to seek out and apply for external (i.e., non-University) sources of support (e.g., grants, scholarships, dissertation fellowships).
  • These awards may substitute for one or more of the five years of funding the departments guarantee, or they may provide support after the funding guarantee has ended.
  • Students should talk to their faculty advisor about how to apply for external funding.
  • Students can contact Social Science Research Services with their questions about how to submit grants at UW-Madison.

Stipends

Below are the stipend levels that have been established for 2019-2020. Note that some appointments are for the academic year (9 months) while others are for annual positions (12 months); bear in mind, too, that the University pays a student’s tuition in addition to roughly 90% of the health insurance premium along with the stipend.

Teaching Assistant stipend:

$20,000 (academic-year [nine-month] rate for a half-time appt), $2222.22/month

Project Assistant stipends:

$18,350 (academic-year [nine-month] rate for a half-time appointment), $2038.89/month

$22,427 (annual [twelve-month] rate for a half-time appointment), $1868.92/month

Research Assistant stipends:

$20,341 (academic-year [nine-month] rate for a half-time appointment), $2260.11/month

$24,816 (annual [twelve-month] rate for a half-time appointment), $2068.00/month

Trainee stipend:

$24,324 (annual [twelve-month] rate), $2027.00/month

Lecturer stipend:

The 2019-20 stipend for this position has not yet been determined

Fellowship stipend:

$22,140 (for the academic [nine-month] year), $2460.00/month

Information for International Students

  • The Graduate School will ask international students to provide proof of funding.
  • International students are required to have sufficient funds to cover expenses completely while attending UW-Madison.
  • Those entering in Fall 2019 must certify that they have a minimum of $45,779 (U.S. dollars) in a checking or savings account at the time of admission.
  • The financial documentation must be verified before an I-20 or DS-2019 form can be issued.
  • Changes in immigration law have made it difficult for departments to provide a funding guarantee that will make it possible for students to obtain a visa unless they have funding beyond that guaranteed by the program. Students usually must have external funding or financial resources of their own—e.g., savings, family support, funding provided by an employer or the government of the student’s home county.
  • Additional information for international students can be found here.
  • Information about loans, scholarships, and grants available to international students is here.

Other Positions Related to Demography, Health, Family, and Aging 

For convenience, we have divided the positions available to Department of Sociology graduate students into two groups. The first group is positions loosely tied to the Center for Demography and Ecology and the Center for Demography of Health and Aging which are most appropriate for students in demography, stratification, public health, and family studies. The second group is the more heterogeneous group of “other” research positions.

1. RA or PA postions funded by Center for Demography and Ecology (CDE). Up to two positions. Specific appointments will be made by faculty with pilot research projects in CDE. Appointments may be made of students at any level. Preference will likely go to students with strong quantitative skills and research interest in demography.

2. RA or PA positions funded by the Center for Demography of Health and Aging (CDHA). Up to four positions. Specific appointments will be made by faculty with pilot research projects in CDHA. Appointments may be made of students at any level. Preference will likely go to students with strong quantitative skills and research interest in demography, health, and/or aging.

3. Traineeships in demography from the Center for Demography and Ecology (CDE). Eight positions. Traineeships are awarded to students with demonstrated interest in and qualifications for study in demography and related areas.

4. Traineeships in population and aging from the Center for Demography of Health and Aging (CDHA).Four positions. Traineeships are awarded to students with demonstrated interest in and qualifications for study in demography, health and aging, and the life course.

CDE and CDHA appointment process

In the spring, CDE’s training committee reviews files of admitted students with stated interests in demography and related areas for both CDE and CDHA RA/PA positions and traineeships. If you are seriously interested in studying demography, health, aging, and the life course, but feel that interest may not have been expressed in your application materials for some reason, you may send email to the Director of Graduate Studies (grantm@ssc.wisc.edu) who will forward your name to the CDE/CDHA selection committee. Note: Traineeships are open only to US citizens or permanent residents.

As the air temperature drops into the single digits, a mix of ducks, geese and an occasional swan swim in the steamy, yet-to-freeze water of Lake Mendota

Other Positions at UW-Madison for Graduate Students

 

The Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER):
WCER hosts an Interdisciplinary Training Program (ITP) for Predoctoral Research in the Education Sciences. The purpose of the program is to encourage social science doctoral students to study practical problems in education with rigorous quantitative methods that allow causal inference. Particular emphasis is given to randomized controlled trials. Support is available for entry-level (first or second-year) students and advanced (dissertator) students. Students from economics, political science, psychology, sociology, and social work are eligible for the program. Due to requirements of the U.S. Department of Education, only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for funding, although all students are very welcome to take courses in the program and take part in any way.

Community and Environmental Sociology (CES): There are a wide variety of traineeships and research/project assistantships in environmental sociology and the sociology of agriculture. The environmental sociologists are located primarily in the department of Community and Environmental Sociology. The Department of Sociology and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology run a wholly integrated graduate program so that students may readily combine interests in environmental sociology with other sub-fields in sociology.

Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS): COWS is a national policy center and field laboratory for high-road economic development — a competitive market economy of shared prosperity, environmental sustainability, and capable democratic government. COWS work is collaborative, experimental, and evidence-driven. Working with business, government, labor, and communities, we try out new ideas, test their effectiveness, and disseminate those with promise. We believe that the best way to predict the future is to start making it, particularly in our states and metro regions. Some areas of COWS program focus include, economic and workforce development, sectoral strategies and career pathways, clean energy and energy efficiency, labor markets and job improvement and strategies for improving low-wage work. COWS hires graduate project assistants for a variety of positions involving research and project management.

Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP): Graduate student positions at IRP are filled by the faculty researchers. Faculty researchers serve as the project directors for each of the projects at IRP. If you are interested in a PA or RA position with an IRP researcher, go to the IRP website to find out which faculty are affiliated with IRP. Review the affiliates’ areas of research. If you are interested in a research area that is similar to an IRP affiliates’ work, email them directly to let them know of your interest in a PA or RA position and what skills you could offer to their research project.