Study Abroad

Financial Aid for Master’s and PhD

23 December, 2022
SA Team

Financial aid for graduate (Master’s)and doctoral (PhD) studies is awarded to international students in two different forms: Assistantship or Fellowships (sometimes also called Scholarships).

The following is a general summary of both alternatives for the international student, which (however) may differ depending on the school.


This opportunity is typically provided to graduate students working on their PhD or Master’s degree. Assistantships fall under four categories:

  • Teaching Assistant (TA)
  • Research Assistant (RA)
  • Graduate Assistant (GA)
  • Graduate Research Assistant (GRA)

These grants are maintained by the department of study. Students are expected to work a set number of hours as a teaching assistant or participate in a specific research project led by the Professor in charge or the institute itself in order to apply for and qualify for these assistantships.

Students who are awarded assistantships generally get a monthly remuneration, a tuition waiver, or health insurance coverage from the school.

Teaching Assistant (TA)

TA is an academic position in which the student is given time to help the professor in the teaching of a course. Teaching assistants may be asked to conduct discussions or lead during laboratory sessions, or they may be asked to assist in the teaching of a component of the course.

This type of funding is typically given to international students who have strong TOEFL for TSE (or equivalent) scores. This may be a prerequisite for applying for a teaching assistantship as well.

Research Assistant (RA)

RA is an academic position that wherein the student conducts research that is not directly tied to their thesis. The work assigned to this type of assistance may range from 15 to 20 hours per week, with a weekly average of no more than 15 hours. A RA position, for example, could entail data analysis for a specific department faculty member or an institutional research project that is not directly related to the student’s dissertation topic. This position, like the others, does not require a separate application. Students are appointed by their departments, study fields, or a member of the department of study’s faculty.

Graduate Assistant (GA)

GA is also an academically appointed support person who may be assigned work in any other department that is not immediately related to their thesis or coursework.

Data analysis for a department professor or institutional research project that is not related to the student’s study topic or department or working in another department’s computer labs are examples of this form of assistantship.

Graduate Research Assistant (GRA)

GRA is an academic position centred on a thesis or other degree-related research undertaken by the department’s Professor for the institution. All candidates pursuing this degree may be required to participate in this assistantship. Simultaneously, the research project directly helps the student’s thesis or dissertation, which they may have chosen for this form of assistantship. This is done because the student invests a significant amount of time to their dissertation study.


Fellowships are primarily merit-based awards given to students to assist them during their full-time studies at the institution.

This could include a stipend, tuition reimbursement, or health insurance coverage. In this situation, students are not obligated to work as teaching assistants or graduate research assistants, nor are they required to repay the tuition waiver at the end of the course. Although fellowships and scholarships are similar, there is a subtle difference between them.

A scholarship is a grant given to an academically meritorious student for a Bachelor’s degree, whereas a Fellowship is a grant given to an academically meritorious graduate student. Neither is required to be repaid.

Next Steps

You must look for Assistantship and Fellowships opportunities while shortlisting your desired university. These are compelling advantages that can significantly reduce your costs and boost your profile and academic experience. Discuss these with your IMS consultants and choose universities that offer such financial aids, as well as the process to apply for them.

Author –

Dipti Pal

Head, Admission Consulting



Ilika M

Editor, Admission Consulting



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