Graduate Student Funding Guide
The Department of Psychology has more than 120 graduate students in four different graduate programs. We guarantee to fund all students in good standing through their first four years on campus. Funding for graduate school is complex. This page provides a summary of some key information.
Forms of Funding
Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA)
The GTA is almost always a nine-month position that pays up to 15 credits (minimum nine per semester) of tuition in the fall and spring semesters. A work assignment for up to 20 hours per week is required. The current GTA rate is $18,000 for nine months. Students are responsible for all fees. Fees are about $1,000/semester for in-state students and $1,300/semester for out-of-state students. A few students may receive a 12-month GTA. This position involves a 12-month work assignment. The department currently is allotted thirty-nine (34) GTAs.
12-Month First Year Assistantship (12M)
Only available to first-year students, 12Ms are 12-month positions. They pay for up to 15 credits (minimum nine per semester) of tuition in the fall and spring semesters. A work assignment for up to 20 hours per week is required for the duration of the assistantship, including the summer months. The current 12M rate is $22,600 for 12 months. Students are responsible for all fees. Students who are not VA state residents will pay out-of-state fees. Fees are about $1,000/semester for in-state students and $1,300/semester for out-of-state students. Also note that 12M funding involves summer work assignments and summer pay. The department currently is allotted seventeen (17) 12Ms.
Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA)
Like a GTA, this is generally a nine-month position that pays up to 15 credits of tuition. The funding comes from a grant or contract. A work assignment for up to 20 hours per week is required. The GRA rate is at the discretion of the PI funding the GRA. Check with PI, as some GRAs will pay for fees. Fees are about $1,000/semester for in-state students and $1,300/semester for out-of-state students.
Students funded on GRA are strongly encouraged to talk in detail with the funding PI about the specific details of the funding, including coverage of tuition and fees. Note that students in year five or higher may not receive tuition support. The number of GRAs varies every year.
Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Doctoral Scholars Program, Institutional Award
The VCU Graduate School has partnered with the SREB Doctoral Scholars Program to provide funding and other support to underrepresented minority students seeking their Ph.D. and plan to become college or university professors. The Doctoral Scholars Program, Institutional Award is for scholars who are expecting admission before the fall semester begins (or within the first year of their Ph.D. program). The Doctoral Scholar Award offers three years of institutional support from the scholar's college, university and/or department, in the form of a $25,000 annual stipend. Each recipient also is awarded three years of university tuition and fees. In addition, the funding package includes professional development support and covers expenses associated with attending the Compact for Faculty Diversity Annual Institute on Teaching and Mentoring. SREB funding requires an application process and there is a competitive review.
This funding is for an hourly position only, usually paid via a grant or contract (though in some instances, the department hires hourly workers). Students are responsible for tuition and all fees, unless the PI has stated otherwise.
Students may receive summer funding.
- Students who are funded on a 12M or SREB have summer funding automatically in their first year (SREB in their first three years).
- Students funded on GRAs may have summer funding and should inquire with their funding PI about details. Often summer pay involves hourly pay and not a stipend.
- Most students funded on GTAs will not have summer funding. These students may be eligible for summer funding via a faculty member’s grant or in rare cases, through hourly employment with the department. Students interested in summer work are encouraged to investigate their options in the spring semester.
- Students with a master’s degree and who have taken the teaching practicum course at VCU may also seek funding by teaching a course at VCU over the summer. Visit the Summer Teaching page for more details.
Students who are funded on a 12M, GTA or GRA will have their tuition paid. Because the payment of tuition via these funding mechanisms is complex and involves multiple offices at VCU, the tuition payment may not occur until 4-5 weeks into the semester (approx. mid-October or mid-February). Students should pay their fees as soon as possible. It is important to be aware, though, that tuition payments may take several weeks to process and the delay is normal and should not have consequences for students.
Students receiving funding at VCU via a nine-month GRA or nine-month GTA are permitted to have a second job during the academic year (i.e., fall and spring) only with the explicit and written permission of their advisor and the director of graduate studies. Students funded on 12M, 12-month GRA or a 12-month GTA at VCU are permitted to have a second job only with the explicit and written permission of their advisor and the director of graduate studies. Any student interested in a second job must adhere to the policy detailed on the Second Jobs page.
Frequently Asked Questions
We guarantee funding for all students in good standing through their fourth year. Funding decisions are generally made late in the spring semester (mid to late May). Contact your advisor or the graduate director if you have questions. Also, please participate in the funding surveys that are sent around twice a year, once in September and again in January. We also aim to fund every student who seeks funding. Our success rate has been excellent, with nearly all of our students funded their entire careers at VCU.
12Ms and GTAs have a variety of job assignments. Each is designed to involve about 20 hours/week on average for the semester of the assignment. Assignments are made weighing a variety of factors, including the student’s preferences, the needs of the department and student-assignment schedule matches. Here are some possible assignments:
- Teaching assistant: Most assignments involve classroom support for our many undergraduate (and some graduate) offerings. Classes range from PSYC 101 (intro) and our core stats and methods classes of 214 and 317 to upper-level courses (e.g., developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, social psychology, history and systems). Work for these assignments can involve grading, classroom support and assistance with proctoring. Some (e.g., 214, 317) involve teaching your own lab sections, excellent experience for those inclined to the academic career path. There are a few of these assignments that involve service learning courses. Students assigned to any of these positions are encouraged to clarify the work responsibilities with the faculty instructor; a form is available to help with this process.
- Advising office: This assignment involves staffing the department’s advising office, which provides guidance to our more than 1,700 undergraduate majors.
- CPSD: This assignment involves providing staffing support to our departmental training clinic, largely involving the screening of new clients and providing administrative support to the director of the CPSD.
- Administrative support: The clinical and counseling Ph.D. programs each have program assistants who provide administrative support to the directors of training. Another related position provides support to the associate director of academic operations related to the graduate admissions process. The chair also has an administrative person who is identified from the GTA/DA pool.
- Research assistant: More rarely, some GTA/DA assignments involve research support for faculty. These are generally related to agreements between the chair and the individual faculty member. Note that if you have this assignment, you will be an RA but funded on a GTA.
- Teach: In rare situations, some GTA/DA assignments involve teaching of a course. These assignments are by invitation only, though experienced students can offer their services.
Bear in mind that tuition payments from GTA/12M/GRA funding may not occur until five or six weeks into the semester. If it is past that time or if you are experiencing problems related to your financial aid (e.g., loans), please contact the department’s service center.
Please contact the department's service center.
We can help! Set a reminder for the next semester and then contact the associate director of graduate academic operations.
Financial aid usually creates these holds because of lack of payment for something, like fees. Please make sure you pay your fees as early in the semester as possible. You can work with service center staff in our department to understand better why you have the hold.
The department sometimes offers travel awards for graduate students who are presenting their scholarly work at conferences outside of Richmond. These awards are announced in advance and there is an application process. Students may apply for travel awards IN ADVANCE of travel, but not after the fact. Any student who is awarded a travel award must coordinate with the department’s service center IN ADVANCE of the travel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions about expenses allowed on the awards should be directed to email@example.com. Questions about award deadlines or criteria should be referred to the graduate director.