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All full-time (nine credit hours) students in the PhD program may receive financial support in the form of a teaching assistantship or a research assistantship as long as they maintain good standing in the PhD program.
Most students will begin with a TA appointment, before moving into an RA. New TAs are guaranteed to receive at least two semesters of TA support, provided they maintain satisfactory progress in the program. The TA appointment helps students to develop verbal communication skills and gives them valuable experience with teaching. It also provides an opportunity for them to review and solidify their knowledge of foundational physics material, which they will find useful in graduate courses and programmatic exams. TAs will assist faculty by handling recitations or lab sections. They are required to provide up to (but not exceeding) 20 hours per week.
Each semester, students will need to apply for a TA position (if no RA support is being provided) by completing a departmental application. The academic advisor will send an email notification when the application is available. Applications for the fall semester are available late April. Spring applications are available in October.
PhD students are expected to progress into RA appointments as soon as practical, following their TA appointment. This requires finding a faculty mentor to sponsor the student on a funded project. Many will achieve this after two semesters (beginning of the first summer). Most will achieve this after three semesters. PhD students are required to make a formal association with a faculty mentor by the end of their fourth semester in the program, regardless of funding. The research rotations are designed to facilitate this process. In most cases, the faculty mentor will provide RA support for the student for the duration of their PhD, through external funded research programs. If the faculty mentor does not have funding to support an RA, some additional semesters of TA appointment are generally available, subject to satisfactory performance in research.
Students must take the initiative to find a suitable faculty mentor by: browsing the department web-site, attending seminars and colloquia, by direct inquiry with individual faculty, etc. Indeed, this process can begin via email before a student decides to come to ASU! (Please understand, however, that few faculty can directly commit an RA to an incoming student). Be prepared to join faculty research group meetings (by invitation!) or possibly to "volunteer" in the lab for a brief period. Most RA appointments are for 12 months.
Tuition and Health Insurance benefits are provided for all students with Graduate Teaching/Research Assistantship positions with at least a half time appointment (20 hours per week).
Tuition - Tuition waivers cover the full cost of tuition for resident and non-resident students. Students are responsible for additional fees of approximately $300-$550 each semester. Information on the cost of tuition and the value of this benefit can be found on the ASU web page: http://www.asu.edu/admissions/tuitionandfees/.
Health Benefits - The university covers the cost of individual health insurance premiums for all TAs and RAs with half-time appointments. More information on this plan can be found at the Student Health and Wellness Center.