Financial Support

Most graduate students in the department receive some form of financial support. If otherwise eligible, students in the M.S. program may receive teaching assistantships for 2.5 academic years after the date of their admission to graduate school. For Ph.D. students, eligibility extends five academic years after admission.

Teaching Assistantships

Graduate teaching assistants have responsibilities for tutoring and teaching laboratory sections and recitations. The teaching load varies from semester to semester, but generally involves six to 10 contact hours per week. In the summer, the hours are arranged so teaching assistants can devote most of their time to research.

Teaching assistantships are generally given for a 12‐month period. The stipends are competitive and are awarded based on the applicant's experience and qualifications. All teaching assistantships include a waiver of tuition, but recipients are responsible for the payment of university fees. Teaching assistants must maintain good academic standing to retain their appointments. Applications for teaching assistantships should be made as early as possible to ensure the availability of a position. Further details can be found in the financial support section of NIU's Graduate Catalog.

Research Assistantships

Funds for research assistantships most often come from external agency grants to individual faculty members. Qualified students working (or interested in working) with a faculty member who has appropriate external funding may apply for a research assistantship from that faculty member. The terms of the appointment will depend on the faculty member 's needs, Graduate School regulations and the applicable conditions of the granting agency that provides the funding.


Graduate School Fellowships are awarded each year on the basis of departmental nominations and university‐wide competitions. For students beginning their studies in the fall, applications for admission, with supporting materials required for the fellowship application, should arrive well before the February 1 deadline in order to be considered by the department for nomination.

The Graduate School also sponsors Dissertation Completion Fellowships each year. These competitive grants are furnished to candidates for doctoral degrees who are in their final year of study. A formal application and nomination by the student's department is required in order to be considered for this award.

The Sponsored Programs Administration assists graduate students seeking financial assistance from outside the university. This office, located in Lowden Hall, has information and applications available for a variety of external granting agencies.

Minority Student Programs

Minority students are encouraged to apply for awards from the National Science Foundation, the Illinois Consortium for Educational Opportunity Program (ICEOP) and/or the Illinois Minority Graduate Incentive Program (IMGIP) through the NIU Graduate School.

Under the Patricia Roberts Harris Graduate and Professional Opportunities Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, students returning application forms and credentials are automatically considered by the department as potential nominees for fellowships such as the Jeffrey Lunsford Fellowship, the Carter G. Woodson Scholars Program and the Rhoten A. Smith Assistantship Program. Nominations are submitted annually on or around February 1. If you are interested in being considered for one of them, it is advisable to make your application and supporting materials available early. Further details for all of these programs are available from the Graduate School or from our Department's Scholarships Webpage.

NIU is committed to increase the entry of minorities into academic and professional positions. Our graduate students have proven very successful in obtaining these awards in recent years.