Department TA/GA Funding Procedures
Two types of support (TA and GA) are awarded directly by the Department of Anthropology to MA and PhD students. Each year the Graduate School gives the department an allocation of funds to support these students. For the 2012-2013 academic year, this allocation is 22 two-semester assistantships. We are usually notified of this allocation in the spring semester and this determines how many TAs and GAs we can fund. In addition, the department makes recommendations to the Graduate School for the award of Dissertation Fellowships and Clark Fellowships. The number of assistantships and fellowships that the Graduate School gives the department is generally insufficient for us to fund all of the students we deem worthy and deserving of funding.
Teaching Assistantships (TA) require the awardees to perform a regular classroom contact assignment during the term of the award, and to contribute 15-20 hours of time to this, plus other duties as required.
Graduate Assistantships (GA) require the awardees to perform duties for the department (relevant to teaching, research or administration) for an average of 15-20 hours per week during the term of the award. It is current practice that virtually all GAs within the department assist in teaching.
Clark Fellowships (Clarks) are awarded by the Graduate School to minority students nominated by departments. The Graduate School usually awards Clarks to students in their first year of graduate study, but a continuing minority student who does not already have a Clark may be recommended for one. No duties are required under this type of award in the first year of the award and the Graduate School funds the full award in this first year. After the first year students are expected to perform assistantship duties for one semester of each year, and the funds for this semester come out of the department's TA/GA allocation.
The Graduate Committee is responsible for making funding decisions for the Department of Anthropology. The guiding principle for the award of all funding in the Department of Anthropology is merit. However, due to the limited number of funding lines available relative to the number of worthy students, the department makes both two-semester and one-semester awards of funding. Only the highest-ranked students receive two semesters of funding in a year, the second-highest ranked receive one semester, the third level are put on an alternate list and students deemed unworthy of funding do not receive an assistantship. The Graduate Committee decides what the number of two- and one-semester awards will be each year based on their evaluation of the quality and size of the applicant pool relative to the TA/GA allocation that the Graduate School gives the department. Usually about half of the department awards are made on a full-year basis and the remaining awards are divided into spring and fall semester awards.
Awards to Incoming Students
Each year, the Graduate Committee sets aside four to five one-year assistantships to attract the best new students. In February, the Committee identifies the top students based on their GPAs, GRE scores, letters of recommendation and the students' statements of intent. The Committee will discuss applicants with other members of the department in making these evaluations. The Committee also identifies some applicants as alternates for funding. If after offers of funding are made to the awardees and to the alternates any of these lines remain open, the Committee will offer them to continuing students on the alternate list. The Committee also recommends students for Clark Fellowships. Since such a recommendation involves a future commitment of department TA/GA allocation, the Committee only recommends individuals for Clarks whom the Committee feels have the potential to be students worthy of funding in the future.
Awards to Continuing Students
Continuing students must reapply for funding each year. In September of the academic year, the Graduate Committee will meet with all new students to explain the funding process to them.
The funding cycle begins early in the spring semester and concludes in April:
1. In late January, the departmental administrative assistant notifies all continuing graduate students by e-mail that funding application forms are available. It is then the students' responsibility to obtain the form from the departmental office, complete it with appropriate signatures and return it within the time period specified. Every effort is made to contact people who may not be in residence. Except in the most compelling of circumstances, applications will NOT be accepted after the announced deadline.
2. At the same time that students are notified of the availability of application forms, the Graduate Committee will schedule a funding workshop with all continuing students to explain the funding processes and answer any questions that students might have about the process or filling out their applications. In applying for funding students should also consult with their advisors about the application.
3. Completed applications are submitted to the department office by a specific deadline in mid-February. Information from the forms including the name of the applicant, type of funding requested, amount of prior support, length of time in the MA/PhD program and current eligibility is transferred to a master table (see form example). Typically 40 to 50 students apply for department support or dissertation fellowships in a given year.
4. In late February, the Graduate Committee compiles and circulates a master table of graduate student applicants for funding to all faculty members in the department and to other individuals such as adjuncts and visiting professors who have taught departmental graduate seminars. Instructions for how the faculty are to place all students with whom they have had regular contact into a single ranking are included with the table. Faculty can only rank students they advise, serve on guidance committees for, supervise as GAs or TAs or have taught in graduate courses. In the later instance, the course must have been offered within the previous two years. Grades or evaluations for a course underway during the current spring semester may be used, at the discretion of the instructor. Members of other departments are not usually contacted. But, if a student has taken a graduate course in another department she/he may request the department administrative assistant to send a green sheet form to the faculty member who taught the course to be considered with the student's application.
5. Faculty assign two ranks to each student. The department expects all active faculty to provide these two rankings and comments for each of their students (while observing the two-year limit on classroom performance). The department attempts to contact faculty who are on leave or not in residence to ensure that all faculty fulfill this important obligation. Faculty submit their evaluations to the department's administrative assistant early in March.
- One rank is numerical (1-n), where n individuals are to be compared on the basis of performance in the program (including timely completion of degree requirements), performance in courses, performance of TA/GA assignments and professional development (research, scholarly presentations, publication etc.). A score of 1 is the highest. Faculty may tie two or more candidates if he or she feels that the students cannot be fairly separated. In cases of ties, the students are given intermediate rankings, for example two students tied for 5th would both receive a 5.5 or three students tied for 11 would all receive 11.33. Once the scores from every faculty member are received, all of the rankings for each student are normalized using a Z score transformation (see any intro statistics book for how this is done) to account for differences in the number of faculty evaluating each student. The students are then rank ordered by this Z score.
- The second ranking asks faculty to assign each student a letter (A to D) where: A = highest priority for funding at this time, B = high priority for funding at this time, C = low priority for funding at this time, and D = no funding at this time. Faculty may allocate multiple As but are encouraged to limit their use of this rank to identify the best candidates. The letter scores from each faculty member ranking an individual student are averaged in the same way that grades are used to calculate a GPA on a 4-point scale at Binghamton University. The students are then rank ordered by this score.
6. Early in March, the Graduate Committee meets to make funding decisions. Data from the faculty rankings provide three items of information for each funding applicant: a) the number of faculty ranking the individual, b) their Z score on the numerical ranking and c) their letter scores on a 4-point scale. The committee then considers the two faculty rank orderings (Z scores and letter scores) with a ranking of the students by GPA. These three rankings generally show a high degree of correspondence; that is, students tend to rank in approximately the same position on each. The committee uses other information such as faculty comments, success with prior funding, professional activities, etc. to resolve lack of correspondence between the rankings and to make fine distinctions between students who are closely ranked. Based on this process, a final rank-ordered list is created. The committee initially assigns about half of the assistantships as full-year assignments. The committee then works down the list of applicants giving half-year assistantships until all assistantships are exhausted. The committee uses the final rank-ordered list to create an alternate list. Some students will be designated on the alternate list to receive a second semester of funding and others will receive a first half-year of funding. Inevitably, a few students are designated as unworthy of funding for the coming year.
7. In late March or early April, letters awarding funding on a full-year or one-semester basis are mailed by the Director of Graduate Studies to successful applicants. Other letters are sent to inform students they are on the alternate list and a few students are notified that they will not receive department funding. Students should consult with their advisors if they have questions about their placement in the funding process and the advisors can have access to all rankings and data used by the committee. The Director of Graduate Studies will allocate funding to students on the alternate list as funded students decline their offers of funding up until the beginning of the following spring semester. Students who wish to know their relative placement on the alternate list should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies.