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Graduate Scholarships & Assistantships

Are there scholarships available?

Information about graduate scholarships, fellowships, and other awards administered through the Office of Graduate Studies is available at the scholarship and awards website. Three scholarships are awarded to political science graduate students in particular:

  • D. Paul Fansler Memorial Scholarship. Awarded to seniors and graduate students in Political Science and International Studies, with high promise of achievement in international affairs.
  • Frank and Nadezda Munk Political Science Scholarship. Awarded to an outstanding undergraduate or graduate student in Political Science with a particular interest in international affairs.
  • Ione E. Curtis Endowed Scholarship. Awarded to one or two incoming Political Science graduate students who have demonstrated a potential to excel in the graduate program.

Students are also encouraged to look off-campus for scholarship opportunities. The American Political Science Association lists a number of organizations and agencies that fund one or another aspect of graduate study, including at the master’s level (see Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society, also provides information about scholarships available to its members (

Are there student loans for graduate students?

Yes. Applicants interested in financial aid should submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Student Financial Aid) when they submit their applications to the Office of Admissions. All universities require the FAFSA before determining eligibility for loans, scholarships, and grants. Information is available from PSU’s Office of Financial Aid (

Two types of student loans are most common for graduate students: Federal Subsidized Stafford Loans and Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loans. Interest on subsidized loans is paid by the Federal Government as long as the student is enrolled at least half time. Interest on unsubsidized loans accrues from the time of disbursement and become part of the student’s repayment obligation. International students are not eligible for these loans.

Are Graduate Assistantships available?

We do have a very limited number of Graduate Assistantships, which vary annually based on the budget and external faculty funding.  Graduate Assistants (GAs) work with faculty members and receive other benefits—in particular, a tuition remission and modest stipend. GAs must be registered for, and compete, at least 9 credits of coursework during each term of their appointment. More information, including tuition remission and stipend rates, as well as assistantships not supervised within the Department of Political Science, can be found online at

The selection of GAs is made by the faculty member with the assistantship funding in consultation with the Chair of the Graduate Committee.  Selection for assistantships is typically based on academic performance, ability to responsibly complete assigned tasks, and substantive fit between the research interests of students and faculty.

How much and what type of work do I do as a GA?

GAs perform academic duties: research, teaching classes, grading, and student peer advising. They may also be asked to assist in convening conferences or seminars, draft correspondence, perform outreach activities, or other administrative tasks. GAs do not undertake personal errands for faculty members.

In the Political Science masters program, a GA appointment is some fraction of an FTE (full-time employee), which determines the hours of work required per week. For example, .15 FTE appointments require 7.5 hours of work each week; .30 FTE appointments, 15 hours. Virtually all assistantships are .15 or .30 FTE positions.

Students holding graduate assistantships may also be employed elsewhere within the university, provided the total number of hours worked does not exceed 20 hours per week (.49 FTE). For those working outside the university, the Department recommends that this same limit be observed.

Can I lose my Graduate Assistantship?

Yes. Graduate Assistantships are contingent on satisfactory progress toward the degree as well as satisfactory performance as a faculty assistant. Because GAs must be registered for and complete at least 9 credits of coursework during each term of their appointment, incomplete coursework may jeopardize the student’s eligibility for an assistantship. Of course, GAs must also meet the minimum 3.0 GPA requirement. See the guidelines for graduate assistantships at

At the discretion of the Graduate Committee, a GA may be reassigned to a different faculty member, normally at the start of a new term. The loss of a GA appointment does not, in itself, affect the student’s standing in the degree program.

Are there special considerations for international students when it comes to assistantships and scholarships?

All graduate students are eligible to apply for Graduate Assistantships. The type of work and the hours of work required by GA appointments in Political Science are within the limits established for foreign students by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Some scholarships have nationality requirements. If no such requirement is specified, then international students can apply. International Student and Scholar Services administers limited scholarship opportunities exclusively for international students. Information is available at