All Students are automatically considered for financial aid on application for admission to graduate studies. There are three main types of financial support: Teaching or Graduate Assistantships, provided by state funds for lines allotted to the department, Research Assistantships provided by research grants held by individual faculty members, and Graduate Fellowships provided by state funds administered by the Graduate School. In addition to Research Assistantships, potential new graduate students applying for admission are also eligible for Teaching Assistantships on which the decisions are made by the Graduate Studies Committee of the department. For TAs, the general policy of the department is to limit them to two semesters. Ph.D. students as TAs are eligible for support beyond the first two semesters; however the expectation is that the bulk of the support of Ph.D. students is to be provided by Research Assistantships and Graduate Fellowships based on satisfactory performance. The University has imposed a two-year limit on support (TA and GA) of Masters students on a state line; the limit for Ph.D. students is four years.
The duties of TAs, which are assigned by the Department Chair, typically require 15 hours per week and consist of conducting undergraduate laboratories or assisting faculty in recitations or the grading of problems. The stipend and duties of RAs are decided by the Principal Investigator or grant holder; the stipend is subject to the same maximum limitation as Teaching Assistantships. Usually the work of RAs contributes directly to their thesis study or at least is closely related. Graduate or University Fellowships are awarded annually to new students, by the Graduate School on a University-wide competitive basis. The department proposes several of its most promising candidates for these Fellowships every February when applications are solicited by the Graduate School.
Assistantships and fellowships normally include a full or partial tuition scholarship. However, the University has imposed a four semester limit on tuition scholarships for all Masters students and an eight semester limit (beyond the B.S. degree) for Ph.D. students. Extensions of these limits are approved only by petition. For master’s students, it is unusual for the time limit to be extended. For PhD students, no tuition scholarship or remission will be awarded beyond the tenth semester of graduate study. Tuition Scholarship credit hours will generally be limited only to those credits required for the degree (M.S. or Ph.D.) being pursued. Continuing students who are eligible for tuition scholarships must complete and submit the necessary forms by the end of May each year for the Fall semester. Entering students should submit tuition scholarship verification forms before the end of the first week of classes. For exact due dates for these forms please go to http://sarfs.buffalo.edu/office/pdfs/general/waiverInstructions.pdf. In cases of late appointments, tuition scholarship forms may be filed until the middle of the second week of classes each semester. Failure to do this could result in the loss of the tuition scholarship regardless of the initial appointment terms. Students should also note that tuition scholarships are not granted for courses or thesis/dissertation work undertaken during the summer months. It is therefore necessary that all graduate students register for adequate thesis or project credit during the fall and/or spring semesters in order that tuition scholarships are received for such study. This should be done even though most of the thesis or project work might actually be delayed until a later period. Registration for up to 19 credit hours per semester is permitted without petition.
Supported students in the Ph.D. program must take the Ph.D. qualifying exam, at the first opportunity as described in Sec. 3.2. Failure to observe these requirements may result in the termination of financial support.
In the department's view the main purpose of assistantship or fellowship support is to assist the student to complete the objectives and requirements of a degree program. It is mutually advantageous for the student to complete his program in the shortest period of time consistent with high academic performance. All assistantship appointments are subject to continuous departmental review and require satisfactory progress towards the program objectives as well as satisfactory performance of any assigned assistantship duties.
The granting of a teaching assistantship to a continuing student first requires a nomination by the student's faculty advisor. Students are not permitted to nominate themselves.
Teaching and research assistants, as well as Fellows, are expected to pursue their programs vigorously and as a continuing full-time commitment. During the various recesses and periods without classes which occur in the 10-month academic year (September through June) all Teaching and Research Assistants are expected to be present and actively engaged in thesis, project work, or assigned duties. Leaves of absence for time away from the campus must have the prior approval of the student's advisor.
Unfortunately, the department does not have sufficient financial resources to assist all students deserving of support. In fact, only a fraction can be supported. For this reason students should consult the websites including to search for competitive awards available from sources outside the department or outside the University.