Graduate Program

Assistantships, Tuition Waivers and Fellowships

An important difference between undergraduate and graduate study is that quite frequently a university pays graduate students to go to school, not the other way around.

The primary sources of support are (a) graduate teaching assistantships; (b) graduate research assistantships; (c) tuition waivers; and (d) fellowships. Approximately 20 of our full-time graduate students are currently supported by one of these sources.

Assistantships provide a stipend and a full waiver of tuition. Students are required to pay their own fees (including activity, athletic, facilities and services fees, as well as, a technology surcharge and medical insurance). If you are awarded a tuition waiver then all of your tuition charges will be waived, however, you are still required to pay your own fees. 

Doctoral students in our program spend at least one semester as an intern, usually in a government or industrial research laboratory. In some cases the laboratory which is hosting the student is able to provide a salary as an alternative to an appointment as a graduate assistant.

If you are interested in an assistantship with the Division of Statistics you must submit an Application for Assistantship.

Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs)

The division employs about 17-18 graduate students in this role. A fulltime GTA is expected to work about 20 hours per week. In our lower level courses (STAT 208 and STAT 301), the instructor lectures to approximately 60 students three times a week. The 60 students are broken down into two recitation sections of 30 students each. A GTA meets with three of these recitation sections once a week to answer questions, go over homework problems and give quizzes. The remaining nine to thirteen hours are spent preparing for the recitation classes and grading homework, along with other relevant duties, for a total of 20 hours per week.

There are other types of GTA assignments as well. Some GTAs will serve as a grader for an upper-level undergraduate statistics course. Experienced GTAs may be given the opportunity to teach their own section of STAT 208 or 301 with about 60 students. Many of our GTAs actively seek this opportunity to develop their teaching skills and to relate to younger students in the classroom setting.

Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs)

Each semester graduate students are assigned to Statistical Consulting Services where they help the faculty consultant in solving applied statistical and real-life problems coming from clients from within the university or businesses from DeKalb and the greater Chicagoland area. Advanced doctoral students in the division become full partners in research with their professors, and can sometimes be appointed as GRAs while they work on their dissertations.

Level of Stipends

For the 2008-09 academic year, the full-time (20 hours per week) stipends for GTAs and GRAs range from $1,250/month to $1,600/month for nine months, depending on the level of experience and the kind of assignment which is undertaken. The stipends for fellowships range from $6,000 (this may be augmented by a 1/2-time appointment as a teaching assistant) to $18,000 for the academic year. A limited number of summer assistantships are also available on a competitive basis. The full-time stipends for Summer 2008 GAs ranged from $900 to $1,200 per month. Many of our M.S. students spend their summer working as interns in various companies and businesses around the greater Chicagoland area.

Tuition Waivers

The Division of Statistics has a limited number of tuition waivers available for underrepresented students and for recruiting purposes.  If you are interested in a tuition waiver, make an appointment with our director of graduate studies by phoning 815-753-6714 or through email.


Northern Illinois University offers fellowships on a competitive basis to outstanding entering students at the master-level and also to advanced students who are completing their doctoral dissertations. There are several very attractive fellowship programs for minority students as well. Fellowships allow students to devote full-time to graduate study, since there are not duties connected with them. Typically, a fellowship recipient will take four courses (12 credit hours), while a GTA will take three courses (nine credit hours). Fellowships awarded in national competitions (e.g., by the Department of Defense or the National Science Foundation) can also be used to support graduate study at NIU.