Graduate Student Handbook
Graduate Student Funding
The department funds a good number of graduate students through fellowships and graduate assistantships. It is in the interest of a student to be funded by means of a fellowship. Fellowship recipients can carry higher course loads because no service is required of them as it is of graduate assistants. This makes it possible to complete graduate programs in a shorter period of time.
Applicants for graduate assistantships are encouraged to apply also for fellowships offered by internal and external sources. If a student is offered a graduate assistantship but declines it in favor of a fellowship, that student could still be offered the graduate assistantship if the duration of the fellowship is not long enough to complete the degree program (contingent only upon the student having made satisfactory progress toward the degree).
A funding commitment to a student is a departmental promise to support that student (via assistantship or fellowship) for a specified time period. If a student receives an assistantship commitment, he/she is guaranteed employment for the period specified in the contract and letter. Students accepting these departmental assistantships are placed in a pool from which the department’s instructional and research needs will be met. Every effort will be made to match students with their choice of assignments but this cannot always be accomplished.
Please note: If a student does not receive a funding commitment, he/she is still eligible for an assistantship (either teaching or research). As faculty members generally choose their own research assistants, it is in the interests of the students to get to know the faculty.
Graduate Assistant Responsibilities
A graduate assistant (TA) is responsible for carrying out laboratory teaching, grading, or research assignments. A half-time TA is required to work 20 hours per week, fulfilling these assignments starting one week before the first day of classes and ending up to 48 hours after the last scheduled final examination. The 20 hours is an average load per week; for example, grading assistants may find that they work 10 hours one week and 30 hours some other week.
TAs are free to make their course assignment preferences know to the graduate program coordinator. These preferences will be considered and honored to whatever extent feasible when assignments are made. Every effort will be made to avoid conflicts between teaching assignments and the courses that are important to the program of the TA. However, in some instances it may be necessary for TAs to forgo some of their course selections, because of conflict with the teaching assignment.
TAs will be evaluated every semester from two sources:
- The supervising faculty member to whom the assistant is assigned
- Students in the course to which the assistant is assigned.
In addition, teaching assistants assigned to courses with laboratories will be evaluated by the appropriate laboratory technicians. Poor evaluations will be called to the assistant’s attention by the graduate program coordinator and/or department head and corrective actions will be discussed. Repeated poor evaluations may lead to termination of the assistantship.
Research assistants are evaluated by the faculty members who hire them.
The letter with the funding commitment to the student will state the intended funding time period. These are generally (but not always) six semesters for post-M.S. doctoral students, conditional eight semesters support for doctoral students with B.S. degrees only, and three semesters for M.S. students. Satisfactory progress must be made in the respective degree programs for continuation of funding.
There are several fellowships available for graduate study in Industrial Engineering, each of which has many requirements and criteria. Some may require U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Resident Status.
Penn State Funding Sources
As all of the following programs are highly competitive, students will need top grades and test scores to obtain funding from one of these.
- Graduate School Fellowships: Intended mainly for incoming students. These are administered through the Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards Administration, the department must nominate the student.
- College of Engineering - There are both full and partial fellowships available for top students; the department must nominate the student.
- Office of Graduate Educational Equity Programs - There are both assistantship and fellowship opportunities for top minority students; the students must be nominated by the department
- Foundry Educational Foundation Awards - contact Robert Voigt
- IBM Graduate Fellowship Program
- Material Handling Education Institute
- National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships
- National Science Foundation Minority Graduate Fellowships
- Office of Naval Research Graduate Fellowships
- U.S. Department of Defense Fellowships
- U.S. Department of Energy Fellowships
In addition, loans are also available some of which are forgivable, if the borrower enters a specified line of work after graduation.