Assistantships and Awards

The most exceptional graduate students in the Department often serve as Graduate Assistants (GAs). Applicants in search of an assistantship with the Department make their case as part of the online Departmental Application.  

As GAs, students enrich their scholarly and professional training through teaching basic and advanced undergraduate courses (usually two per term, and usually COMM 2381: Oral Communication), supporting faculty research and creative activity, and service to the Department and University more broadly.

COMM Graduate Assistantships fund study in the Fall and Spring. They feature a waiver of the student's tuition and fees as well as a monetary stipend. For Doctoral students, providing a satisfactory progress in the program, the assistantship is renewable for up to four (4) years.

At this time, we mainly offer GAs for PhD students. While we might, on occasion, offer an assistantship for an exceptional MA student, those are not guaranteed. At MA level, we are most likely to rely on tuition scholarships (one time tuition assistance) or a student-worker contract, where a student is paid an hourly wage to perform tasks for the department. 

For Master's students, assistantships are renewable for up to two (2) years; for Doctoral students, the period can be up to four (4) years.

If you are granted an assistantship, and you do not have 18 hours of coursework in Communication, you will be assigned a research assistantship for your first year in the program. After that, GAs start with teaching two (2) sections of COMM 2381 during the fall and spring semesters. Doctoral level GAs typically teach two (2) sections of COMM 2381 per semester throughout their assistantship, though there are sometimes research assistant assignments, as well as assignments to advanced undergraduate courses. GA assignments are determined by the Director of Graduate Studies, the Chair, and the Undergraduate Coordinator. 

Doctoral students with at least three (3) semesters of experience teaching COMM 2381: Oral Communication can apply to for a Graduate Assistantship with the University's Center for Communication and Writing.

The Graduate School also offers a range of Doctoral and Master's assistantships and fellowships, as well as help finding academic and nonacademic units at the University of Memphis who are in need of GAs.

GA renewals in any case are not automatic, and are always subject to yearly review. In addition to their regular responsibilities, GAs are required to maintain satisfactory progress each term, submit a teaching portfolio each year, attend all Departmental colloquia, and adhere to the University's Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

Travel Funding

For GAs, the department offers a guaranteed $1000 in conference funding. Financial support for student travel to present at academic conferences is offered both by the University's Graduate Student Association and by the Department of Communication itself.


The Department recognizes its top students at the end of each year with awards for excellence in teaching, research and filmmaking. Each carries a cash prize. The Graduate School also offers annual awards for research and teaching. For forms and rules tied to assistantships, travel funding, and awards, click here.