DPA Student Appointment Guidelines

Initial Appointment

Newly admitted PhD students often receive a commitment from DPA of four years of funding to support their effort to complete their degree on time. Department of Public Administration Scholar Awards (DPASA) provide students with a commitment of an appointment as a graduate assistant, at 50% time for four consecutive academic years, subject to satisfactory performance in the completion of coursework and work assignments. DPASA provides a waiver of tuition and fees and a $21,000 stipend (monthly gross salary of $2,333.33) paid over the academic year (August 16 – May 15). DPASA awards are typically made when admission to the PhD program is offered.

Note that an appointment as a graduate assistant, teaching assistant, or research assistantship for at least 50% time fulfills the DPASA commitment, regardless of the funding source.

Most of the department’s graduate assistant positions are filled by students with a DPASA. Occasionally, additional opportunities arise and are advertised through the department’s listservs.


The DPASA provided to the student outlines the length of the commitment and the academic year DPA’s commitment ends. Reappointment for a specific number of years is guaranteed by the award and students are automatically reappointed absent notification of nonappointment based on poor performance or another basis by July 1 of each year.


DPASA work assignments are generally made as a Teaching Assistant (TA), Research Assistant (RA), or both. Assignments for each student are made by the Department Head in consultation with the relevant program director and appropriate faculty, and considering the preferences of the student. The preferences for assignments of those students with positions guaranteed through a DPASA will be solicited annually by the Department Head. Specific assignments will be communicated to students as early as practical, but no later than seven days before the first day of the semester. Students assigned to teach their own course can expect notification by July 15.

For TA assignments, the student and the course instructor are expected to meet before the start of the semester to discuss expectations of the TA in the course. TAs provide additional teaching resources for each course to improve undergraduate education. As such, there are no designated ‘non-contact’ TA positions in the Public Administration department. All TAs should have the expectation for contact with students, which may be in-person and/or remote, as part of their TA duties.

Several factors are considered when selecting TAs to support the instructor of a course:

  • Anticipated enrollment
  • Scheduling availability/timeframes
  • Previous experience with the course and/or course material

Advanced students may be assigned to teach their own course. These opportunities are less widely available and assignment is typically based upon the following factors:

  • Student has capability to teach course content and desires the opportunity.
  • Teaching own course is necessary for professional development of the student and their faculty mentor and Director of Graduate Studies are supportive of student teaching the course.
  • Student is in good academic standing and meeting expectations for quality and timeliness of work.
  • Record/evaluations from previous TA assignments indicate successful performance of teaching activities.

For RA Assignments, students and the faculty supervisor are expected to meet before the start of the semester to discuss expectations for the assignment. Factors affecting RA assignments include the knowledge, skills, and abilities identified by the faculty supervisor as necessary to complete the work required.