Financial Assistance

Research and Teaching Assistantships

The Department of Rural Sociology has a limited number of research and teaching assistantships. The Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station and faculty grants fund them. Assistantships usually are either quarter-time (10 hours of work per week) or half-time (20 hours of work per week). Most awards initially are a quarter-time appointment. Research and teaching assistants receive a stipend and a waiver of tuition and fees. The level of stipend depends upon time worked and academic credentials. Most assistantships are research assistantships; however, teaching funds occassionally are available from sources outside the department, providing support for teaching assistantships. Only doctoral students who have completed their comprehensive examinations are eligible to be autonomous teaching assistants.

To apply for a graduate assistantship within the Department of Rural Sociology, submit a departmental Financial Support Application (PDF).

Criteria for Awards

Research and teaching assistants have a job to do; therefore, they must have the skills necessary to carry out the tasks required by their supervisor. For incoming students, assistantships are awarded primarily on the basis of academic and professional potential, but attention also is given to matching applicant skills with faculty requirements. Renewal of assistantships is based upon a student's academic and job performance.


Initial appointments for research assistantships will be quarter-time (.25 FTE), except in special cases where students can make a major contribution to a grant or contract. In many cases, once a student is in residence for a semester or more and has acquired additional research skills, funds from grants and contracts can be used to increase an assistantship award to the .5 FTE level. Because funding from grants and contracts varies, no student can be guaranteed .5-FTE funding for an entire graduate career. The department is committed to ensuring that students who enter the program with an assistantship continue to receive at least a .25-FTE assistantship as long as funds are available from the Experiment Station and grants. That commitment applies only to students who are making satisfactory progress toward the completion of their current degrees and who have performed their duties as assistants successfully.

The Admissions and Awards Committee works with faculty members and students to assure that students receive funding. The final decision about assistantship awards rests with the department chair in the case of university-funded assistantships and with the faculty members in the case of grants or contracts. It is the department's policy to award a minimum of two .25-FTE assistantships to incoming students each year.

Maximum Duration of Awards

The availability of assistantships depends to a large extent upon the ability of faculty to secure grants. Master's students may receive an assistantship at the .25-FTE level or higher for up to two years. Doctoral students receiving a master's degree from the department may receive three years of additional support (for a total of five years). Students with a master's degree from another institution may receive four years' support.

Continuation of support beyond those limits is possible for students under special circumstances. Extensions of up to one year may be granted by a vote of the graduate faculty to students who are deemed as making "good progress toward the completion of their degrees." Because assistantships generally carry additional financial support in the form of tuition and fee waivers — which are department resources — faculty members with grant funds that are proposed to provide support to specific students similarly must consult with the faculty before offering an extension.

Annual Reviews

Academic and professional performances are reviewed by the entire faculty after each winter and fall semester to ascertain whether students are making satisfactory progress toward their degrees and their performances as research assistants. In general, the January review is a more in-depth look at student performance than the summer review. The review can influence the availability of assistantships for a student. After each review, students will receive brief, written statements. Those statements become part of the permanent graduate student record. Students should meet with their advisers after each review if they want detailed feedback.

Scholarships and Fellowships

The Department of Rural Sociology does not have scholarships or fellowships available for incoming students; however, the Office of Graduate Studies has a number of fellowships available. In general, those fellowships provide a stipend in addition to a research or teaching assistantship. Prospective graduate students should contact the Office of Graduate Studies for details about those fellowships.

Three fellowships are of particular interest: the Ridgel fellowships for minority students and the Huggins and Gregory fellowships. Students applying for those fellowships should have completed their Graduate School application by Jan. 25 to be eligible for them the following fall semester. Later applications for the Ridgel fellowship may be accepted if funds are available.

Students interested in applying must send a letter to the Department of Rural Sociology director of graduate studies, indicating the specific fellowships for which they are interested in applying. The DGS then will make application on behalf of the student applicants.

Peace Corps Fellowships

The University of Missouri (MU) offers Peace Corps Fellowships for returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) who are admitted into the graduate program. This program provides RPCVs an opportunity to utilize and build upon their overseas experiences. Service learning is an integral component of each Peace Corps Fellows' graduate degree at MU. Engagement with local communities will be active, developed in partnership with those affected and mutually beneficial to all involved.

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