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Part 3: Graduate Assistantships and Fellowships

This section describes graduate assistantships and fellowships for which adult education students are eligible. Other forms of financial aid are described in the Student Aid section of the Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin ( Sources of financial assistance specific to World Campus students can be explored through the World Campus website at: Most types of financial aid are awarded on a competitive basis and are limited. Students are advised to consider alternative sources, in addition to graduate assistantships and fellowships, to financially support their graduate education. New students to be considered for a graduate assistantship or fellowship for the succeeding academic year you should apply by January 5th and if you are a current student you should apply by January 15th.   It is best to apply for all sources of aid simultaneously, not sequentially in order of preference.  Filing sequentially may lead to missed deadlines if the first choice is unsuccessful. For application information contact the program staff assistant at University Park.

Section 3.1: Graduate Assistantships

Each academic year, the Adult Education Program at University Park and Harrisburg campus, offers a number of graduate assistantships.  Normally, students are on half-time assistantships which specify 20 hours of responsibility per week.  However, some students may be on quarter-time (10 hours) assistantships.  The assistantships are for two-semesters (Fall and Spring) and students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and must be registered for no less than 9 and no more than 12 credits per semester.  Students will receive a monthly stipend plus a grant-in-aid for tuition.  Assistantships are not available for the summer semester.

Students who are currently on assistantships in the program and wish to reapply for an assistantship need to complete their application by January 15th.  Please be sure to include an updated resume with your application.  Students applying for the first time need to apply by January 5th.

To be considered for a graduate assistantship in the ADTED Program, applicants must exhibit satisfactory academic progress. Examples of unsatisfactory progress include, but are not limited to, excessive or longstanding deferred grades (incompletes), GPA below 3.0 for all Penn State graduate courses and below 3.5 for ADTED courses, and unsatisfactory prior performance as an ADTED GA or as a GA in another Penn State unit (if applicable).

Applicants will be asked to provide a brief explanation for extenuating circumstances, if any, that may have hindered their academic progress (e.g., reasons for incomplete grades or low GPA).

The rubric that faculty use to assess applicants for ADTED Assistantships includes (but is not limited to) the following information:

  • Year admitted to ADTED
  • Number of years of ADTED Funding
  • PSU graduate GPA
  • Incompletes (class, semester, year)
  • Prior GA Performance
  • Financial need indicators
  • Quality of scholarship


Financial need is taken into account, only when deciding among applicants who have met the above criteria. Non-degree students are not eligible for assistantships.

To apply current students must contact their program staff assistant at the campus in which they plan to enroll. Please note that the Harrisburg program positions are very limited, generally one or two positions available every year.  Prospective students must visit our website at, review the application process, and complete and submit the necessary application materials.

Although Penn State’s classes last fifteen weeks per semester, appointments of graduate assistants (GAs) are for eighteen weeks of activities per semester. Accordingly, the duties in an academic year appointment (thirty-six weeks) begin on the Monday following the last day of summer session final exams and continue until the last day of spring semester final exams, less the period of time classes are suspended at Thanksgiving and the end of December.

The number of years an appointment may be renewed is limited. Reappointment to an assistantship is based on availability of positions, the quality of the student’s performance, and competition with other students. Unsatisfactory academic performance in any semester or summer session is sufficient cause for termination of the appointment at the end of that period. Unsatisfactory performance of assistantship duties is also sufficient cause for termination.

Legislation passed by the University Faculty Senate in 1981 and 1989 requires that all newly appointed teaching assistants participate in a TA training program unless they can provide evidence of successful prior teaching experience and that all new international TAs take and pass American English Oral Communicative Proficiency Test (AEOCPT).  Details for taking the AEOCPT are available at the Department of Linguistic and Applied Language Studies website at:

3.1.1:  Summer Tuition Assistance Program

The Summer Tuition Assistance Program (STAP) is designed to provide tuition assistance to graduate students who have had assistantships supported on general or restricted funds or University fellowships for the two preceding semesters, so that they can continue graduate studies during the summer.

For more information please visit the Adult Education Program website:

3.2: Program Fellowships

The program awards two fellowships: the Floyd B. Fischer Adult Education Fellowship and the David H. Nicholson Adult Education fellowship.

The Floyd B. Fischer Adult Education Fellowship: In 1987, Dr. Floyd B. Fischer, former Penn State Vice-President of Continuing Education, endowed a gift to the College of Education to support the "Floyd B. Fischer Graduate Fellowship in Adult Education".  The purpose of this fellowship is to provide recognition and financial assistance to graduate students enrolled in the University Park Adult Education Program.  Consideration for this fellowship is given to all students who exhibit academic success, a sincere interest in adult education, and have documented financial need.  The fellowship is awarded for one academic year.

The David H. Nicholson Adult Education Fellowship: In 1998, a second fellowship was created to honor Dr. David H. Nicholson.  The purpose of this fellowship is to provide recognition and financial assistance to graduate students who have a literacy based interest and who are enrolled in the University Park Adult Education Graduate Program.  Consideration for this fellowship is given to students who exhibit academic success, a sincere interest in adult and family literacy, and have documented financial need.  The fellowship is awarded for one academic year.

Section 3.3: University Fellowships

A number of university-wide fellowships are awarded each year. Fellows are required to carry at least 9 credits of course work each semester or the equivalent in research, receive stipends that vary with the awards, and usually receive grants-in-aid of tuition. They may not accept employment during the period of their appointments (except with special permission for training purposes) nor are they required to render any service to the University.

In some cases, a recipient will be expected to engage in research in a broad field specified by the donor. Scholarly excellence is always a major consideration and usually the most important criterion in selecting fellowship recipients. Other considerations, in addition to scholarly excellence, may be taken into account.

Penn State, along with some 370 graduate institutions, subscribes to the “April 15th Resolution” of the Council of Graduate Schools. This states that acceptance of an offer of financial aid prior to April 15 is not binding up to April 15. After that, the student may not accept an offer from another institution without first obtaining a formal release from the previous commitment. Selection of recipients of all University awards is made without regard to the sex, race, religious belief, ethnic origin, disability, or age of the applicant, as established by law.

University Graduate Fellowships: University Graduate Fellowships are awarded by the Graduate School to approximately eighty outstanding incoming students. Fellows receive a stipend and payment of tuition. Fellows are required to enroll as full-time students.

The Graduate School also administers the Academic Computer Fellowship Program. Interested students should contact the Professor-in-Charge of the Adult Education Program or the Graduate School Fellowship and Awards Office concerning their eligibility.

Bunton-Waller Graduate Awards: These are assistantships and fellowship supplements granted to incoming students as a part of the University’s comprehensive plan to increase diversity. The graduate admission application serves as the Bunton-Waller Graduate Awards application. Applications are submitted through the Adult Education Program as part of the normal application process. The program must guarantee funding for the second year before an award for the first year is made. For more information, contact the Graduate School Fellowship and Awards Office, 313 Kern Building;

To apply for Graduate assistantships or fellowships submit a cover letter and application by January 5th for consideration for fall of the next academic year.  For more information, contact:

Jennifer McLaughlin

Adult Education Program Staff Assistant

Penn State University

301 Keller Building

University Park, PA  16802-1303

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: Admission to the Program and Initial Progression

Part 3: Graduate Assistantships and Fellowships

Part 4: Graduate Degree Requirements

Part 5: The Doctoral Process

Part 6: Graduation

Part 7: Appendices