Graduate Teaching Assistantships
Many MA and MFA students receive teaching assistantships for the duration of their time in their respective programs. A graduate teaching assistantship in the English department at Northern differs from assistantships in the traditional sense. TAs are teachers of record for their courses and responsible for course design, lesson planning, and all other full responsibilities relevant to teaching a course.
During their first semester in the program, graduate teaching assistants are enrolled EN 509, a teaching colloquium lead by the Director of Composition. As a part of this course, incoming TAs attend an intensive two-week training before the start of their first semester. The course continues to meet weekly throughout the semester, preparing and supporting TAs as they design and teach their first course.
All incoming teaching assistants are assigned one section of EN 111, College Composition, and most TAs teach EN 111 in the winter semester as well. In the second year (and third, in the case of MFA students), TAs have the opportunity to teach EN 211, (the second course in the two-semester composition sequence required for most NMU undergraduates), EN 090, Basic Composition, and in some cases, EN 215, Introduction to Creative Writing. TAs have freedom to design courses that reflect their own areas of interest and expertise. Composition courses are often taught with an emphasis on subjects such as the environment, gender studies, comedy, sense of place, the LGBT experience, and trends in popular culture.
Graduate students with teaching assistantships devote a significant amount of time to their teaching. Most students invest more time than the twenty hours a week covered by the TA stipend, but grad students also learn to balance their time with their own coursework and research.
Graduate Teaching Assistantships
Graduate assistantships come with the same funding package as teaching assistantships; they include tuition remission (up to eight credits per semester) and a modest stipend of nearly $9000 for the academic year.
Graduate Assistantship in the Writing Center
NMU’s Writing Center employs one Graduate Assistant to oversee the tutoring staff of the Writing Center. The GA works closely with Writing Center’s Director to develop training materials, schedule and plan staff meetings, maintain Writing Center systems, and support the needs of student tutors. The Writing Center GA also oversees students enrolled in EN 109, a developmental composition course which pairs students with regular tutors. The GA can also work with the Director on conference presentations.
Previous tutoring experience, although not required for this position, is highly beneficial. Some GAs may work in the Writing Center for a year before becoming TAs, developing managing and training experience in addition to teaching experience. The position is funded for twenty hours a week and the GA spends most of his or her time working in the Writing Center.
Graduate Assistantship with Passages North
The graduate assistant for Passages North works closely with the Editor-in-Chief to produce the annual journal for a readership of several hundred. As Managing Editor of Passages North, he or she also oversees several undergraduate interns, maintains online submissions accounts, communicates with contributors, editors, and guest judges, and manages annual writing contests. The GA is expected to work twenty hours each week.
English graduate students also often fill graduate assistant positions in the NMU Language Lab, Center for Native American Studies and NMU’s Theater Department.
Departmental and Campus Funding for Professional Development
NMU and its English Department fund professional development activities of graduate students, believing that investing in diverse experience prepares students for success in the job market or continued academic study. MA and MFA students often receive close to full funding for conference presentations, including conference fees and most travel expenses.
In 2013-2014 students were funded to attend the following conferences across the country: Association of Writers & Writing Programs (16 funded); College English Association Conference in (23 funded); Conference on College Composition and Communication (1 funded); Writing Across the Peninsula (33 funded).
Excellence in Education Summer Research Grants
The Office of Graduate Education and Research at NMU offers grants through the Excellence in Education and Research Program. These $1500 grants support graduate student scholarly or creative research during the summer months. Students use these grants, designed to enhance academic experience and professional growth, for research-related endeavors including travel. Recently, grantees have traveled to destinations such as Virginia, Maine, New York City, Finland, Ireland, and Vietnam.
Recipients also receive a one-credit tuition stipend to enroll in a course directly related to their pursuits. Graduate students in the MA and MFA programs have had significant success in winning these summer research grants. This year, over twenty MFA and MA students were grant recipients.
Future Faculty Fellowships
The State of Michigan funds the King Chavez Parks Future Faculty Fellowship at Northern Michigan University. A select number of graduate students in the MA and MFA programs have applied for and acquired these competitive fellowships through the Multicultural Education and Resource Center.