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Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Financial Aid

A graduate assistantship (GA) in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (LLC) is a financial award granted by the department to a student who is fully admitted to a graduate degree program. The initial award is made on the basis of a student’s academic profile as well as teaching potential. Qualified MA candidates can anticipate support for  up to two (2) years contingent upon satisfactory progress toward the degree and satisfactory evaluations. Qualified PhD candidates can anticipate support for four (4) years contingent upon satisfactory progress toward the degree and satisfactory evaluations. Students admitted as MA/PhD candidates can anticipate support for 5 (5) years contingent upon satisfactory progress toward the degree and satisfactory evaluations.  In order to be considered for a GA, new candidates must ensure that their complete application for admission to USC has been received by JANUARY 1. Please check the appropriate box on the e-application. More information on financial aid is available from the Graduate School:

For the academic year 2015-16 LLC graduate assistants students received for financial support between $11,000 and $15,000 depending on program (MA or PhD), rank and workload. The stipend is paid semi-monthly from August 16 until May 15. In addition, students enrolled for at least 9 hours per semester will have a full-tuition abatement paid on their behalf up to $9,000. Students do not receive abatement money directly. Tuition abatements will be prorated for students enrolled in less than 9 hours per semester. GAs are assessed tuition at the “resident” “in-state” rate. Students may have to pay out-of-pocket health insurance and other fees. The Graduate School normally subsidizes up to $275.00 to defer health cost, and students may be selective in choosing university services for which fees apply. Current rates for tuition and other fees are posted online at the website of the Bursar’s Office at LLC also has access to some GA positions outside the department. The amount of stipend and abatement these assistantships offer may vary from the above.

There are three levels of graduate assistantship: Graduate Instructional Assistant (GIA), Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) and Senior Teaching Associate (STA). Normally, entering students are appointed at the rank of GIA with a 15-hour work week. GIAs are allowed to teach, but may not be “instructor of record,” meaning that final grades can only be officially assigned by a regular staff member. GIAs are promoted to GTA with an increase in stipend once they have earned 18 graduate credit hours, taken and passed FORL 776, and gained some satisfactory teaching experience. GTAs also work a 15-hour week but can be instructor of record. This promotion usually occurs after one academic year of employment at the GIA rank. GTAs can be promoted to STA at any time depending on a number of variables, including academic performance, teaching excellence, and departmental need. STAs work a 20-hour week and teach two courses with a commensurate increase in stipend. Normally, STAs will be PhD students beyond their second year of study, but in certain exceptional cases, MA students and PhD students in their second year may also be appointed to the rank of STA. MAT students are generally not eligible for appointment at the rank of STA because of additional teaching certification obligations.

Policy on Graduate Student Graduate Assistantships and Promotion

Students awarded a teaching/instructional assistantship will be first hired as GIAs.

Before they can be promoted to GTAs or STAs, regardless of past teaching experience, the program and department need to assess the following:

Assessment A

  1. By taking the pedagogical training course, FOLR776, students demonstrate they have attained the learning outcomes of that course.
  2. Students’ academic standing is not being compromised by teaching/service duties.
  3. Students have demonstrated dedication and have participated in all aspects of the program to which they are assigned to serve as required of them.
  4. Students have complied with assignments given by supervisors and coordinators.
  5. Students have demonstrated to be efficient teachers as they continue their pedagogical development.

Students who meet the five points listed in “Assessment A” may be promoted to GTA rank on their second year of study, with a salary increase and full-tuition abatement.

When a student’s performance is rated “outstanding,” and the following conditions are met, s/he can be promoted from GIA to STA in the second year of study. Promotion depends on the proper qualifications attained in “Assessment A”, and the following from “Assessment B”:

Assessment B

  1. The needs of the program are such that allows employment of graduate students at both ranks, GTAs and STAs.
  2. The student must have demonstrated class management by teaching, under supervision, his/her own class.

Course Loads
Graduate assistants must enroll in a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 12 hours per semester. A minimum of 15 hours per academic year, or five courses, must count toward their degree. In the first Fall semester, all new GIAs must enroll in FORL 776 (The Teaching of Foreign Language in College, 3 credits) and the requisite language-specific 777 course (0 credit) depending on which language the GA is assigned to teach. Deviations from these guidelines must be approved by the student’s graduate advisor and the LLC Graduate Director.

Responsibilities & Work Load
Graduate assistants are required to perform between 15 and 20 hours of service to the department per week. Dual employment (i.e. taking on an additional job) during the Fall and Spring semester is not permitted without the express written approval of the student’s teaching supervisor, graduate advisor, and the graduate director. (Approval forms are available at the departmental graduate office.) Teaching one 3-hour course is the equivalent of 10 service hours per week. Assignments will be made based on documented expertise. GAs will be under the direct supervision of the faculty member responsible for coordinating the area to which the GTA is assigned, and may be required to take an additional pedagogy course or training-related workshops. Assistants who do not teach a full load will be asked to perform additional tasks, such as working in a tutoring center or helping a professor with grading. Assistants should make sure they fully understand their service assignments at the beginning of each semester.

Evaluation, Reappointment & Probation
GAs must be enrolled in the 777 course of the language they teach for every semester of their appointment. The 777 course provides the framework for faculty observation, supervision and practical training. GAs can expect to be observed at least twice a semester and receive a written evaluation of their teaching performance. In addition, during the final weeks of each semester, GAs are evaluated by their respective basic courses directors and academic advisors to determine the quality of their performance in both areas. Reappointment is contingent on maintaining a 3.0 GPA and receiving a “satisfactory” rating for performance of assigned duties. In the event that a GA’s GPA drops below 3.0, the Graduate School places the student on “academic probation” allowing one academic year to improve grades. At the discretion of the graduate director, and in consultation with the affected graduate advisor, Graduate students on “academic probation” are subject to immediate suspension of their GA contract. GAs receiving an “unsatisfactory” rating for the performance of their assigned duties will be placed on “teaching probation.” Depending on the severity of the problems, the GA might be offered a one-semester remediation plan without the immediate loss of their GA, further renewal subject to documented improvement or resolution of the issues. However, in cases of severe underperformance, the GA contract can be terminated immediately.

Revised 10/15/2014

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