Students in the MA and PhD in rhetoric and scientific & technical communications (RSTC) benefit from generous financial support for their studies. Support takes a variety of forms including graduate instructorships and other types of assistantships; opportunities to pursue departmental, UMN Graduate School, and external fellowships; limited research and travel support; and a range of other possible awards and grants.

Reflecting our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), multiple funding opportunities provide enhanced support for cultivating a diverse graduate student community, supporting research that advances DEI objectives, and funding opportunities that foster an inclusive and welcoming environment in the program, department, and the University.

Graduate Assistantships

All students admitted to the MA and PhD programs receive a funding package (two years for the MA and five for the PhD). This funding is primarily in the form of graduate instructorships, teaching one course per semester. 

We pride ourselves on graduating excellent, innovative, and committed teachers. You will receive robust pedagogical training through coursework, including our required WRIT 5531 and WRIT 5532 course sequence in your first year of teaching, and instructional support from dedicated program directors and staff. You will benefit from training tailored to specific teaching assignments, meetings with experienced teachers to discuss theoretical and practical issues in writing pedagogy, and more.

All students will have the opportunity to teach WRIT 1301: University Writing in the First-Year Writing (FYW) program. After teaching WRIT 1301, you may request to teach WRIT 3562W: Technical and Professional Writing or other advanced writing courses; you must demonstrate prior experience with a similar course and/or willingness to participate in departmental trainings to prepare for teaching the course.

Departmental opportunities for teaching assistantships and research assistantships are available to students with relevant qualifications. Starting in your second year in the program, you also become eligible to teach summer courses. Continued financial support is contingent upon successful teaching performance as well as timely and satisfactory degree progress in the program.

Center for Writing Job Opportunities

Housed within the Department of Writing Studies, the Center for Writing is an interdisciplinary center devoted to the practice, teaching, and study of writing. The Center for Writing encourages writing-studies graduate students to apply for teaching assistant (TA) positions in its Student Writing Support program, as well as research assistant (RA) positions with the Writing-Enriched Curriculum project. Openings are typically announced in February for the following academic year by the Center for Writing.

Graduate Assistant Compensation & Eligibility

For a standard 50% assistantship, graduate students receive:

You must be admitted, maintain full-time student status, and be in good academic standing to hold these positions.


For new admits: As part of its application review process, the admissions committee considers nominations for the following awards:

  • Diversity of Viewpoints and Experiences (DOVE) Fellowship: Seeks to assist graduate programs to promote a diversity of views, experiences, and ideas in the pursuit of research, scholarship, and creative excellence. This diversity is promoted through the recruitment and support of academically excellent students with diverse ethnic, racial, economic, and educational backgrounds and experiences. Prospective students must be nominated by the RSTC program.
  • Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC) Fellowships: Provides financial support for graduate students who are committed to the interdisciplinary study of the global south in the context of global change, and especially for students from the global south and groups traditionally underrepresented in graduate education. Prospective students must be nominated by the RSTC program.

Applicants are encouraged to consider their alignment with these awards when developing their application materials, particularly their personal and diversity statements.

Newly-admitted students are also invited to apply for external fellowships, such as the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) Scholarship, which is designed to recruit and retain talented American Indian students with demonstrated financial need. 

For continuing students: The RSTC programs offer a suite of competitive summer fellowships each year for continuing students. Students in the programs are encouraged to and supported in applying for competitive fellowships and awards both within the University and from external funders. Faculty and program staff work closely with applicants to coach them through the application process and provide substantive feedback on application materials. 

  • Summer RSTC fellowships (general and DEI-focused) that support research with mentoring support from graduate faculty. 
  • James I. Brown and Affiliates 21st Century endowed summer fellowships that support research in rhetoric and technical communication, respectively.
  • Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (DDF): A completion fellowship to support focused dissertation research in a student’s final year. Candidates must be nominated by their graduate program and the college.
  • Interdisciplinary Dissertation Fellowship: Provides a unique opportunity for students to study with faculty at one of the University’s interdisciplinary research centers or institutes. Candidates must be nominated by their graduate program.

Grants and Other Funding Opportunities

The RSTC programs encourage students to present papers at regional, national, and international conferences and offer funding to support them. Limited financial support for research and professional development is also available upon request for students who are presenting papers. In addition, we have dedicated resources to support travel, research, and professional development opportunities with a DEI focus.

Each year we offer teaching excellence awards to recognize the high caliber of instruction RSTC students achieve.

The College of Liberal Arts, the Council of Graduate Students, and the Graduate School offer additional opportunities for travel and research grants, internships, and a wide range of other opportunities. 

Other Resources