UC San Diego Physics Financial Support Information

The Department of Physics at the University of California, San Diego provides financial support for all graduate students in good academic standing. Graduate students are normally supported by a combination of teaching assistantships and research assistantships.

Graduate students in good academic standing who are enrolled full-time (12 or more units) may be employed as Teaching Assistants (TAs) or as Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs) up to 50% time (20 hours/week) during the academic year. New graduate students who are admitted with financial support are usually appointed as Teaching Assistants for one academic year from the beginning of the fall quarter in September to the end of the spring quarter in June. After completing the first year in the graduate program, students are encouraged to affiliate themselves with a research group and receive support as a GSR. Students should ask the faculty member with whom they wish to work about support arrangements well in advance. Since the source of funds for research assistantships are federal contracts and grants, appointments are subject to the availability of such funds each year. Some TA positions may also be available for advanced graduate students, but priority is given to first year students. Students who receive a fellowship from any source may be able to receive supplementation as part-time TAs or GSRs.

Both TA and GSR positions of 25% time or more provide students with tuition and fees, health insurance, and a monthly salary.

TAs typically perform a combination of the following duties: preparing and conducting discussion or laboratory sections, proctoring exams, grading student work, holding office hours, overseeing the work of other graders and proctors, assisting the instructor with course support and administration, and working in the Physics Tutorial Center. The faculty member in charge of the funded research project assigns GSR duties.

Summer GSRs are often available within the Physics Department for graduate students after they have completed their first year of graduate work. Students arrange summer positions directly with the professor in charge of a research project. There are also opportunities for graduate students to be employed as TAs during the two five-week Summer Sessions offered by the university.

International students whose Bachelor's degrees are not from an English-speaking college or university may not serve as Teaching Assistants until they demonstrate the required English language skills by passing a UCSD-administered test of spoken English. Failure to pass the exam will limit employment opportunities to lower-paying jobs such as graders and proctors. We recommend that students take the Test of Spoken English to help assess their fluency before arriving at UCSD.

Awards and Fellowships

The Physics Department also has a variety of awards and fellowships available to UCSD Physics students. To view more information, please see: Graduate Fellowships and Awards in Physics.

Professional Travel Opportunities/Conferences

The Physics department encourages students to travel to scientific meetings and considers such meetings an important educational experience. However, travel can be supported only when adequate funding is available. In general, the Department's travel policy is graduate students can receive up to $300 for travel to conferences, or $500 for presenting at a conference.