Fellowships and Assistantships

Graduate fellows receive scholarship or fellowship payments made to assist them in pursuing a course of study or research. This payment is not a payment for teaching, conducting research, or other services. Fellows must be candidates for a degree and have major professors who can appropriately mentor the proposed research and provide an environment conducive to carrying it out. Fellowships generally are awarded to students who may freely select the faculty adviser with whom they will conduct research while receiving their stipend.​​

Graduate assistants also must be candidates for a degree, but the work for which they earn a salary may or may not be related to their degree requirements. For example, a number of departments employ graduate assistants pursuing degrees in other fields of specialization to help teach their classes.

While there are similarities between the graduate programs of fellows and assistants, Purdue University must distinguish between them for IRS reporting purposes. Graduate fellows are not Purdue graduate staff, and payments made to them are not recorded as wages. On the other hand, graduate assistants are graduate staff, and payments made to them are recorded as wages.

Guidelines and criteria to determine whether it is appropriate to administer Graduate School awards as assistantships rather than fellowships can be found in the Graduate School Fellowship Manual​ ​(rev. spring 2012).