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Graduate student Frequently Asked Questions:

Every prospective graduate student has a basic set of questions s/he might want answered. We have compiled such a list, and have answered it. The best way to get your questions answered is to visit the campus (your prospective advisor may defer some of the costs).

If you are looking for advice on preparing for graduate school, check out Dr. Steve Stearns' informative page on that. Here we focus on more mundane issues of grad. school, as seen by a biology grad. student at OU.

How do I support myself? A Teaching Assistant's perspective: TAs typically work for 20hrs/week. Most of the TAs at OU-Biology gives you hands-on experience in lecturing and conducting labs. Generally, the Professor designs the lab, and the TAs give an introductory lecture for the lab, and help students learn the subject matter. TAs are responsible for their students (usually about 25), this task includes keeping grade rosters (i.e., weekly grading etc.), and holding 6 office hours per week. Preparation times for TAing labs depends on your background, and the format of the course. Regardless, you are not expected to work more than 20hrs/week. It is mandatory for all doctoral students in the department to be on a TA for at least 2 semesters. TAships expand your knowledge-base remarkably, and are critical components of your resume.

How do I support myself? A Research Assistant's perspective: RAs typically work for 20hrs/week as well. As you can imagine, RAs are more "plastic", depending on the kind of research, and also your advisor's ideals on an RAship. Talk to your prospective advisor regarding specifics of an RA.

Other sources of support? Sure! There are numerous scholarships for which you can apply. Our Department, as well as the College of Arts & Sciences offers scholarships/fellowships for qualified graduate students to supplement our annual income, or support us during the summers.

How do I fund my research? Central question to both accomplished and budding scientists alike! Our research is funded by numerous sources, including faculty-sponsors (i.e., via grants your advisor may have), individual federal fellowships (e.g., NSF, EPA), numerous intra-, and etrxamural sources. Moreover, our department provides us ample support for our travelling, and other expenses. We also have a great stockroom with a bunch of expendable supplies that our department provides to supplement graduate student research. You must make prior arrangements for efficient use of these resources.

Is Norman expensive? Oklahoma is one of the least expensive places to live in the U.S.!

Are there tuition waivers? Of course! 7 credit hours per semester (Fall & Spring), and 3 credit hours in the summers are completely waived, even if you are an out-of-state student. Out-of-state students get an additional 2 credits of nonresident tuition waived (you still have to pay in-state tuition on these credits). But 6 credits per regular semester is considered full-time enrollment if you're on a TA or RA. You still have to pay for other miscellaneous fees (i.e., not tuition), which currently amount to only about $1400 per academic year.

Will I get health benefits? Yes! Graduate Assistants get basic health coverage, with an option for upgrading it at your expense. Dental and vision insurance are also available at a subsidized rate.

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