Monday, March 9, 2009

Grad School Work Loads

Joe's last post got me thinking about what a "standard" graduate school work-week is like. Mine have varied quite a bit from semester to semester. At CU, students generally take 3 classes (3 or 4 credits each, 2 of which are core courses) and 1 seminar (1 credit) for their first two semesters, 2-3 classes (no core courses) and a seminar in their third semester, and 1-2 classes and possibly a seminar in their fourth and fifth semesters. Also, I started out as a RA, so that has changed things a bit, but here's my average weekly workload by semester in terms of time spent on classes, research, and other (serving on committees, outreach, etc.):
  • Fall 2007: ~55 hours per week total (35 in classes, 20 in research)
  • Spring 2008: ~55 hours per week total (35 in classes, 20 in research)
  • Summer 2008: ~45 hours per week total (0 in classes, 45 in research)
  • Fall 2008: ~50 hours per week total (25 in classes, 20 in research, 5 in other)
  • Spring 2009: ~45 hours per week total (20 in classes, 20 in research, 5 in other)
So what have your experiences been like?


  1. My weekly times have been similar. I haven't kept track of exactly how much time I spend on classes, etc... But last year I know as a TA I was supposed to spend ~20 hours a week doing that and ~30 a week for (3) classes.

    I did not have to actually spend 20 hours a week for TAing but on the other hand I supplemented things with doing research on the side, so ~50 hours a week is probably still right.

    This year I was lucky enough to get The GAANN so no more TAing, however, I have more then made up with it doing research :) So, I would say still somewhere around 50 hours.

  2. Congratulations on getting "The GAANN". What is "The GAANN"?

  3. What is the GAANN? Good question, it is hard to know. Here is the website:

    From what I understand, the government gives a certain number of fellowships to people in need who also show they are good students. However you don't apply for these fellowships. Each university has a certain amount and between your FAFSA form and department recommendations they are distributed.

    I just got an email one day saying: We don't have enough TA slots and you qualify for the GAANN so we will fund you through that instead.

    It's an awesome deal because it lasts 3 years from what I am told and you don't have to TA.

  4. For our lazy readers, here is what the website says:

    "This program provides fellowships, through academic departments and programs of IHEs, to assist graduate students with excellent records who demonstrate financial need and plan to pursue the highest degree available in their course study at the institution in a field designated as an area of national need.

    Grants are awarded to programs and institutions to sustain and enhance the capacity for teaching and research in areas of national need."

    Somehow in the department's quest to make sure everyone has funding (We are guaranteed for our first two years at Irvine) my name was nominated.

  5. That sounds pretty nice. Is it attached to any specific faculty or can you work on whatever you want? If you can then that is really sweet because it's effectively a NSF fellowship. Congrats!

  6. Well thanks Nick. Yes, in a way it is like a poor man's NSF. It is from the government and is not attached to any particular advisor. I have not chosen and advisor yet since I am working with a couple and have not made up my mind 100%.


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