Our financial aid package consists of a graduate teaching assistantship, and most, if not all, of our full time students receive financial aid. Teaching Assistants (TA)s receive a tuition scholarship for courses taken during fall and spring semesters as well as a stipend. The teaching assistantship is renewed for the second year of study provided that the TA remains in good academic standing (GPA of 3.0) and otherwise performs their TA duties in an appropriate manner.
The teaching assistantships provide our students with real world teaching experience which is attractive both to doctoral programs and to professional organizations. Our TAs teach "Oral Communication in Business," a public speaking course for non-communication undergraduate majors. Each TA is responsible for stand-alone classroom instruction and grading for their assigned sections. During the first semester of their first year of study, TAs teach one section of this course; in all subsequent semesters, TAs teach two sections of this course. Guided by a core curriculum, TAs develop their own lecture materials, activities, and multimedia presentations. They are then well equipped to continue to teach in a doctoral program or to make strategic presentations in the professional world. Second year TAs serve as peer mentors to first year TAs.
All TAs meet every day with the Oral Communication Course Director the week prior to the start of the semester for in-depth training; then TAs meet weekly throughout the year to continue their development as instructors. These weekly meetings with the course director allow our TAs the opportunity to discuss pedagogy and teaching strategies as well as any other concerns they may have with their classroom experiences. Our TA training focuses on "best practices of teaching" strategies, practical, hands on course development, as well as learning how to teach both theory and the practical aspects of communication (public speaking.) Second-year TAs have the opportunity to teach specialized sections focused on Scientific and Technical Communication or Business and Professional Speaking. Additionally, one student each semester serves as the Assistant Course Coordinator to review course materials, teaching strategies and training sessions with the Oral Communication Course Director. We provide our students with more in-classroom experience as the sole instructor than most other graduate programs---including doctoral programs---in communication. Each semester TAs are observed by the course director and a peer mentor, and receive a review of their classroom practices.