Our system here at Georgia Tech is extremely competitive. There are two overall types of funding: internal and external. Internal funds are usually in the form of a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA). These are usually best for MS students or for the first year of a PhD program. The problem with a PhD student being a GTA is that the student must spend more time on his courses and generally less time doing research. Research toward the doctoral dissertation is the core of a PhD program.

External funds may be in the form of a fellowship or a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA). A fellowship comes from a sponsor outside the Institute and gives the student maximum flexibility: work on what you want with whomever you want. A GRA comes through the Institute from an external sponsor, generally as a grant to a professor. That professor then takes the grant and uses it to fund his research staff, which generally includes a group of GRAs and maybe one or more post-doctoral fellows. These are usually in the form of three-year grants and they come from NASA, a department of defense agency, NSF, etc.

Prof. Steve Ruffin oversees the admissions process for our graduate students. Before a student can be accepted he must have a source of funds. That source can be his own money, his parents' money, support from his government or an employer, a fellowship, a GRA or a GTA. Being dependent on the receipt of grants to fund my GRAs, I cannot predict my long-term prospects nor can I know a priori how many students I can hire or in what areas I'll need them. Generally I make that decision in March or April, four to five months before the students arrive for fall semester. By then I can look at my funding picture and see where my needs are and how the pool of applicants fits into that. I give the word to Prof. Ruffin that I would like to fund a particular applicant with a GRA, and if that student is otherwise approved for admission he notifies him.

Note that although summer internships may be available through other Georgia Tech professors, I do not offer summer internships in my research program.

Dr. Dewey Hodges

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