Funding Opportunities

There are many ways to help fund your graduate school education at Purdue.  These generally fall into three categories.  Teaching Assistants (TA) assist professors in teaching a class and/or running a lab.  Research Assistants (RA) help the professor to conduct research. Fellowships/Scholarships are monetary awards from either Purdue, or outside companies, governments, or non-profit organizations.

Teaching Assistantship (TA)

Per the Graduate School Employment manual,  Graduate Teaching Assistant (TA) responsibilities could include any tasks related to the instruction of students. Graduate TA’s may have primary responsibility for a course, a recitation section, or a laboratory section. A Graduate TA may serve as a tutor or provide assistance to a faculty member in instruction in a course through such tasks as grading papers, preparing hand-outs, placing materials on the Web, or assisting in clinical assignments.

ME’s Graduate Office accepts nominations from faculty members (students cannot directly apply) for TA assignments in late July for Fall and Spring TA’s, as most of our TA’s are assigned for both semesters.  Summer TA nominations are normally requested in late-April, but there are fewer summer TA positions available. 

Oral English Proficiency

If your first language is not English, and you want to serve as a TA, Purdue University policy requires you to be certified in a higher level of Oral English Proficiency than is required for admission as a student. This may mean higher test scores, or a different test. For example, a TOEFL waiver by the Graduate School does not waive the requirement for a student to demonstrate oral English proficiency prior to being offered a teaching assistantship.  The following chart shows the test scores that are, and are not, accepted for certification to become a TA.

Test or Procedure

Scores Accepted for Oral English Certification

May teach undergrads?

Path to Certification of oral English proficiency

Oral English Proficiency Test

50 or 55





27 or higher on the speaking section




8 on the speaking section



Not Accepted for oral English certification:

  • TOEFL (Computer or paper-based test)
  • Test of Written English (TWE)
  • SPEAK or other screening procedure at another educational institution
  • TOEFL waiver or student has received a degree from an English-speaking institution

If you have not automatically certified by your original test score as defined above, you can still obtain certification through taking the OEPT.  A minimum score of 50 on the OEPT will qualify you for certification.  You can find practice OEPT tests on the website.  If you don’t score 50 or higher on OEPT, you can retest under certain circumstances, or request to sign up for ENGL 620 if you had scored 40 or 45.

Students cannot directly register for OEPT or ENGL 620; you must contact the ME Grad Office to request to be submitted for either of these options.  (Remember, once you take ENGL 620, you cannot re-take the OEPT. Also, ENGL 620 does not count toward your POS requirements.)  When requesting registration to OEPT, please check the schedule of test dates, and let us know your top 3 date/times.

Math Teaching Assistants

The Purdue math department does hire students outside of Math as Teaching Assistants in the Fall semester.  They do not hire TA’s during spring or summer semesters.   If you are interested in applying, you can find more information,

Engineering Education Teaching Assistants

The School of Engineering Education hires Graduate Teaching Assistants to help faculty with instruction and instructional material development for First-Year Engineering courses.  More information can be found,

Research Assistantship (RA)

Per the Graduate Staff Employment Manual, A Graduate Research Assistant (RA) “performs duties related to a research project or program under the guidance and direction of faculty members. Any graduate student staff member who is assigned to perform research duties should be classified in the category, regardless of the funding source, and need not work for his/her own department.”

The ME Grad Office does not hire RA’s; RA positions are hired by individual research faculty.  If you are interested in an RA position, you need to reach out to faculty involved in the research area that interests you, to see if they have any openings, and if you would be a match for their team.  


With so many fellowships/scholarships offering money from both Purdue and from outside organizations (companies, governments, non-profit organizations), it can be a little overwhelming to find fellowship opportunities that are right for you.  The Purdue Fellowship Office provides resources on fellowship opportunities, teaching writing skills, and guiding you through the fellowship application process.  Many outside fellowships opportunities, along with helpful online Fellowship Resources like webinar recordings, writing guides, etc., can be found on their website.  Workshops covering general writing strategies and specific fellowship programs are also offered.

The College of Engineering's Office of Graduate Education also provides additional fellowship/scholarship opportunities.


ME Graduate Office
585 Purdue Mall (Room 1003)
West Lafayette, IN 47907
(765) 494-5730