Research Assistantships

 Research assistantships (RAs) offer students an opportunity to gain valuable research-related experience, develop close working relationships with faculty, and sometimes earn co-authorship on peer-reviewed publications. Assistantships come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Just as our students represent a wide range of experience and training, so do the available RA positions necessitate an array of skill levels. The degree of expertise required for a particular assistantship is dictated by the nature of the project. The duties of an RA may include, but are not limited to:

  • literature searches,
  • questionnaire development,
  • administration of questionnaires,
  • interviewing of study participants,
  • data collection,
  • quality control tasks,
  • data analysis,
  • manuscript writing, and
  • proposal development.

The duration of RA positions is quite variable. Some are short-term (weeks or even days in duration) and some may last for a year or more. The number of hours of work per week also varies, typically ranging from 15-20 hours per week. Stipend rates vary depending on level of skills required and funding availability.

Research assistantships become available throughout the year, as new grants are funded or existing ones extended. Opportunities are usually plentiful, and over the years most epidemiology students who wish to work have been able to do so. However, the grants that fund student assistantships are from sources outside the University, and may carry uncertainties; consequently, it is rarely possible to promise such a position before the student arrives on Campus. A new student should be prepared to handle his or her full expenses at first, with the reasonable hope that an assistantship can be obtained within a fairly short time.

 How to get a research assistantship

  • Upon an offer of admission, you will be given access to Web application for requesting consideration for research assistantships. This notifies the Department that a student would like to be considered for a service appointment (that is, an appointment for which some number of hours of work is required). During the summer, these applications are duplicated and distributed to all department faculty and adjunct faculty to notify them of new students who might be suitable for positions on their research projects.
  • New assistantship opportunities are announced via a departmental listserve. Applicants who receive an offer of admission will be given the opportunity to subscribe to this listserve.
  • Students interested in research assistantships should talk with faculty and ask them about possibilities.
  • Monitor the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health career web site.

 Teaching Assistantships

Students in the department may gain teaching experience through Teaching Assistantship (TA) positions. Just as with the Research Assistantships, TA positions are available to students with different skill levels. TAs work with faculty in the preparation of course materials, the preparation of the class schedule, the assembly of course-packs, and in the pre-testing of evaluation instruments. During the courses, TAs observe lectures and make themselves available to students for clarification of concepts and terms used in those lectures; review the exercises used in course materials and/or textbooks; they conduct question-and-answer sessions structured around examples and exercises used in various sections of applied courses; and they make themselves available to answer questions from students in clarification sessions prior to quizzes, tests, and final examination.

The number of hours of work per week varies according to the demands of the course. Stipend rates vary depending on level of skills required and funding availability.

How to get a teaching assistantship:

TA positions for new students are limited, but may be available to students entering with prior epidemiology training. Most of the TA opportunities are for EPID 600, a service course for non-majors that satisfies the SPH core requirement. Students who have completed more advanced training may serve as TAs for upper-level methods courses. In addition, opportunities are sometimes available in the substantive epidemiology courses. TAs in the advanced level courses usually serve at the invitation of the primary course instructor; however, the instructors will always welcome an inquiry from students who have a strong interest in a particular course. Students interested in teaching assistantships should contact our Student Services Office.

In-State Tuition Award

In-state students may receive an In-State Tuition Award that provides tuition support, not to include fees. To be eligible, the student must be appointed as a teaching assistant, research assistant, fellow or trainee; earn a minimum of $7,000 per semester ($7,350 for TAs) (2011-12 academic year); and be enrolled full-time.

Out-of-state students are also eligible for the In-State Tuition Award, if they receive a concurrent tuition remission award.

Training Grants

Several institutional training grants from NIH agencies provide support for epidemiology students. Students who apply for training support must be in a program leading to the PhD, or must have a prior doctoral degree. Under NIH provisions, trainees must be United States citizens or Permanent Residents.

The grant pays a portion of tuition and fees, in addition to a stipend. The current NIH predoctoral stipend is $20,976 for a 12-month appointment. Postdoctoral stipends vary according to the trainee’s years of experience. Training grant appointments are non-service, but generally require a research apprenticeship. However, the student’s career interests and research project must be within the area for which the grant is funded.

Current department training grants fund a number of students studying issues in cancer, cardiovascular disease, environmental, occupational and nutritional epidemiology. Faculty participating in administration of each grant select the trainees. Application forms are available from the Student Services Office. The Principal Investigators for the departmental training grants are as follows:

Cancer Training Grant   Dr. Andrew Olshan
 Cardiovascular Disease Training Grant  Dr. Gerardo Heiss
 Environmental Epidemiology Training Grant  Dr. Marilie Gammon
 Occupational Epidemiology Training Grant  Dr. David Richardson
 Pharmacoepidemiology Training Grant  Dr. Til Stürmer
 Infectious Disease Training Grant  Dr. Steven Meshnick
 Reproductive Perinatal Pediatric Training Grant  Dr. Anna Maria Siega-Riz

Upon an offer of admission, you will be given access to web application for requesting consideration for a training grant position.

 Certain related programs on campus also fund epidemiology students through NIH training grants, including:

and some medical and dental programs. The Carolina Population Center and the affiliated programs do have procedures for application. Interested students should contact the program directly.

Visit financing education for more information on school-level opportunities for help.