PhD students are admitted to the program with funding for 5 years. Sociology offers academic year stipends of $20,000 for full-time PhD students on 10-month academic teaching assistant appointments. Teaching assistants work about 20 hours a week, and usually work closely with a faculty member for the first two years of their TAship to work with and tutor students, lead recitation sections, grade, and sometimes deliver lectures. TAs may be invited to teach their own courses in their third or fourth year. MA students are not funded through Department TAships.
PhD students who exhaust their 5 years of Department funding, and MA students may find funding opportunities through other sources. These are a few options that current PhD and MA students have found.
Faculty research projects supported by external funding (or internal grants) sometimes employ graduate student assistants to perform essential research functions. The number of these awards varies greatly from one year to the next. RA positions may also be available with faculty members in other UB departments, usually in the social sciences. Some RAships carry tuition waivers and stipends, others come with hourly pay. There is no standard RAship; they vary according to funding source, faculty member, and research needs.
Most faculty seek research assistants who show high levels of interest as well as competence in their sociology coursework, often asking for recommendations from other faculty. Since faculty typically prefer to work with students whose skill sets and work habits are familiar to them, research assistantships are not often awarded to first year students.
"This past summer, I worked as a research assistant for Dr. Kristen Schultz Lee’s project on education and happiness using ADD health data. My primary responsibility was to conduct a literature review on the measures of key variables in our research. When I first learned about this research project from her proseminar, I expressed my interest in the project and willingness to volunteer, which helped me to get an RA position afterward. I appreciate this opportunity to work with Dr. Lee. Her guidance and advice were very constructive. I gained more experience with quantitative research design, which will be very helpful for my future studies. I also learned more about the sociology of happiness and sociology of education through this project."
Sociology graduate students have been successful finding graduate assistantships and other paid positions outside of the department. Whenever the department learns of a position, the information is submitted to the graduate student listserv. Students are also encouraged to look for opportunities through Bullseye, the job search website maintained by UB's Career Services office, as they frequently post on-campus and off-campus positions. Successful students rarely wait for opportunities to present themselves--they work hard to seek out such opportunities, and they also make sure to market themselves appropriately for units that are hiring.
Examples of graduate assistant positions current students have found outside the department include:
My funding package was the result of relentless researching, tactful networking, and a little bit of good luck. I used Handshake/Bullseye as a targeting tool, and applied for every GA position I saw posted, and even visited departments with a resume to introduce myself as a motivated student. I also networked with every member of the sociology department, especially other graduate students who were funded outside the department. I made sure that all my colleagues knew that I was on the hunt for funding, and it paid off – another GA funded outside the department heard of a position in the office of Study Abroad Programs. I immediately sent a cover letter and resume, and got an interview. Through my work at the Office of Study Abroad Programs I have gained valuable experience in providing high level academic, professional, and personal advising to UB students. Through supporting and directing students through the entire arch of study abroad I have learned how to relate effectively and positively with students, parents, and administrators.
For students who have earned an MA in Sociology, the department may have adjunct teaching opportunities during regular semesters (on north campus and occasionally in Singapore) and summer/winter semesters, usually on north campus). Summer teaching opportunities are announced in the fall of each year, along with an application process for consideration for an adjunct appointment. If an eligible student is interested in teaching for the department during the academic year, they should contact the Director of Graduate Studies and/or the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Sociology graduate students have also found teaching positions outside the department, and adjunct positions may be available at other area institutions of higher education. Recent sociology graduate students have found adjunct teaching positions at a number of other local colleges and universities, including:
· Daemon College
· Buffalo State College
· Erie Community College
· Hilbert College
· Villa Maria College
· Medaille College
"I have been teaching at SUNY-Geneseo since Spring of 2017. I have taught Introduction to Sociology thus far, but was recently given the opportunity to craft an elective course called Race, Class, and Gender that will focus on an intersectional examination of inequality in the US. I found the position via the UB Sociology listserv. There was an email sent out to current graduate students notifying us that there were adjunct positions open at SUNY Geneseo. I followed up and was able to secure the position for the following semester. The experience at Geneseo has helped me as a new instructor by giving me more time in the classroom. It has allowed me to refine a single course in order to find the text, assignments, and lectures that work best for students and for myself. It has also helped to expose me to departmental and institutional settings outside of UB."
Sociology graduate students may also have the opportunity to participate in the new Social Innovation Fellowship summer program, which includes a modest stipend. After taking a week-long course in the business school on social innovation, sociology graduate students work on a team with an MBA student and an MSW student at a mission-driven community organization, where they collaborate to address pressing social issues to make an impact.
"The Social Impact Fellowship both provided and reinforced a valuable set of skills and perspectives that will be critically useful in my future life and work. During the summer at my placement, I learned how to engage in substantive research oriented toward providing a public good in the form of interviews and neighborhood analysis. I also gained potential future non-academic and academic skills and information, such as how to write business and development plans, learning about the organizational structure of non-profits, as well as built basic skills for how to write funding applications. Beyond the tangible skills that I developed during this fellowship, the environments that both the course and my placement provided were amicable and fun, while clearly geared toward student progress and fostering our ability to make an impact in the local Buffalo community."