What is the Difference Between a Fellowship and an Associateship?

The Graduate School administers internal university fellowships as well as graduate
fellowships and traineeships funded through national and local agencies. Some academic units have their own endowed fellowships as well. By far, the largest form of financial assistance comes to graduate students in the form of graduate teaching, research, or administrative associateships. If you are interested in applying for a financial award, check the “funding opportunities” box(es) of choice on the admission application. Consult with your intended graduate program about any special financial aid application forms, requirements, deadlines, and procedures.

In the Graduate School Handbook, the Fellowship is defined as "... a financial award made by the university directly to a graduate student to provide support during a portion of the graduate degree program. Graduate fellows cannot be required to perform a service in return for receiving a stipend. Fellows are selected on the basis of academic merit through a university-wide competition without respect to financial need."

The purpose of the First-Year Fellowship is to attract and retain a diverse and high quality graduate student population. The Presidential Fellowship provides support to students so that they may complete the dissertation unencumbered by other duties. The award recognizes the student’s research potential and scholarly achievements. Regarding Graduate Associateships, the Handbook explains that "...a graduate student’s principal objective is to earn a graduate degree.

Appointment as a GA contributes to that objective by providing an apprenticeship experience along with financial support. This apprenticeship complements formal instruction and gives the student practical, personal experience that can be gained only by performing instructional, research, or administrative activities. It is expected that GA responsibilities will not interfere with a student’s reasonable progress toward completion of the graduate degree. The three Graduate Associate titles are: Graduate Administrative Associate (GAA), Graduate Research Associate (GRA), and Graduate Teaching Associate (GTA). Specific GA responsibilities are determined by the appointing units. These may include teaching classes,
recitations, and labs; advising and counseling students; grading papers; gathering and analyzing data; writing reports; and assisting faculty members and administrators