InquilineKea wrote:As seems to be the case with math/physics grad students? Or not?
I'm thinking that TAships are much rarer in universities with fully separate astronomy programs (since there aren't very many undergrad courses in astronomy to begin with, and some of the courses are so small that the professor does all the grading). That, and some of the TAships are done by undergrads.
So do astro grad students usually get RAships? Or some other source of income? I know that grants are one source of funding, but they're very hit and miss sources of funding.
I'm an astronomy grad student, and every student here is fully funded, most of whom are TAs. Most of us teach a lab for non-science majors with 15-25 students, plus grading for major-level classes, helping out in non-science-major lecture sections, running a spectroscopy lab, or running the rooftop and planetarium. This might not be true at small schools, but we (at Penn State) usually have 3 or 4 large lecture classes, and one or two online sections, with 150+ people in each of them.
At Penn State, most students come in with a TA and then get an RA during their 2nd or 3rd years. Usually one or two students will either have a fellowship or an RA during their first year, but that is not the norm. We are a separate department from physics, and we were pretty much guaranteed funding as long as we are making satisfactory progress. It's just like a physics or math program. And, as far as I can tell, this is true elsewhere. All of the other places I was accepted in 2008 offered me full funding, and I am now transferring to Cornell with full funding.
Bottom line: yes, you'll be funded (TA or RA) if the program is worth anything. If they don't fund you, then don't go there.