Can I afford this?
Expenses, Assistantships, and Financial Aid
Making the decision to pursue a graduate degree in I-O psychology means making a decision to invest in your future. Most good investments require some up-front costs, and graduate school is no exception. It is incredibly important to understand that few investments can guarantee the same return on your investment as earning a graduate degree in I-O psychology. To put it simply, a Master's degree in this field opens up many more work-related opportunities and a higher starting salary than a Bachelor's degree; check out any salary survey online to see what we mean.
To help you understand what your financial picture will probably look like if you are admitted to the UTC I-O program, we recommend considering three core elements:
- Educational expenses (what you will owe UTC)
- Living expenses (what it will cost you to live in Chattanooga)
- Forms of financial assistance (what can help you to cover your expenses)
Here is a summary of typical per year costs for our students during the two years of our program. The numbers below are estimates based on the 2016-2017 university fee schedule and survey responses from students enrolled in the program during the 2015-2016 academic year (last updated August 2016). Prospective students can expect the maintenance/tuition costs to increase between 2% to 6% for the 2017-2018 year (in the following illustration a generous 4% increase was used to generate these projections):
In addition to the costs summarized above, most of our students spend between $7500 and $12,000 per year on housing (including utilities), approximately $3000 on food, and another $1500 or so on transportation and entertainment expenses combined. With a little help, careful planning, and adherence to a budget, most students are able to make ends meet.
Students in our program use a variety of strategies to make their finances "work" while they are enrolled in our two year program. Some examples of these strategies include:
- Sharing rent and utilities with a roommate (we recommend no more than 1 roommate, but this can cut your monthly housing expenses in half)
- Working a part-time job (we recommend no more than 20-25 hours per week); if I-O related work, our students typically earn at least $15 per hour in this region
- Subsidized and/or unsubsidized educational loans (if you qualify for Federal loans, the amounts can be around $20,000 per year)
Forms of Financial Assistance
Aside from these personal strategies, the Department of Psychology and UTC offer several other forms of financial assistance. Most students in our program combine one or more of these opportunities along with outside work to make ends meet during their two years in our I-O graduate program. Here are some general details about the most common sources of financial aid and support to our recent graduate students:
- Academic Common Market: Although not technically a form of "aid" that a student receives, many of our students from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi benefit from the Academic Common Market program. This program makes it possible for certain out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition rates during their time as a graduate student in our program. For more information about this excellent opportunity, please check out UTC's Academic Common Market website. If you are not a resident of one of the currently listed common market states, you may still be eligible for this tuition opportunity by requesting that your state's ACM office add UTC's I-O program to your state's list of eligible programs. In order to obtain the in-state tuition rate, a student must contact the ACM officer from his or her state and obtain the necessary documents and forms from that officer.
- Psychology Department Graduate Assistantships: Each year the department offers a limited number of half-time graduate assistantships on a competitive basis. In the UTC I-O program, these are typically filled by first-year students. Assistantships are awarded on the basis of academic merit (UGPA and GRE scores) and established performance. Each assistantship includes a stipend and partial tuition waiver. Students who are awarded such departmental assistantships are required to assist faculty with teaching or research responsibilities for 10 hours per week. All students who are enrolled full- time in the graduate psychology program are automatically considered for these assistantships.
- Other University Graduate Assistantships: Graduate students in our I-O program are highly sought after by other UTC departments and administrative offices, which typically offer graduate assistantships to which students must apply (as with a normal job). Many of these are available to first- and second-year students and in the recent past, students have obtained GA's with the Office of Institutional Research, the Graduate School, the Career and Placement Center, the Records Office, the Chancellor's office, the Women's Center, and the Counseling Center at UTC. In addition, each year assistantships in other academic departments have become available. Our students consistently fare quite well when they decide to pursue these types of GA opportunities. It is worth noting that all 16 members of our Fall 2017 cohort earned either a half- or full-time GA position either in the Psychology Department or in other critical offices across the UTC campus. Details on competing for open GA positions are shared with all candidates who are offered a spot in the program each spring.
- Teaching Assistantships: The Psychology Department offers a limited number of teaching assignments. Students fulfilling these assignments act as lab instructors for introductory statistics and introductory research methods, section leaders for the introduction to psychology course, and/or fulfill other teaching-related duties. All students who are accepted as Degree students are automatically considered for these departmental GA roles.
- Paid Internships: While all students are required to complete internship hours while enrolled in the program, many students manage to extend their internships into their second year or begin them in the spring of their first year. These internships are almost always paid (typically ranging between $12-$20/hour), and thus become a source of funding for students, especially for students in their second year of the program.
Additional information on available assistantships, scholarships, grants, and low-interest loans is available from UTC's Graduate School (see specifically the sections on scholarships and assistantships) and Office of Financial Aid.