Even as students, computer scientists are in demand. During the 2020-21 academic year, over 90 percent of Blacksburg research track graduate students were on full-time support. (Depending on the funding source, that typically means a 20 hour per week work obligation as a GTA or GRA.)
Of approximately 250 research track graduate students at the Blacksburg campus during Spring 2021, we hired about 115 Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) and about 85 Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs). About 15 students were hired by other units on campus or at the nearby Corporate Research Center, and about 15 were supported through outside funding from their government, company, fellowship, etc.
Master's thesis and Ph.D. students who receive departmental support in their first year can normally expect to receive continued support during the remainder of their course of study (typically two years for master's; four or five years for Ph.D.), as long as their job performance and degree progress are good.
Note that we no longer have a master's of science coursework-only option for non-Ph.D. students. Our coursework-only degree for non-PhD students is the Masters of Engineering (MEng) in Computer Science. MEng students do not receive funding from our department.
[Please note that the following was written in Spring 2021.]
One major factor affecting the typical stipend take-home pay is whether you choose to have the comprehensive fees that students pay (those not covered by the assistantship) deducted from your paycheck. Also, while the University pays most of the health insurance premium, there is a portion that the student pays, which can also be deducted from the paycheck. If you do choose both of these automatic deductions (most students do), then the actual take-home pay, after all taxes and deductions, would typically be about $700 per pay period or about $1,400 per month.
A major factor for any grad student at any school will be the cost of housing. You should never try to compare the take-home pay for assistantships at different universities without also factoring in the cost of housing. For those attending the Blacksburg campus, you can find some typical housing costs.
The CS Grad Council has provided some resources for new students regarding housing information on their website. For those attending the National Capital Region campus, you can find information on housing options here. Students on assistantship at the NCR are normally paid more than are students at Blacksburg to help compensate for the higher cost of living.
Some additional reference material on assistantship compensation, deductions, and insurance is provided below:
Graduate Assistantship Information from the Graduate School: We recommend reviewing the tab on “Compensation” and “Graduate Assistantship Stipends”
Student Medical Insurance: Click on the “Student Health Insurance Information” link for information on deductions