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Professorial Assistantship (PA) Program

Each year, approximately 200 incoming first-year Honors College students are appointed as Professorial Assistants (PAs). PAs work with regular members of the teaching faculty on tasks directly related either to scholarly research or to innovative teaching. 

The Professorial Assistantship (PA) program aims to link the top Honors College incoming students, based on high school academic performance, with leading research faculty and their projects at Michigan State University. There is a limited number of PA offers available; capacity in the program may be reached at any time. International students will be reviewed separately in the Winter and invited to the Professorial Assistantship program as part of the initial review for Honors College eligibility.

The PA program was an incredible opportunity. No other university guaranteed me a research position in high-energy physics as a freshman.


Compensation and Scholarships

Professorial Assistants work an average of eight to ten hours per week and are paid a stipend of approximately $4,000 for the academic year. Those who perform satisfactorily are re-appointed for a second year at a higher stipend.

In addition, as long as funds allow, PA-eligible students also receive either a STATE Scholarship or Honors Excellence Scholarship. Please visit our First Year Scholarships page for more details on these awards.

PA Experiences

Professorial Assistants take part in projects as varied as:

  • Scripting, directing and producing a series of video lectures to be used at MSU
  • Developing software to help utility companies to avoid blackouts
  • Analyzing large genome sequences
  • Studying MSU varsity athletes in the Human Energy Resource Lab
  • Researching genetic determination of purebred dogs
  • Combining linguistic and neuropsychological research in the study of Broca’s area of the brain
  • Studying the effects of the Asian economic crises on the computer and electronics industry
  • Verifying historical architecture inventories in areas of high urbanization

Although most Professorial Assistants work in areas closely related to their major fields, students may choose to work in other areas of interest to them.


High School Senior:

  • Fall – Domestic PA reviews begin; offer letters mailed by Honors College
  • Winter – Domestic PA reviews completed, final offer letters mailed; International reviews begin
  • May 1 – Deadline to accept by responding to Honors College invitation
  • Late May – Complete placement survey emailed by Honors College
  • End of August – Tentative placement identified; connection with mentor via email

First Year at MSU

  • September – Initial meeting and placement confirmation
  • March – Reappointment discussion with mentor (confirm placement or seek new one)
  • April 15 – Reappointment form due to Honors College
  • Summer – Academic review for eligibility; GPA > 3.2 required

Second Year at MSU

  • September – Resume research
  • May – PA appointment complete

Additional Information

High school students looking for more information about the Professorial Assistantship Program should contact the Honors College admissions staff.

Current Professorial Assistants looking for more information should contact Justin Micomonaco, Ph.D., at or 517-355-2326.

For more general information about opportunities for research and creative activities at Michigan State University, visit

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