The usual support mechanism in the department is designed to offer fellowship/TA support to the best applicants. Once you are in the department, you meet with faculty members whose research interests you and they can chose to support you as RAs. I very rarely support incoming students as RAs directly. Those that I do are typically amongst the strongest applicants who have a clear interest and background in my areas of research, and plan to pursue a Ph.D. . Please do not take this as a reason for "over estimating" your intent to do a Ph.D. when you communicate with me. Please also do not use catch-all formulations such as "MS leading to a Ph.D." Please realize that like many other US schools, UMBC admits qualified UG students directly into the Ph.D program if they want to do a Ph.D . In short, if your current intent is to only do a Masters, say so! Candidness is an important component in an advisor-advisee relationship, and it is better that I know of and plan around your degree objectives up front.