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Guidelines for Graduate Assistantships and Regulatory Policies - 4A3

Acceptance of a graduate assistantship by a prospective or enrolled graduate student completes an agreement that both the student and the University expect to honor. Graduate assistants are entitled to a waiver of tuition subject to the terms and conditions in the Graduate Assistant Handbook.

Graduate assistantships are available in academic and administrative units. All assistantships are awarded by the hiring unit. The Graduate School reviews all appointments for eligibility. The Graduate School also reviews the records of assistants to determine their eligibility for continued appointment. An assistantship appointment is terminated as of the date that a graduate assistant withdraws from classes. Other reasons for graduate assistant termination and the procedures to follow are outlined in the Graduate Assistant Handbook.

The following definitions apply:

  • General Assistant renders general service to an academic or administrative unit.
  • Research Assistant performs scholarly activities, such as conducting experiments, organizing or analyzing data, presenting findings, collaborating with other in preparing publications or productions, and conducting institutional research for an academic or administrative unit.

  • Teaching Assistant performs instructional duties, such as providing or coordinating classroom instruction, including lab or discussion sessions, tutoring students, grading tests and assignments, developing instructional materials; providing artistic instruction, accompanying/coaching musical or vocal performances, and proctoring exams.

  • First-year assistant is a student with an assistantship appointment during the first two terms of appointment.

  • Second-year assistant is a student with an assistantship appointment beginning with the third term of appointment.

Eligibility for appointment is as follows:

  • Classified Graduate Students: Students must be admitted to a graduate degree program in order to hold an assistantship.
  • Classification Pending: Students in classification pending status may hold appointments for a maximum of one academic term. Continuance or reappointment is contingent upon acquisition of status as a classified graduate student.

  • Unclassified Graduate Students: Unclassified students are not eligible for appointment as graduate assistants.

  • Undergraduates: Undergraduate students are allowed to hold appointments only with permission of the Dean of the Graduate School. This permission may be granted only in exceptional circumstances such as to a qualified student in an approved combined baccalaureate/masters five-year program when they are within one academic term (a maximum of 12 semester hours) of receiving a baccalaureate degree.

  • Grade Point Averages: Students must have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average (3.25 for specialist degree programs) to hold an assistantship. Students with excessive incomplete or deferred grades will not be approved by the Graduate School for assistantship appointments. An assistantship already awarded will be in jeopardy when the appointee's grade point average falls below that required for retention in the student's graduate program.

  • Qualified students may hold an assistantship for no more than a total of seven academic terms per degree to a maximum of 14 terms total. The Dean of the Graduate School may grant an exception for students who pursue degrees that require more than 45 semester hours for completion.

Graduate assistantships carry a stipend, plus waiver of tuition. Stipend amounts are set by the University. If the source of funds for an appointment is an external grant or contract, the appointment is contingent upon availability of funds in the grant's account. Ordinarily, because assignments require activities that relate to the instructional and research responsibilities associated with the academic activities of the University, graduate assistants' appointments are made on the basis of an academic year or a fraction thereof. If the work requires continuance during the summer session, a summer appointment must be issued. There is no automatic entitlement to a subsequent term appointment.

Regulatory Policies

Each assistantship appointment must relate to the student's academic objective and be supervised by qualified personnel. The Dean of the Graduate School is authorized to approve assistantships in accordance with these criteria. Each hiring unit has the obligation to make available a formal program of orientation and in-service training for graduate assistants. Supervisors should assist graduate assistants in securing access to University resources and facilities.

An appointment may not be made for less than 25% nor more than 50% time. For teaching assistants, this time includes preparation and grading. 

A graduate student having a 50% graduate assistant appointment may not simultaneously have a student work appointment.

A graduate student having a 25% graduate assistant appointment may also have a Student Work appointment or another 25% assistantship.

Refer to Policy 1L1 for required course loads for graduate assistants.

The salary rate for the three categories of general, research, and teaching assistantships shall be the same. Salary rates are published in the Graduate Assistant Handbook.

Graduate assistants are not eligible for vacation benefits.

Graduate assistants are entitled to the same legal holidays and breaks between academic terms as other University personnel. If their assistance is required by their supervisors during such periods, arrangements should be made to compensate them by relief from duties, when necessary, during subsequent slack periods. Graduate assistants are expected to work when the University is open unless contractual arrangements require otherwise or prior arrangements are made with their supervisors.

Graduate assistants on 50% appointments are eligible for a non-accruable sick leave benefit of one work day each month covered by the appointment. A work day for a graduate assistant on 50% appointment is equivalent to 4 hours. For appointments of less than 50%, the entitlement is to be prorated according to the percentage of the appointment.

Graduate assistants unable to work because of illness or injury must promptly notify the supervisor or unit head. Assistants are subject to applicable university policies concerning use of sick leave, including documentation of an illness or injury from a physician or other acceptable source. Graduate assistants are not entitled to extended sick leave benefits.

Graduate assistants are eligible to receive up to three work days of paid bereavement leave to attend the funeral upon the death of an assistant's immediate family, domestic partner, in-laws, grandchildren, and/or grandparents. Assistants are also eligible for up to one work day of paid bereavement leave for a relative other than the above.

A graduate assistant may be granted other paid and/or unpaid leave, including, but not limited to family leave, during the term of his/her appointment upon request to and at the sole discretion of the University and subject to such reasonable terms and conditions as the University may establish.

Unused leave days shall not be compensated.

Approved by Chancellor effective May 8, 2015
This policy was issued on May 15, 2015, replacing the December 5, 2000 version.
Document Reference: 4A3
Origin: GR 4-70/71; OP 10/7/91; OP 8/17/92; OP 2/1/95; PVP 3/7/95; GR 1-00/01; GR 14/15-02

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