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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 initial and 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.


Eligibility for appointment is as follows:

  • Classified Graduate Students: Students must be admitted to a graduate degree or certificate program to hold an assistantship.
  • 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 or designee. This permission may be granted only in exceptional circumstances such as to a qualified student in an approved combined baccalaureate and graduate program when they are within 32 semester hours of receiving a baccalaureate degree.
  • Grade Point Averages: Students must have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average in graduate courses to hold an assistantship. Undergraduate students approved to hold an assistantship must have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average in both undergraduate and graduate courses. 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 14 terms total during their academic career. Student pursuing a master's degree are limited to seven terms of assistantship per degree. The Dean of the Graduate School or designee may grant an exception for students who pursue degrees that require more than 45 semester hours for completion.

Typically an assistantship appointment must relate to the student's academic objective. Assistants must be supervised by qualified personnel. The overall assignment is to be proportionate to the number of hours to be worked. The number of different assignments in the appointment is expected to meet the standard of a reasonable person. For example, a teaching assistant could be assigned to two courses taught by different faculty, and a research assistant could be assigned to two sponsored projects or one sponsored project and one course. 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 are expected to assist graduate assistants in securing access to University resources and facilities.

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.

Graduate assistantships carry a stipend. Minimum stipend amounts are set by the University. This amount should be the same for the three categories of general, research, and teaching assistantships and is published in the Graduate Assistant Handbook.  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. 

Graduate assistantships carry a tuition waiver subject to the requirements in the Graduate Assistantship Handbook and the contract.  To obtain a tuition waiver during a term, the student must remain employed in the assistantship a minimum of 12 weeks in the fall term, 12 weeks in the spring term, and 8 weeks between the summer terms.   For any contract written for less than these minimum weeks, a tuition waiver requires completion of 100% of the contract term plus approval by the Dean of the Graduate School or designee. 

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 less than a 50% graduate assistant appointment may also have another assistantship that raises the total percentage to 50.  For example, a 25% appointment could be combined with another 25% appointment. 

A graduate student who has a graduate assistant appointment and who meets the student employment enrollment requirements may simultaneously have student work appointments such that the hours worked between the assistantship and student work total to no more than the maximum student work hours per Policy 4B3 – Policies Governing Student Work.  For example, a student with a 50% graduate assistantship could work a maximum of 8 hours of student work if Policy 4B3 limits student workers to 28 hours.  Students on F-1 or J-1 Visas, including students with graduate assistantships, are prohibited from working more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session during fall and spring semesters but may work up to 28 hours per week during summer semester.

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

Graduate assistants are not eligible for vacation benefits.

Graduate assistants except for those on sponsored internship agreements 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 are to 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 sponsored internship agreements will follow the schedule of the sponsor during the contract period.

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 less than 50%, the entitlement is prorated according to the percentage of the appointment. For assistantships with split appointments (e.g., two 25% appointments), the benefit is earned by appointment (e.g., 2 hours in each appointment). Sick leave earned in one appointment cannot be used in another without the consent of both hiring units.

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.

Pregnant graduate assistants may take up to an unpaid leave of 12 weeks beginning upon the birth of their child. The contractual stipend will only be honored for the hours worked. Any tuition waiver will be honored for the semester in which the leave begins.

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 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 8/2/23
This policy was updated on August 2, 2023, replacing the October 24, 2019 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; GR 17/18-15; GR 18/19-08; GR 19/20-02; GR 22/23-10

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