8.0          Employment Policies and Procedures for Graduate Assistants

8.1          Graduate Student Appointments

Fully enrolled graduate students may be appointed to one of several assistantship categories. The responsibilities of such assistants are to serve the learning, discovery, and engagement functions of the university. The normal workload of graduate students may be defined in hours: a full assistantship is an average of 20 hours per week effort.

Since the responsibilities or requirements of graduate students may vary by academic discipline, each department is required to define clearly the expectation of its students on assistantships. Although these positions are described here, the appointments do not carry faculty status or other faculty rights or responsibilities.

The graduate school reviews and approves each assistantship appointment recommended by the department.  Graduate students on assistantships must enroll full time under criteria established by the graduate school.

All graduate assistantships carry stipends according to a schedule of steps as approved by the Board of Visitors. This schedule is the same for all three kinds of assistantships.

Graduate Assistant: Graduate assistants (GAs) are graduate students who provide academic and program support. GA responsibilities may be administrative in nature and consist of duties unrelated directly to teaching or research (such as academic advising, program planning, advising student groups, and assisting with the administration of student services offices). GA responsibilities may also be academic in nature and include grading examinations, problem sets, and/or lab assignments, setting up displays for lectures or laboratory sections, and preparing or maintaining equipment used in laboratory sections.

Graduate Research Assistant: Graduate research assistants (GRAs) are graduate students conducting academically significant research under the direction of a faculty member, who is generally a principal investigator on an external grant or contract.

Graduate Teaching Assistant: Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) may provide academic program support under the supervision of a faculty member. GTAs may assist faculty members in the department in teaching undergraduate courses, including laboratory teaching assignments, or in providing other appropriate professional assistance, including grading examinations, problem sets, and/or lab assignments, setting up displays for lectures and laboratory sections, and preparing or maintaining equipment used in laboratory sections. GTAs must have 18 hours of graduate-level course work in their teaching discipline to be assigned full responsibility for teaching an undergraduate course. GTAs lacking this training are assigned to work under the supervision of a faculty member who is the instructor of record for the course. Graduate students who will be appointed as GTAs must complete GRAD 5004 GTA workshop. Further information regarding appropriate credential requirements for graduate assistants who are assigned as instructors of record is found below and on the provost’s website. Graduate students are not authorized to teach graduate courses unless approved by the graduate school.

8.2          Required Teaching Credentials for Graduate Teaching Assistants

Graduate assistants assigned as the instructor of record must also have documented teaching credentials. A master’s degree in the teaching discipline or 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline, direct supervision by a faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline, regular in-service training, and planned and periodic evaluations are required. For further information, see the teaching faculty credentialing guidelines available in chapter two, “Faculty Credentialing Guidelines,” and on the provost’s website.

8.3          Additional Employment by Graduate Students with a Full-Time Assistantship Contract

Given individual circumstances, graduate students on full-time graduate assistantship may, at times, wish to pursue additional employment. Unless specified otherwise in the assistantship agreement, graduate students receiving full-time assistantships are not prohibited from seeking additional employment. In the interest of their professional development and maintenance of satisfactory academic progress, students seeking additional employment should consult with their academic advisors, and when appropriate their assistantship providers, regarding the fulfillment of their assistantship and graduate study responsibilities. The graduate school must be notified of additional employment plan. The graduate school should be consulted to assist with the resolution of any conflicts that may arise.

In evaluating the merits of outside employment, graduate students and their advisors should consider the following:

  • Employment by a company owned in whole or part by the faculty chair of the student’s dissertation or thesis committee presents the potential for serious conflicts of interest. In such cases, another faculty member of equal or greater rank must serve as chair or co-chair of the advisory committee.
  • It is inappropriate for any student to receive remuneration directly from the external funding organization while also being employed as a graduate assistant or wage earner on a contract with that same organization.
  • It is inappropriate for any student to work for an employer who is in direct competition with a current funding source. International graduate students on assistantships may be prohibited from any additional employment by their specific visa status.