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Graduate assistantships are designed both to serve the needs of the University and to assist students in their professional development. Through formal instruction, interaction with faculty, classroom, administrative, and research experience, the graduate assistant becomes a more effective and productive member of their chosen professional field.

The faculty status of the graduate assistant is defined in the 1982 Faculty Handbook, Part One, Section I, C: “In discharging some of their instructional, research, and administrative duties, the Faculty are assisted by personnel who, though not Faculty, are classified as Faculty collaborators. Examples of Faculty collaborators include those in adjunct ranks, lecturers, research fellows, and graduate assistants. While they may be granted certain privileges of Faculty members, they are not entitled to all benefits which accrue to full-time Faculty, nor do they have the right to vote on official Faculty matters.”

The following policies and procedures apply to graduate and athletic assistants:

Terms and Assignments

The term of the assistantship is one year. The term begins on Thursday before the start of classes for the fall semester and on Friday before the start of classes for the spring semester. Graduate assistants are not required to work during the Christmas break and Spring break unless specifically stated in the position description that accompanies the contract. The end of a graduate assistant contract varies by department/program based on the particular needs of the position.

Duties of graduate assistants may involve classroom teaching, laboratory teaching, assistance with research, or non-teaching academic service. Specific duties are assigned by the department chairperson or program director. Ordinarily, the assistant is expected to work 20 hours weekly or to teach 12 semester hours each academic year if they have a full-time position, 10 hours weekly if they have a part-time position. Students with full-time positions are not permitted to hold other employment without expressed permission of the associate dean.

Appointment Renewal

An assistantship appointment is renewable for a second year. Departments/programs recommend renewal to the associate dean based on (1) the quality of the graduate assistant’s work as assessed by his/her supervisor; and (2) the quality of the graduate assistant’s academic performance as reflected in a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and making progress toward the degree.

Particular departments/programs may have additional criteria in the evaluation of graduate assistants for reappointment. Normally, the assistantship will not be renewed for a third year except in special cases such as degree programs that exceed the usual 30 hours or where programs require courses beyond the degree.

Tuition and Fees

Over a two-year period, each assistant is granted remission of tuition and fees, except the graduation fee, for the duration of her or his program. A graduate assistant is considered a full-time student. Full-time status is defined as nine hours per semester or 15 hours over the course of the fall and spring semesters in a given academic year.

The assistant is entitled to remission of tuition for up to 18 semester hours each academic year. The assistant may only enroll for up to 9 hours in one semester. All courses for which remission of tuition is granted must be required for the assistant’s degree program. However, during the contractual period (normally two regular academic years, excluding summers), an assistant may have tuition waived for courses that contribute to professional development but are not part of the formal degree program. Examples: language courses or courses in a related discipline. Such courses must be approved by the department chairperson and associate academic vice president through a written request from the department chairperson.

GA/AA Forms

Graduate and Athletic Assistants should use the Overload Tuition Exemption Request Form to request extraordinary tuition remission for an overload during the semester or for a summer course. Have the form signed by your department chairperson/program coordinator and turn it in to the Office of Graduate Studies in B103. The request is NOT approved until you have been so notified in writing. Requests are due by the end of the first week of the semester or by April 15 for summer requests.

The GA/AA Overload Exemption Request Form is available as a PDF document.