Chapter 8: Employment Policies and Procedures for Graduate Assistants
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. Please refer to university Policy 6210 Management of Graduate Assistantships and Tuition Remission.
Since the responsibilities or requirements of graduate students vary by academic discipline, each department is required to define clearly expectations for its students on assistantships. These graduate student appointments do not carry faculty status or other faculty rights or responsibilities.
Graduate students on assistantships must enroll full time under criteria established by the graduate school. All graduate assistantships carry a set of standard benefits approved annually by the Board of Visitors: monthly stipend (paid semi-monthly according to the university’s salary payroll schedule’, in-state tuition scholarship in proportion to the assistantship FTE and contract period, out-of-state tuition waiver (if eligibility requirements are met), and health insurance subsidy (if eligibility requirements are met). Additionally, graduate students are eligible for the free payment plan for comprehensive and Commonwealth Facilities and Equipment (CFE) fees.
Graduate Assistant: Graduate assistants (GAs) are graduate students who provide academic and program support. GA responsibilities may be administrative or academic in nature. Administrative responsibilities might 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). Academic responsibilities may 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.
If a GTA is assigned full responsibility for teaching an undergraduate course, the GTA must have documented teaching credentials or 18 hours of graduate-level course work in their teaching discipline, direct supervision by a faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline, regular in-service training, and planned and periodic evaluations. 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 the 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. The graduate school’s approval is required before a graduate student is allowed to teach graduate courses.
See provost’s website and chapter two in this handbook for Qualification and Credentials for Teaching. Per the university’s regional accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), graduate assistants assigned as the instructor of record for baccalaureate/undergraduate courses must be qualified to teach and have the appropriate 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.
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. Attempted resolution of conflict occurs at the departmental level first, and then can be referred, if necessary, to the graduate school and/or Office of the Ombudsperson in the graduate school.
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.