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Graduate Assistantships: Types

The term "Graduate Assistant" or "GA" is an umbrella term for four different categories of responsibilities performed by full-time graduate students who have been awarded an assistantship. The categories of graduate assistantships and the differences among them are as follows:

Teaching Assistants (TAs) have responsibility for instruction, laboratory supervision, lab preparation, and tutoring, grading and other similar instructional activities.

Faculty Research Assistants have responsibility for assisting faculty, departmental, school or University research endeavors.

Graduate Assistants (ADMINISTRATIVE) have responsibility for a broad range of carefully defined professional support functions.  Financial Literacy graduate assistants work under the supervision of the Assistant Dean for Student Success and collaborate with the Office of Financial Aid to provide financial aid assistance and financial literacy programs for undergraduate students.  Other duties may include researching topical subjects, preparing statistical reports, and other unique duties as assigned by their supervisors.

Graduate Assistants (RESIDENTIAL) Graduate assistants who live in residence and provide leadership to the four living learning communities.  Additionally, these Graduate Assistants assist with the administrative support functions for the Office of Residential Life.  They receive accommodations in a single room in residence with a full meal plan.

Assignments and Supervision
Departments employing graduate assistants conduct the regular supervision and evaluation of the graduate assistant's performance. Departments must provide to both the graduate assistant and the Office of Student Life a written description of the duties the graduate assistant is expected to perform at the time the position is offered. Generally the duties performed by the graduate assistant are to be congruent both with educational level of the student and the category of assistantship.

Appointment Period and Scheduled Hours
Since the duties, responsibilities, working conditions and stipends vary by type of assistantship, comparisons may lead to false conclusions. The Office of Student Life monitors compensation to help ensure it is reasonable and equitable across the University. Graduate assistants are generally appointed yearly for either a ten or twelve month period, except for Residential graduate assistants who are expected to work a full calendar year.

Appointments generally begin at the discretion of the department.  Normally, students pursuing a master's level degree hold an assistantship for two years; Departments consider performance before a graduate assistant is reappointed.  Due notice to the graduate assistant is required if the student's assistantship will not be renewed.  Graduate assistants, typically, are expected to be available for assignments 20 hours per week throughout their appointment period. Please note: work schedules vary by type of assistantship.

Teaching Assistants follow the Academic Calendar, and perform duties when the University is open and classes are in session. Generally TAs are not required to come to campus when classes are not in session.

Faculty Research Assistants also follow the Academic Calendar, but are not required, to come in when classes are not in session.  Hours are scheduled by mutual agreement between the supervisor and the assistant, and should total 20 hours per week.

Graduate Assistants (Administrative and Residential) follow the University Calendar, not the Academic Calendar. They are expected to function within the structure of their particular office. Except for a mutually agreed upon schedule adjustment administrative/student service graduate assistants are obligated to follow the regular schedule of their respective offices. Graduate Assistants first and foremost are students. Assistantships are designed to contribute to the student's academic and professional development. Scheduled hours missed due to illness, or mutually agreed upon adjustments for matters such as exams are to be made up at a mutually agreed upon times. However, all graduate students are entitled to holidays during which the University is closed, such as Presidents' Day, Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday and appropriate Christmas break.


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