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Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships give students opportunities for professional experience, academic training, and financial support while pursuing advanced degrees. Prospective students are encouraged to ask about assistantship opportunities in their academic program. Those in graduate assistantships are considered nonregular academic appointees; more information about such appointments is available from the UM System’s Collected Rules and Regulations. Those with assistantships are hired into one of the following job codes and titles: Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA, 4717); Graduate Research Assistant (GRA, 4715); Graduate Instructor (GI, 4685); Graduate Library Assistant (GLI, 4690); or Graduate Fellow (4680).

Tasks

Assistantships provide relevant professional and academic experiences that may include:

  • Teaching or assisting in a course under the supervision of a director or mentor.
  • Grading for a course.
  • Assisting in a program-sponsored laboratory or instructional center.
  • Assisting a professor on a research project.
  • Professional conference development.
  • Tutoring.
  • Development of administrative and other professional skills.

Note: Specific assignments vary by type of assistantships.

Workload

Graduate assistantships generally entail 10-20 hours of responsibilities per week (.25 to .50 full-time equivalent (FTE)).

For GI or GTA roles, one student credit hour is considered 3.33 hours of assistantship responsibilities. Thus, one 3-credit hour class is considered a .25 FTE or 10 hours/week. Teaching two 3-credit hour classes in one semester is considered a .50 FTE.  A 5-credit hour language class is equivalent to 16.65 hours/week; a GTA or GI qualifies for a .50 FTE assistantship if the unit provides additional responsibilities, up to approximately 3 hours/week. Students with assistantships enrolled for the first time in Summer 2022 or later can be in a .25 assistantship ONLY if they have a second .25 assistantship or equivalent fellowship.

A portion of any project that is part of an assistantship may include minor clerical elements, but all projects should incorporate decision-making, judgment, analysis, and evaluation skills.

Supervision

All projects are supervised by graduate faculty, administrative staff, or principal investigators. Supervisors should provide feedback to students regarding their performance in the assistantship.

Those holding graduate assistantships may be required to provide their academic advisor with a written report of academic progress at the conclusion of the period for which the assistantship is awarded.

If a graduate student has a concern about their supervisor’s behavior or the work they are being asked to do, whenever possible they should attempt to resolve the issue with their supervisor. If not possible, or if unsuccessful, then leadership in the department or program (e.g., Department Chair or Director of Graduate Studies), or college/school (e.g., Associate Dean) should be contacted for further assistance. Additionally, students can contact the Associate Dean of the Graduate School for advisement and assistance.

Financial Support

Any assignment of responsibilities must be associated with a fair and reasonable stipend. This precludes a graduate student from “volunteering” for extensive service commitments to the academic programs without an appropriate stipend. The University sets the minimum stipend amount.

Academic programs may differentiate graduate assistantship stipends by graduate student status (e.g., master’s or doctoral, first-year or experienced). Within academic programs and within each level of differentiation, stipends should be equivalent. The academic program should provide accessible guidelines used to determine stipend levels to students.

Students who are in 9-month assistantships are to be be paid the 9-month stipend over 10 months, from August 1st through May 31st, unless prohibited by a funding source (i.e., granting agency does not allow it).  These positions may also be eligible for deferred pay over 12 months. Students are expected to perform their assistantship responsibilities over 9 months, even if their pay is deferred for 10 or 12 months. If a student is in a position for only one semester, they should receive equal stipend amounts per month for 5 months (either August 1 through December 31 or January 1 through May 31.

Recipients of graduate assistantships may qualify for additional funding through competitive fellowship awards.


Types of Graduate Assistantships

Teaching Assistantships

A teaching assistantship in an academic program provides a stipend to a student who assists in teaching duties during the academic year.

Duties and Responsibilities

All graduate students with teaching assistantships (GTA or GI) are required to:

  • Participate in the graduate assistant teaching orientation (GATO).
  • Continue working toward an advanced degree throughout the assistantship.
  • Work only with undergraduate students, unless the GTA is a doctoral candidate. Doctoral candidates are eligible to serve as GTAs (not GIs) for graduate-level classes in which only master’s and/or specialist students are enrolled. GTAs cannot be the instructor of record or have responsibility for the overall course direction and final grades. Doctoral candidates are eligible to serve as GIs (instructors of record) for undergraduate courses. This excludes any courses cross-leveled as 4000/7000.
  • Successfully complete online teaching certification if they are the primary instructor for an online course.

Requirements for International Students

Graduate students with teaching assistantships whose native language is not English are required to:

Academic Freedom

The academic freedom of graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) is not necessarily coextensive with that of faculty. GTAs are engaged in supervised teaching or instruction activities. Supervisors are responsible for defining the nature, scope, and manner of instruction for each course.

Supervisors should communicate the extent to which GTAs have discretion to introduce additional material, and GTAs should follow supervisors’ instructions. GTAs should not be penalized for expressing their own views on matters within the scope of the course if they represent those views as their own.

In interpreting teaching evaluations, supervisors make every effort to distinguish legitimate critiques of the course from negative evaluations related to:

  • Prejudice against the GTA on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, disability, status as a qualified protected veteran, or other protected status.
  • Disagreement with viewpoints expressed by the GTA or by students in the class.

Research Assistantships

Research assistantships are intended to support students to graduate with the knowledge and skills to become independent scholars.

A student may be granted a research assistantship (GRA) through a faculty member’s grant or other University funds, enabling the student to progress toward an advanced degree while performing research activities related to the grant or fund requirements.

Academic programs decide whether the research activities required as part of the graduate research assistantship is directly related to the student’s academic program. For example, in some academic programs, research conducted in the context of the assistantship is expected to directly inform the topic of student’s dissertation or thesis research. In other programs, the assistantship responsibilities are designed to help students gain expertise in research skills that can be applied to another project.

Other Graduate Assistantships

Other graduate assistantships provide stipends for students who assist in academic or nonacademic program activities 10-20 hours per week.

These graduate assistantships (e.g., GLI, Graduate Fellow) may involve diverse duties covering a wide variety of functions and may not be housed in an academic unit. However, the responsibilities of these positions must be aligned with the students’ academic and professional goals, verified by the hiring and academic unit that they are academically appropriate, and approved by the Graduate School.

Obtaining a Graduate Assistantship

Most students with graduate assistantships obtain them through their academic programs.

An assistantship might be offered as part of an admissions package or developed through a professional relationship with faculty or administrative staff. A small number of assistantships that do not require program-specific expertise may be posted at HireMizzouTigers.com.

If you are a graduate student seeking an assistantship, contact your academic program for information about open positions.

Eligibility

To hold a graduate assistantship, a student must be:

  • Admitted to a department or area with a specific graduate-degree objective.
  • Enrolled in a program and making satisfactory progress toward degree attainment during the period of the assistantship. If a unit wishes to employ a student after graduation, they must transfer the graduate into a non-student title.

Note: Certificate students who are not also enrolled in a graduate degree program are not eligible for a graduate assistantship.

Each department or unit establishes its own documented procedures for recruitment, selection, retention, and dismissal of students with graduate assistantships in accordance with MU policy and Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity guidelines.

Notice of Assistantship Offer

Academic programs provide graduate students with official signed letters of assistantship awards with detailed information about assistantship expectations, responsibilities, and compensation. Each offer must delineate the length of the appointment, which is typically for one academic year.

Minimum Course Load

Individual academic programs may require full-time enrollment or a minimum course load for funded students. Students enrolled at least half time (4.5 student credit hours in the fall and spring semesters) are not subject to Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes.

Additional MU Assistantships Resources

Performance & Renewal Evaluation Criteria for Graduate Assistantships

Graduate Assistantship Evaluation Methods

The responsibilities of the graduate assistantships and the performance evaluation methods should be provided in writing to the student by the immediate supervisor at the beginning of the assistantship.

Conducting Evaluations

The faculty or staff member who supervises the assistantship must conduct a written evaluation of the student’s performance for at least once a year and provide a copy to the student and to the chair/director of the program or department for placement in the student’s file.

This evaluation is separate from the annual review of student academic progress and should take the following criteria into account:

  • Prompt, efficient, and accurate completion of assigned tasks.
  • Independent work.
  • Analysis and problem-solving.
  • Adequate evaluations by students for instructional and tutoring assignments in courses, laboratory, and clinical settings.
  • Cooperation with a mentor, director, and other students and staff.
  • Professional and ethical behavior in all assigned tasks and duties.

Opportunities for improving performance should be outlined. An appeal process is available for those with graduate assistantships who assert they have not been fairly evaluated.

Equal Treatment

The University of Missouri is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.

Evaluation of graduate assistant performance must not be influenced by race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, genetic information, disability, or status as a protected veteran.

Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is also prohibited.

In addition, evaluations must not be influenced by a student’s exercise of First Amendment freedoms of expression and association.

Renewing Assistantships

In the rare case that a fixed term was not specified in the initial letter of offer, the assistantship may, at the discretion of the academic program, be renewed if the following criteria are met:
  • Funding is available.
  • Academic program guidelines for the funding duration or limited semesters of support of a student are met.
  • The student is making satisfactory academic progress, with a GPA not less than 3.0.
  • The student’s assistantship performance is evaluated in writing by their supervisor to be satisfactory.
  • The student’s professional and ethical behavior in all tasks and duties — including in courses in which they are enrolled and in research and creative work — is judged by the academic program to be satisfactory.


If the renewal falls within the number of years of funding specified in the initial letter of offer and the five criteria listed above have been met, the assistantship must be renewed.

Appealing Graduate Assistantship Evaluation or Termination

A graduate student may appeal a decision regarding an assistantship in the following circumstances:
  • Unfair dismissal
  • Prejudiced or capricious academic program evaluation
  • Equity issues in assistantship compensation or duties

If you are a graduate student and believe one of the above situations applies to you, you may begin the appeals process.

Work toward a resolution.

First, attempt to resolve the matter with the faculty/staff member or appropriate administrative leader of the school, college, or unit responsible for your assistantship.

File a written appeal within your unit.

If your attempt at resolution is unsuccessful, you may then file a written appeal to the director of graduate studies for consideration by the appropriate graduate committee.

This appeal must be filed within 60 days of the evaluation or dismissal. A written determination of the appeal will be presented to you and your supervisor. If the assistantship is not in an academic program, the MU Associate Dean of the Graduate School will consider the appeal.

Present the appeal to the Graduate School.

If no action is taken on the appeal within 30 days* of its filing or if the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may present the original appeal and documentation to the MU Dean of the Graduate School.

If the dean determines that the appeal might have merit, they will request a review by an ad hoc Appeal Committee of the Graduate Faculty Senate consisting of five senators who are not members of the academic program involved in the appeal. The Graduate School will provide information to the student, the department/program and members of the ad hoc GFS Appeal Committee regarding the content, process and regulations/policies pertaining to the appeal. Upon compilation of the appeal file, the Dean of the Graduate School will send a copy of file materials to the members of the Appeal Committee and to the department/program. If the program/department wishes to respond in writing, its statement will be distributed to the Appeal Committee, the student, and representatives from the Graduate School.

A hearing will be scheduled within 30 days* of receiving the notice of appeal. Parties to the hearing include: the student (and an advisor from the university community, if desired), the student’s assistantship supervisor (optional), department chair (optional), department director of graduate studies (optional), the Appeal Committee and the Graduate School. At this hearing, the department or program will first invite the student making the appeal to present the case discussed in the written statement. The Appeal Committee may ask questions at this point, and once its questions have been answered, will give the program/department the opportunity to defend its dismissal of the student. The student’s supervisor, department chair, or director of graduate studies may also contribute to the discussion; a department may also designate an alternate department member to participate in place of the aforementioned. Following further questions from the Appeal Committee, the hearing will be adjourned.

The Appeal Committee will arrive at its decision within 48 hours* of the hearing’s conclusion. The Appeal Committee Chair will convey the decision in writing (and within 72 hours* of the conclusion of the committee’s deliberations) to the student, the director of graduate studies and chairperson of the department or program, the assistantship supervisor, the Dean of the Graduate School, the Graduate Faculty Senate president, and any other appropriate party named in the appeal. Given the accelerated deadline to deliver a decision, it is understood that decision letters will be brief and delivered electronically.

The decision of the subcommittee of the Graduate Faculty Senate is final.

*All time frames and deadlines are exclusive of holidays and weekends.

 

 

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