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 Research Assistant (GRA, 4715)
- Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA, 4717)
- Graduate Instructor (GI, 4685)
- Graduate Library Assistant (GLA, 4690)
- Graduate Fellow (4680)
Obtaining a Graduate Assistantship
Most students with graduate assistantships obtain them through their academic programs.
If you are a graduate student seeking an assistantship, contact your academic program for information about open positions. Generally, 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.
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.
Acceptance of Assistantship Offers
The University of Missouri, along with hundreds of other U.S. universities, is a signatory to the Council of Graduate Schools’ Resolution regarding offering and accepting University financial support (e.g., scholarship, fellowship, assistantship).
Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support, which includes assistantship offers, for the coming academic year before April 15.
When a student accepts an offer before this date and subsequently desires to withdraw that acceptance, the student may submit in writing a resignation of the appointment at any time.
However, an acceptance given or left in force after April 15 should commit the student not to accept another offer of financial support until they have informed the program of the withdrawal.
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 for longer than one semester (including summer semester) 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.
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. The minimum stipend levels are adjusted based upon percentage salary increases for faculty and staff from the previous year set by the University.
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.
The table below details the minimum stipend funding levels for AY2023-24.
|Duration||Doctoral-level minimum stipend||Master/Specialist-level minimum stipend|
|summer & 12-month, monthly amount||$2,114.00||$1,922.00|
|monthly stipend for 9-month position paid over 10 months||$1,902.00||$1,730.00|
|monthly stipend for 9-month position, paid over 12 months||$1,585.00||$1,441.67|
Students who are in 9-month assistantships are to 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.
In addition, students who meet eligibility requirements also qualify for a tuition scholarship/waiver and insurance subsidy. Recipients of graduate assistantships may qualify for merit-based stipend increases through competitive fellowship awards.
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.
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.
Assistantships provide relevant professional and academic experiences that may include:
- Teaching one to two 3-hour class(es) or one 5-hour language class during a semester.
- Leading one to five discussion or laboratory sections of a course during a semester.
- Proctoring and grading large lecture and/or laboratory exams.
- Assisting faculty with research activities that vary from providing assistance with proposal development through participating in preparation of research reports and manuscripts for refereed journals.
- Helping students and faculty use microscopes, computers, and other lab equipment.
- Helping solve assigned research and class problems.
- Keeping library open and staffed to assist users.
- Cataloging new acquisitions.
- Developing administrative and other professional skills
Note: Specific assignments vary by type of assistantships.
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.
Types of Graduate 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.
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
Graduate Teaching Assistantship responsibilities include:
- Leading discussion, tutorial, and/or laboratory sections and/or grading student work
Additional responsibilities may also include:
- Setting up laboratories
- Preparing materials for discussion section
- Posting materials online
- Assisting with recording grades
- Providing support for administration of course and classroom instruction
All graduate students with teaching assistantships (GTA or GI) are required to:
- Participate in the graduate teaching orientation (GTO).
- 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:
- Participate in Orientation for New International Teaching Assistants.
- Complete an evaluation by the International Teaching Assistant Program.
- Meet established criteria for teaching at the level of instruction required for the assignment.
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.
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.
Additional MU Assistantships-Related Resources & Information
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.
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 in MyVita.
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 or dismissed.
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.
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.