Applying for Graduate Assistantships

Students should consult their departments of study concerning the availability of assistantships with the departments. Completed applications and supporting documents, including official transcripts, verification of graduate status, and letters of reference must be filed with the head of the academic component (chair or dean) for review and recommendation. The applications are kept on file in the academic component's office.

  • Graduate students who are interested in applying for a graduate assistant position should complete the Application for Graduate Assistantships [Word]
  • The application should be completed and mailed or e-mailed as an attachment to the head of the department in which the assistantship is sought.
  • Please note that admission to the Graduate School must precede an appointment to a graduate assistantship.

Departmental Contract Letter:

Each department/component will issue a contract letter to each applicant they wish to employ. 

Personnel Transaction Form:

The head of the academic component will then process a Personnel Transaction Form. Graduate School personnel will verify the applicant's admission status, salary level, workload, and dates of employment. Students must have been admitted to a graduate program and must enroll for at least 6 hours during the fall and spring semesters. As is the case for all faculty, graduate assistants for the summer will be hired for the period of 6/1 through 8/31. Since the employment period is from 6/1 to 8/31, students may perform their GA duties during any of the summer academic terms. For a 0.50 FTE summer appointment (6/1-8/31), GA's must enroll in at least six semester hours at some time during the period (Summer I, Summer II, Summer or Summer III terms). For less than a 0.50 FTE summer appointment (6/1-8/31), GA's must enroll in at least three semester hours during the 6/1-8/31 period. The recommended course load for a student who holds a graduate assistantship is 6 semester hours. Exceptions: doctoral students who have been admitted to candidacy may enroll for dissertation only without any special approval; international students must follow guidelines of International Education.

During the fall and spring semesters, Graduate Assistants are paid monthly on the first working day of the month following the month worked. Graduate Assistants who have summer appointments are paid in three monthly installments. For a graduate assistant to receive a paycheck, the Personnel Transaction Form must be approved and in the Office of Academic Financial Services by the published payroll deadline. Payroll deadlines vary each month; schedules are available in the Payroll Office. Graduate assistants are required to complete certain forms in the Office of Human Resources by the payroll deadline before receiving the first paycheck. Therefore, graduate assistants should go to the Human Resources Office as soon as their applications are approved to complete the necessary forms and to provide proof of citizenship, usually by means of a driver's license and Social Security Card or a passport.

What an appointment for an assistantship entails

Appointments for assistantships are issued for a semester, an academic year, or a summer session. Appointment dates follow the fiscal calendar and include the following periods: 

 Academic Year

 September 1 through May 31


 September 1 through January 15


 January 16 through May 31


 June 1 through August 31

A graduate assistant is entitled to official university holidays and the same work period as the faculty unless exceptions have been agreed upon in writing in advance by the graduate assistant and supervisor. 

Reappointment to an assistantship is contingent upon prior performance, departmental research and teaching needs, and available funds. The number of years a student may hold a graduate assistantship depends upon the level of the degree program of the student. For a student at the master's level, the maximum number of years will be four. For a student at the doctoral level, the maximum number of years will be six. All reappointments will be at the discretion of the department. Within these guidelines, each program may establish its own limits on the number of years of funding available. Requests to exceed these limitations as recommended by the head of the academic component must have the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School.

Salary and benefits

The categories for graduate assistant appointments include master's-level and doctoral-level students. For the academic year, a full-time graduate assistant is appointed for 0.50 FTE, which is defined as either six work units or 20 contact hours a week in direct support of instruction. For the summer session, a full-time graduate assistant is appointed for 0.50 FTE, which is defined as either 6 work units in Summer I, Summer II, Summer,or Summer III combined or 20 contact hours a week for Summer in direct support of instruction. Employment less than 0.50 FTE is possible with appropriate reduction in hours worked and pay received (see Master's graduate assistant pay scale or Doctoral graduate assistant pay scale). Summer graduate assistant pay is distributed in three installments on the first business day of July, August, and September.
A graduate assistant is entitled to register by paying the tuition fees and other fees or charges required for Texas residents without regard to the length of time the assistant has resided in Texas if the assistant is employed at least one-half time (.50 FTE) and is working in a position which relates to his/her degree program. The student should complete the In-state tuition for graduate assistants [Word], have it signed by the chair of the department, and send it to the Graduate School. Graduate School personnel will approve and forward it to the Registrar.

Health Insurance

Graduate assistants who meet the following criteria will be eligible for health insurance benefits:

  1. Graduate assistants who work at least 20 hours a week 
  2. Graduate assistants who have an appointment of 4-1/2 months or greater 
  3. Graduate assistants who are not permitted to be members of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas solely because it is a condition of their employment that they be enrolled in graduate courses.

Graduate assistants who meet the criteria for eligibility for health insurance will receive an email from the Human Resources Benefits Coordinator that offers insurance, and provides next steps. If the newly eligible graduate assistant is interested in enrolling at that time, it is important that next steps are taken quickly, as there are deadlines for enrollment. If a graduate assistant thinks perhaps they might be eligible, and has not received an email from the Human Resources Benefits Coordinator, they may email the Human Resources Benefits Coordinator to inquire as to whether they are eligible.

Workers' Compensation Insurance

All employees of the University are automatically covered by Workers' Compensation Insurance. This insurance coverage is administered by the State Employees Workers' Compensation Division of the State Attorney General's Office. An employee is required to immediately report all on-the-job injuries to his/her immediate supervisor regardless of how minor it may appear so that the injury is a matter of record.

Rights and responsibilities

A graduate teaching assistant has the right of access to all course outlines, support teaching aids, and professional guidelines (accreditation) applicable to the teaching assignment. It is the responsibility of a graduate teaching assistant to maintain accurate daily records of attendance, grades, and correspondence pertaining to students within the class. A graduate teaching assistant has the right to be notified of complaints made by students to the supervising professor and/or department administrator. The resolution of any complaints would ordinarily follow standard teacher-student channels, i.e., the student initiates the complaint with the teacher; the question moves through channels as needed. 

A graduate teaching assistant is expected to participate in graduate teaching assistant meetings and departmental faculty meetings as appropriate. The assistant may be called upon to assist with registration and/or special activities planned by the department. It is expected that the assistant will abide by all university regulations and departmental policies.

A graduate teaching assistant who is the teacher of record with the primary responsibility of teaching a course for credit should receive regular in-service training, should be under the direct supervision of a faculty member experienced in the teaching field, and should be regularly evaluated. For such a graduate teaching assistant who has no academic training or experience in teaching, in-service training will include a required course in teaching techniques. In addition, this graduate teaching assistant should observe when possible a section of the same course that is being taught by an experienced faculty member; decisions concerning times for and frequency of observations are to be made within the academic component. The evaluation process should include observation of the graduate teaching assistant in her or his teaching activity, participation in a post-observation conference, participation in the university teacher evaluation program, and formal evaluation by and communication with the head of the component or supervising professor. The academic component in which the graduate teaching assistant is employed will establish appropriate procedures to meet these requirements and will place on file in the Graduate Office a description of the procedures.