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The Graduate School - Graduate Assistantships

Western Kentucky University awards assistantships to select graduate students. Educational goals at WKU are met in at least two important ways by the Graduate Assistantship program. Graduate assistantship stipends serve as the primary means of support for many graduate students enabling them to pursue higher degrees and grow professionally through the development and application of discipline-based knowledge. At the same time, the University gains the benefit of assistant-provided, high quality services at reasonable cost. Thus, the graduate assistantship program is mutually beneficial to both the student and the University.

Note: graduate assistantship scholarships cannot be awarded during the Winter term.

Appointment to an Assistantship

Appointment to an assistantship is contingent upon admission into a degree program, the programmatic needs of the hiring department and/or the allocation of funds for the position. Specific assignment of duties is made by the hiring department.


In order to be eligible for a graduate assistantship, you must be enrolled in at least 6 credits per semester in a graduate degree program, maintain satisfactory academic progress in that program, and remain in good standing. Any semester in which you are enrolled less than 6 credits will be treated as your last semester for the purpose of graduate assistantship appointments. Students who are in their last semester may enroll part-time and receive full benefits as a GA. Academic programs or hiring units may also impose their own eligibility requirements.

Financial Aid

If you have applied for federal financial aid assistance, federal law requires these additional awards be considered as part of your total financial aid package. Any tuition scholarship may reduce the total amount of financial aid
available to you. Please direct  any inquires to the Student Financial Assistance office.

Background Check

A criminal background check is a prerequisite for employment as a graduate assistant. Appointment as a graduate assistant may be denied on the basis of prior criminal convictions that would compromise your ability to perform your assigned tasks or compromise the safety of others.

International Students

International students should report to International Student Office (ISO) with their immigration documents. For further information, please contact, phone number: 270-745-4857.

There are additional language requirements and tax implications for international students participating in the program.  Please read this section carefully if you are an international student interested in becoming a graduate assistant at WKU.

Professional Development

Professional development and support for students in assistantships that involve teaching is available from the Center for Faculty Development (CFD).

Please note: all graduate assistants are charged in-state tuition rates (regardless of residency) for all terms except Winter.

Graduate Assistantship Details

There are four different Graduate Assistantship appointments.

Research Assistantship (GR)

A Graduate Research Assistant (GR) is employed by the university to perform duties related to a scholarly project or program of research under the guidance and direction of faculty members. The duties of a research assistant involve applying and mastering conceptual and theoretical ideas, practices, or methods of scholarship. Research Assistants may be employed outside their academic department in a capacity in which the assistant brings knowledge or skills related to their program of study.

Teaching Assistantship (GT)

A Graduate Teaching Assistant is employed by the university to provide direct support for the teaching mission of the unit. Teaching Assistants do not have primary responsibility for a course, but they may serve as discussion leaders, graders, leaders of laboratory sections,or may assist in capacities such as preparation of assignments, and other administrative duties necessary for a course.

Assistant Instructor (GI)

A Graduate Assistant Instructor (GI) supports the teaching mission of the unit in a more advanced capacity than a teaching assistant by serving as instructor of record for a lower division course or courses (numbered 100-299). Graduate Assistant Instructors must complete additional training prior to serving as an instructor of record.

The combined load of teaching responsibilities and graduate course enrollment may not exceed 15 hours per semester.

The Center for Faculty Development (CFD) mentors graduate students via the Graduate Assistant Teaching Institute (GATI) training program.  The Graduate School encourages all graduate students who have an interest and passion for teaching to complete the GATI training program.  The GATI training program must be completed if a graduate student wishes to serve as an instructor of record under the Graduate Assistant Instructor (GI) designation.  If you are interested in completing the GATI training program, please contact the Center for Faculty Development.

GAI Application

General Assistantship (GG)

A General Graduate Assistant (GG) is employed by the university in a capacity related to their program of study, but they are not engaged in activities directly related to research or teaching. Note: General Graduate Assistantships are not eligible for tuition waivers.

Health Insurance

WKU offers an excellent subsidized health insurance plan which graduate assistants may opt-in to at minimal cost. Students with a 20-hour/week assistantship are eligible to enroll in the Graduate Assistant Health Insurance program. Upon processing of the Graduate Assistantship Agreement, you will receive an email with instructions as to how to enroll. You must opt-in to this program each semester you wish to participate.

Graduate Assistantship Openings

Click on the heading to find a listing of known, available graduate assistantships.

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 Last Modified 2/6/17