(The agreement form is to be completed by the Hiring Department)
The Role of a Graduate Assistant
Programs of graduate study are designed to transform students into knowledgeable practitioners and/or professional scholars. The primary goal of the assistantship program is to facilitate the progress of the student toward the prompt and successful completion of the degree program. In no way should the graduate assistantship interfere or conflict with the educational objectives of the student. While the student makes progress toward an advanced degree, he/she also receives work experience in a chosen profession under the supervision of faculty.
The graduate assistant is a student and an employee. As a student, the graduate assistant is expected to do well academically. As an employee, the graduate assistant is expected to meet teaching, research, and/or service obligations. The student is to work under the supervision of experienced faculty and receive in-service training. The graduate assistant receives financial support for graduate study by contributing to the teaching, research, and service mission of the University.
Standards for Assistantship Appointment
Students wishing to apply for an assistantship should contact their academic department. The following minimum requirements must be met for consideration as a graduate assistant:
- Admission to a degree seeking graduate program. Students in a Certification or Certificate program only are not eligible for assistantships.
- Be a full-time student in your academic department.
- A Graduate Assistantship Agreement form with approval from the hiring department head, the academic department head (if different from hiring department), and the college dean granting the assistantship.
To receive maximum consideration, and prevent delay of stipend payment and posting of tuition scholarship, the agreement form should be received in the Graduate School office by the following dates:
Fall Semester (Aug. 24 - Dec. 11, 2015) and/or Academic Year (Aug. 24 - Dec. 11, 2015 & Jan. 25 - May 13, 2016): No later than July 15
Spring Semester (Jan. 25 - May 13, 2016): No later than December 1
Summer Session (May 16 - Aug. 11, 2016) : No later than April 15
Continuation of the Assistantship
Graduate assistants are appointed for one academic year or one semester with the possibility of renewal. In those programs which require two years for completion, graduate assistants are allowed to hold an assistantship appointment for a maximum of two academic years. Continuation of the assistantship is contingent upon the following:
- Satisfactory progress toward the degree
- Maintaining a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA
- Completing graduate courses at the rate expected for a full-time student
- Fulfillment of duties as determined in the assistantship appointment
- A new agreement form from the department
The progress of the assistant will be evaluated at the end of each semester to determine his/her eligibility to continue in the position for the term of appointment. Academic department heads and college deans reserve the right to terminate a graduate assistant if the student is not fulfilling the terms of appointment.
Assistantship Appointment Duties
Course Load and Work Load Requirements
- During a regular semester, graduate assistants are required to be full-time (must be enrolled in at least 9 graduate hours, but not more than 12 hours of graduate or a combination of graduate and undergraduate courses).
- During the final semester, an assistant may enroll in fewer than 9 hours of graduate work if all program course requirements are being completed during that semester. Any semester the assistant is enrolled less than full-time will be treated as the assistant's last semester for the purpose of graduate assistantship appointments.
- During the summer term, graduate assistants should be enrolled in at least 1 hour of graduate credit during any summer session.
- An assistant may enroll in an undergraduate course(s) and apply those hours toward graduate assistant full-time status provided the course(s) is included on the official graduate Program of Study form. When the course load includes both undergraduate and graduate courses, the student must enroll in a minimum of 6 hours of graduate credit and from 3 to 6 hours of undergraduate credit.
Graduate Assistant Instructor Status
Prior to being designated as a Graduate Assistant Instructor, the graduate assistant must complete required training in teaching skills. He/she must gain an acceptable knowledge base in the discipline as evidenced by participation in departmental training, Center for Teaching and Learning workshops, seminars, and other training experiences sponsored by the Graduate School. Evidence of the accomplishments in teacher training activities must be documented by materials in the student application (paperwork can be obtained in the Graduate School office). The application will serve as an important document showing participation in teacher preparation activities. The approval process includes three steps: (a) the student will submit the application to the department head for approval; (b) after department head approval, the appropriate college dean must approve the application; and (c) the Dean of the Graduate School has final approval and reserves the right to refuse approval even if approved by other parties. A student who is applying for assistant instructor status MUST begin the process early enough for complete approval prior to the start of the semester of the desired assistant instructor status. The following requirements must be met for approval:
- Successful completion of 18 graduate hours in the teaching discipline
- Evidence in complete participation in six or more seminars on teaching as provided by the Center for Teaching and Learning, and/or other training approved by the Graduate School (only one videotape is allowed in lieu of actual seminar).
- Continuous participation in the on-going departmental teacher training programs.
An assistant instructor may teach a maximum of 6 credit hours during any one semester. The combined load of teaching and course enrollments must not exceed 15 hours per semester.
Remuneration of Graduate Assistants
Graduate assistantship stipends are funded from the instructional budget of the University or from grants and are awarded as remuneration for services rendered. Assistantship stipends are considered taxable income. The half-time assistantship generates a full stipend and the quarter-time assistantship generates a half stipend. Checks are issued monthly with students normally receiving four checks each semester. Receipt of the initial check is dependent upon when the student signs necessary tax forms in the appropriate college dean's office.
A graduate assistant identification card (ID) card will be issued which entitles the graduate assistant to a 20% discount on most purchases at the University Bookstore, excluding books.
Graduate assistants are required to pay the in-state tuition fees for on campus courses and the Distance Learning Course tuition fees for any online course; however, the out-of-state portion of the fee for non-resident and international students is paid by the University during the period of appointment.
Rights & Responsibilities of Graduate Assistants
Graduate assistants are expected to observe the guiding principles of the University as described in the Faculty Handbook section on 'Academic Information' and in the WKU Student Handbook. In addition, the following statements of rights and responsibilities apply to graduate assistants:
- Students are responsible for meeting academic requirements in their respective degree programs.
- Students are responsible for meeting the assistantship responsibilities as outlined in the Graduate Assistantship Agreement.
- Graduate assistants must attend orientations conducted by the Graduate School, the academic college, or the department, and must participate in departmental training activities.
- If problems or conflicts arise in the performance of duties or pursuit of the degree, the graduate assistant should discuss the situation with his/her graduate advisor. If the problem is not resolved at that level, then the problem should be taken through the following levels until a resolution is reached: the department head, the appropriate college dean, the Dean of the Graduate School, and the Graduate Council.
- The graduate assistant assumes responsibility to notify the supervisor if the term of appointment can not be completed. A letter of resignation must be submitted to the department head, the departmental graduate advisor, and the college dean no later than two weeks before his/her leaving the position unless emergency conditions exist. When termination occurs prior to the end of the appointment period, the final check will be prorated according to the number of days of service.
- If an assistant is terminated before the previously designated date of the assistantship, whether because of funding problems or because of the inability of the assistant to perform duties adequately, the graduate assistant will be notified by letter no later than two weeks prior to termination. A copy of the letter describing the reasons for dismissal will be submitted to the appropriate college dean and the Dean of the Graduate School.
- The graduate assistant is invited to submit to the department head suggestions concerning the assistantship experience during the evaluation procedure at the end of each semester.
- All graduate assistants are expected to demonstrate personal honesty and professional integrity.
Appointment Procedures and Regulations
Students awarded a graduate assistantship will receive a Graduate Assistantship Agreement form with beginning and ending dates from the appropriate college dean's office or department. Students must sign the agreement form and return to the college dean's office or department by the date indicated in the agreement. Students who accept an assistantship must provide verification of eligibility to work (I-9), complete various tax-related forms (W-4, K-4, WSOT-1), and have a favorable background check prior to the first day of employment. International Students who do not already have a Social Security Number must contact the Office of International Programs at 270-745-4857 to receive instructions on applying for a Social Security Number prior to the start date of employment.
Graduate assistants are discouraged from holding concurrent jobs during the dates of the appointment. Graduate assistants may not be employed in a second job on campus. Graduate assistants may hold other employment for the periods between semesters/terms or when the University is officially closed.
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