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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.

Tasks

Assistants are assigned 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). 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.

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.

Funding

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 are required to:

  • Participate in the graduate assistant teaching orientation (GATO).
  • Continue working toward an advanced degree throughout the assistantship.

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.

Financial Support

Any assignment of responsibilities, such as teaching a course, 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.

Academic programs may differentiate graduate teaching 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.

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 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 occur across campus and may involve diverse duties covering a wide variety of functions.

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.

Minimum Course
Load

Individual academic programs may require full-time enrollment or a minimum course load for funded students.

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

An assistantship without a fixed term specified in the initial letter of offer 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
  • Stipend is not commensurate with that of other graduate students with the same status in the same academic program

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 Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies will consider the appeal.

Present the appeal to the Office of Graduate Studies.

If no action is taken on the appeal within 30 days of its filing, or if the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction, the student may present the original appeal and documentation to the MU Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies.

If the associate vice chancellor determines the appeal might have merit, they will request a review by a subcommittee of the Graduate Faculty Senate. The decision of the subcommittee of the Graduate Faculty Senate is final.

During the appeal process, if an assistantship evaluation, renewal, or dismissal is overturned, the supervisor has the right to appeal this decision in writing to the full Graduate Faculty Senate.