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Graduate Assistantship Handbook

Application Process
  1. Submit an Application for Graduate Assistantship
    This application should be completed and presented to the department you desire to work for.

    All departments conduct their own GA hiring, thus all applications, resumes, cover letters, and letters of recommendation should be sent directly to the Graduate Coordinator of the department you wish to work for.

  2. Apply via the Human Resource Online Employment System. Available positions can be found, and applied to, via the Human Resources Online Employment System: Students can also speak with their Graduate Coordinators and Advisors for available opportunities.
Continuation Requirements

Graduate assistants are appointed for one semester with the possibility of renewal. In programs that require less than 40 hours for completion, a GA may hold an assistantship appointment for a maximum of two academic years (four semesters) not including summer semesters.

Continuation of the assistantship is contingent upon the following:

•  Satisfactory progress toward the degree.

•  Maintaining a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA.

•  Maintaining full-time enrollment status (9-13 hours), and

•  Fulfillment of duties as determined in the assistantship appointment.

To continue an assistantship within the same department, your department must renew your nomination form via the GA Information Network each semester.


Students must be clearly or provisionally admitted to a graduate degree program in order to hold an assistantship. Students enrolled as non-degree or in certification or rank only programs are not eligible for graduate assistantships. Students who have probationary admission status or who are on academic probation may not hold an assistantship. Undergraduate students are not eligible to hold appointments. Foreign students awarded teaching assistantships must show fluency and command of the English language.

Approval Process
  1. New students must complete an application via the Human Resources website to start the hiring process and submit their information for a background check.
  2. The hiring department submits a nomination for the student to the Graduate School online nomination system.
  3. The nomination must be approved by the chair/department head of the work assignment and the college dean/unit head.
  4. Once approved by all parties, the Graduate School verifies the students’ eligibility and forwards the nomination to HR.
  5. HR confirms the student is set up as an EKU employee and adds the student to payroll.

Graduate assistants should not begin working until they have been officially approved for the appointment. The Graduate School also regularly reviews the records of assistants to determine their eligibility for continued appointment.

Additional Employment

Graduate assistants who wish to seek additional employment beyond their GA position must submit a Request for Additional Employment Form. Under the new guidelines of the Graduate School, graduate students holding full-time assistantships, and who have completed 18 or more graduate hours in their program with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, may be approved for up to 7.5 additional hours per week of on-campus employment. Part-time GAs who have completed 18 or more hours with a GPA of 3.5 may work an additional 17.5 hours of on-campus employment, subject to approval. Permission to work additional hours is granted solely by the Dean of the Graduate School.


Graduate assistantship appointments should be directly related to the student's program of study. The use of graduate assistants to perform general clerical or administrative functions is discouraged and appointments of this nature may not be approved.

As a graduate assistant, you will be concerned mainly with your individual assignment and with your role in your own department; however, you also have a role as a professional of the University. All graduate assistants are subject in their teaching and research activities to the ethical precepts and code of the academic profession. If you do not understand your position in the system at the University, you may find yourself in confusing situations simply because of misunderstandings.

Graduate assistants should be familiar with applicable policies, regulations, and benefits. This includes all academic regulations of the Graduate School (published in the Graduate Catalog under Section 4) and any regulations of your department or program. Other policies, such as Academic Integrity, are available on the Academic Affairs website. Graduate assistants are encouraged to contact the Graduate School for additional information on policies and procedures related to their assistantship.

Salaries and Stipends

All salaries and stipends for graduate assistants, whether in research, service or teaching, are determined by University policies. Stipend levels for graduate assistantships paid from grants or other sources must conform to University guidelines.

Upon approval of their nominations, graduate assistants must provide evidence employability, complete a background check, and submit an I-9 Form. Federal income tax and state income tax will be withheld from each payment. Graduate assistant benefits include Worker's Compensation. Coverage is provided for illness or injury which is work related. Hospitalization, medical expense, and a portion of any lost pay is included in the coverage.

Tax Information

Tax information is provided by the Payroll Office. Additional information on current tax laws can be found on the IRS website. A helpful guide is Tax Information for American Scholars in the U.S. and Abroad, Publication 520, revised edition, published by the Department of the Treasury, IRS. You may obtain a copy from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Tuition Waivers

All graduate assistant positions that are funded through the Graduate School receive partial tuition waivers for the semester(s) in which the graduate assistant is employed by the University. Tuition waivers are granted for a maximum of four academic terms (fall or spring). Tuition waivers apply only to courses required for degree completion as indicated on the student's officially approved planned program.

Pay Schedule

Graduate assistants are expected to begin working on the first day of classes and work through the last day of finals. Full-time GAs are expected to work 20 hours each week while half-time GAs work 10 hours per week. GA stipends are paid out in semi-monthly paychecks on the 15th and 30th of every month. For the spring semesters the first checks are paid on January 31st (providing all paperwork has been processed) and the last check is paid on May 15th. For fall semester the first and last pay checks are August 31st and December 15th. Should there be a delay in adding a GA to payroll, causing the student not to receive his/her first paycheck, the stipend will be pro-rated over the remaining pay periods.

Academic Load

Graduate assistants must be enrolled as full-time graduate students (minimum of nine semester hours during each regular fall and spring semester; minimum of 6 hours for summer terms). Graduate assistants are expected to enroll only in course work directly related to the completion of their degree requirements. Students who withdraw from classes during the term and fall below the minimum number of hours will have their assistantship revoked. Students holding instructional assistantships should not carry a combined teaching and course load in excess of fifteen semester hours.

Academic Conflict

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.

Job Conflicts

If problems or conflicts arise in the performance of duties, the graduate assistant should discuss the situation with his/her immediate supervisor. 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 Graduate Education and Research, and the Graduate Council.


The appointment may be terminated before expiration of the specified time under certain conditions:

  1. Incompetence, inefficiency, or neglect of duty
  2. Misconduct that is job-related
  3. Delinquency in academic work
  4. Moral turpitude
  5. Financial exigency
  6. Discontinuance of the work in which the appointment is made
  7. Chronic physical or mental ailment or defect which interferes with the performance of required duties
  8. Voluntary mutual agreement

Assistantships already awarded will be cancelled when the appointee's grade point average falls below the required minimum for retention. Masters students must maintain a minimum of 3.0 GPA.

Assistantships are offered by the University to qualified graduate students as enabling devices for graduate study. As a condition of appointment, each graduate assistant is expected to perform certain instructional and/or other professional services for the University. A graduate assistant agrees to abide by all University rules and regulations pertaining to students, and to maintain satisfactory progress toward their degree. In the event of a violation of such rules and regulations, any assistantship can be terminated at the option of the University. Acceptance of the assistantship is construed as acceptance of the foregoing conditions.


When a graduate assistant resigns, a written notification of the resignation must be submitted to the Graduate School office and department chair or supervisor. The termination date should be included in the written notification. If the graduate assistant resigns an assistantship in one department to accept an assistantship in another department, the graduate assistant must obtain the written permission of the chairs of both departments.

Sick Leave and Absences from Work Assignment

The general policy of the University is that all classes will meet as scheduled. No graduate assistant has the individual authority to cancel classes. Graduate assistants are not eligible for sick leave credit.

Anticipated absences: When an absence is anticipated, you must request approval and propose a plan for your work assignment to be met. It is to be approved by the departmental chair. The forms for this procedure for a teaching assistant are available in departmental offices.

Emergency absences: When you are unable to work because of an emergency or illness, the departmental chair or head of your administrative unit must be notified of the plans for that day so that proper arrangements can be made.

Vacation and University Closings

Graduate assistants are not eligible to accrue vacation time; however, graduate assistants are entitled to the same legal holidays and breaks between terms as other University academic personnel. If their assistance is required by faculty supervisors during such periods, arrangements should be made to compensate them by relief from duties, when necessary, during subsequent periods.

Scheduled closings: Notices of official closings and holidays are in the University calendar (Schedule of Classes ) or provided through official channels.

Emergency or unscheduled closings: Other than for scheduled holidays, Eastern rarely closes. However, if inclement weather or other events should cause a closing, official word is channeled from the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research to the academic deans and chairs. If in doubt, instructors and their commuting students may contact the appropriate departmental office between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Graduate assistants are not required to make up hours missed during emergency or unscheduled closings.