Graduate Assistantship

Date of Adoption

July 1, 2003

Effective Date of Last Review

August 2023

Date of Last Review

September 2022

Date of Next Review

September 2029

Custodian of Policy

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs


All graduate assistantships throughout the University are expected to elevate the quality and scope of graduate education by attracting high quality students into our graduate programs; providing full-time graduate students with valuable educational and professional experiences related to their degree program to enhance their graduate education; and providing faculty and staff assistance in carrying out special projects or other assignments that require the advanced discipline skills of graduate students.

Three types of graduate assistantships are available, based upon the primary (>50%) responsibilities: teaching, research, or program assistance: as follows:

  • Teaching Assistants (TAs) For University tax purposes, teaching activities may include the following: providing or coordinating classroom instruction, including lab or discussion sessions; tutoring students; grading tests and assignments; developing instructional materials; accompanying/coaching musical or vocal performances and proctoring exams.  This work occurs under the guidance of faculty members and relates to courses that are for academic credit leading to a degree or certificate. 
  • Research Assistants (RAs) For University tax purposes, research activities may include the following examples of applying and mastering research concepts, practices, or methods of scholarship: conducting experiments; organizing or analyzing data; presenting findings; collaborating with others in preparing publications; and conducting institutional research for an academic or administrative unit.  This work occurs under the guidance of faculty members.
  • Program Assistants assist faculty and staff throughout the broader University on academic, academic support, or other programs.

Graduate assistantships are expected to be competitive awards open to full-time graduate students admitted to a graduate degree program and in good academic standing. Graduate assistantships may be internally or externally funded and must comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Graduate assistant stipends will be reviewed every three years to ensure that graduate assistants are compensated adequately and competitively. In addition to providing financial support to graduate students, graduate assistantships are to be considered an award and honor.

Terms and Conditions

The graduate assistantship award package includes a stipend and a tuition waiver. Commencing with fiscal year 2019, full-time, academic year graduate assistantships supported through the University’s general fund include a tuition waiver and a stipend. The stipend is set at a minimum of $5,000 per semester (fall, spring), for part-time paid work (specifically 20 hours per week of instructional, research, or related programmatic activities). The term of the graduate assistantship commences with the first Monday before the start of classes and ends with the last day of final exams.  If training is required for the position, the hours per week will be adjusted to no more than 20 hours per week AND no more than 320 hours per semester. Assistantships which begin and end after these dates require additional compensation. The tuition waiver is for 18 graduate credits per academic year, flexible between the fall and spring semesters (except for work study graduate assistantships). The tuition waiver may not be applied to undergraduate credits.  Students who are required to complete undergraduate courses as part of the Master of Teaching may appeal the use of the tuition waiver by contacting the Office of Graduate Studies.

Graduate assistants may allocate unused credits of their tuition waiver from the academic year toward credits taken during the summer term immediately following the academic year appointment.

All graduate assistant positions, regardless of funding source, are to be compensated at the University minimum stipend level or higher and must include a tuition waiver that adheres to policy.

Part-time graduate assistantships are permitted with proration in the stipend, hours per week of work, and tuition waiver. For example, a 0.50 graduate assistant would include a minimum $2,500 stipend per semester for 10 hours per week of work and 9 graduate credits of tuition waiver per academic year.

Summer graduate assistantships are permitted and, if the hiring unit wishes to pay for it, may offer a full or partial waiver of tuition.  Summer GAs employed throughout the full 10-week term should be paid a full semester’s stipend ($5,000, at minimum, during the 2023-2024 academic year). Summer graduate assistants are limited to 20 hours per week.  GAs working less than the full 10-week term should be paid, at minimum, the hourly summer GA rate of $25 per hour. Appointments beginning prior to and/or extending after summer terms should be paid at least the academic year hourly rate ($15.63) for those periods of time which fall outside the 10-week summer term. Summer graduate assistants must be enrolled for a minimum of 1 graduate credit over the course of the summer sessions.

A graduate student may hold multiple, concurrent graduate assistantships, as long as the total of all appointments does not exceed 20 hours of work per week. The maximum length of appointment is limited to the normal length of time for completing the degree, in most cases two to three years for a master’s degree program and three to four years for a terminal or doctoral degree program.

Graduate assistants may not be employed concurrently as an adjunct faculty member.

Graduate assistant tuition waivers must be entered into the student payroll record system no later than the tenth (10th) instructional day of the semester or session in which the appointment is effective. Late entrances of tuition waivers will not be accepted. Adding or dropping of courses must be in compliance with the University’s published dates; graduate assistants will be responsible for tuition charges as a result of changes in course registrations and in accordance with the University’s published dates.

Graduate assistants who resign or who are released from an appointment prior to the mid-point of a semester will lose the tuition waiver and be responsible for applicable tuition charges.

Responsibilities and Standards of Performance

Graduate assistants are expected to fulfill the responsibilities of the position as outlined in the announcement and meet the duties and standards of performance described by their faculty or staff supervisor during orientation. Graduate assistants also must maintain satisfactory academic progress. Unsatisfactory performance of duties and responsibilities, failure to meet the standards of performance, or failure to meet standards of academic progress can lead to termination of the graduate assistantship award. Failure to perform responsibilities or serious misconduct may result in immediate termination. Procedures for communicating and responding to unsatisfactory performance of responsibilities or failure to meet standards of performance include providing written notice (with a two-week provisional period) followed by a review and if necessary, written notice of release from the assistantship effective immediately.

Both written notice of warning and termination of the assistantship may be appealed. To appeal, the graduate student will send to the department chair or respective unit director a copy of the written notice with a letter stating the basis of the appeal (errors of fact or interpretation) within 7 business days. The department chair or director will review and investigate the appeal and deliver a written response within 7 business days during the academic semester/session. If not resolved, the student may appeal in writing to the next level, either the respective College Dean or Vice President, who will consult with the Dean of Graduate Studies and respond within 14 business days. This decision shall be final. Initiation of an appeal does not extend the probationary period or date of termination.

Announcement of Opportunities and Application

Announcements of Graduate Assistant opportunities are available on the University’s Career Development’s Handshake website. Application information is available on each announcement.

Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) Resolution

Minnesota State University, Mankato adheres to the long-standing resolution established by the Council of Graduate Schools April 15 Resolution, which states that a student does not have to commit to an assistantship offer prior to April 15. The resolution is posted on the Council of Graduate Schools website. In instances in which a student accepts an offer before April 15 and subsequently desires to withdraw that acceptance, the student may submit in writing a resignation of the appointment up to and through April 15. However, an acceptance given or left in force after April 15 commits the student not to accept another offer without first obtaining a written release from the institution to which the commitment has been made. Similarly, an offer by an institution after April 15 is conditional on presentation by the student of the written release from any previously accepted offer.




Graduate assistantships are a long and proud tradition in graduate education, bringing benefit to the institutional mission and the student. The purpose of the Graduate Assistantship program at Minnesota State University, Mankato is to:

(1) improve the overall quality and scope of graduate education by attracting high quality students into our graduate programs,

(2) provide full-time graduate students with valuable educational and professional experiences related to their degree program, to enhance their graduate education, and often, to contribute to the education of undergraduate students, and

(3) provide faculty and staff assistance in carrying out special projects or other assignments that require the advanced discipline skills of graduate students. In addition to providing financial support to graduate students, graduate assistantships are considered an award and honor.