Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant Offers

Associate Dean for Graduate Education
Amended Date

Key Contacts

If you have questions, please contact the Assistant to the Associate Dean for Graduate Education.


Graduate Assistants.

Policy Purpose and Description  

Both new and continuing graduate assistants must receive a letter making the offer of appointment. Departments must use the templates provided by CLAS. 




Offer Letters:

Continuing graduate assistants must receive the offer of appointment by April 15 for summer session or for appointments beginning in the fall semester and by November 1 for appointments beginning in the spring semester. Departments must make a good faith effort to offer appointments by these deadlines. For appointments which become available after April 15 or November 1, the employee will be notified in writing as soon as is feasible.

Departments must inform teaching assistants of their specific course assignment once it has been determined. The course assignment does not have to be included in the letter of appointment, but it should be communicated to the TA by the department as soon as a determination is made.

The Council of Graduate Schools, in its 1990 “Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants,” states that students “are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15.” Departments must not set earlier deadlines for acceptance. 

Levels of Appointment:

The normal graduate appointment is one half-time equivalent (HTE) and is expected to require an average of about 20 hours of work per week over the semester or academic year. Appointments of less than one HTE entail a proportionate reduction in work hours and in stipend. The amount of effort required of the graduate assistant must not exceed the level of appointment. View the Graduate Colleges Hours of Work to see the percentage time appointment and standard hours of work at each HTE level.

The Graduate Student Employment Standards recognize specific levels of appointment, called standard appointments (quarter-time, third-time, three-eighths-time, and half-time equivalents).

If the graduate appointment is for a percentage-time that is greater than one half-time equivalent, the request for permission to appoint at greater than half time should be addressed to both Graduate College Associate Dean for Administrative Affairs and the CLAS Associate Dean for Graduate Education. It should include a justification for the off-standard appointment as well as an explanation of why the additional percentage of effort would not negatively influence the graduate student’s progress toward the degree.

Minimum Stipends:

The COGS collective bargaining agreement sets minimum stipend levels for graduate assistants and minimum salary increments for graduate assistants reappointed from the previous year (see the Graduate Student Employment Standards - Wages). The stipend amount must be specified in the offer of appointment.

A department may pay more than the minimum stipend and may increase a continuing graduate assistant’s stipend by more than the minimum increment, if the department has the necessary funds. The department may also apply a salary differential that reflects differences in job duties between groups of graduate assistants.

The minimum stipend for graduate fellows is not established under the collective bargaining agreement.

Medical and Dental Insurance for Graduate Assistants:

Under the Graduate Student Employment Standards - Health Insurance and Other Benefits, the University will make monthly contributions for eligible graduate assistants’ health and dental insurance to specified insurance plans. The University will also make contributions for medical and dental insurance for eligible dependents and domestic partners of graduate assistants.

To receive the University’s contribution, a graduate assistant must be appointed at least quarter-time (.5 HTE) for at least one semester. Graduate assistants appointed for one semester will receive one-half of the University’s contribution each semester.

Tuition Rates:

Non-resident graduate students with at least quarter-time assistantships (.5 HTE) will be assessed resident tuition and fees for the terms during which the appointment is held. 

This policy applies to those appointed to Graduate College fellowships but not to those who hold traineeships under training grants.

Verification of Oral Communication Skills for New TAs:

Before offering a teaching assistantship, the department is responsible for verifying the oral communication skills of the candidate, whether or not the candidate’s first language is English. This verification may take place through letters of recommendation, a telephone interview, or an interview in person. For new graduate students whose first language is not English, the College recommends that teaching assistantships be offered only to those whose scores on the written TOEFL test are 600 or (preferably) higher. (A score of 250 on the computer-based test is equivalent to a score of 600 on the written test.) For more information, view the Oral Communication Competence policy.

Written Acceptance of Offer:

The department obtains a written acceptance by asking the candidate for a signed and dated copy of the offer letter.  


See Graduate Assistant Appointments, Reappointments, and Termination policy page for templates.

Frequently Asked Questions  


Related Information

Oral Communication Competence

Revision History