Finding a Graduate Assistantship

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You are eligible for a graduate assistantship if you are:

  • Admitted to a graduate school degree program or a post-baccalaureate professional degree program AND
  • Registered for the required minimum number of credits each semester (except for summer) an assistantship is held

What Do I Need to Start Working?

If you work at the U, you must fill out the I-9 form and provide documents to show that you are eligible for employment on or before your first day of work for pay. You need to complete this step to keep working at the U.

Start your Day One right and come prepared. This government web page shows what documents you may need to bring to your first day of work. Your supervisor will also work with you to explain the I-9 process. Federal law requires you to show original documents (not photocopies).

If you have questions, email or call the OHR Contact Center (, 612-624-8647 or 800-756-2363).

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Registration Requirements

Graduate assistants must register for at least six credits per semester to hold one of these titles and classifications:

  • Administrative Fellow 9531
  • Graduate Instructor 9515
  • Graduate Project Research Assistant 9526
  • Research Assistant 9521
  • Teaching Assistant 9511

You must complete registration by the first day of employment (in most instances) and be registered for the entire semester. Audit courses do not fulfill registration requirements.

You may register for one to five credits in selected semesters by applying for an exemption with the Special Graduate Assistant Registration Status (SGARS) (docx) form. You will need approvals from your employer, faculty adviser, and director of graduate studies.

Advanced master's or PhD candidates are required to register for at least one credit per semester. The credit can be at any graduate level but must be 8333 (master's) or 8444 (doctoral) to qualify for loan deferment.

Important: Tuition benefits only pay for one graduate school credit. If you register for more than one credit, you will be billed for tuition over one credit.

  • Administrative Fellow 9532, 9533
  • Graduate Instructor 9517
  • Research Assistant 9528, 9529
  • Research Project Assistant 9527
  • Teaching Assistant 9518, 9519

Note: Registration for GRAD 0999 does not fulfill the registration requirements while holding a graduate assistantship.

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Failure to Register

If you don't register for any credits or cancel all credits, your graduate assistantship may be terminated. If you withdraw from all credits, you are responsible for any remaining student account balance.

Note: International students who file for "Exemption from Full-Time Status" with the International Student & Scholar Services Office are not exempt from the minimum credit requirements.

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Appointment Types

Flexible Hourly

  • No set hours to be worked each pay period
  • Generally require using a timecard and may or may not run the full semester

Departments provide an estimate of hours to be worked during the semester. A tuition benefit is then processed. If you work more hours than originally reported, the Graduate Assistant Employment office will adjust the tuition benefit, if applicable. If you work less than the estimated hours (even by one hour), or do not work the minimum requirement of 98 hours per semester, you will lose all or a portion of your tuition benefit. You will be responsible for paying back the unearned portion of tuition benefits you receive. In addition, you may lose your non-resident waiver.

Fixed Hourly

    • Set number of hours each pay period
    • Doesn't require a timecard
    • Two types of fixed hourly appointments:
      • Single semester
      • Annual appointment for 9-month academic or 12-month fiscal year

Conditional Annual

    • An alternative to a fixed-hourly appointment when a department anticipates, but isn't sure, that funding will be available for the academic year
    • Contingent on funding and may be terminated at any time

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Work-Study Funds

Graduate students are eligible for work-study awards to fund their assistantships. You'll need at least three credits each semester to qualify for work-study. You must let your supervisor know if you fall below three credits or if any changes to your financial aid package affect your work-study award. For questions, email the work-study coordinator at

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Assistantships and Graduation

You cannot work as a graduate assistant after the semester in which you graduated. If you graduate mid-term, you can keep working through the end of the term.

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Teaching Assistants Who Do Not Speak Native English

Teaching assistants who aren't native English speakers will need to take the SPEAK Test and earn a score of 55 or 60, according to University policy. The policy applies to assistants assigned to teaching, tutoring, or advising.

Federal law requires all employees hired by the University to show proof of U.S. citizenship or documents authorizing them to work as aliens.

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