Graduate Assistantship Information for Students and Departments
The Dean of the College of Graduate Studies is responsible for the administration of all aspects of the Graduate Assistants Program: Graduate Teaching Assistants/Graduate Research Assistants/Graduate Administrative Assistants. This responsibility includes approving student applications, checking all credentials and Personnel Appointment Forms, notifying the Business Office and other applicable offices of student appointments, changes, and terminations, recommending stipends, and all other matters relative to graduate student appointments. (Policies and Procedure Manual, Policy No.: IV:07:12)
A limited number of graduate administrative assistantships, graduate teaching assistantships and graduate research assistantships are available. Graduate Assistantships provide a monthly stipend and a waiver for tuition. Out-of-state residents also receive a waiver for out-of-state fees.
Persons interested in applying for a graduate assistantship should also contact the individual department as additional application materials and references may be required. Some departments may also have specific deadlines for assistantship applications.
Eligibility for an assistantship requires a student to be fully admitted into his/her desired program and have a current GPA, whether graduate or undergraduate, of 3.0 or higher.
Assistants must enroll in at least six (6) graduate credit hours per semester and maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 for master's level or 3.25 for doctoral level.
Graduate Teaching Assistants
Specific duties may vary from department to department. The majority of Graduate Teaching Assistants are assigned one or more of the following responsibilities:
- Teaching a classroom section of a course
- Teaching a laboratory or discussion section of a course
- Tutoring or providing other special assistance to students of the University
- Assisting a faculty member in grading, advising, and other duties necessary to conduct a course
- Assisting directly or indirectly in instruction or supervision of MTSU students in community programs, internships, workshops, or seminars for practicing professionals
Graduate Research Assistants
Duties vary according to the nature of the department and/or the specific research project to which the student is assigned. The student may assist a faculty member in his/her research or may be part of a team working on an externally funded research project. The duties of a Research Assistant are performed under the direction and supervision of members of the faculty or academic staff.
Graduate Administrative Assistants
Typically, assistantships are granted in the department in which the degree is to be earned; however, there are cases where exceptions are permitted. These include assistants who are assigned duties of an administrative or clerical nature in the Office of Academic Affairs, the College of Graduate Studies, the Business Office, academic departments or college offices, etc. The Dean of the College of Graduate Studies must approve all appointments of this type. Per FLSA regulations, administrative graduate assistants must maintain time records. Please use your appropriate adminstrative graduate assistantship calendar to record time on the adminstrative time sheet. Link to Administrative Graduate Assistant Timesheet.
All departments and offices at Middle Tennessee State University are to conform with the provisions of this policy and are to pay graduate assistants at the levels established by the College of Graduate Studies.
Stipends for Graduate Teaching Assistants and Graduate Research Assistants funded by the College of Graduate Studies are determined by the College of Graduate Studies based on a review of market factors and the availability of funds. Stipends awarded through external funds such as grants may vary in amount from other assistantships awarded by the university. Stipends for Ed.S. students are the same as those for Master's students. Stipends for Doctoral students are greater than those for Master's and Ed.S. students.
Stipends for Graduate Administrative Assistants will be determined by the College of Graduate Studies in consultation with the administrative unit. In no event will the stipend be less than the lowest graduate assistant stipend throughout the university. It is expected that the stipends of administrative graduate assistants will be the same in any given administrative unit, although stipends may vary between administrative units.
Graduate Assistant stipends are subject to federal withholding tax. Administrative Assistants are subject to federal withholding tax on their stipend and the value of the amount in box fourteen (14) on the employee's Form W-2. Any federal income tax owed will be paid when the employee files their tax return. Administrative Assistants may want to adjust their Form W-4 so additional federal withholding tax is deducted from their monthly stipend in order to cover the tax owed on the tuition.
Graduate Assistants taking 5 or more graduate hours during a term are not subject to Social Security or Medicare tax. If the GA enrolls in fewer than 5 graduate hours, Social Security and Medicare tax will be deducted from their monthly stipend.
The university pays the tuition (maintenance fees), debt service fee, and the technology access fee for all students holding assistantships. All other costs including books, post office box fees, student auto registration fees, if applicable, and any other fees assessed, are the responsibility of the graduate student. The College of Business retracts the course fee for all graduate assistants taking courses in the College of Business. Tuition is not paid by MTSU for students during any semester, or portion thereof, in which they do not have assistantship duties or for courses taken at other TBR institutions or UT System Universities. The Dean of the College of Graduate Studies must approve payment for undergraduate prerequisites, which must be specified at the time of admission.
All Graduate Assistants are to meet the workload requirements as set forth in the MTSU Standard Assistantship Contract. Failure to fulfill the terms of this contract can result in a termination of the student's assistantship at any time without advanced notice.
Full-time Graduate Assistants will work:
- Six (6) contact hours per week in classroom or laboratory instruction in which the GTA assigns the grade;
- Eight (8) contact hours per week in laboratory supervision in which the professor assigns the grade;
- Ten (10) contact hours per week in teaching at the Campus School;
- Twenty (20) clock hours per week in supervised activities in the department or office of their employment; or
- A combination of above, not to exceed these workloads.
All graduate assistants must register for at least six (6) graduate credit hours of course work per semester in order to receive an assistantship and be classified as full-time graduate students. Graduate Assistants in their last semester of study may register for only those hours remaining to complete the degree. Graduate assistants holding summer term appointments may register for less than six (6) hours but their stipends may be subject to federal withholding requirements. All catalog regulations pertaining to full-time students are applicable to Graduate Assistants.
The required six (6) hours must be maintained throughout the entire semester. Courses may not be dropped if the resulting course load is less than the required six (6) credit hours. Courses may not be changed to audit.
Half-time Graduate Assistants will work:
Half-time Graduate Assistants will complete the equivalent of ½ of the work-load of Full-time Graduate Assistants. Half-time Graduate Assistants will receive ½ of the stipend and ½ of the tuition and fees of Full-time Graduate Assistants. Half-time Graduate Assistants are charged the balance of their tuition and fees at the resident fee level.
The department shall follow standard procedures developed by the department for appointment of Graduate Assistants.
- A contract may be issued for one (1) or two (2) semesters or for twelve months.
- For a given Master's or Ed.S. program, students may be awarded an assistantship for no more than six (6) semesters or, for those on twelve month contracts, no more than two (2) years or the equivalent thereof. For a given Doctoral or M.F.A. program, students may be awarded an assistantship for no more than twelve (12) semesters or, for those on twelve-month contracts, no more than four (4) years, or the equivalent thereof. Students who have completed one degree while holding a Graduate Assistantship, and who are accepted into a second graduate degree program, are eligible to apply for another Graduate Assistantship.
- Variations from the nine-month and twelve-month contracts must be approved by the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.
- All Graduate Assistants are students first. Teaching and workload schedules should be assigned with consideration for the Graduate Assistant's class schedule. Department/Administrative Offices are expected to provide for their taking the usual student holidays such as Labor Day, Spring Break, etc. Graduate Assistants should not be required to work on student holidays.
Fiscal Year Appointment (12-Month Assistantship)
The work period is from September 1 through August 31.
Academic Year Appointment (9-Month Assistantship)
The Fall semester work period will begin one day after the University Convocation and end the day before Fall graduation. The Spring semester work period will begin on the Monday preceding the day classes begin and end the day before Spring graduation.
The work schedule follows the appropriate semester as in the Academic Year Appointment section above.
Failure to Comply with Contract:
Assistants whose contracts are terminated because they have not complied with the terms of the contract are subject to a pro-rated charge-back of tuition.
Payment for Services
All stipend payments are made by direct deposit. The last payment is deposited after all obligations to the University are met.
Fiscal Year Appointments: Assistants receiving fiscal year appointments are paid in twelve (12) equal installments beginning September 30 and ending August 31.
Academic Year Appointments: Assistants receiving academic year appointments are paid in eight (8) equal installments beginning September 30 and ending April 30.
Fall/Spring Semester Appointments: Assistants receiving a semester appointment are paid in four (4) equal installments.
Summer Semester Only Appointments: Assistants receiving summer semester appointment only are paid a 1/2 installment in May and August and a full installment in June and July.
Procedures in Securing Assistantships
The student seeking a graduate assistantship should complete a Graduate Assistantship Application . The completed form should be filed with the academic department or the appropriate administrative office.
The Department/Administrative Office checks for the following requirements:
- Overall Grade Point Average (GPA), whether undergraduate or graduate, must be at least 3.0 for masters and Ed.S. levels. Currently enrolled doctoral students seeking an assistantship must have a 3.25 GPA;
- All entrance requirements have been met and the student has been accepted into a graduate degree program unconditionally;
- Graduate Teaching Assistants who have primary responsibility for teaching a course for credit and/or for assigning final grades for such must have earned at least eighteen (18) graduate semester hours in their teaching discipline, be under the direct supervision of a faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline, receive regular in-service training and be evaluated on a regular basis. The eighteen-hour requirement does not apply to Graduate Teaching Assistants who are engaged in assignments such as laboratory assistance, attending or helping prepare lectures, grading papers, keeping class records and conducting discussion groups.