Guidelines for Appointment of Graduate Assistantships
Deadlines for hiring packet submission
Assistantship Contracts that begin in:
Fall Semester (Returning GAs) - April 13
Fall Semester (New GAs) - July 2
Spring Semester - November 14
Summer Semester - April 13
As graduate degree programs continue to grow and become more selective it is important that departments follow consistent and documented policy in administration of all aspects of these programs. Policies and procedures for employment of graduate assistants are set forth in Policy No.: 225 of the MTSU Policy & Procedure Manual. When offering an assistantship it is important that the student understands it is only an offer and that the College of Graduate Studies (CGS) is the FINAL APPROVING AUTHORITY. An assistantship is not valid until the College of Graduate Studies has approved it. Additionally, departments are encouraged to develop supplemental procedures for administration of those assistantships allocated to them. Areas which may be addressed in these procedures include, but are not limited to:
Establishing deadlines for submission of applications
In an attempt to be fair to all potential applicants and to employ the highest quality graduate assistants, it is beneficial to set a deadline date for acceptance of applications in advance of posted CGS deadlines. All individuals submitting applications up to this date would receive equal consideration.
Establishing the date for offer notification
Applicants should be informed of when the decision and offer will be made in order to assist in their planning. Likewise, departmental planning also benefits from set dates. While MTSU does not currently have a single date many major research universities adhere to a national award date of April 15th.
Criteria for assessment of applications
This may include variables such as: quality of previous academic work (GPA), test scores, strength of reference letters, writing samples, etc. In no case should a single item (i.e., test score) be the only criteria.
Creating a process for review and selection of assistants
Regardless of whether the admission review is conducted by the coordinator individually, or by a faculty committee, the review and selection process should be consistent and documented, keeping in mind eligibility requirements of a graduate assistant; fully and unconditionally admitted to a program, currently have and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and enroll and complete six (6) graduate credit hours per semester.
Required competency in English for Graduate Teaching Assistants
Pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 211 adopted by the 1984 General Assembly, the accreditation standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (4.4.1), and the Tennessee Board of Regents (Policy No. 5:02:01:03) MTSU requires all graduate teaching assistants (GTA) to demonstrate competency in spoken English.
Specifically, Graduate Teaching Assistants whose first language is not English are required to demonstrate an appropriate level of fluency in one of the following manners.
- Submission of a minimum score of 21 on the Speaking subscale of the iBT TOEFL for appointment where the GTA has direct verbal interactions with students.
- Submission of a minimum score of 26 on the Speaking subscale of the iBT TOEFL for appointment where the GTA presents lectures in the class or laboratory (A GTA presenting a score of 25 may be assigned to instructional duties on a probationary status for one semester. 1)
- Submission of a minimum score of 6.5 on the Speaking subscale of the academic version of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test.
- Submission of a minimum score of 40 on the Test of Spoken English (TSE) or the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) for appointment where the GTA has direct verbal interactions with students.
- Submission of a minimum score of 50 on the Test of Spoken English (TSE) or the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) for appointment where the GTA presents lectures in the class or laboratory. (GTA presenting a score of 45 may be assigned to instructional duties on a probationary status for one semester. 1)
1 GTAs assigned instructional duties on a probationary status must be observed by a member of their department and a faculty member from another department to establish that they are successful in the performance of their teaching duties. Written verification of agreement among the two observers that the GTA is sufficiently fluent in English must be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies before the GTA may be assigned teaching duties in a subsequent term.
NOTE -Date of test score must be no more than two years prior to first semester at MTSU.
Creation of a formal award letter
Students should receive written notice from the department of their selection as a graduate assistant. Important information can be conveyed in this letter, including but not limited to: type of appointment (i.e., research, teaching, administrative), dates of appointment and length of term, percentage of time/hours per week required, stipend level and remission of fees, maximum and minimum student course load, description of duties, name and position of supervisor, evaluation procedures, pre-service and in-service training requirements, and deadline for acceptance.
Evaluation is a crucial part of the assistantship experience. It should include an ongoing process of communication between the graduate assistant and the faculty mentor. In a manner equitable to all graduate assistants, at least one formal evaluation must occur each semester. Links to forms are available at the top of this page.
Priority should be given to those students making good progress toward completion of the degree and performing well in their assistantship duties. As with initial evaluation of applicants, establishment of criteria for the evaluation of assistants seeking reappointment is encouraged. Also, since the awarding of assistantships is an effective and useful recruitment tool, attention should be given to assuring the availability of some assistantships each year for first time graduate students.
Programs of graduate study are designed to transform the individual from student to professional scholar. When a graduate assistant ship is well conceived and executed, it should serve as an ideal instrument to help facilitate the desired transformation. (A Model Policy for Graduate Assistantship Administration, Tennessee Conference of Graduate Schools)