Skip to main content

Hiring Graduate Assistants

See the Assistantship Information page for workload, stipend, and scholarship details.

Departments are limited in the number of assistantships they can offer due to inadequate scholarship funds in the Graduate School. The graduate program director or department chair is expected to contact the Graduate School before hiring more graduate assistants than in the prior year unless the tuition scholarship is covered by grant, endowment, or departmental funds.

Assistantship Eligibility:  Only graduate students who are in good academic standing (minimum 3.00 GPA) and making appropriate progress toward their degree are eligible for an assistantship.  Continuing students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 to be eligible for an assistantship the following term.  Students must be admitted to a degree program or certificate program. Non-degree status does not qualify one to hold an assistantship.  Students must be enrolled in at least five credit hours per term (except in the summer) of coursework directly related to their degree plan.

Hiring Teaching Assistants:  Teaching assistants must have at least one degree beyond the level of students they are teaching.  International Teaching assistants must meet Missouri's English language proficiency statute.  By state statute, no international student may teach the first semester they are in country (exceptions noted in the statute).  Before International Teaching assistants are given a teaching position, their English oral abilities must be tested (the TOEFL used for admission does not count unless there's record of a speaking section).  Even ITAs from English-speaking countries, must take a course with a cultural orientation.  At UMSL, students satisfy this requirement with the ITA seminar, which also helps ITAs with classroom management and oral and written English.

Hiring Graduate Assistants from another department / degree program:  Departments wishing to hire a graduate student from another degree program must check with the Graduate School before offering a position. Approval must be received by the Graduate School before an offer of employment is made.

Hiring Graduate Assistants to work in a non-Academic Department:  In certain circumstances, non-academic units may hire Graduate Assistants to work in their departments.  The work cannot be clerical and must be relevant to the student’s degree program.  A request to hire a GA along with a detailed description of duties must be submitted to the Graduate Dean for approval.  Each department or unit establishes its own documented procedures for recruitment, selection, retention and dismissal of graduate assistants in accordance with university policy.

Assistantship offer letters and student acceptances:  Fulltime graduate students usually give up their jobs. They frequently misjudge how much less they will be paid as a GA and often face serious financial problems.  Provide an appointment letter to the student stating pay, work hours, starting and ending date.  Maintain students’ acceptances.  Acceptance of an offer of financial support* (such as a graduate scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, or assistantship) for the next academic year by a prospective or enrolled graduate student completes an agreement that both student and graduate school expect to honor. In that context, the conditions affecting such offers and their acceptance must be defined carefully and understood by all parties.

Assistantship Hiring Appointments:  GAs are normally hired by semester or on a 9-month appointment.  The University considers summer appointments additional employment and requires a separate PAF.  Graduate assistants cannot be fired before the end of their contract without Dismissal for Cause procedures.  The Graduate School suggests students be hired by term with continuation based on first-term performance.  If a student is hired over two or more semesters, the department must verify that the student is enrolled in the appropriate number of hours each semester of employment.  Any GA who is not enrolled must either be terminated or have the title changed to a non-graduate student title.

The University requires that all Personnel Action forms for Graduate appointments be approved by the Graduate Dean’s office.  The Graduate School cannot approve PAFs unless a student is enrolled in the appropriate number of credit hours.  See the UMSystem ePAF training page for a reference guide to creating a Graduate student hiring ePAF.

Tuition Scholarships:  Departments should verify that each student hired as a Graduate Assistant meets and maintains eligibility for the award.  This includes enrollment and FTE eligibility.  The Graduate School cannot approve Tuition Scholarship requests unless students have a graduate assistantship appointment and are enrolled in the appropriate number of credit hours.

The Graduate School and the Office of Research Administration require that GRAs whose salary is funded by an external grant must have their tuition paid by that grant if allowed by the granting agency.