Graduate assistantship (GA) is a generic term referring to financial support of graduate students that results in a stipend and compensation and for which performance of defined duties is expected.
Specific graduate assistant appointments are made in one of three categories: research assistants, teaching assistants represented by the Graduate Employees Union, and teaching assistants not represented by the MSU – Graduate Employees Union Collective Bargaining Agreement.
- Category: Master
- Amount/value: Varies
- Location: United States
- Application deadline: 31 October 2023
- Graduate assistantships are available only to graduate students who are in good standing and actively pursuing graduate degree programs.
- International graduate assistants must check in online with the Office for International Students and Scholars. Check-in instructions will be sent to their MSU email account.
- Graduate assistants must be registered each semester in which they hold assistantships as follows:
- Doctoral students with quarter-time or half-time assistantships must carry at least 3 credits (exceptions stated in chart). They may carry a maximum of 16 course credits (for a quarter-time appointment) or 12 course credits (for a half -time appointment), excluding 899/999 credits. Doctoral students who have passed comprehensive exams may enroll for 1 credit the semester after the student’s unit administrator submits the completed exam form to the appropriate college Associate Dean and the college sends the approval to the Office of the Registrar. Note: There is a maximum of 36, 999 credits for all doctoral students.
- Master’s students with quarter-time assistantships or half-time assistantships must carry at least 6 credits. They may carry a maximum of 16 course credits (for a quarter-time appointment) or 12 course credits (for a half -time appointment), excluding 899/999 credits.
- Doctoral and master’s students with three-quarter-time assistantships must carry at least 3 credits. They may carry a maximum of 8 course credits, excluding 899/999 credits.
- During the summer session, graduate assistants must carry a minimum of 3 credits.
- Visitor credits may count as part of a student’s credit load if approved in writing by the student’s department chair or unit director, college and the Dean of the Graduate School.
- Deviations from the minimum enrollment requirements listed above, except as noted for doctoral students, are permitted only during the semester in which the degree is granted, when students must enroll for at least the number of credits required to complete the degree or meet the University minimum registration requirement of one credit.
- Any deviation from the maximum credit requirements must have the written approval of the dean of the student’s college before registration.
- Graduate enrollment must be in courses recognized as being of graduate level unless the student’s department, school or program has granted written permission for course work constituting an exception to this policy.
- Graduate assistants must achieve and maintain satisfactory academic records. This means a 3.00 or higher-grade point average. Appointing units or colleges may establish additional or higher required standards.
- Recommendation for appointment as a graduate assistant must be made by the department chairperson or school/program director.
- Lifelong Education students and College of Law students (except if dually enrolled in an MSU graduate program) are not eligible for graduate assistantships. Dually enrolled bachelor’s/master’s degree students are not eligible for graduate assistantships until the minimum number of credits required for a first bachelor’s degree is completed.
Checks are distributed on a biweekly basis. Graduate assistants at any of the three levels may be appointed on a quarter–time, halftime, or three–quarter–time basis with an appropriate adjustment in the stipend. Additional benefits, even though the graduate student does not enroll for 10 credits or more, include the following:
- Tuition waiver in the amount of 9 credits for fall semester, 9 credits for spring semester, and 5 credits for summer session
- Exemption from out–of–state resident tuition.
- Specific college or program fees, applicable to all graduate students enrolled in a specific college or program, may apply and are not waived.
- Health Insurance.
- Eligibility for treatment at Olin Health Center.
- Library privileges, intramural and recreative facilities privileges, and eligibility to join the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.
- Eligibility for student discounts on football, basketball, and/or hockey season tickets for themselves and their spouses.
- Eligibility for free admission to other regularly scheduled Michigan State University athletic events when presenting a valid student ID card.
- Eligibility for student discounts on series tickets to professional performing arts events at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts and Institute for Arts and Culture, including one guest ticket at the student rate.
- Exemption from payment of the Social Security tax on the stipend if the student is enrolled for the minimum number or required credits.
Graduate assistant appointments are related to the academic semester of enrollment (Fall: August 16- December 31, Spring: January 1-May 15, Summer: May 16 – August 15). The appointing department/unit defines the conditions of the assistantship (e.g., quarter- or half-time, Fall, Spring, and/or Summer Semesters).
- Graduate assistant appointments are related to the academic semester of enrollment (Fall: August 16- December 31, Spring: January 1-May 15, Summer: May 16 – August 15). The appointing department/unit defines the conditions of the assistantship (e.g., quarter- or half-time, Fall, Spring, and/or Summer Semesters).
- Based on student experience a graduate assistant is assigned to the appropriate level. Level details are found on Academic Programs.
- The hiring unit must complete an offer letter that the student will sign. There are offer letter templates for each of the various types of appointments. These templates may not be modified. The offer letter signed by the student will be attached to the hiring form in EBS.
- Prior to the appointment, a criminal background check is required. An electronic disclosure and authorization form will be provided to students via email. The form must be signed and submitted to initiate the background check. Appointments will be contingent upon satisfactory results.
- An INS I-9 form (Employment Eligibility Verification) must be completed and attached to the GA Appointment Recommendation form. A department representative must see the documents used to verify eligibility and identity. Acceptable documents can be found at https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/form-i-9-acceptable-documents. The I-9 form must be completed within three business days of the appointment start date. If I-9 forms are not filed within 3 days the appointment will be cancelled.
- All student employees will have their I-9s processed by the hiring department. Human Resources offers training to those department administrators who need assistance completing an I-9 for a foreign national with valid visa status. Departments needing support can email for I-9 assistance.
- Graduate assistants are paid on a bi-weekly basis. Departments appointing graduate assistants must meet deadlines set by Human Resources (https://hr.msu.edu/ua/hiring/graduate-assistants/index.html) for the filing of appointment forms. If they are unable to meet deadlines, delays may occur in the issuance of the first payroll payment and enrollment in the health insurance plan.
- Graduate Assistants are encouraged to complete a withholding tax authorization (Form W-4) and payroll direct deposit form. Graduate Assistants can access the website to complete Form W-4 and enroll in the direct deposit program at https://ebs.msu.edu/ under the Employee Self-Service Portal.
- A completed appointment form is the key to receiving the stipend and benefits. It also indicates intent by the department and the student to comply with the regulations pertaining to graduate assistantships as published in this brochure, the Graduate Students Rights and Responsibilities document, and the Academic Programs catalog.