Graduate assistant handbook

  • List of terms

    BOR: Board of Regents 

    DSO: Designated School Official is a person that assists and oversees international students to help them maintain F-1 non-immigrant status.

    FA: Financial Aid

    FERPA: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law enacted in 1974 that protects the privacy of student education records.

    FICA: Federal Insurance Contributions Act is the federal law that requires an employer to withhold three separate taxes from employees’ wages. 

    FTE: Full-time equivalent salary

    GA: Graduate Assistant 

    GS:  Graduate School

    GS State-Funded Graduate Assistants: Graduate Assistants who are supported through state funds

    GSA: Graduate Student Association 

    GRA: Graduate Research Assistant

    GTA: Graduate Teaching Assistant

    Non-State-Funded Graduate Assistants: Graduate assistants that are funded by grants, contracts, foundation or self-supporting accounts.

    NSHE: Nevada System of Higher Education 

    OISS: Office of International Students and Scholars

    On-Campus Employment: On-campus employment includes work done as a GA, as well as any paid work anywhere on campus or any employment paid by an office of the university.

    OSPA: Office of Sponsored Projects

    SEVIS: Student and Exchange Visitor Information System is a nationwide, Internet-based database used by the U.S. government to maintain accurate and current information on the arrival, enrollment, and departures of international students and their dependents.

    UNR: University of Nevada, Reno

  • Descriptions of graduate assistantship categories

    What is a graduate assistantship?

    Graduate assistants, or GAs, have a unique dual role: they are both graduate students and research, professional development, or teaching assistants who contribute to the academic mission of the university.

    Graduate students awarded these competitive positions receive a stipend and benefits package for their work in the classrooms, laboratories, administrative units, and offices of the university.

    • State-Funded Graduate Assistants: Graduate assistants who are supported through state funds allocated directly from the BOR to the University. All state funds must be expended by the end of the fiscal year on June 30th.
    • Non-State-Funded Graduate Assistants: Graduate assistants that are funded by grants, contracts, Foundation or self-supporting accounts.

    Graduate assistantship categories and descriptions

    There are three categories of graduate assistantships: Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA), Graduate Research Assistant (GRA), and Graduate Project Assistant (GPA)

    While a student may fall into one of these categories, they are still considered a graduate assistant. Below are the descriptions of each of the categories.

    Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA): Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) is the term used at UNR to refer to graduate assistantships that work on campus in teaching-related positions. The majority of the graduate assistantships on campus are GTAs. Within a college or school, 80% of the state-funded graduate assistants have to be GTAs. GTAs teach a maximum of 6 credits each semester. GTA responsibilities vary greatly and may include, but are not limited to:

    • Administering tests or exams
    • Assisting a faculty instructor with large lecture classes by teaching students in laboratory or discussion sessions
    • Assisting with the grading of homework, exams, and/ or written assignments
    • Holding office hours and meeting with students
    • Teaching a small section of a course

    Graduate Research Assistant (GRA): Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) is the term used at UNR to refer to graduate assistants who work on campus in research-related positions. These research positions primarily exist in academic departments as well as some research centers and institutes. GRAs gain the experience of working alongside faculty members on cutting edge research. GRAs are generally funded through competitive faculty grants and contracts.  GRA responsibilities vary greatly and may include, but are not limited to:

    • Collecting, coding, and/or analyzing data
    • Conducting literature reviews or library research
    • Preparing materials for submission to funding agencies and foundations
    • Writing reports
    • Preparing materials for IRB review

    Graduate Project Assistant (GPA): Graduate Project Assistant is the term used at UNR to refer to graduate students who work on campus, primarily in non-academic departments, such as the Graduate School, Graduate Student Association, Career Studio, Writing and Speaking Center, Honors Program, etc. Graduate assistants in this category should gain professional skills while contributing to student services, serving in leadership roles, or otherwise contributing to the University. GPA responsibilities vary greatly and may include, but are not limited to:

    • Collecting and/or analyzing data; compiling reports
    • Maintaining databases and websites
    • Managing and maintaining program budgets
    • Organizing professional events, workshops, or lectures
    • Serving as a department liaison, including assisting in recruitment or fundraising efforts
    • Writing and editing documents and marketing materials
  • Graduate school policies on graduate assistantship duties and expectations


    To be eligible for an assistantship, students must have a completed bachelor’s degree, be fully admitted as a degree-seeking student into a master’s or doctoral degree program and be in good academic standing. The student must have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 and must be continuously enrolled in at least 6 graduate credits (600-700) throughout the duration of the assistantship. Upon approval of the Graduate Dean, English Bridge Course credits may be used to help satisfy the enrollment requirements.

    Terms and dates of appointments

    Graduate assistants are appointed by the University to conduct work in exchange for a stipend which is also referred to as a monthly salary amount. Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) are expected to report at the same timeframe as faculty (e.g., during academic semesters and not during break or vacation times). GTAs must report to work one week prior to first day of instruction for both fall and spring semester and their work obligation ends when final grades are complete. The GTA salary is paid over ten months (August through May).

    GRAs and GPAs should speak with their hiring department to inquire about work expectations and to negotiate time off during holidays and school breaks. GRA and GPA appointments can extend up to twelve months.

    The Graduate School strongly suggests appointing a GA for the academic year. However, departments may appoint on a semester-by-semester basis. Assistantships that start prior to the eighth week of the semester are eligible for full tuition support for that semester. Tuition support for assistantships starting after the eighth week will be prorated based on the number of weeks remaining in the semester. 

    State-funded assistantships (TA/RA) may be held for a maximum of:

    • Three (3) years for master's degree students;
    • Five (5) years for doctoral degree students

    Appropriate GA duties

    Graduate assistantships are designed to be supportive of graduate students’ intellectual and professional development. Faculty should not ask GAs to perform menial labor, such as office cleaning, personal errand running, dog-walking, babysitting or similar activities that are unrelated to the student’s academic development. Faculty or GAs who have questions about appropriate GA responsibilities are urged to contact the Graduate School or the Dean of the Graduate School.


    Graduate assistants are graduate students, first and foremost. Thus, their primary goal is to earn a graduate degree. That said, as GAs they should be hired by the University to perform work that is central to the goals of the hiring unit (e.g., department or other academic or administrative unit). GAs are expected to spend on average no more than 20 hours per week (.50 FTE) over their appointment periods fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of their positions. 

    Maximum number of courses graduate teaching assistants may teach per semester

    As specified in the Board of Regents handbook, Graduate teaching assistants may teach no more than two courses per semester. For any work over 50% FTE, an Overload Memo must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School, the graduate assistant’s academic supervisor(s), and their department(s). Work may not exceed 75% FTE during the semester.

    Additional employment

    While the Graduate School cannot monitor outside or additional employment for students on assistantships, such additional work is discouraged as it may impede academic success and timely progress towards degree completion. In some departments, acceptance of an assistantship is contingent upon agreeing to limited additional employment.

    International students on an F-1 or J-1 visas are limited to the 20-hour GA work week during the academic year. They cannot work any additional hours on campus or off campus. F-1 and J-1 students may, however, accept additional employment over winter break and spring break. F-1 students are restricted to on-campus employment. Similarly, J-1 students are restricted to on-campus work unless they apply for and receive special work authorization with OISS. For the summer, if an F-1 or J-1 student has a GA appointment, they can work an additional 10 hours on top of this appointment. F-1 and J-1 students are encouraged to consult with the Office of International Student and Scholars to make sure they are in full compliance with their visa requirements.

    Working over winter, spring and summer breaks

    All students can work up to 40 hours during the summer, spring and winter breaks. This includes international students. No student can work more than 40 hours per week. Spring break is approximately 5 days, winter break - 22 days and summer break - 3 months. Please refer to the Academic Calendar or call 784-1258.

    Fall, spring and summer semester credit loads

    Graduate Assistants must enroll in a minimum of 6 graduate credit hours for each Fall and Spring semester. Audited or undergraduate courses will not be counted toward the 6-credit minimum requirement.

    Failure to remain in 6 graduate credit hours for a grade will result in the termination of the graduate assistantship appointment. An excess credit memo addressed to the Dean of the Graduate School must be submitted to the Graduate School and must be approved by the department chair and Graduate Dean for credit loads in excess of 12 credit hours. 

    If a graduate assistant is on an appointment to work during the summer and not registered for classes, that is permissible; however, to maintain student status for tax purposes while working during the summer, you must register for 1 (one) credit. Registration can be for any summer session period. If you decide NOT to register for one credit, FICA will be deducted from your paycheck. Student should register no later than June 15th for the second session to ensure FICA and Medicare are not deducted from their monthly salary. FICA is an alternative to Social Security and is taxed at 6.2% and Medicare is taxed at 1.45%. The total deduction is $122.40 for a monthly pay of $1600. International students in the United States for less than five years are exempt from this FICA rule. International students do not need to register for summer courses and FICA will not be deducted from their pay.

    Please note that UNR considers GAs enrolled in 6 credits as full-time graduate students. However, to be considered full-time for financial aid purposes, all graduate students, including those on assistantships, must be enrolled in nine (9) graduate credits, to be considered part-time for financial aid reporting purposes you must be enrolled in five (5) graduate credits. For those graduate students who are required to take Intensive English Language Center Bridge Courses, these courses can be considered part of full registration upon approval by the Dean of the Graduate School but these courses will not count for Federal Financial Aid purposes.

    Adhering to policies and laws

    Graduate assistants are required to abide by all federal and state laws, as well as NSHE and university policies, standards of professional conduct, and the rules, ethical codes, and policies that govern the GA’s field of work, area of study, and funding source. Any violation thereof may lead to the termination of a student’s graduate assistantship, possible separation from his or her graduate program, as well as possible legal action, criminal penalties, and/ or other sanctions deemed appropriate. 

    Faculty responsibilities

    To ensure clear communication and to protect all parties involved, the GA supervisor must provide his/her GA with pertinent objective and subjective work standards that comport with NSHE and UNR guidelines and as stated in Title 4, Chapter 5 of the BOR Handbook. 

    Deadlines to accept graduate assisantantship offers

    The University of Nevada, Reno participates in the Council of Graduate Schools’ (CGS) “ Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees and Assistantships” also known as the “April 15 Resolution.”  According to this resolution, admitted graduate students are allowed to consider all offers of financial support for the next academic year through April 15.  In turn, the resolution binds students to their decisions made or held in place after April 15. 

    Policy against discrimination and sexual harassment

    NSHE Non-Discrimination Policy: The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) is committed to providing a place of work and learning free of discrimination on the basis of a person's age, disability, whether actual or perceived by others (including service-connected disabilities), gender (including pregnancy related conditions), military status or military obligations, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, national origin, race, or religion. Where discrimination is found to have occurred, the NSHE will act to stop the discrimination, to prevent its recurrence, to remedy its effects, and to discipline those responsible.

    Policy Against Sexual Harassment: The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) is committed to providing a place of work and learning free of sexual harassment, including sexual violence. Where sexual harassment is found to have occurred, the NSHE will act to stop the harassment, to prevent its recurrence, to remedy its effects, and to discipline those responsible in accordance with the NSHE Code, in the case of students, any applicable student code of conduct, in the case of classified employees, the Nevada Administrative Code, or in the case of DRI technologists, the Technologists Manual. Sexual harassment, including sexual violence, is a form of discrimination; it is illegal.

    If you have observed or feel you have been the victim of discrimination or harassment that is related to your age, disability, gender (including pregnancy related conditions), military status or military obligations, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, national origin, race, or religion, or have been subjected to unwelcome sexual advances, please report it to the Equal Opportunity & Title IX office.

    Consensual relationships policy

    The University of Nevada, Reno policy prohibits romantic or sexual relations in circumstances in which one of the individuals is in a position of direct professional power over the other. Definition of a professional power relationship: a faculty member or supervisor will always be treated as having such direct power if the student is in an educational experience in which the faculty member has authority to assign grades, or the supervisor has any input into the evaluation of the employee's work performance, promotion or tenure. A faculty member will be treated as having such direct power in other circumstances as well, e.g., when serving on thesis, dissertation, or scholarship awards committees, or in matters of admission or advisement. The same principles which apply to the faculty-student relationship also govern administrative faculty in their relationships with students.

  • Graduate assistantship benefits

    Payment and benefits

    Both state-funded and non-state funded graduate assistants will receive a stipend. All GA appointments must meet the minimum stipend amount per University policy. 

    Any Graduate Assistantship must be provided:

    • At least the minimum monthly salary approved by the University of Nevada, Reno;
    • Health insurance (student may be required to pay a portion if not at 50% FTE. For information about health insurance visit the Graduate School Health Insurance website;
    • Department share of tuition
      • Students will have to pay remaining portion of tuition, per credit fees, and ALL mandatory and differential fees.
      • On rare occasions, the grant funding source may stipulate that tuition cannot be covered.

    Graduate assistant Grant in Aid

    The Grant-in-aid covers  graduate level courses only, However, in instances where a legitimate case can be made for a graduate student to take undergraduate courses (e.g. for a second language), a letter of exception can be addressed to the Graduate Dean for his/her consideration. Additionally, faculty and students need to be aware that federal financial aid can be affected when a student enrolls in both undergraduate and graduate level credits. Federal financial aid is based on full time enrollment (9 credits) of  graduate level courses (600-700 level). An enrollment of less than 9 credits of  graduate level courses (600-700 level) will proportionately reduce federal financial aid. 

    If the grant funding the Graduate Assistantship does not allow tuition costs, an alternative funding source may be identified. The student will be notified if tuition costs are not included. 

    Out-of-state/non-resident tuition

    One of the benefits of holding an assistantship is that GAs are considered Nevada residents for tuition purposes, and out-of-state fees will NOT be assessed. GAs pay fees as a Nevada resident as long as the GA is on an assistantship.

    Out-of-state graduate students who become graduate assistants will have the out-of-state tuition waived while under GA appointment. It should be noted, however, that out-of-state tuition is waived only during the time the GA holds an assistantship. Hence, if the non-Nevada resident is no longer a GA, they will be considered an out-of-state student (and pay out-of-state tuition/fees), unless the student has applied for and received Nevada residency, as defined in the residency regulations in Title 4, Chapter 15 of the BOR Handbook.

    For more information on fees, please see the tuition/fee page.

    Processing of in-state tuition

    As soon as the hire is completed in Workday, the funding source for the position is also identified.  Tuition is charged to the same funding source as the pay for the position.  Once the hire is complete, the Peoplesoft record of the student is marked with a Service Indicator that denotes they are a graduate assistant and no late fees shall be assessed.  Grant-in-Aid is posted in Peoplesoft several times a week during the start of the semester.  Students must be enrolled in at least 6 credits at the graduate level before Grant-in-Aid can be processed. Students must pay their portion of tuition and mandatory fees to avoid late penalties. Late penalties on the student portion are not removed. Please allow at least three business days and up to 2 weeks for Grant-in-Aid to be applied once the hiring process is complete in Workday. A student will know that the hiring process is complete in Workday when they receive a “welcome to UNR” email to their personal email address listed in Workday and can log into Workday to initiate their onboarding tasks.

    University benefits/leave

    Graduate assistants are not eligible to receive annual leave or sick leave. A discussion should be held between the student and the department to determine the best course of action if a student is unable to complete their job duties for a period of time. Graduate assistants are not included in university employee benefits or retirement plans. 

    Summer registration fees

    Summer Grant-in-aid is not typically awarded. Summer Grant-in-aid may be provided if a department hiring coordinator provides an IPO to the Cashier’s Office with the worktag (funding source) and number of credits to be covered.

    • Summer registration is not mandatory. If you are employed to work as a Graduate Assistant during the summer and are not registered in classes, FICA and Medicare will be deducted from your paycheck. 

    International students in USA less than five years are exempt from this FICA rule. International students do not need to register for summer courses and FICA will not be deducted from pay.

  • Waiver of mandatory health insurance

    Your insurance coverage is initiated when your GIA/Fee waiver is received by the Cashier’s Office and transmitted to the insurance company. For 10 and 15 hour per week Assistantships, students are required to pay a portion of the insurance premium.

    All domestic degree-seeking graduate students, who are enrolled in six or more credits (regardless of the course level) in a semester, will be automatically enrolled and billed for the University-sponsored health insurance for each term they are eligible (fall & spring/summer).

    All graduate assistants are required to have health insurance while under appointment.

    If you are able to provide proof that you carry alternate insurance that meets the Affordable Care Act standards from a non-UNR provider, you may qualify for a waiver. If a student would like to waive the student health insurance, students can go to the UNR online waiver form  to waive insurance. Once approved, you will receive a printable waiver for your records and the Cashier’s Office will remove the mandatory insurance charge. A waiver is only good for one academic year (August to August). You must complete the waiver each year that you have alternate insurance coverage. 

    The cost of the health insurance will be automatically added to the student account in both the fall and spring semesters. Please note that the amount added to the spring semester bill will be slightly higher, as the cost of the spring health insurance covers summer as well. Pricing and coverage dates for 2019-2020:

    Domestic Student Health Insurance Costs 

    All international graduate students are required to have student health insurance. The cost of the health insurance will be automatically added to the student account in both the fall and spring semesters.

    International students who wish to waive out of the UNR student health insurance or with other insurance questions must contact OISS for further information. Students may waive out of the insurance but they are required to have alternative coverage that meets or exceeds the insurance provided by UNR. F-1 students are not required to have insurance for immigration purposes but the school requires it. J-1 students are required to have insurance coverage for immigration purposes and it has to meet certain requirements

    For additional information, please visit the UNR online waiver form page on the Graduate School website or to the Fees, Insurance, Payment page on the Graduate School website.

  • Important GA information for international graduate assistants

    Overview of the process

    F-1 Status: Your F-1 student status allows you to work on campus at the university that issued your I-20 for the duration of your academic program. Your I-20 is your proof of work eligibility for on-campus employment only at this institution.

    J-1 Status: Your J-1 student status allows you to work on campus at the university that issued your DS-2019 for the duration of your academic program. Your DS-2019 is proof of work eligibility for on-campus employment.

    Students in F-1 and J-1 status may work up to 20 hours per week (40 hours during the winter, spring, and summer breaks) on campus but are not eligible to apply for off-campus employment during the academic year unless their program requires it for all students. After the first academic year, the international office and/or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (F-1) or the program sponsor (J-1) may grant off-campus employment permission only under special conditions. Both F-1 and J-1 students will need to present their I-94 and foreign passport on or before their first date of work to verify work authorization.

    Staying in status

    1. Enroll full-time in a minimum of 12 (undergraduate), 9 (graduate), or 6 (graduate with assistantship) credits each semesterIf you plan to enroll in fewer credits due to special circumstances, you must first come to OISS to apply for a reduced course load. Classes that are audited are not included in the full-time credits necessary to satisfy U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements.
      • Only 3 credits of online classes will count toward full-time enrollment.
      • Graduate School requires graduate students to be enrolled in at least 3 graduate credits to maintain their graduate student standing.
      • Graduate students must be enrolled in at least 6 graduate credits to maintain their assistantships
    2. Keep your I-20/DS-2019 up to date
      • If your I-20/DS-2019 is going to expire before you complete your program, apply for a  program extension before your document expires. Work authorization expires on the day of the graduate assistant’s graduation, even if the I-20/DS-2019 lists a later date.
      • If you change your major, funding, or education level, a new I-20/ DS-2019 is required. Please complete and submit the Student I-20/DS-2019 Request Form.
    3. Inform OISS and Admissions and Records each time your address and phone number changes within 10 days of the change.
      For additional information about changing your address and phone number, visit  Admissions and Records. Update your Home and Mailing address/phone number in MyNEVADA to update OISS.
    4. Purchase University health insurance each semester.
      More information about health care and insurance, please refer to our health page.
    5. File a tax return yearly. OISS offers workshops and labs in March and April to help you complete the forms. For more information about taxes, please refer to our tax page.

    Enrollment requirements

    Please make sure to enroll in classes and pay your portion of tuition by the end of the day on the Friday before classes begin to avoid late fees. If you enroll in any classes after that Friday, pay the same day to avoid late fees. Immigration full-time enrollment requirements are as follows:

    • Graduate students - 9 credits
    • Graduate students with an assistantship - 6 credits

    PLEASE NOTE: Up to 3 credits of online/distance education classes will count toward your FT enrollment. You may take more than 3 credits of online/distance education classes but only 3 credits will count toward the FT requirements.

    Expiration of on-campus employment eligibility

    Your on-campus employment eligibility expires:

    1. The last working day of your final semester (when you graduate), even if your I-20 expiration date is in the future.
    2. If you transfer to another university.
    3. If you fail to meet the criteria to maintain your visa status.

    Documents necessary for a graduate assistantship

    The first step of completing the necessary documents for your graduate assistantship is to accept your GA offer before the deadline in your offer letter. If you are a new international student who has not gained entry to the United States yet, you will complete the rest of this process when you arrive on campus. You have 30 days to enter the country before your official program start date, which is registered in SEVIS by a DSO. You must report to OISS by your program start date, or you are not maintaining lawful F-1 status. You must contact OISS immediately once you enter the country so that there is no question of your arrival. You must complete the new international student online check-in. you will complete your reporting by going to the OISS office  located in the Fitzgerald Student Service Building, Room 103 (FSSB, building 82) to have a DSO make copies of work authorization documents (examples: I-20, DS-2019, I-94, Passport)

    Social Security number

    As an international GA you must obtain a Social Security number in order to receive a paycheck. It is suggested that you wait at least 48 hours after you check in to the university before applying for a social security number. In order to receive a social security number you must have the following:

    In most cases, it takes about 4-6 weeks to obtain a social security number once the application has been submitted.International GAs can begin work without having a social security number, however they must present a receipt showing that they applied, and produce the physical within 90 days.

    U.S taxes

    All individuals who are not Citizens or Permanent Resident of the United States are required to complete an Alien Information Collection Form before receiving any payment from the Nevada System of Higher Education. All new employees are encouraged to attend UNR’s Nonresident Alien Employee Orientation. Please visit the UNR Nonresident Tax Procedure page for more information and required documents.


    All new international students who are first time graduate assistants without sufficient Proof of English Proficiency (PEP) will be required to take the SPEAK Test. This includes: all graduate assistants who will be advising or teaching students as an instructor, teaching assistant, or lab supervisors; research assistants; and graduate assistants with other professional duties.

    The SPEAK Test must be taken before the start of the semester the GA intends to work at UNR. Specifically, the last day to take the SPEAK Test will be the Friday before classes start. International GAs that cannot provide sufficient PEP or pass the SPEAK test cannot serve in a teaching capacity during their first semester as a GA. GAs that are offered teaching assistants and do not meet the requirements of PEP/SPEAK will be reassigned to non-teaching duties their first semester as a GA.

    Passing Score: Students must receive a score of 50 or better on the SPEAK Test in order to receive a passing score. Results from the SPEAK Test are forwarded to the Graduate School & HR after they have been evaluated by The Intensive English Language Center. 

    Modification of GA Duties: Any International GTA who does not receive a passing score of 50 or higher on the SPEAK Test cannot be assigned to any duties that involves teaching or advising students. This includes teaching courses, instructing lab sessions, or advising students in office hours or lab settings. Normal teaching duties can be reinstated once a passing score is received on the SPEAK Test.

    SPEAK Test Exemption: Returning International graduate assistants, new graduate assistants from countries where English is both the national and home language and international students that have obtained a degree from an English speaking institution will be exempt from taking the SPEAK Test. Other exemptions include new International Graduate Assistants that scored a minimum of 24 on the TOEFL IBT speaking component or a minimum of 7 on the spoken English portion of the IELTS exam. All scores must be officially reported to UNR. Self-reported scores will not be accepted.

    Preparing for the SPEAK Test: To prepare for the SPEAK Test, the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides a practice test.

    International students serving as Teaching Assistants must meet minimum Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores. TOEFL and Test of Spoken English (TSE) minimum scores are below:

    Minimum scores for English tests
    Requirement Part A - Test Score Requirement Part B - Test Score
    TOEFL paper version 550 or better Speak Test or Test of Spoken English (TSE) 50 or better
    OEFL computer version 213 or better Speak Test or Test of Spoken English (TSE) 50 or better
    OEFL Internet-based version (iBT) 79/80 or better TOEFL internet based – speaking section OR Speak Test or Test of Spoken English (TSE) 24 or better/50 or better
    nternational Language Testing System (IELTS) 6.5 or better Speak Test or Test of Spoken English (TSE) 50 or better
  • Graduate School policies on graduate assistant performance

    Academic performance

    Graduate assistants are first and foremost students. Thus, they should be familiar with the provisions of the current Graduate Catalog and their specific departmental requirements. Graduate assistants must satisfactorily progress toward their degree and remain in good standing as defined by The Graduate School (e.g., it includes maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater) as well as by your graduate program. In order to get program-specific criteria, please consult your graduate program handbook. Student conduct policy breaches may also impact a student’s eligibility to hold a GA appointment.

    Setting expectations between the department/hiring unit/faculty supervisor and the graduate assistant

    It is critical that both the graduate assistant and the department/ hiring unit/ faculty supervisor are on the same page when it comes to expectations of the GAs duties and responsibilities. As such, we recommend jointly setting and documenting specific expectations and goals early in the term (and doing this for each term that the graduate student holds the GA position). There should also be a discussion on opportunities to touch base and a reasonable plan for efficient communication in a timely manner.

    The role of the department/hiring unit/faculty supervisor

    Faculty Supervisors/Principal Investigators: is responsible for the work of the graduate assistants. This includes assigning them their duties, providing adequate supervision, training GAs on new tasks, ensuring compliance with IRB and all regulatory offices, provide ongoing feedback, and annual performance evaluation. Many departments and hiring units will conduct periodic reviews and evaluations to monitor the progress of the GAs. When graduate assistants have questions concerning their appointments, the hiring department should be consulted first.Ensure that student salary, tuition and insurance are charged to sponsored and state accounts reflecting the student's effort for the semester. Notify department/unit administrators to process corrective actions in Workday to accurately reflect the student’s effort.

    Department/Unit Hiring Coordinator: Assist faculty by entering actions in Workday and managing worktag balances to ensure e that charges are posted to the correct worktag. The designated worktag must be budgeted for the expenses. 

    DepartmentChairs: have the ultimate responsibility for assistants in their departments; although this responsibility may be delegated to another administrator or faculty member. Departments generally provide office/ laboratory space, and other facilities and tools necessary for effectively fulfilling their GA responsibilities.

    Addressing performance issues 

    If discussion with the graduate assistant fails to resolve the performance issue, then there is a possibility of termination of the assistantship. In general, the Graduate School relies on the expert judgement and recommendation of the departments as to whether the GAs are fulfilling their responsibilities to be renewed. In order to terminate a GA appointment, the graduate director and PI/direct supervisor shall meet with the student to explain the tuition implications of the change in employment status. This meeting shall occur prior to finalizing actions such as terminating or accepting a resignation. In the case of department-based graduate programs, the graduate director then will send an email explaining the reason for the mid-semester separation to the department chair, with a copy to the dean of the college and to the Vice Provost, Graduate Education. In the case of interdisciplinary graduate programs, the graduate director will then send the explanatory email to the department chair of the student's major advisor/committee chair, with a copy to the major advisor's dean and the Vice Provost, Graduate Education. This should be a last resort after appropriate warning, mentorship, and due process.

    Termination policy for GA's

    View the termination policy in the University Administrative Manual.

    1. If a graduate assistant fails to meet pertinent work standards, the Recommendation for Termination of Graduate Assistantship Form must be used to terminate a graduate assistantship appointment and the attendant stipend prior to the end of the GA’s appointed term of service.
    2. The authority recommending termination, usually the GA’s immediate supervisor, must complete the Termination of Graduate Assistant Form in its entirety; supporting documentation must be attached and submitted with the form.
    3. The form must be reviewed and signed by the Recommending Department Chair and the Graduate Program Director in a period not to exceed fifteen (15) calendar days.
      1. In the case of interdisciplinary graduate programs, the form must then be submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School for review and approval/disapproval within fifteen (15) calendar days from the date of approval by the Department Chair and Program Director.
      2. In the case of department-based graduate programs, the form must be reviewed and approved/disapproved within fifteen (15) calendar days by the dean of the relevant college/school before being submitted to the Graduate School.
    4. Official notice will then be sent to the GA’s immediate supervisor and the impacted GA.
    5. Once the Recommendation for Termination of Graduate Assistantship Form has been signed by all parties including the Graduate Dean, the termination date will be recorded as the next available future date. The termination date cannot be a date in the past or prior to the completion of the signature process. If signatures are completed after payroll has run, the earliest available date for termination will be the first of the following month.

    GA resignation

     The decision to resign your GA position, especially in the middle of an appointment period, can have significant financial, academic, and personal implications. GAs are encouraged to consult with their supervisor, Department Chair, Program Director or the Graduate School before making the decision to   resign. A written statement is required to resign your appointment and must be sent to the hiring department with a copy sent to the Graduate School. Please cite the effective date of your resignation and, to the extent possible, a reason for the resignation.

    Tuition/fees upon termination or resignation

    Tuition and fees for terminated assistantships will be prorated based on the number of weeks completed. The department will remain financially responsible for the weeks during which the student was employed in a graduate assistantship. The student will become financially responsible for the prorated portion of the tuition and fees for the remainder of the semester. The department retains the option to pay all or an additional portion of the tuition and fees via an IPO. Any tuition charges that are deemed to be unallowable costs on a sponsored account will become the responsibility of the department that hired the student.

  • Training and support for graduate assistantships

    Mandatory new GA orientation

    Any new graduate assistants (TA’s) are required to attend the mandatory GRAD 701/TA Training held in August and January (Except for CHEM and ENG who have their own programs). It is held the week before school starts. The workshop will consist of representatives from the university discussing such issues as FERPA, student conduct, disability resources, policy and procedures, meeting a class for the first time, IT class room support and Lab Safety.

    Mandatory trainings

    FERPA: FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. It is a federal law that was enacted in 1974. FERPA protects the privacy of student education records. Since we are an educational institution that receives federal funding, we must comply with FERPA. For more information, please see the FERPA Access information website. 

    Graduate assistants are required to do the FERPA Training. To access this training, please go to the Online Training Classes on WebCampus.

    Sexual Harassment Prevention Training: NSHE requires all faculty and staff to complete training that addresses sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. The training, as stated in the NSHE Board Handbook, must be completed within 6 months after an employee is initially appointed to an affiliated institution. In addition, and at least once every two years after the appointment, an employee shall receive training concerning the prevention of sexual harassment. In October 2015, UNR launched the NSHE endorsed and used system-wide an interactive and engaging one-stop-shop online training by award-winning LawRoom, which focused on sexual harassment prevention, unlawful harassment prevention, and discrimination in the workplace training for faculty and staff. The online training, for both supervisors and non-supervisors, is compliant with complex federal laws, including Campus Save Act, VAWA, Clery Act, and Title IX. For more information, including how to register, please see UNR’s Human Resources website and its Sexual Harassment Prevention Training page. 

    Training and support

    Academic Policies: Undergraduate Student Grades: For information on the academic policies for undergraduate student grades, please see the current Undergraduate Catalog. From here, click on ‘Academic Policies’ (box on the left) and then select ‘Grades.’ is an award-winning web-based training service available for free to UNR students, faculty, and staff. As a member of the UNR community you have unlimited access to the vast training library, which can help you learn new software or improve on previous skills with a variety of programs. For more information, including how to log in, please see the Office of Information Technology website.

    Policies for Faculty and All Teaching Staff: Policies relevant to faculty and all teaching staff, including classroom guidelines, grading, syllabi content, and midterm grades, can be found on the University Policies webpage.

    GRAD 702/703 - Effective Teaching Practices in Higher Education I & II

    The Graduate School and the Office of the Provost are pleased to offer graduate students the opportunity to enhance graduate education and workforce development. For the second year, we are partnering with the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) to offer its certification program in Effective Teaching Practices to a maximum of 25 graduate student participants. The new course sequence consists of two courses, GRAD 702 (Fall 2019) and GRAD 703 (Spring 2020), Effective Teaching Practices in Higher Education I & II, will be offered for 2 graduate credits each, for a total of 4 graduate credits. Successful completion of the course will include creation of a teaching portfolio andprovides participants with a nationally-recognized Certificate in Effective College Instruction endorsed by the American Council on Education (ACE). Students intending to enroll in the GRAD 702/703 sequence should secure a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) or instructor position for both Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 semesters.

  • How to find a graduate assistantship

    Below is information for how you might find a graduate assistantship on the UNR campus:

    1. Contact your academic department to learn about available GA opportunities.
    2. Open positions can be found posted on the UNR Workday job search. All UNR and Nevada System of Higher Education employees, as well as anyone with access to NSHE's Workday system, must apply as an internal candidate in Workday. Log on to Workday and search Find Jobs
    3. Check your UNR Important information is regularly emailed out to graduate students, including about graduate assistantships. UNR Mail is considered the official email account for communication at UNR.
  • Steps to follow if received a graduate assistantship: first-time graduate assistant

    If you have been selected to receive a graduate assistantship, follow these steps:

    1. You will need to provide to your department hiring manager two forms of verification of identity. You must submit one document from List A or a combination of one document from List B and one document from List C.
      • List A -U.S. Passport, Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card, Foreign Passport, Employment Authorization Document that contains photograph, For a nonimmigrant alien authorized to work for a specific employer because of his or her status  Foreign Passport and Form I-94 or Form I-94A, Passport from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) or the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) with Form I-94 or Form I-94A indicating nonimmigrant admission under the Compact of Free Association Between the United States and the FSM or RMI
      • List B –Driver’s License or ID Card, School ID Card with photograph, Voter Registration Card, U.S. Military Card or draft record, Military Dependents ID Card, U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card, Native American tribal document, Driver's license issued by a Canadian government authority
      • List C-Social Security Card, U.S. Certificate of Birth, Native American Tribal Document, U.S. Citizen ID Card, and Identification Card for Use of Resident Citizen in the United States, Employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security
    2. The following steps need to be completed by Graduate Assistants in Workday. Once the graduate assistant hire is approved the employee will be able to access Workday. When they log in they will complete the following mandatory steps from their inbox. Once you login for the first time these items will appear in their Workday inbox. The required steps that must be completed are listed below. These actions will appear in three groups. The graduate assistant will need to log in multiple times to ensure that they are all completed.
      1. Confirm Personal Information and input Contact Information.
      2. Review Documents: Designation of Beneficiary for Unpaid Compensation
      3. Review Documents: Review Policies
      4. Change Emergency Contacts
      5. Complete Form I-9
      6. Self Identification of Disability
      7. Veteran Status Identification
      8. Edit Government IDs
      9. Payment Enrollment Election (Direct Deposit)
      10. Federal Withholding Elections (W-4)    - International graduate assistants will need to contact Sunny Remneff to complete the federal withholding step.
        • Phone: (775)-784-1404
        • Email:

    Additionally, the graduate assistant will need to complete the following outside of Workday:

    • Sexual Harassment Information (complete training online)
    • Nevada Constitutional Oath
    • Register for classes as soon as Grant-in-Aid cannot be processed until they have registered!
  • Non-state funded graduate assistantships

    How to request a graduate assistant

    Consult with your department chair regarding the availability of funds to support a state-funded GA or with OSPA to verify funds to support a GA on a grant or appointment. 

    1. If you are planning on hiring a GA on a grant, review the Office of Sponsored programs website. 
    2. Review GA Duties/ Do not begin working with a student before they sign a contract. GAs may not begin work before the start date on their signed appointment paperwork. You must make arrangements with the Graduate School and follow the processes in place before GA teaching or research may begin. New international GAs may not participate in teaching or work with students until required SPEAK Test is passed.
    3. Outside employment for GAs, both on and off campus, is discouraged. However, a domestic graduate assistant requesting additional employment must submit an exception to policy memo addressing the additional employment signed by the student’s academic advisor and each department that will be employing the student so that everyone is aware that the student has additional responsibilities. Also, please note that International Students (on an F-1 or J-1 visa) are ineligible for additional work beyond their GA appointment.

    Budgeting for an non-state funded graduate assistant

    The Graduate School encourages faculty to seek extramural funds to support graduate student research endeavors. This may be accomplished in a variety of ways, including but not limited to, writing GAs into grants and contracts. For more information about obtaining extramural funds, contact UNR’s Office of Sponsored Projects.

    Please see the Workday Knowledge Base for information on calculating GA costs. The projected costs for future fiscal years are included in the table for you convenience in budgeting for multi-year grants. Externally funded GRAs and GTAs must be appointed for a minimum of onesemester (summer, fall, or spring). All the same policies and guidelines that apply to state-funded graduate assistants also apply to non-state-funded graduate assistants.

  • Graduate assistantship stipend information

    GA paycheck information

    The number of paychecks that graduate assistants receive is dependent on their official start date (as stated on their GA appointment) and the length of their appointment. Graduate assistants will receive their 1st paycheck for the appointment term on the first business day after the first month worked (Example: All GAs starting in August for the fall semester will receive their 1st paycheck on the 1st working day of September).

    GA paycheck information
    Appointment term(s) Number of paychecks First paycheck
    Fall and Spring 9 First business day of September
    Fall only 4 First business day of September
    Spring only 5 First busiiness day of February
    Summer 3 First business day of June

    GA minimum stipend amounts

    Graduate assistantship stipends must be paid at or above the minimum amount per appointment time period. Please consult the Graduate School website and contact your program director for a list of the minimum stipend amounts. Master’s student minimum is $1600/month for a 20-hour GA position and PhD minimums range from $1800-1900/month for a 20 hours GA position depending on your program. View specific information on stipend minimums and salary schedules.

  • Financial information for graduate assistantships

    Taxable and non-taxable items

    For GAs, all stipends are reported as taxable income. In contrast, tuition/ fee waiver/ health insurance contributions/scholarships & fellowships are normally not taxed. An exception would be if any scholarship/fellowship amounts exceed qualified charges.

    Federal income tax

    Federal income taxes must be deducted under federal laws. Taxes are withheld from each paycheck in accordance with the gross pay and the number of exemptions claimed on your W-4 Withholding Allowance and Certificate. For additional information, please see the Payroll Office website. 

    FICA and Medicare

    FICA (6.2%) and Medicare (1.45%)are taxes on employee wages. Both the employee and the employer make a matching contribution. During Fall/Spring semesters, a graduate assistant is FICA exempt if he/she:

    • Is enrolled in 6 credit hours as a graduate assistant
    • Are an international student who has been in the United States for less than five years.

    During the summer, a Graduate Assistant   is FICA exempt, if he/she:

    • Is enrolled in a minimum of one credit during the first or second summer term(s).
    • Are an international student who has been in the United States for less than five years.
  • Maximum time limits for state TA funding policy

    Please find below the details of the policy regarding maximum time limits for state-funded GAs, and its enforcement.

    1. The maximum time limits for State funded TA’s are as follows:
      • Masters level state-funded TA’s may hold their position for a maximum of 3 years
      • Doctoral level state-funded TA’s may hold their position for a maximum of 5 years 
    2. Academic units will need to set appropriate policies internally regarding currently and previously funded state GAs; the policy must be clear, fair, and consistent for all students in the
    3. This policy does not impact non-state-funded GAs. If a state-funded GA receives grant funding for a year and then returns to state funding, their year off of state funding will not count toward their maximum time
    4. State-funded GAs are operationalized as those who are appointed by an academic unit using state funds allocated by the BOR to the Dean of the Academic College, and then assigned to the department/ school for Grants, contracts, and the use of department, college, or unit funds to appoint GAs are beyond the “state-funded GA” category (called non-state-funded GAs) and therefore exempt from this time limit policy.