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.
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.
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.