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Graduate Assistantships--Qualifications, Roles, Responsibilities

Graduate Assistantships--Qualifications, Roles, Responsibilities

Academic and Student Affairs
Date enacted or revised: 
Revised April 2012
In F/S Handbook: 

Graduate Assistant-Teaching

The graduate assistant teaches a course and has full responsibility for the course. The Graduate Assistant is the Instructor of Record for the course.

Graduate Assistant-Research

The graduate assistant primarily performs research assignments for a faculty member. Often the research assistant is working together with the faculty member in conducting a research project.

Graduate Assistant-Teaching Assistant

Teaching assistants usually assist faculty members in teaching their courses, but the faculty members remain responsible for and serve as the Instructors of Record for these courses. In some departments, teaching assistants may be assigned to assist a faculty member with taking roll, grading papers, conducting help sessions, etc. In other departments, teaching assistants may serve a period of apprenticeship under the supervision of a faculty member.

Graduate Assistant-Administrative

The graduate assistant performs assignments primarily of a clerical nature or supervisory nature, although he/she may be assigned other duties.

Graduate Assistantship Policy

A limited number of graduate assistantships are available to qualified graduate students. Units must have graduate assistantship budget allocation in order to make appointments. Appropriate documentation indicating graduate assistantship appointments must be submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs each semester. The Student Employment Office is responsible for all employment and payroll documents.

Minimum Qualifications

Applications for assistantships should be addressed to the head of the department in which the student will do the major work. Minimum qualifications for a student receiving a graduate assistantship appointment:

  1. Must be enrolled in a McNeese State University graduate program and seeking a graduate degree;
  2. Must be enrolled in at least six hours of graduate course work toward the degree or thesis for the semester;
  3. Must be in good standing (academic and otherwise) with the University.

Assistantship appointments are made to qualified graduate students on a semester by semester basis only. A student may hold a maximum of 1½ assistantships per semester provided service is proportionate. Reappointment is contingent upon satisfactory progress toward the degree and satisfactory performance of assistantship duties. Satisfactory progress toward the degree is defined as completion of a minimum of 6 hours of graduate course work each semester applicable to the degree.

Restrictions: No full-time or part-time employee of the University shall be employed as a graduate assistant or student worker. Conversely, graduate students who are assigned paid graduate assistantships are not eligible for any other type of university employment during the terms of the appointment.

Duties and Responsibilities

Duties and responsibilities expected of a graduate assistant must be communicated clearly to the student assistant by the supervisor. Teaching Graduate Assistants are employed according to the University's academic calendar (from the first day of classes through the last day of final examinations) for each term. Non-Teaching Graduate Assistants are employed with varying employment dates which are announced by the Student Employment office each semester. Some departments/units may require graduate assistants to work prior to or beyond the defined academic calendar, but no more than the cumulative hours required in a normal employment term. The University requires the following service for a full assistantship:

  1. Teaching Graduate Assistants teach two undergraduate classes or an equivalent of lab supervision (may include more than two labs). A graduate assistant may be assigned responsibility for teaching a class only after he/she has completed at least eighteen graduate hours in the field to be taught. However, an assistant may supervise labs without having earned 18 graduate hours. Teaching assistants should consult with the department head to verify specific responsibilities for their classes and the undergraduate students they will teach. Departments must notify Visiting Lecturer's and Teaching Graduate Assistants of the availability of the Faculty/Staff Handbook and Visiting Lecturer Supplement.
  2. Non-Teaching Graduate Assistants (teaching, research, or administrative) perform twenty hours of service per week during the semester. These assistants may perform a combination of duties to assist with labs, instruction, research, clerical and/or administrative operations.

Teaching Graduate Assistants receive a stipend for work responsibilities and exemption of one-half of the tuition portion of the student's fees. Exemption of nonresident fees varies and may be prorated. Non-Teaching Graduate Assistants receive an hourly wage for hours worked, and receive the same tuition exemption as Graduate Teaching Assistants. For Non-Teaching Graduate Assistants, the waiver of tuition is considered taxable income.

Graduate students who resign assistantships during the semester or are terminated after the end of late registration do not reimburse the institution for the pro-rated share of their exempted tuition; however, they are ineligible for future employment as graduate assistants unless approved by the Graduate School dean. Assistantships may be revoked at any time duties are not fulfilled satisfactorily.

Because of their role as student and employee, graduate assistants assume particular responsibility for upholding the University's Student Code of Conduct. All graduate assistants should be provided a copy of the McNeeseState University Graduate Student Orientation Guide. Teaching graduate assistants must uphold responsibilities according to relevant sections of the McNeese State University Faculty/Staff Handbook. Supervisors should supply appropriate handbooks to the assistant.

Pre-employment Employment Application Policy

All new full-time and part-time employees, all new Visiting Lecturers, and all new Teaching Graduate Assistants will complete the Pre-Employment Application Form. These procedures do not apply to 120-day or less hires.

Summer Session Graduate Assistantship

A limited number of assistantships are available for the Summer session.  Students must be enrolled in a graduate degree program for at least 3 credit hours. The Office of Student Employment provides information related to assistantships.

Minimum Standards for Supervising Graduate Teaching Assistants

The department head shall designate full‑time faculty members to coordinate and supervise the graduate assistant's work. Teaching graduate assistants must meet SACS requirements. Supervising faculty shall meet with the teaching assistant for a minimum of five meetings throughout the semester. Graduate teaching assistants should consult the VL Supplement Policies for detailed information. The minimum standards for the meetings are as follows:

  1. The first session is to be held before classes begin. Topics covered should include, but not be limited to: departmental policies, teaching techniques, materials to be covered, examinations, grading, class preparation, record keeping, course syllabus, procedures for absenteeism, student counseling, and office hours. Policies such as ADA, Diversity, etc should be covered.
  2. The second session is to be held within a week after classes begin. Discussion should focus on any problems the teaching assistant has encountered.
  3. A third session is to be held just before the first examination. The supervising faculty member shall critique the examination with the teaching assistant. After the examination is given, the supervising faculty shall monitor the grading of the examination.
  4. Just before mid‑term, supervising faculty shall meet with the graduate assistant to monitor progress in all topics covered in the orientation sessions and critique the assistant's mid‑term examination. After the test is administered, the supervising faculty should monitor the test results and mid‑term grades.
  5. Just before the final test period, the supervising faculty and graduate assistant shall meet to discuss the assistant's proposed final examination and the progress of the class the assistant is teaching.
  6. Additional meetings may be held as deemed necessary and prudent by the supervising faculty or the graduate assistant.

The supervising faculty shall visit each teaching assistant's class at least for one entire class period before mid‑term. A follow-up meeting shall be held to discuss the teaching assistant's performance.

Teaching assistants shall be evaluated by the students and department head in the same way as regular faculty.

Departmental policies and procedures shall follow these University guidelines. These guidelines should be supplemented with other policies pertaining to the particular department, including required office hours.

Student Employment Office (added September 2006)

The Student Employment Office is responsible for the employment process related to Graduate Assistants once the hiring process is complete. The Student Employment Office processes, maintains, and houses all paperwork required by federal and state laws to effectuate employment, and ensures all relevant data is entered into the HR/Payroll mainframe system to properly prepare Graduate Assistant payroll.