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Graduate Assistantship Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find an assistantship?

Seeking a graduate assistantship is comparable to a job search; positions are competitive and not guaranteed. In order to gain an assistantship, complete a graduate assistantship application. Distribute the application, a resume, and a cover letter to the desired departments. Graduate assistantships are awarded by graduate programs and can also be sought through the job listings page on the Career Services website.

Are international students eligible for assistantships?

Yes. Any student who holds a bachelor degree, is fully registered for graduate credits, and is admitted to a graduate program is eligible.

When are applications for assistantships due?

Deadlines for applications vary on the position, so check with the department for specific due dates. Keep in mind that April 15 is the traditional deadline for the extension of a graduate assistantship offer, so begin your search well before this date.

Where do I send my assistantship application?

Send your application materials directly to the department or office in which you are applying. You do not need to send application materials to the School of Graduate Studies unless you are applying for a position within our office.

What are the differences between a teaching, research, or program-support assistantship?

SCSU offers three basic types of assistantships: research, teaching, and program support.

  • Research assistants participate in research-related tasks directed by faculty members. They are generally sought through the student’s program department.
  • Teaching assistants participate in undergraduate instruction either by teaching or by providing support services. Teaching assistants may serve as instructors of record, laboratory assistants, or test and paper evaluators. This experience is generally sought through the student’s program department.
  • Program support assistants participate in the administration of either academic or non-academic departments and have the opportunity to learn office functions and educational management procedures. Duties are specific to an individual graduate program or service unit. These assistantships can be sought by contacting a specific administrative unit.

What happens once I apply?

Graduate assistantships are not guaranteed to all applicants; the hiring department or office will review your application.  If you are offered the position, you will receive an employment contract and payroll forms that outline the length and conditions of your appointment. If you wish to accept, sign and return all forms and return them to that department. The hiring department will forward copies of the form on to the School of Graduate Studies for our records.

Do graduate assistants have to pay tuition and fees? If so, how much?

Full-time graduate assistants receive tuition remission for eight graduate credits at the standard rate of $368.66 up to $2949.28 each semester they are employed. Part-time graduate assistants (10 hours per week) are eligible for 6 graduate-level credits at the standard rate of $368.88 up to $2,211.96. You cannot rollover unused tuition remission. Undergraduate credits are not eligible for tuition remission even if they are prerequisites for graduate-level courses. Graduate assistants must be employed at least a half-time (10 hours per week) to qualify. Fees for all credits (including those covered by tuition remission) and all tuition beyond the listed tuition remission must be paid by the student.  Visit Student Registration and Financial Services for specific tuition and fees information.

Does tuition remission cover the additional per credit tuition costs for online, off-campus or market based tuition programs?

No, graduate assistant tuition remission is paid at the standard, on-campus, resident rate of $368.66/credit. Students are responsible for additional tuition and all fees.

Are graduate assistantships renewable?

Yes. Graduate assistantship appointments do not exceed one year, but may be renewed for a second year. This renewal is not automatic; it is dependent on a variety of factors including the availability of funds, satisfactory work performance, academic progress and departmental need. Assistantships do not exceed two years unless permission is received from the School of Graduate Studies.

Can I hold a graduate assistantship and not register for classes?

No. A graduate assistant must be registered for a minimum of eight graduate-level credits each term of the appointment.

Can my assistantship be terminated before the end of my appointment? If so, under what conditions?

Yes. The employing department may elect to terminate the graduate assistant at any time during the appointment. Conditions for termination may include: poor academic standing, lack of availability of funds, non-performance of duties, non-attendance, lack of fulfillment of assistantship requirements, violation of contract, or interpersonal reasons.

Do health benefits or insurance come with my assistantship?

No. Domestic students may wish to explore insurance options through the MNSure state exchange. International students are required to purchase health insurance if they are not already covered. See for more information.

How often do I get paid?

Graduate Assistants generally receive a paycheck every other week. Be aware that the first paycheck may not be available for approximately four weeks so budget accordingly. Your stipend will be divided according to the number of pay periods that occur during the appointment. It the appointment lasts the academic year, you will continue to receive checks during academic breaks.

Am I allowed to hold multiple assistantships?

You may accept more than one on-campus position if the combined required hours of employment per week do not exceed 20.

Can my assistantship extend into the summer?

A contract cannot extend into the summer, but a summer assistantship may be granted if the department has a need and the funding available. Summer graduate assistants are paid at an hourly rate, but are not permitted to exceed 20 hours per week. In order to be eligible, a student must be enrolled in six graduate-level summer session credits; however, tuition is not waived during the summer, so you would be personally responsible for the cost of these credits.

What is the minimum required credit load?

A a part-time or full-time assistantship requires 8 or more graduate-level credits (500/600) per semester or 6 doctoral credits (700/800). Undergraduate credits that are prerequisites for your graduate program do count toward the required credit load, but the tuition for these credits is not eligible for tuition remission. 

How is my tuition paid? Do I have to do anything?

All you need to do is sign and return your employment contract and register for the required number of classes for your assistantship (a minimum of eight graduate credits/6 doctoral credits) before the fifth class day of the semester. If the signed assistantship contract and payroll forms are received at the School of Graduate Studies and you are registered, the tuition remission will be placed on your tuition statement after the fifth class day of the semester. The registration deadlines are strictly enforced. Failure to register prior to the 10th day of the term, may result in the loss of the tuition remission benefit. If there is a problem with the appointment or forms that is not resolved before this date, the tuition remission will be applied as soon as the problem is resolved; if this happens, you may have to pay tuition and receive a refund upon resolution.

Do we receive holiday, sick or vacation pay?

No. However, full-time graduate assistants will have their hourly work expectations decreased 4 hours/day for each University-observed holiday or break. Part-time assistants will have their hourly work expectations prorated based on how many hours they normally work. If you require personal time off or are ill, arrangements may be made with your department or office to make up missed hours.

Can I have a job outside of my assistantship?

International students are not permitted to accept off-campus employment according to regulations set by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Domestic students are discouraged from accepting off-campus work if they already hold a 20-hour assistantship due to the heavy course load required to maintain an assistantship.

Is my stipend taxed?

Yes. The University is required to withhold federal and Minnesota state income taxes; therefore, as an assistant, you will need to fill out tax forms for the Business Services Office.