Graduate Assistantships: General Information
The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System provides the financial resources for a number of graduate assistantships. In addition, several college units have extramural funds to employ graduate assistants. When you have a full-time assistantship you can plan to work half time (20 hours per week) for the university. If you are a nonresident student and have at least a one half full-time equivalent position, you are also eligible for out-of-state fee remissions.
To qualify for graduate assistantships, you must:
- Be admitted to a graduate degree program at UW-Stevens Point.
- Be in good standing in the degree program (maintain at least a 3.0 GPA).
- For a research assistant, enroll for at least 9 graduate credits per semester or 5 during the summer.
- For a graduate assistant enroll for at least 4 graduate credits per semester or 3 during the summer.
We recommend that graduate assistants limit their maximum course loads to 9 credits a semester.
We award assistantships on a competitive basis through departments to students admitted to a graduate program. Departments normally screen applications in the spring for fall appointment. Contact your department graduate coordinator for the criteria used to select graduate assistants.
If you are selected for an assistantship, you will enter into a contract with the university. The contract includes a description of the position offered, stipend, and length of employment. Discuss the specific nature of your responsibilities as a graduate assistant with your immediate supervisor at the beginning of your appointment.
As a graduate assistant you are normally required to be on campus for the same work periods as faculty. You are entitled to official holidays and normal break periods between sessions. Your specific work schedule, however, is at the discretion of your immediate supervisor. This is usually your graduate coordinator or department chair if you are a graduate assistant, or your graduate adviser if you are a research assistant. Arrange your work schedule at the beginning of the semester so that it does not conflict with your class schedule. Any change in your work schedule should be negotiated BEFORE you need to make the change.
Categories of Graduate Support
With a “full” graduate assistantship you are expected to work half time. This is at least 20 hours per week in a regular session and 10 hours per week in a summer session. The remaining half time is devoted to your academic Program of Study. Therefore, we actively discourage employment in addition to the assistantship.
As a graduate assistant you get professionally-related assignments that assist the university such as paper grading, assisting faculty in laboratory sections and/or research projects, developing materials for classroom instruction, assisting in departmental libraries, etc. Assigned duties may include gathering, organizing, and analyzing information for a department and may involve routine clerical, secretarial, or accounting procedures. However, the main thrust of the assignment is a learning experience.
The funds to support graduate assistants come directly from the university on a fiscal-year basis. Consequently, your appointment is for a semester or academic year and cannot be assured for more than one academic year at a time.
As a graduate assistant you are an employee of the university, and your salary is taxable. You may be eligible for insurance benefits. Contact the Staff Benefits Office for more information.
As an instructional assistant you will be given professionally related instructional assignments in the classroom under the direction of a graduate faculty mentor. You are also expected to participate in an instructional training and assessment program during your assistantship appointment. The instructional assistantship is a subcategory of graduate assistantships and, therefore, your salary is taxable. You may be eligible for insurance benefits. Contact the Staff Benefits Office for more information.
As a research assistant you get paid for performing certain research duties. Research assistantships are only available in graduate programs where research is required as part of the degree requirements of all students who are candidates for the same degree. The assigned duties must be directly applicable to your degree requirements. The funds for the stipend may come directly from the university or from an external sponsoring agency. Since the research is a degree requirement, the service you provide the university as a research assistant is taxable. You may be eligible for insurance benefits. Contact the Staff Benefits Office for more information.
Usually an external source provides funds to employ program/project assistants. Your duties as a program/ project assistant are similar to those of the graduate assistant but are usually more specific and are dictated to the university by the sponsoring agency in a grant or contract. Taxability and benefits are the same as the graduate assistant.
A fellowship is a gift and requires no services from the recipient. The nontaxable funds come to the university from an external source, usually through a grant or contract. If you receive a fellowship, you cannot provide any service to the university or the sponsor for the funds you receive. To remain eligible for a fellowship you need to be in good academic standing in an approved academic program and participate in a prescribed Program of Study.
Student Research Fund
The Student Research Fund provides graduate students with funds to help defray research expenses that are required for their master’s degree. If your degree program requires research or if you choose a research option in your program, you are eligible to apply for a grant from this fund.
Your graduate adviser must certify that:
- The research project is required for graduation.
- You are making satisfactory degree progress.
- The funds are necessary to complete the research.
Proposal deadlines occur twice each semester. Contact the Grant Support Office (715-346-2632) for application forms. A review committee screens the grant applications and makes award recommendations.
Fee Waivers for Out-of-State Students
If you are a nonresident graduate student with at least a one-half full-time equivalent position for the academic year, you qualify for out-of-state fee remission. If funds are available to the university for this purpose, your college dean may grant the remission based on the description of duties in the assistantship or fellowship contract. The fee waiver is NOT automatic. You must indicate to your department that you believe you are eligible for the out-of-state fee waiver.
Other Financial Aid
Obtain information about loans and other sources of financial aid from the Financial Aid Office. Graduate students are not eligible for U.S. government-sponsored grants such as Pell Grants or subsidized Direct loans. You must be making satisfactory academic progress toward your degree (described earlier in the Finances section of this catalog) to be eligible for financial aid.
We discourage part-time employment because a full academic credit load of graduate studies requires so much of your time. If you are working full time, we recommend that you register for no more than 6 credits a semester or 3 credits for an eight-week session. We especially discourage supplemental employment if you have a full-time graduate assistantship.