Before You Hire a Graduate Assistant
There are several things to consider before extending a graduate assistantship (GA) offer, including reviewing the graduate student’s eligibility to hold a GA. When in doubt, please always feel free to reach out to The Graduate School for assistance.
To be appointed, to retain an appointment, or to be reappointed, a student must hold Regular (not Provisional) status, must maintain a cumulative average of at least B (3.00) in any course work taken, must be eligible to register (i.e., must not have more than three viable grades of Incomplete on his or her academic record), must be enrolled in a graduate degree program scheduled to extend through the entire period of the appointment or reappointment, and must be a full-time student. Full-time for GAs is enrollment in six credits (full-time for non-GAs is nine credits).
Please note, official notification of acceptance to a program is issued by The Graduate School, not the program. The GA offer letter templates include an additional clause to be used with prospective students who have not received official notification of acceptance from The Graduate School's Graduate Admissions Team. An offer of an assistantship does not automatically imply acceptance to The Graduate School.
Administration of Assistantships
Administration of all assistantships occurs through the academic department or unit of employment. Typically, payroll authorizations should be processed by the academic home department, even when the GA will be solely employed by a unit other than their academic home department. The University defines graduate assistants as graduate students "who provide teaching or research support to the University that is a part of [their] academic program." We require that the academic home department initiate payroll authorizations as evidence that the assistantship can be regarded as part of a GA’s academic program. The University’s definition of a GA is intended to align with federal Tax Code regulations that allow GAs to receive their tuition waivers tax-free. If a department is hiring a GA from another academic department, the hiring department should communicate with the academic home department before issuing the offer letter to the GA to provide a KFS number for the academic home department to use on the payroll authorization. When the GA’s academic home is in a fee-based or entrepreneurial program, both departments should remember that the tuition waiver GAs receive may affect the revenue received by the academic home department. If the hiring department will be responsible for offsetting the revenue loss to the academic home department, that agreement should be in place before the offer to the GA is made.
Appointing a GA in a Non-Academic Unit
While most GAs are appointed by their academic home department, there are some non-academic units that also hire GAs. The information on the Appointing a Graduate Assistant in a Non-Academic Unit page is intended to guide non-academic units through the GA recruitment and hiring process.
GA Definition and Policies
All international students who will be employed as Teaching Assistants must provide certification of English proficiency, as described in UConn's English Proficiency Policy for TAs and Testing Procedures, even if the requirement to provide English-language proficiency was waived as an admissions requirement. The student is responsible for obtaining certification in a timely fashion. The hiring department is responsible for reviewing the certification in Student Admin before employing the student in an instructional role. If the student will be providing teaching support (e.g., grading) but will not have direct instructional contact with students, the hiring department can request an override for the payroll transaction from The Graduate School. Detailed information on graduate payroll, such as how to request overrides, and international teaching assistants, including how departments can verify test scores, can be found in the resources from previous Timely Topics sessions.
International students who are admitted for a spring semester may need to be show one year's proof of funding to receive their I-20. In collaboration with ISSS and Labor Relations, The Graduate School developed a letter template departments can use to confirm a calendar year of GA support and which the student may show when applying for their I-20. The department would also need to provide a spring GA offer letter using the standard template for GA offers available on HR's website along with this letter, and then, closer to the fall semester, departments would issue a fall GA offer letter using the standard template. Please reach out to email@example.com with any questions about this template.
Provost’s Professional Interns
In select cases, the Office of the Provost has approved departments to hire Professional Interns (also called Provost's Professional Interns or Prestigious Interns). Professional Interns are not GAs, and as such, are not covered by the GEU. However, their employment does mirror a graduate assistantship in several ways, including employment dates, stipend rates, registration deadlines, the opportunity to participate in the GA health insurance plan, and a tuition scholarship. The tuition scholarship is administered by The Graduate School, and departments that have been approved for participation in the Provost's Professional Internship Program for Public Outreach, Service, and Engagement should contact The Graduate School for a copy of the Professional Intern offer letter template.