Assistantships

Workload
Compensation
Tuition Scholarships
Assistantship Duration
Satisfactory Progress and Performance
Parental Leave for Graduate Assistants
Evaluation
Additional Employment
Termination of Employment
Reasonable Compensation Guide
Resolution Regarding Graduate Students
Information Sources
Administrative Oversight

An assistantship is an appointment to specified teaching or research duties. Over 1,500 teaching or research assistantships are available from departments and other units of the university. In addition to an assistantship stipend, full or partial tuition scholarships are available for most assistantship holders. Notification of an assistantship comes from the department. Contact the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS); in the department in which you wish to enroll with questions about the availability of assistantships and the application process. Students should indicate their interest in an assistantship to the DGS by February for the next academic year.

Administration of Assistantships

Each educational unit is responsible for providing written policies concerning the appointment and reappointment of teaching and research assistants. These policies shall be made available to all prospective assistants at the time an initial offer is made and to all assistants whenever these policies are changed.

Workload

Teaching and research assistants who are also full-time graduate students may be assigned responsibilities requiring no more than 50 percent of their time. Normally for TA's, this means service for not more than an average of 20 hours per week including time spent in preparation, classroom and laboratory teaching, grading papers, counseling students, etc. Responsibilities for RA's will vary with the fraction of time for which they are employed, but normally a one half-time appointment should require no more than 20 hours per week of assignable duties, for a .50 (full) TA/RA, or 10 hours per week for a .25 (half) TA/RA. ("Policies Relative to Teaching and Research Assistants") (Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2)

Compensation

Minimum levels of compensation for TA's and RA's are recommended by the Graduate School, in consultation with the various graduate programs, on the basis of reasonable compensation for their discipline or field, and on comparisons of salaries for TA's and RA's at other benchmark institutions. This compensation is decided by individual departments.

Tuition Scholarships

Depending on the nature of their assignment and on recommendation of their academic or administrative unit, TA's and RA's may be eligible for Tuition Scholarships provided by the Graduate School under the aegis of the the Provost. TA's and RA's may be eligible for both in-state and out-of-state tuition during the fall and spring. During the summer, TA scholarships are handled directly by the department and include in-state and out-of-state tuition and RA's are provided out-of-state tuition only, by the Graduate School. Students must be enrolled in a graduate program (post-baccalaureate students are not eligible). Graduate assistants placed on Scholastic Probation are not eligible to receive either an in-state or out-of-state tuition scholarship.

Assistantship Duration

University-wide policy provides that TA's and RA's who are candidates for a master's degree shall serve no more than a maximum of three years without completion of their degree requirements. TA's and RA's who are doctoral candidates shall serve no more than five years without successfully completing their qualifying examinations. Graduate assistants are advised to consult with the Department Chair or Director of Graduate Studies relative to total number of years of support eligibility. ("Policies Relative to Teaching and Research Assistants") (Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2)

Satisfactory Progress and Performance

TA's and RA's must maintain satisfactory academic records and demonstrate progress toward degrees; their assistantships will not be renewed if their academic progress is unsatisfactory. Satisfactory progress includes the maintaining of a minimum 3.0 GPA as well as other measures which may be established under departmental policy with approval by the Graduate Council. ("Policies Relative to Teaching and Research Assistants") (Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2)

Parental Leave for Graduate Assistants

Teaching, Research, and Graduate Assistants, as well as graduate fellows will be entitled to up to two weeks of parental leave without loss of stipend immediately following the birth of a child, or upon either the initial placement or the legal adoption of a child under eighteen years of age. Eligible graduate assistants and fellows are those students who have an appointment form on file in the Graduate School and who hold an active appointment at the time the parental leave is to be taken. Graduate students who hold only an hourly appointment are not eligible for paid paternal leave.

Graduate Assistants and fellows will also be entitled to unpaid parental leave, up to a maximum total period of leave (paid and unpaid) of twelve weeks. Within a given academic year contract, the student’s department will make every effort to ensure the continuity of assistantship funding; the terms of specific teaching and/or research arrangements will be determined by the Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the student and the hiring unit, if separate from the student’s academic department. As with any leave, students should make every effort to communicate with their units regarding the timing of the proposed leave; a minimum of 30 days notice should be provided if possible. Please note that units may request documentation of the birth or adoption.

Evaluation

Each educational unit is responsible for the systematic evaluation of the performance of TA's and RA's in their employment according to established educational unit criteria. The results of these evaluations shall be presented annually to assistants in some formal manner. TA's and RA's shall be notified by March 1 of each year whether or not their assistantships will be renewed for the coming year. If a final decision on reappointment cannot be made by that date, they shall be provided an explanation and informed as to when they might expect to be notified. ("Policies Relative to Teaching and Research Assistants") (Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2)

Additional Employment

In order to preserve the academic focus of graduate students who are on full-time assistantships and have their tuition paid by the University, the Graduate School does not allow for additional salary or employment.

A full-time assistantship at UK, whether teaching, research or graduate, is considered 0.50 FTE (full time equivalency) in the employment system, or the equivalent of 20 hours per week on average in any combination of assignments. ("Policies Relative to Teaching and Research Assistants") (Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2)

In rare circumstances, an exception may be granted. To request such an exception the DGS should fill out an Overload Request Form and send it to the address found on the form. In the event that an exception is granted, the maximum FTE permitted for a graduate student may not exceed 0.7 FTE (28 hours/week).

Graduate Students are not eligible for overload assignments if they:

Are in their first term of study,
Have a cumulative G.P.A. of less than 3.0.,
Are receiving any fellowship or scholarship which prohibits additional aid.
Employment greater than the full-time work load for a graduate student (0.50) may have FICA tax implications for the student.

Termination of Appointment

The appointment of a teaching or research assistant may not be terminated before the end of the period of appointment without the individual's being provided with an opportunity to be heard before the University Senate Advisory Committee on Privilege and Tenure. Issues should first be addressed, where possible, with the appropriate unit Chair, Director, or Dean of the College in which the TA/RA holds employment. They may also consult with the Dean of the Graduate School concerning their rights and responsibilities.

A TA or RA who has established a prima facie case to the satisfaction of the committee that a consideration violative of academic freedom significantly contributed to the individual's non-reappointment shall be given a statement of reasons by those responsible for the non-reappointment and an opportunity to be heard by a University Senate Hearing Committee (Privilege and Tenure). "Termination of Appointment. Graduate Student Staff" (Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2)

Guidelines for Reasonable Compensation

All assistantships must be associated with fair and reasonable compensation. This precludes a graduate student from "volunteering" for any extensive service commitments to the academic programs and/or hiring department without an appropriate stipend. Academic programs and hiring departments may differentiate graduate assistantship stipends by graduate student status (master's-level, doctoral-level, first-year or experienced) or by number of hours of work required by the assistantship. Within academic programs and within each level of differentiation, stipends should generally be equivalent. Stipends should not include the student's tuition scholarship or any other benefits provided to the student through the assistantship (such as housing).

The Graduate School maintains documentation demonstrating that the stipends paid to graduate assistants are reasonable compensation via the GSAS form and SAP/HR records. Therefore, if the graduate assistant is eligible for a tuition scholarship, the scholarship is not counted as taxable income. The stipend amount for an assistantship should be based only on the services performed and should not include a tuition scholarship or a fellowship. All graduate assistants should be paid equal to or greater than the amount of reasonable compensation.

The Graduate School will not provide tuition scholarships to a program or unit if a stipend is not reasonable, and reserves the right to request additional information and documentation. Note: As of fall 2008, while the guidelines remain in force, the Graduate School no longer requires hiring departments to complete the Reasonable Compensation paper form. Data is evaluated with the electronic GSAS contract process.

Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants adopted by the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States

"Acceptance of an offer of financial support (such as a graduate scholarship, fellowship, traineeship or assistantship) for the next academic year by a prospective or enrolled graduate student completes an agreement that both student and graduate school expect to honor. In that context, the conditions affecting such offers and their acceptance must be defined carefully and understood by all parties.

"Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this Resolution. In those instances in which a student accepts an offer before April 15, and subsequently desires to withdraw that acceptance, the student may submit in writing a resignation of the appointment at any time through April 15. However, an acceptance given or left in force after April 15 commits the student not to accept another offer without first obtaining a written release from the institution to which the commitment has been made. Similarly, an offer made by an institution after April 15 is conditional on presentation by the student of a written release from any previously accepted offer. It is further agreed by the institutions and organizations subscribing to the above Resolution that a copy of this Resolution should accompany every scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, and assistantship offer."

Information Sources

Graduate assistants should be familiar with the following sources of information relative to their rights and responsibilities:

University of Kentucky Graduate School Bulletin
University of Kentucky Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook
"Policies Relative to Teaching and Research Assistants"
(Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2)
"Policies on International Teaching Assistants"
(Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:3)
"Termination of Appointment. Graduate Student Staff"
(Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2)

Administrative Oversight of Graduate Assistants at the University of Kentucky

Graduate assistants (teaching assistants and research assistants) at the University of Kentucky are employed by educational, research, and administrative units. Direct administrative oversight is provided by their immediate employer (Director of Graduate Studies, Department Chair, Center or Institute Director, Principal Investigator of a grant or contract, or other appropriate unit officials). It is the responsibility of College Deans, Vice Provosts, or Vice Presidents to whom these educational, research, and administrative units report; to monitor the role, responsibilities, evaluation, and employee status of all graduate assistants. As defined in the Governing Regulations (VII-9, B-2), the Dean of the Graduate School serves in a consultative and advisory capacity to Graduate assistants and to their employers concerning Graduate assistant rights, responsibilities, and other issues related to equitable treatment, particularly as relates to the student's academic progress toward degree goals.