Satisfactory Progress and Performance
Parental Leave for Graduate Assistants
Termination of Employment
Guidelines for Reasonable Compensation
Resolution Regarding Graduate Students
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.
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. (Administrative Regulation 5:2, Teaching and Research Assistants: https://regs.uky.edu/administrative-regulation/ar-52)
UK’s Graduate Stipend and Benefits Committee has established baseline graduate stipends for each discipline for the first time, following months of data analysis and collaboration with colleges and leadership across campus. Requiring baseline stipends across campus ensures that every teaching assistant, research assistant and graduate assistant receives competitive compensation, along with their tuition scholarships.
The majority of discipline specific stipends at UK for the 2022-23 academic year were already at or above the average of national benchmark institutions, based on the most recent data. However, stipends below the new baseline amounts must be at or above their respective baseline by Jan. 1, 2024.
Students will learn about any changes to their stipends from their hiring department. Find Fiscal Year 2024 baseline stipend amounts here.
UK’s Graduate Stipend and Benefits Committee will reevaluate baseline stipends annually, using national standardized benchmark data from the Oklahoma State University Graduate Stipend Survey. Read more about the committee’s work here.
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 administered by the Graduate School. Tuition scholarships include the standard graduate tuition and all mandatory fees; they do not include student specific fees, such as lab fees, course fees, program fees, music fees, distance learning course fees, or tuition charges above and beyond the standard graduate rate. These additional fees are the responsibility of the student and will appear on their billing statement. 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, if students are enrolled in classes, TA scholarships are handled directly by the department and include in-state and out-of-state tuition; the Graduate School provides out-of-state tuition only for RA's. Students must be enrolled in a graduate program to be eligible for any tuition scholarships (post-baccalaureate students are not eligible). Graduate students placed on Scholastic Probation are not eligible to receive either an in-state or out-of-state tuition scholarship.
University-wide policy states that Master's degree students will serve no more than three (3) years as teaching or research assistants, unless an extension for good cause is granted by the Graduate School. Doctoral students will serve no more than five (5) years as teaching or research assistants, unless an extension for good cause is granted by the Graduate School. The Graduate School counts years of support through the GSAS form, so years as served as a Graduate Assistant count toward this total. (Administrative Regulation 5:2, Teaching and Research Assistants: https://regs.uky.edu/administrative-regulation/ar-52)
TA's, RA's and GA'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 maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA as well as other measures which may be established under departmental policy with approval by the Graduate Council. (Administrative Regulation 5:2, Teaching and Research Assistants: https://regs.uky.edu/administrative-regulation/ar-52) If a student is placed on academic probation for a cumulative GPA of less than 3.00, they will have one full-time semester to remove the probation, or their assistantship tuition scholarship will be removed.
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 parental 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.
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. (Administrative Regulation 5:2, Teaching and Research Assistants: https://www.uky.edu/regs/ar5-2)
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. (Administrative Regulation 5:2, Teaching and Research Assistants: https://regs.uky.edu/administrative-regulation/ar-52)
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 UK employment. 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 workload for a graduate student (0.50) may have FICA tax implications for the student.
Persons having UK employment of 0.75 FTE or higher (considered full time UK employee), whether it is from one payroll assignment or total combined assignments, are not eligible for Graduate School fellowships or for Assistantships. The Graduate School reserves the right to rescind any assistantship award if the awardee is found to have 0.75 FTE or higher employment at UK at any time during the award period.
Educational units may terminate a teaching, research, or graduate assistantship during the academic year if they receive relevant information that indicates the student should be terminated from their position. If the student believes that the department's decision to terminate the teaching or research assistantship is in error, they may appeal the ruling to the Graduate Council within 15 days of the notice of non-reappointment. A delegated subcommittee of at least five (5) members of the Graduate Council will consider the appeal, request further information from the student or the educational unit if necessary, and issue a written response to the student within 45 days of the appeal being filed.
If a teaching, research, or graduate assistant is not reappointed and believes that the unit's decision to not reappoint them is in error, they may appeal the ruling to the Graduate Council within 15 days of the notice of non-reappointment. A delegated subcommittee of at least five (5) members of the Graduate Council will consider the appeal, request further information from the student or the educational unit if necessary, and issue a written response to the student within 45 days of the appeal being filed.
If the student believes that their appointment has been terminated is the result of a violation of established procedure or a violation of academic freedom, the student may file a complaint with the Senate Advisory Committee on Privilege and Tenure, in accordance with the procedures outline in Section 188.8.131.52. of the University Senate Rules. (Administrative Regulation 5:2, Teaching and Research Assistants: https://regs.uky.edu/administrative-regulation/ar-52)
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.
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: Data on stipends are 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."
Graduate assistants should be familiar with the following sources of information relative to their rights and responsibilities:
University of Kentucky Graduate School Bulletin: http://bulletin.uky.edu/index.php
University of Kentucky Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook: https://www.uky.edu/deanofstudents/student-rights-and-responsibilities
Teaching, Research and Graduate Assistants; Administrative Regulation 5:2: https://regs.uky.edu/administrative-regulation/ar-52
English Language Communication Assessment for Teaching Assistants; Administrative Regulation 5:3: https://regs.uky.edu/administrative-regulation/ar-53
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.