Graduate research, teaching, and service assistantships are available on an annual or nine-month basis. Individual academic and non-academic departments/units are responsible for making the assistantship award, establishing the amount of the stipend and work schedule, and monitoring the performance of the graduate assistant's duties and responsibilities. A graduate assistant's work schedule is a maximum of 20 hours per week. The minimum stipend rate is $600.00 per month.
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Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) - Many of the University's academic, research, and administrative offices employ Graduate Research Assistants. This opportunity provides an excellent means for students to learn new techniques and methods as well as expand their knowledge by association with research-oriented responsibilities, whether employed by a unit within the student's academic discipline or in another department. Duties and stipends vary from program to program and are dependent upon the nature of assigned duties.
Graduate Service Assistantship (GSA) - Graduate Services Assistant is the title given to students employed to aid faculty and staff members with administrative functions within a unit. Many academic and non-academic unit service assistantships are available. Duties vary, depending on administrative needs of the unit making the award. Stipends vary according to the nature of assigned duties.
IRS Code states that the tuition remission of those Graduate Service Assistants whose course of study is specifically related to assistantship duties is not taxable. For a Graduate Service Assistant whose course of study is not specifically related to assistantship duties, tuition remission up to $5,250.00 per calendar year is not subject to tax; however, tuition remission in excess of $5,250.00 per calendar year is taxable.
Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) - Graduate Teaching Assistants normally serve in an instructional capacity and are selected on the basis of past teaching experience or academic promise as effective instructors in their field of study. Most academic units offer a graduate work budget for one or more teaching assistants each year. All prospective teaching assistants are required to participate in the appropriate Teaching Assistant Workshop(s) prior to beginning their first assignment as a teaching assistant. During the Teaching Assistant Workshops, students are certified at one of the following levels that correspond to the responsibilities and duties of the assistantship appointment:
Graduate Teaching Assistants who have the primary responsibility of teaching a course/laboratory section for credit (TA2) and/or for assigning final grades (TA3) for such a course/laboratory section must have earned at least 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline, be under the direct supervision of a faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline, receive regular in-service training, and be regularly evaluated.
Teaching Assistant Workshops - The Teaching Assistant Workshops are designed to introduce students to the techniques and skills necessary to be effective instructors in the University environment and promote excellence in undergraduate education at Mississippi State University. Additional information on the Teaching Assistant Workshops is available online at http://www.grad.msstate.edu/workshop/.
Eligibility for an Assistantship - To be eligible for an assistantship appointment, a student must have "regular" or "contingent" admission status to a specific graduate degree program. However, a student with "contingent" status must, within the first award enrollment period, satisfy "regular" admission requirements. A student with "provisional" or "unclassified" admission status is not eligible for an assistantship appointment. An assistantship award will be terminated when these requirements are not met. A student's admission status may be verified by calling the Office of the Graduate School at (662) 325.7400.
Application for Graduate Assistantships - Application for an assistantship appointment must be submitted to the college, department, school, or support unit with a position available. Each department may provide its own application form or use the generic "Graduate Assistantship Application" available on the Office of the Graduate School web site at http://www.grad.msstate.edu/forms/pdf/assistantship_app.pdf. The department establishes application deadlines and reviews procedures.
Required Course Load for Fall and Spring Semesters - Graduate assistants must be full-time students (registered in at least 9 graduate credit hours) and may not enroll in more than 13 graduate credit hours. The required full-time status must be maintained throughout the entire semester. Therefore, no course may be dropped if the resulting course load would be fewer than the required 9 graduate credit hours, nor may any course in the 9-hour load consist of or be converted to audit status. The 9-credit hour course load may not be composed of undergraduate courses unless the course is a program prerequisite. In such case, the minimum graduate load required will be 6 credit hours and only one undergraduate course will be permitted as part of the 9-credit hour load (per Graduate Council, March 2001). Some international students are required by the University to take ESL 5323 and/or ESL 5313. Both are considered prerequisites, and a graduate student may enroll in one of the courses and 6 credit hours of degree-program courses while holding an assistantship. ESL 5323 and ESL 5313 may not be taken concurrently.
Required Course Load for Full - and Half-Summer Awards - Full-summer awards require an enrollment in at least 6 graduate credit hours with a maximum allowed of 13 credit hours. Any combination may be used to make up the 13-credit hour maximum; however, enrollment in either 5-week term must be at least 3 graduate credit hours with a maximum allowed of 7 credit hours. Additionally, a student holding a half-summer graduate assistantship must be registered for courses scheduled during the term of the assistantship.
Termination of Assistantship - If the assistantship is terminated prior to the specified ending date, the assistant's duties, stipend, and tuition exemption will cease. The student will be required to pay a prorated portion of the previously applied tuition exemption.
Distance Learning Courses - A student enrolled in a total of 9 credit hours: Six graduate credit hours and 3 Distance Learning credits are treated as the student's required full-time load. Tuition will be assessed at the current University rate. The full-time tuition exemption credit will be applied to a student's account covering the tuition cost of the Distance Learning course.
A student enrolled in a total of 10 or more credit hours: Additional tuition will be charged at the current University credit rate for any graduate student's course schedule that includes Distance Learning or ESL courses if the total credit hours exceed 9. Therefore, graduate assistants should note that the graduate assistant tuition waiver does not cover the cost of Distance Learning or ESL courses when a student is enrolled in more than 9 credit hours.
Course Overload - Graduate assistants wishing to schedule more than a full-time course load may, with the approval of his/her major professor, department head, graduate coordinator and dean, register for more than 13 hours. The student must submit an Overload Form, (hthttp://www.grad.msstate.edu/forms/pdf_forms/request_for_scheduling_overload.pdf) to his/her major professor. The dean's office sends the approved form to the Registrar's Office. Such transmission will allow application of additional tuition exemption consistent with current policy.
Satisfactory Progress - To retain an assistantship, a student must demonstrate satisfactory progress in the academic program. Failure to do so may result in a termination of the assistantship.
Unsatisfactory Progress - Unsatisfactory progress may be defined as the failure to maintain a B average in graduate courses attempted after being admitted to a specific program, a grade of U, D, or F in any course, more than two grades below a B, failure of the comprehensive/preliminary examination, an unsatisfactory evaluation of a thesis or dissertation, failure of a research defense, or any other failure of a required component of one's program of study. Any of these, or a combination of these, may constitute the basis for the termination of a student's graduate study in a degree program. Individual programs have the right to establish their own criteria; however, the preceding definition should be considered the minimum standard for continuation in graduate programs of study and holding graduate assistantships. In the case of dismissal, a student's assistantship will be terminated.
Stipends - Stipends are paid semimonthly on the fifteenth and the last working day of each month. When employment begins during a pay period, stipends are calculated on a pay-period basis. The employing department must be contacted to obtain specific information regarding paycheck delivery or pickup.
Matriculation Fees - Assessment of tuition and required fees is made on an equal basis for all students classified at the graduate level. All Graduate Assistants receive an exemption equal to approximately 71% of assessed tuition and required fees. Graduate Assistants who are not Mississippi residents will receive a 100% exemption of the additional charges assessed for non-resident tuition. All students are personally responsible for paying any student account charges in excess of the tuition exemption. (For the 2009-2010 academic year, the amount of charges in excess of the tuition exemption is $755.39 per semester. During the summer enrollment period, the fee charges are assessed on a per credit hour basis.)
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Mississippi State University is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS). The University subscribes to the CGS Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees and Assistants; the resolution and a complete list of participating institutions are available at http://www.cgsnet.org/portals/0/pdf/CGSResolutionDec2008.pdf.
The resolution reads as follows:
"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 a commitment has been made. Similarly, an offer by an institution after April 15 is conditional on presentation by the student of the 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."