Types of Assistantships

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 Service 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 graduate students who are hired in non-teaching/non-research assistantships can receive non-taxed tuition remission of $5,250.00 per calendar year at MSU; these assistantships are titled Graduate Service Assistants. Amounts in excess of $5,250.00 per calendar year are 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. 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:

  • Teaching Assistant 1 (TA1): Graduate assistant will perform such tasks as preparing examinations, grading papers, preparing class lectures, maintaining records, and tutoring students outside formal classes. This position does not require classroom certification.
  • Teaching Assistant 2 (TA2): Graduate assistant may have some of the same duties as TA1 in addition to making presentations in laboratories or classrooms, conducting lectures, and leading discussion groups but not as the teacher of record. These tasks involve direct contact with students. This position requires classroom certification.
  • Teaching Assistant 3 (TA3): Graduate assistant will have the same duties as TA1 and TA2 and will teach classes for credit as the instructor of record and/or as the person primarily responsible for assigning grades. This position requires classroom certification and the student must have earned at least 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline.

Graduate Teaching Assistants (TA3) who have the primary responsibility of teaching a course/laboratory section for credit and for assigning final grades 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.

Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Training Workshop

All graduate students who plan to serve as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) must participate in the Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Workshop prior to beginning the first teaching assignment at MSU. Students must satisfy all program/evaluation requirements necessary to obtain the level of certification (GTA1, GTA2, GTA3) corresponding to the duties/responsibilities of the teaching assistantship appointment. Failure to complete the GTA training will render a student ineligible for a teaching assistantship award.