Oct 30, 2020  
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduate Assistants


Programs of graduate study are designed to transform the individual from student to (knowledgeable practitioner or) professional scholar. When a graduate assistantship is well conceived and executed, it should serve as an ideal instrument to help facilitate the desired transformation. The primary goal of an assistantship, then, is to facilitate progress toward the graduate degree. Rather than interfere or conflict with the student’s educational objective, the assistantship is to aid in the prompt and successful completion of the degree program. While the student assistant makes progress toward an advanced degree, he or she also receives work experience in a profession under the supervision of a faculty mentor.

The graduate assistant is both student and employee. As a student, the graduate assistant is expected to perform well academically to retain the assistantship. He or she is to be counseled and evaluated regularly by a faculty mentor so as to develop professional skills. As an employee, the graduate assistant is expected to meet teaching, research, and/or administrative obligations. He or she is to work under the supervision of experienced faculty and receive in-service training. In sum, the graduate assistant receives financial support for graduate study by contributing to the teaching and/or research mission of the university. The totality of responsibility may be greater than that required of other students or staff members, but the opportunities for professional development also are greater for the graduate assistant.

- Tennessee Conference of Graduate Schools

Appointment of Graduate Assistants

There are four (4) classifications of graduate assistantships:

  1. Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA)
  2. Graduate Teaching Associate (GTS)
  3. Graduate Support Assistant (GSA)
  4. Graduate Research Assistant (GRA)

Appointments are made upon unit recommendation of the department in which the assistantship is available, provided the recommendation is appropriately endorsed by the Dean of the College and the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. Unless other arrangements are specified, it is assumed the graduate assistant will pursue a degree objective in the department where the assistantship assignment is made. Applications for assistantships are found on the Graduate College website.

Graduate Assistantship awards are available for qualifying graduate students. Consideration is given on the basis of academic preparation, major area of study, and the availability of funds. Additional information may be found on the Graduate College website.

A graduate student must be admitted to full standing in a Tennessee Tech graduate program to be eligible to apply for a graduate assistantship. The period of appointment is normally for one (1) academic year at a stipend determined by the department in which the assistantship is available.

The graduate assistant must maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA.  If the Graduate Assistant’s cumulative GPA falls below the required 3.0 GPA, but not less than 2.0 GPA, the Appointing Authority may authorize continuation under probationary status for one semester.


Overview of Duties of Graduate Assistants

Graduate Assistantships are an option for graduate student funding for higher education and are a form of graduate student employment, providing a compensation package that includes both a monthly stipend and a waiver for tuition and fees. The assistantship allows students to perform research, teaching or other support services for the University as part of their academic professional training and development. Assistantship students will be appointed as a Research Assistant (GRA), Teaching Assistant (GTA), Graduate Teaching Associate (GTS), or Graduate Support Assistant (GSA) with a maximum of 20 hours per week of assigned duties. The majority faculty advisor (or other assigned departmental faculty) determines the duties of the appointment. No vacation or sick benefits are applicable, but there will be no change in monthly stipend amounts and no Graduate Assistantship services required for any University holidays that the University is closed. Arrangements for any variation in work hours, including time off for vacation, holidays, or illness, should be made individually with the major advisor (or other assigned faculty). Graduate assistants receiving teaching, research, or support assignments are expected to devote sufficient hours per week as may be required to perform all duties necessary to satisfactorily complete all degree requirements. Students holding full assistantships are assigned duties which require approximately one-half the workload of a full-time faculty member.

An international graduate student, who is on an F-1 or J-1 visa, can work no more than 20 hours per week while school is in session. On-campus employment may exceed 20 hours per week during the summer for eligible international students who plan to register for the following semester if approval is granted by their major advisor, department chair, college dean, International Education, and the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. Under federal regulations, volunteering by an international graduate student for teaching, research, or other support activity is regarded as employment that must be compensated at a fair wage.

Each academic college and/or department may have requirements in addition to the University. Graduate students are required to become knowledgeable of college and/or departmental policies concerning Graduate Assistantships.



A graduate student may hold an assistantship in one of the following categories:

1. Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA)

Graduate Teaching Assistants work under the the direct supervision of a Tennessee Tech faculty member performing one or more of the following responsibilities:

  • Assist in teaching a classroom section of a course,
  • Assist in teaching a laboratory or discussion section of a course,
  • Tutor or provide other special assistance to Tennessee Tech students,
  • Assist a faculty member in preparing lectures, grading, advising, and other duties necessary to conduct a course, or
  • Assist directly or indirectly in instruction or supervision of Tennessee Tech students in community programs, internships, or seminars for practicing professionals.

2. Graduate Teaching Associate (GTS)

A GTS may have the same type of responsibilities as a GTA, but will have the responsibility of teaching an undergraduate course and be listed as a primary instructor of record for undergraduate courses only.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) specifies that a GTS who has primary responsibility for teaching a course for credit and/or assigning final grades for such a course must:

  • Have earned at least 18 graduate credit hours in his/her teaching discipline,
  • Be under the direct supervision of a Tennessee Tech faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline,
  • Receive regular in-service training, and
  • Be regularly evaluated by the GTS’s direct supervisor.

3. Graduate Support Assistant (GSA)

Graduate Support Assistants are appointed to perform various types of duties other than those related directly to teaching or research, such as supervisory or administrative functions, by the Appointing Authority.

4. Graduate Research Assistant (GRA)

A Graduate Research Assistant has varying duties according to the specific research project to which the graduate student is assigned by the Appointing Authority.  The duties of a GRA are limited to research activiteis.

Requirements for Eligibility and Maintaining an Appointment

  1. A graduate student must be admitted to full standing in a Tennessee Tech graudate program to be eligible to apply for a graduate assistantship.
  2. A graduate student seeking a graduate assistantship must complete the Graduate Assistantship application and file a copy with each department in which the graduate student is seeking a graduate assistantship.
  3. No Tennessee Tech employee can make a graduate assistantship offer in writing or verbally unless s/he has explicit authority to make such offers.
  4. The Appointing Authority should send a copy of all international student graduate assistantship offer letters to the TTU International Education office.
  5. Graduate students who are in a co-op program are not eligible for a Graduate Assistantship.
  6. A Graduate Assistant will perform all graduate assistantship duties at the Tennessee Tech campus or at a Tennessee Tech approved off-campus facility under the direct guidance of his/her assigned supervisor or Appointing Authority. 

Graduate Assistant GPA Requirements

A Graduate Assistant must maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA.  If a Graduate Assistant’s cumulative GPA falls below the required 3.0 GPA, but not less than 2.0 GPA, the Appointing Authority may authorize continuation under probationary status for one semester.

Permissible Loads of Graduate Assistants

Registration requirements for Graduate Assistants to receive and maintain full-time graduate student status, is as follows:

  1. For the summer semester, a Graduate Assistant must register for a minimum of one (1) graduate credit hour but not more than 12 graduate credit hours.
  2. For the fall and spring semesters, a Graduate Assistant must register for a minimum of six (6) graduate credit hours but not more than 12 graduate credit hours.

Qualifications of Graduate Teaching Associates (GTS)

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) specifies that Graduate Teaching Associates who have primary responsibility for teaching a course for credit and/or assigning final grades for such a course must have earned at least 18 graduate semester hours in their teaching fields, be under the direct supervision of a faculty member experiences in the teaching discipline, receive regular in-service training, and be regularly evaluated.

The 18-hour requirement does not apply to Graduate Teaching Assistants who are engaged in assignments such as laboratory assistance, teaching physical education activities, attending or helping prepare lectures, grading papers, keeping class records, and conducting discussion groups.

The appropriate departmental chairperson has responsibility for certifying that the 18-hour requirement is met either through coursework or by documentation that the graduate assistant meets the requirement as an exception. The appropriate form will be submitted and approved by the Office of the Provost prior to the beginning of the smester.

Competency in English

Tennessee Technological University requires all who teach to be proficient, as determined by Tennessee Tech, in oral and written English.

Stipends, Tuition and Fees

Each Appointing Authority establishes the minimum stipend amount for it’s Graduate Assistants.  The Appointing Authority will pay, on a pro rata basis, tuition, maintenance fees, debt service fees, TN eCampus on-line fees, MBA distance course fees, and some special academic course fees based upon the Graduate Assistant’s assistantship classification as full-time (100%) or one-half time (50%) assistantship.  The Graduate Assistatn is responsible for all other costs including books, international fees, and any other fees assessed.

Only courses listed on the graduate student’s program of study will be covered by the graduate assistantship.

Unless a Graduate Assistant receives prior approval from the Appointing Authority, course repetitions and course withdrawals will not be covered by the graduate assistantship.

Graduate Assistants must notify the Appointing Authority of all course withdrawals.

Termination/Resignation/Cancellation of Graduate Assistantships

Absent good cause, if a Graduate Assistant fails to meet the requirements in the offer letter, the Appointing Authority will terminate the assistantship.

All graduate assistantships terminate immediately if the Graduate Assistant is dismissed for academic reasons.

If a Graduate Assistant decides to resign from his/her assistantship before expiration of the assistantship, the Graduate Assistant should notify the Appointing Authority in writing two (2) weeks before the date of resignation and should complete an exit interview with the Appointing Authority.

If the Appointing Authority detemines that the Graduate Assistant has completed his/her degree program and all research requirements mid-semester, the Appointing Authority may cancel the stipend for the Graduate Assistantship or continue it until the end of the semester.

If Tennessee Tech terminates the graduate assistantship or the Graduate Assistant resigns, forfeits, or withdraws from Tennessee Tech during a semester:

  • The Graduate Assistant will be responsible for paying his/her academic tuition fees on a pro rata basis for the remainder of the term.
  • The Graduate Assistant’s financial responsibility will be based on the number of days left in the semester at the time the assistantship ends and reclassification of residency in accordance with TTU Policy 253 (Residency Classification).
  • Should a Graduate Assistant believe there is sufficient justification for an exception to the tuition fee balance owed by the Graduate Assistant, s/he must submit the Request for Exception to University Requirement form to the Tennessee Tech Bursar’s office for review and final disposition. 


Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars,

Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants


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 institution and organizations subscribing to the above Resolution that a copy of this Resolution should accompany every scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, and assistantship offer.

-National Council of Graduate Schools