What Is a Graduate Assistant?
Graduate assistants are typically full-time graduate students who function as teachers, researchers, or service assistants. In exchange, they receive a stipend and, if eligible, tuition waiver. Assistantships may vary in length and depend on the availability of funding. Usually, they are granted for an academic term, a year, or multiple years with performance reviews.
See an overview of eligibility and expectations for graduate assistants, as well as stipend and tuition waiver information below. For full details on graduate assistant appointments, please see the University Bulletin.
Eligibility for Graduate Assistantships
To be eligible for a graduate assistantship:
- You must be a degree-seeking student registered for credit during each fall and spring term for which you receive an assistantship
- You must be in good academic standing and maintain satisfactory progress toward your degree
- You must consent to a criminal background check
If you are an international student:
- You must also maintain appropriate residency status
- You must demonstrate English proficiency (for teaching assistants whose first language is not English)
Expectations for Graduate Assistants
Graduate assistants are expected to meet certain criteria in order to receive and maintain their funding. These expectations include:
- Dedicating the required number of hours to work each week (between 10 and 20 hours, depending on the assistantship)
- Maintaining good academic standing and satisfactory progress toward your degree
- Completing the required trainings each year, within 30 days of accepting your assistantship
- Fulfilling the professional and academic expectations of your discipline in compliance with NDUS and NDSU policies
Graduate assistantship stipends vary by discipline. Full-time assistantships consist of 20 hours per week. Departments may award stipends of less than the full-time amount, but they must reduce the workload accordingly.
Current minimum stipends for full assistantships can be found in the relevant department’s graduate student handbook or at the department’s website.
If you receive a graduate assistantship, you will also receive a waiver that covers base tuition for regular NDSU graduate credits only. You are responsible for any differential tuition, student fees, and tuition for other types of credits you take, such as undergraduate credits, Distance and Continuing Education credits, and Cooperative Education credits.
To be eligible for a tuition waiver, graduate assistants must work at least 160 hours per semester and must be paid at least the federal minimum wage. Partial tuition waivers are not given when a graduate assistant works less than 160 hours in the semester.
Full Graduate Assistant Policy
For all current guidelines and requirements for becoming a graduate assistant, see the University Bulletin.