Graduate Appointments

2.1 General Information

2.2 Appointments

2.3 Tuition Waiver

2.4 Other Student Employment

2.1 General Information

Graduate assistantships are available in many academic departments.  Prospective graduate students should contact their admitting department for information on assistantship availability. This appointment is a union-represented position.  You will be a member of the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) bargaining unit, represented by MEA-MFT.  (See Collective Bargaining Agreement).  You are bound by the terms and conditions in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, applicable policies of the University and Board of Regents, and applicable state and federal laws.

Note: All students must be in good academic standing to be eligible for an appointment. Non-degree graduate students are ineligible for graduate assistantships or graduate tuition waivers.

The Electronic Graduate Assistantship Appointment Form (eGAAF) does not constitute a contract of employment. Final appointment and continuation authority resides with The Graduate School.

Fall and spring terms

  • Students with assistantships who are enrolled in in three (3) or more credits are appointed as graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) or graduate research assistants (GRAs).
  • Graduate student assistants (GSAs) work in a non-academic department and perform duties that align with the student’s educational and career goals.
  • Graduate assistantship appointments are for a minimum of ten (10) hours per week and a maximum of nineteen (19) hours per week.
  • Students with assistantships who are enrolled in three (3) to five (5) credits during an academic year term are not exempt from payroll taxes.


  • Graduate assistants appointed as GRAs, GTAS, or GSAs during the spring semester may continue with a summer appointment without taking summer courses, with the exception of the 1-credit extension.
  • Graduate assistants appointed as GRAs, GTAS, or GSAs may work up to forty (40) hours per week. The minimum appointment is ten (10) hours per week.


  • International graduate students appointed as a graduate research or teaching assistant for nineteen (19) hours must be enrolled in six (6) credits, as their GTA/GRA assistantship is considered part of their academic load.
  • Summer enrollment is optional, unless the student initially arrives in the U.S. for summer term, in which case the minimum requirement is three (3) credits.

See Office of International Programs

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2.2 Appointments

GRADUATE TEACHING ASSISTANT (GTA) — A GTA is a graduate student who is involved in instruction, usually of undergraduates.  MSU faculty members oversee all GTA teaching duties.

General duties include:

  • Actual instruction in a classroom setting;
  • Instruction in recitation sections;
  • Conducting help sessions and holding office hours to advise students on class assignments;
  • Assisting with laboratory setup;
  • Grading papers, exams, laboratory reports, and homework; and/or
  • Other duties pertaining to the instructional mission of MSU.

GRADUATE RESEARCH ASSISTANT (GRA) — A GRA is a graduate student who conducts research in a relevant area of their major course of study under the direction of a faculty member.  The research often forms the basis for a thesis or dissertation.

General duties include:

  • Performing experiments, calculations, and analyzing the results;
  • Proposing new research problems;
  • Disseminating scholarly work;
  • Attending conferences and symposia to present results; and/or
  • Training and supervising less experienced research personnel.

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2.3 Tuition Waiver

  • A tuition waiver does not cover the various fees associated with a student’s tuition and fee statement.
  • Tuition waivers must be used in the same semester as the appointment.
  • Tuition waivers are available on a limited basis.
  • The Graduate School is not obligated to award a tuition waiver based on promises made by departments.


  • Students must be enrolled for all credits that will be waived no later than tenth (10th) day of classes.
  • Students must confirm attendance with Student Accounts no later than fifteenth (15th) day of classes.

Note: Students may be required to pay full tuition if the tuition waivers are awarded after the fifteenth (15th) day of classes.

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2.4 Other Student Employment

A graduate student at MSU may be employed primarily through a graduate teaching or research assistantship. However, graduate students may also work as a student employee at Residence Life, University Food Services, ASMSU tutoring, and so forth. Twenty (20) hours is the maximum total hours per week graduate students can work on campus.

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