Graduate assistantships provide students with training and valuable professional experience in higher education work environments.  Graduate assistantships are employment-related appointments and may require teaching, research, and/or administrative service. The responsibilities may vary depending on the department’s needs and the experience and academic qualifications of the graduate assistant. A full-time assistantship requires approximately 20 hours of work per week (including the summer semester); a half-time assistantship requires about 10 hours weekly.

Earnings from graduate assistantships are not counted as financial aid for purposes of qualifying for Guaranteed Student Loans. However, graduate assistant earnings are considered employment resources to apply against need for other financial aid programs. 

In order to comply with federal healthcare reform requirements, work hours for non-benefit eligible employees are restricted to a maximum of 50 hours per pay period during the academic year.  All assignments, including work for multiple departments or as a student employee, count as work toward the total workload.  Research conducted by graduate research assistants as part of the graduate assistantship, shall not exceed 40 hours per pay period, except as it relates to the graduate student’s education, such as dissertation related research.

Graduate Assistant Benefits

Graduate assistantships provide graduate students with financial resources, in the form of a stipend and tuition waiver benefit, to pursue their degrees. Stipends for individual graduate assistants are determined by the department/college, and are prorated for graduate assistants appointed less than full time or for less than an entire academic year.

The number of credit hours covered by the graduate assistant’s tuition waiver benefit is determined by appointment type and level.   The tuition waiver may be applied to courses taken during the semester of the assistantship, through the subsequent summer sessions. The tuition waiver benefit pays tuition at the standard on-campus rate only.

Graduate assistants are classified as Michigan residents for the purpose of determining tuition rates at CMU. This classification remains in effect for the duration of their stay at CMU if working on a doctoral program. For specialist's and master's degrees, and graduate certificates, this classification as a Michigan resident is in effect only during the academic year of the award (including the subsequent summer).

Graduate assistants are covered by travel accident insurance which provides $25,000 to a beneficiary in case of accidental death while traveling on university business.

Graduate assistants are given special library privileges, allowing them to check books out for a six month period.

Additional information on employment and the benefits provided to Graduate Assistants is available on the Faculty Personnel Services website at


The responsibilities of a graduate assistant are determined by the hiring department. The responsibilities must be commensurate with the time constraints of the assistantship appointment.

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