We want to make sure all your questions are answered about the Student Affairs Graduate Assistant Learning Community. If there is something that you're wondering that we did not cover, please feel free to email Dr. Kathleen Gardner at gardn2k@cmich.edu.

What is the Student Affairs GA Learning Community?

The Student Affairs GA Learning Community is a living and learning community comprised of all graduate students serving in graduate staff roles within the Student Affairs Division. This community provides students the opportunity to apply their learning inside and outside of the classroom and to build professional relationships among seasoned Student Affairs Professionals. 

What are the unique components of the Learning Community?

There are four unique elements of the Student GA Learning Community

  1.  Connection: Membership to a support network of other Student Affairs graduate assistants.
  2. Compensation: A competitive package that includes a tuition waiver, a stipend and an option for free on-campus housing (with no in-hall or on-call responsibilities).
  3. Leadership Development: Intentional two day orientation/onboarding experience in August, professional development activities designed for the community that support the ACPA/NASPA/NIRSA competencies (3 per semester), and a year-end showcase experience developed in coordination with the Educational Leadership faculty.
  4. Integrated: Graduate Assistants within the Student Affairs GA Learning Community are not limited to one specific graduate program or area of study; however, preference will be given to those who are pursuing educational leadership or higher education degrees unless otherwise noted in the position description.

What is a graduate assistantship?

A graduate assistantship is an opportunity for graduate level students to work in student service areas or academic units while pursuing a degree. 

What does the Student Affairs GA compensation package include?

The Student Affairs Graduate Assistantship carries an annual stipend of $10,900 and 20 hours of tuition remission at the standard, on-campus graduate tuition rate*, which can be applied to your coursework during the fall, spring, and subsequent summer semesters. However, this does not apply for non-refundable enrollment fees, student services fees or any special courses fees, which will remain the responsibility of the graduate assistant. 

As a Graduate Assistant within the Student Affairs Division, students are eligible for a housing scholarship that covers a fully furnished one-person suite in Robinson Hall. The housing scholarship does not include a meal plan or a parking permit.

Access to professional development opportunities on campus and beyond varies by position. All graduate assistants hired within the Student Affairs Division are required to participate in a two-day orientation/onboarding experience in August, professional development activities designed for the community that support the ACPA/NASPA/NIRSA competencies (3 per semester), and a year-end showcase experience developed in coordination with the Educational Leadership faculty.

*Graduate Assistant tuition is waived at the standard, on-campus rate. There are some degrees that charge differently than the standard rate. Students will be responsible to pay the difference if enrolled in a specialized program. See the Tuition and Fees website for further information.

What kind of on-campus housing is available for Student Affairs Grad Assistants?

Each graduate assistant has the option of accepting a housing scholarship which covers a private room in Robinson Hall. Robinson Hall is a smoke-free, residential housing area, located on the north end of campus on Bellows Street, just steps from the Bovee University Center and Park Library.

There is a basic fitness center and laundry facility located on the ground floor, and a kitchenette for personal cooking. Your room contains the following items: full-size bed frame, full-size mattress, wardrobe, coffee table, end table, small bookshelf, desk, desk chair, couch, private bathroom, shower curtain, cable hook-up, telephone and window curtains.


How much do Graduate Assistants work on a weekly basis?

Graduate assistants serve 20 hours per week in various departments within the Student Affairs Division. Some graduate assistant positions are based on an academic year (10-month) and others are for the full year (12-month). This is indicated in each specific job description.

What departments offer graduate assistantships in the Student Affairs Division?

The student service areas that currently offer assistantship opportunities in ESS include the Counseling Center, the Financial Wellness Collaborative, the Center for Inclusion and DiversityMulticultural Academic Student Services, the Sarah R. Opperman Leadership InstituteUniversity RecreationStudent Activities & InvolvementSexual Aggression Peer Advocates, and the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center. Outside of the division, there are opportunities for graduate assistants within the Department of Educational Leadership (EDL), the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, the Career Development Center, and at nearby Alma College.

Am I required to be enrolled in a specific graduate program to be an Student Affairs Graduate Assistant?

While many of our students are pursuing a Masters of Arts in Higher Education (MAHE), it is not a requirement for all of our graduate students to be in the MAHE program; however, preference and priority will be given to those candidates who are pursuing educational leadership or higher education degrees unless otherwise noted in the position description. Past GAs have pursued Master of Arts in CounselingMaster of Science in Administration (MSA),Master of Arts in Public AdministrationMaster of Arts in Sports Administration, or Ph.D. in Educational Leadership degrees.

Do I have to be enrolled in a degree program to be a Student Affairs Grad Assistant?

Yes. Student Affairs Graduate Assistant offers are contingent upon acceptance into a graduate program at CMU. Each graduate program has a different admissions process and timeline. Applying early to a graduate program will help coordinate admission and assistantship efforts.

Is there an orientation for Student Affairs GA Learning Community Students?

Yes. There is a two-day orientation/onboarding program in August. All Learning Community members are required to attend.

When does my graduate assistantship start?

Student Affairs graduate assistants move in and begin the Learning Community orientation and training in August.

How and when can I apply for an Student Affairs Grad Assistantship?

Any interested graduate student can apply for an Student Affairs Graduate Assistantship; however, an official offer or an ability to be hired is contingent upon the acceptance into a graduate program at CMU and a successful passing of a criminal background check.

Priority for application review for interviews are given to those who apply prior to January 15th, 2021. On campus interviews and Grad Visitation Days will be held virtually March 4th and 5th, 2021.

Can international students apply/receive an Student Affairs Graduate Assistantship?

Yes, Student Affairs Graduate Assistantships are open to all international students enrolled as full-time students (9 credit hours). Please note, that if an international student accepts the housing scholarship, it is considered taxable income and depending on the student's visa and residency status, may be responsible for paying 14% tax on the scholarship upfront per IRS Tax code. International students are not eligible for graduate assistantships offered at neighboring institutions connected to our community.

What are Grad Visitation Days?

The Grad Visitation Days program is a 2-day program that provides interested students an opportunity to visit Central Michigan's beautiful campus in Mt. Pleasant, MI and to interview for available graduate assistantships in the Division of Student Affairs. This year; however, due to Covid-19 restrictions and out of concerns for the safety of candidates and our community, we will be hosting the Visit Days as virtual event.

When are this year's Grad Visitation Days?
The 2021 Grad Visitation Days at Central Michigan University will be held virtually on Thursday, March 4th and Friday March 5th, 2021.


Is the same information provided on each day of the Grad Visitation Days?

No. There is a different agenda is assigned for each day of this 2-day program.  On Thursday, March 4th students will learn details surrounding the Student Affairs GA Learning Community and about CMU graduate programs. On Friday, March 5th, interviews for the various assistantships take place.

I am unable to attend the Grad Visitation Days.  Are there other arrangements that I can make?

Yes, individuals that are unable to attend Grad Visitation Days may arrange to interview with desired departments via WebEx (or some other remote option).  In order to do so, please indicate this on the Interview Invitation RSVP that will be sent to GA applicants in via email.  

I looked at the available assistantships and only saw one that I am interested in.  Do I have to interview for more than that position?

Although we encourage candidates to diversify their selections in order to improve the odds of being offered a position, students that attend the Grad Visitation Days are not required to interview for more than one position.

If I attend Grad Visitation Days, do I have to attend CMU?

No, we understand that not every student that attends the CMU Grad Visitation Days will end up attending classes at Central.


What is the dress code for Grad Visitation Days?

The CMU Grad Visitation Days is a 2-day event.  On Thursday, March 4th students will spend time learning about the Student Affairs GA Learning Community, networking with students and staff members, meeting with faculty and learning about academic programs in addition to learning about Central Michigan University. Business casual attire is appropriate.  Friday, March 5th is reserved for interviews.  The dress code on that day is business professional. 

When will I receive my itinerary for Grad Visitation Days?  How will I receive it?

Students that RSVP to attend the Grad Visitation Days will receive an email message from Dr. Dani Hiar (hiar1dm@cmich.edu) with a copy of the overall itinerary for the 2-day event attached. Personalized schedules with details surrounding the time and locations of specific interviews will be sent to students approximately one week prior to Grad Visitation Days.