We want to make sure all your questions are answered about the ESS Graduate Assistant Learning Community. If there is something that you're wondering that we did not cover, please feel free to email Dr. Dani Hiar at hiar1dm@cmich.edu.

What is the ESS GA Learning Community?

The ESS GA Learning Community is a living and learning community comprised of all graduate students serving in graduate staff roles within the division of Enrollment and Student Services. 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 ESS GA Learning Community

  1.  Connection: Membership to a support network of 30+ other ESS 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) and a meal plan.
  3. Leadership Development: Intentional orientation training and monthly professional development workshops are value added to the graduate assistant experience.
  4. Integrated: Graduate Assistants within the ESS 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 ESS GA compensation package include?

The ESS Graduate Assistantship carries an annual stipend (last year's Master's stipend was $10,900) and 20 hours of tuition remission (at the standard 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 Division of Enrollment & Student Services, you are eligible for free on-campus housing and meal plan. Graduate Assistants electing the housing scholarship will be required to attend bi-weekly community meetings, professional development sessions, and maintain a professional e-portfolio detailing professional competency development as part of the GA Learning Community during the academic year of appointment.

*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 ESS Grad Assistants?

Each graduate assistant has the option of accepting a housing scholarship which entails 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.


What type of meal plan do ESS Graduate Assistants receive?

The ESS GA meal plan is an unlimited meal plan, with no FLEX dollars (FLEX dollars can be added individually at the cost of the student). Graduate assistants who do not accept the on-campus housing scholarship will not receive a meal plan. 

How much do Graduate Assistants work on a weekly basis?

Graduate assistants serve 20 hours per week in various departments within ESS. 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 ESS Division?

The student service areas that currently offer assistantship opportunities in ESS include the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, 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, Residence Life Fitness, and the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center. Outside of the division, there are opportunities for graduate assistants within the Department of Educational Leadership (EDL). 

Am I required to be enrolled in a specific graduate program to be an ESS 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 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 Administration, Master of Arts in Health Administration, Master of Arts in Sports Administration, or Ph.D. in Educational Leadership degrees.

Do I have to be enrolled in a degree program to be an ESS Grad Assistant?

Yes. ESS 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 ESS GA Learning Community Students?

Yes. There is a robust orientation program in August. All Learning Community members are required to attend. ESS Graduate Assistants who do not accept the housing scholarship may be exempt from portions of the orientation and training.

When does my graduate assistantship start?

ESS graduate assistants move in and begin the Learning Community orientation and training in August. Certain sessions of the August orientation and bi-weekly community meetings and professional development sessions are optional for graduate assistants not living on-campus at the discression of the unit supervisor.

How and when can I apply for an ESS Grad Assistantship?

Any interested graduate student can apply for an ESS 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, 2020. On campus interviews and Grad Visitation Days are March 5th and 6th, 2020.

Can international students apply/receive an ESS Graduate Assistantship?

Yes, ESS 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.

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 ESS division.

When are this year's Grad Visitation Days?

The 2019 Grad Visitation Days at Central Michigan University will be held on Thursday, March 5th and Friday March 6th, 2020.


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 5th students will learn details surrounding the ESS GA Learning Community and about CMU graduate programs. On Friday, March 6th, 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 Skype.  In order to do so, please indicate this on the RSVP form that will be sent to GA applicants in January 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 5th students will spend the day learning about the ESS GA Learning Community, the College of Graduate Studies along with various graduate programs (MAHE, MSA, etc.) in addition to learning about Central Michigan University. Business casual attire is appropriate.  Friday, March 6th 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.


Will lunch or dinner be served during the Grad Visitation Days? 

There will be a formal dinner with potential supervisors on Thursday, March 5th.  A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided on Friday, March 6th at no cost to the candidates. Any other meals are the responsibility of each individual.

I will be coming from out of town. Where should I stay during my visit? 

Lodging for out-of-town candidates is offered during Grad Visitation Days.  Attendees are welcome to stay overnight in a CMU guest room located in various Residential Communities across campus.  Individuals who choose to stay in hotels must do so at their own expense.  In order to request overnight lodging, candidates will need to indicate their need for accommodation via an electronic form that will be sent via email as part of the RSVP form.

How long will it take to get to CMU from the airport? Will I need a car?

There are 5 choices for airports to fly into, and they all vary in distance to Mt. Pleasant. MBS in Freeland, MI is approximately 45 minutes from campus. LAN in Lansing, MI is approximately 50 minutes from campus. GRR in Grand Rapids, MI is approximately 90 minutes from campus. FNT is in Flint, MI and is approximately 90 minutes from campus. DTW is in Detroit, MI and is 2 hours and 30 minutes from campus. Regardless of where you fly into, you will need a car or use a car service such as Uber or Lyft.

I am traveling from out of town.  Will I be able to receive reimbursement for lodging, car rental, or mileage?

Unfortunately, no. CMU does not offer reimbursement for lodging (if off campus lodging is secured), car rental, or mileage.