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Teaching and Research Assistantships
The University of Kentucky employs graduate assistants through its various educational, research and administrative units.
For application information, see Assistantship and Fellowship Information and Instructions for Applying. Department and research units award assistantships to deserving students based on the recommendations of the Director of Graduate Studies or the unit Chair or Director. A Notice of Appointment to Graduate Student Academic Staff (GSAS) for delineating terms of appointment and assigned duties must be submitted to the Graduate School Funding Office through the online form.
TEACHING ASSISTANTS (TA)
Teaching assistants are employed by academic departments and are responsible to the Department Chair, Director of Graduate Studies, or other appropriate academic officer within the department. TA's are subject to policies in effect within their department and college in which they are employed. Teaching assignments, workload, and compensation may vary within the employing college. All teaching assistants are carefully supervised and guided in their duties and responsibilities. In departments which employ TA's, an experienced teacher or a specialist in teaching methods provides guidance and supervision in assigned instructional activities.("Policies Relative to Teaching and Research Assistants") (Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2
Teaching assistants are selected on the basis of their past teaching experience or on their academic potential to be effective instructors in their field of training. TA's who have primary responsibility for teaching a course for credit and/or for assigning final grades for such a course must have completed at least 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline and hold at least a master's degree. If this criteria is not met, TA's must have earned at least 18 graduate semester hours in their teaching discipline, be under the direct supervision of a faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline, receive regular in-service training, and be regularly evaluated.
The duties of teaching assistants (TA's) may include full classroom responsibilities, instructional assistance in a laboratory or discussion session, or other related activities.
All new teaching assistants are required to attend an orientation program at the beginning of their first semester designed to provide an overview of effective pedagogical strategies and to inform them of their upcoming duties, rights, and responsibilities. Most departments also conduct an orientation and training program to guide TA's in their specific classroom or laboratory responsibilities.
Prior to beginning their duties, International TA's (ITA's) are required to attend and participate in an orientation program designed to aid them in their transition into the American university classroom, acquaint them with campus resources useful in their roles as teaching assistants, and introduce them to institutional policies relevant to ITA's ITA's who are non-native English speakers are also required to undergo a language screening, which evaluates the ITA's English language skill and their readiness for instructional responsibilities. This evaluation, conducted by a committee of faculty, staff, and students, is under the purview of the Dean of The Graduate School. Screenings include a representative from the ITA's educational unit. ITA's who receive unconditional approval will be assigned appropriate duties in their department. ITA's who receive conditional approval or who are disapproved may be assigned other duties until they have successfully satisfied remediation program within a specified time period. An ITA not approved for teaching may be eligible for rescreening by the Committee at a later date. (ITA Language Screening Information) (See also - "Policies on International Teaching Assistants" Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:3)
RESEARCH ASSISTANTS (RA)
Research assistants (RA's) are employed by many of the University's academic departments, as well as administrative and research units. Some RA's are employed by a research or administrative unit outside their departmental or disciplinary interest, but in a program of research to which the RA brings certain knowledge or skills of value to the project.
Specific responsibilities within a department or center may be assigned by the unit Chair, Director, or Director of Graduate Studies. Responsibilities may also be assigned by a faculty member as part of that individual's specific research grant or contract. In such cases, students' research activities may be directly related to their field of specialization or to a thesis or dissertation topic. RA's should be provided with a clear indication of the assigned duties, the person(s) to whom they are responsible and by whom their performance will be evaluated.
GRADUATE ASSISTANTS (GA)
Graduate assistants are employed by some of the University's academic departments, as well as administrative offices on an "as needed basis." GA positions assist Directors of Graduate Studies, manage special projects or work in a clerical capacity within a variety of university departments. Non-departmental positions select candidates from many areas of graduate studies and information is usually made available through your department via email. Responsibilities of GAs will depend on the department of employment.
ADMINISTRATION OF ASSISTANTSHIPS
Each educational unit is responsible for providing written policies concerning the appointment and reappointment of teaching and research assistants. These policies shall be made available to all prospective assistants at the time an initial offer is made and to all assistants whenever these policies are changed.
Teaching and research assistants who are also full-time graduate students may be assigned responsibilities requiring no more than 50 percent of their time. Normally for TA's, this means service for not more than an average of 20 hours per week including time spent in preparation, classroom and laboratory teaching, grading papers, counseling students, etc. Responsibilities for RA's will vary with the fraction of time for which they are employed, but normally a one half-time appointment should require no more than 20 hours per week of assignable duties, for a .50 (full) TA/RA, or 10 hours per week for a .25 (half) TA/RA. ("Policies Relative to Teaching and Research Assistants") (Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2)
Minimum levels of compensation for TA's and RA's are recommended by the Graduate School, in consultation with the various graduate programs, on the basis of reasonable compensation for their discipline or field, and on comparisons of salaries for TA's and RA's at other benchmark institutions. This compensation is decided by individual departments.
Depending on the nature of their assignment and on recommendation of their academic or administrative unit, TA's and RA's may be eligible for Tuition Scholarships provided by the Graduate School under the aegis of the the Provost. TA's and RA's may be eligible for both in-state and out-of-state tuition during the fall and spring. During the summer, TA scholarships are handled directly by the department and include in-state and out-of-state tuition and RA's are provided out-of-state tuition only, by the Graduate School. Students must be enrolled in a graduate program (post-baccalaureate students are not eligible). Graduate assistants placed on Scholastic Probation are not eligible to receive either an in-state or out-of-state tuition scholarship.
University-wide policy provides that TA's and RA's who are candidates for a master's degree shall serve no more than a maximum of three years without completion of their degree requirements. TA's and RA's who are doctoral candidates shall serve no more than five years without successfully completing their qualifying examinations. Graduate assistants are advised to consult with the Department Chair or Director of Graduate Studies relative to total number of years of support eligibility. ("Policies Relative to Teaching and Research Assistants") (Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2)
Satisfactory Progress and Performance
TA's and RA's must maintain satisfactory academic records and demonstrate progress toward degrees; their assistantships will not be renewed if their academic progress is unsatisfactory. Satisfactory progress includes the maintaining of a minimum 3.0 GGPA as well as other measures which may be established under departmental policy with approval by the Graduate Council. ("Policies Relative to Teaching and Research Assistants") (Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2)
Parental Leave for Graduate Assistants
Teaching, Research, and Graduate Assistants, as well as graduate fellows will be entitled to up to two weeks of parental leave without loss of stipend immediately following the birth of a child, or upon either the initial placement or the legal adoption of a child under eighteen years of age. Eligible graduate assistants and fellows are those students who have an appointment form on file in the Graduate School and who hold an active appointment at the time the parental leave is to be taken. Graduate students who hold only an hourly appointment are not eligible for paid paternal leave.
Graduate Assistants and fellows will also be entitled to unpaid parental leave, up to a maximum total period of leave (paid and unpaid) of twelve weeks. Within a given academic year contract, the student’s department will make every effort to ensure the continuity of assistantship funding; the terms of specific teaching and/or research arrangements will be determined by the Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the student and the hiring unit, if separate from the student’s academic department. As with any leave, students should make every effort to communicate with their units regarding the timing of the proposed leave; a minimum of 30 days notice should be provided if possible. Please note that units may request documentation of the birth or adoption.
Each educational unit is responsible for the systematic evaluation of the performance of TA's and RA's in their employment according to established educational unit criteria. The results of these evaluations shall be presented annually to assistants in some formal manner. TA's and RA's shall be notified by March 1 of each year whether or not their assistantships will be renewed for the coming year. If a final decision on reappointment cannot be made by that date, they shall be provided an explanation and informed as to when they might expect to be notified. ("Policies Relative to Teaching and Research Assistants") (Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2)
In order to preserve the academic focus of graduate students who are on full-time assistantships and have their tuition paid by the University, the Graduate School does not allow for additional salary or employment.
A full-time assistantship at UK, whether teaching, research or graduate, is considered 0.50 FTE (full time equivalency) in the employment system, or the equivalent of 20 hours per week on average in any combination of assignments. ("Policies Relative to Teaching and Research Assistants") (Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2)
In rare circumstances, an exception may be granted. To request such an exception the DGS should fill out an Overload Request Form and send it to the address found on the form. In the event that an exception is granted, the maximum FTE permitted for a graduate student may not exceed 0.7 FTE (28 hours/week).
Graduate Students are not eligible for overload assignments if they:
- Are in their first term of study,
- Have a cumulative G.P.A. of less than 3.0.,
- Are receiving any fellowship or scholarship which prohibits additional aid.
Employment greater than the full-time work load for a graduate student (0.50) may have FICA tax implications for the student.
Termination of Appointment
The appointment of a teaching or research assistant may not be terminated before the end of the period of appointment without the individual's being provided with an opportunity to be heard before the University Senate Advisory Committee on Privilege and Tenure. Issues should first be addressed, where possible, with the appropriate unit Chair, Director, or Dean of the College in which the TA/RA holds employment. They may also consult with the Dean of the Graduate School concerning their rights and responsibilities.
A TA or RA who has established a prima facie case to the satisfaction of the committee that a consideration violative of academic freedom significantly contributed to the individual's non-reappointment shall be given a statement of reasons by those responsible for the non-reappointment and an opportunity to be heard by a University Senate Hearing Committee (Privilege and Tenure). "Termination of Appointment. Graduate Student Staff" (Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2)
Graduate assistants should be familiar with the following sources of information relative to their rights and responsibilities:
ADMINISTRATIVE OVERSIGHT OF GRADUATE ASSISTANTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY
Graduate assistants (teaching assistants and research assistants) at the University of Kentucky are employed by educational, research, and administrative units. Direct administrative oversight is provided by their immediate employer (Director of Graduate Studies, Department Chair, Center or Institute Director, Principal Investigator of a grant or contract, or other appropriate unit officials). It is the responsibility of College Deans, Vice Provosts, or Vice Presidents to whom these educational, research, and administrative units report; to monitor the role, responsibilities, evaluation, and employee status of all graduate assistants. As defined in the Governing Regulations (VII-9, B-2), the Dean of the Graduate School serves in a consultative and advisory capacity to Graduate assistants and to their employers concerning Graduate assistant rights, responsibilities, and other issues related to equitable treatment, particularly as relates to the student's academic progress toward degree goals.