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Graduate Studies

MSC 03 2180
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

Physical Location:
Humanities Building
Suite 107

Phone: (505) 277-2711
Fax: (505) 277-7405

Assistantships

Welcome. Please click on each section for more information.

Definition and Types

Definition

An assistantship is a financial award to a graduate student for part-time work in teaching or research while pursuing study toward an advanced degree. The primary goal of an assistantship is to assist students in strengthening and successfully completing their academic program.

Approximately 1,500 teaching and research assistantships are available to qualified graduate students in various departments within the university. Assistantships are competitively awarded at the department level and typically require 10 to 20 hours of service per week. Assistantship appointments are usually made within the students’ academic units. However, graduate students may accept an assistantship outside the unit in which they are pursuing a degree. Students interested in being considered for assistantships should contact the chairperson/administrator in the unit in which they wish to hold an assistantship.

Types of Assistantships

Teaching Assistant (TA)/ Teaching Assistant Special (TASpec): is directly involved in producing student credit hours, i.e., responsible for one or more classes or lab sections. Teaching Assistants may not teach courses offered for graduate credit. Graduate Assistant (GA)/Graduate Assistant Special (GASpec): one whose duties are related to instruction, but who is not directly involved in producing student credit hours.

Teaching Associate (TAssoc): an advanced teaching assistant who holds the master’s degree (or equivalent) and who directly produces student credit hours. Students who have been advanced to doctoral candidacy may be approved, as Teaching Associates, to teach courses offered for graduate credit through submission by the graduate unit of an Approval for Graduate Instruction form to Graduate Studies.

Research Assistant (RA): assists in research work that is relevant to the assistant’s thesis, dissertation or other requirement for a graduate degree.

Project Assistant (PA): performs work required by a research grant, contract or special project that is not necessarily directly related to degree requirements. Employment associated with administrative/office support should not be classified as a project assistantship.

Assistantship Workload

During the Fall and Spring semesters the typical workload for assistantships is 20 hours per week (.50 FTE). A student may not be appointed for more than 30 hours per week or 75% FTE as a TA/TA Spec, GA/GA Spec, TAssoc, RA or PA alone or in any combination.

NOTE: The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) regulations limit international students on J-1 and F-1 visas to appointments of no more than 20 hours per week or 50% FTE. The rule that allows graduate students to work 30 hours per week does not relieve international students or the University of the responsibility for complying with BCIS regulations.

During the summer session continuing assistantship recipients (including international students) may be employed up to 40 hours per week or 100% FTE provided they are not enrolled. However, entering graduate students awarded an assistantship during the summer session must be enrolled in a minimum of 3 hours of course work which applies to their graduate degree and may not exceed 75% FTE or 30 hours per week. Assistantship recipients who are not enrolled for both summer sessions are required to pay Federal FICA tax (Social Security and Medicare) for that summer session in which they were not enrolled.

Assistantship recipients may concurrently hold a student employment or work-study position provided the combined FTE does not exceed 75% FTE (50% FTE for international students) during the Fall and Spring semester and 100% FTE during the Summer session.

Assistantship recipients may not concurrently hold a University of New Mexico staff position.

Assistantship Reappointments

By definition, assistantships are term appointments. Students should not assume that they will be reappointed merely because notification of termination at the end of the appointment period has not been received. Reappointments are contingent upon the continuing availability of funds, satisfactory performance of the assistantship recipient, relevant departmental policies and academic eligibility.

Termination of Assistantship Before End of Appointment Period

The graduate unit will make notification of termination to the student and forward a copy of this notification to the Dean of Graduate Studies. In the case of students who are placed on academic probation, Graduate Studies will terminate the contract and notify the appropriate graduate unit and the student. The stipend for assignments that are terminated before the end of the appointment will be prorated for the period during which the assistant was employed.

Medical Leave While Holding an Assistantship

Assistantship recipients who suffer a serious medical condition requiring absence from assigned duties for two consecutive weeks may be granted, upon written request to the head of the graduate unit, a two-week sick leave without loss of stipend. After this leave, the student will be paid only for the time the assistantship responsibilities were fulfilled. The graduate unit must notify the Graduate Studies office whenever it grants an assistant a two-week sick leave, as well as the date that the assistant returns to his/her position.

Absence Without Leave

Individuals who are awarded a contract and receive payment from the University of New Mexico, but who do not attend or are absent without leave will be required to repay any stipend collected from UNM.

Grievance Procedures for Students Holding Assistantships

Student who hold assistantships and are seeking direction for submitting a formal grievance related to the assistantship are referred to the section on Academic Freedom of Graduate, Teaching, Research and Special Assistants in the University of New Mexico Faculty Handbook.

Eligibility

Eligibility for Assistantships

To be employed as a TA/TA Spec, GA/GA Spec, TAssoc, RA or PA a student must meet the following criteria:

  1. Have been formally admitted to a graduate program at the University of New Mexico.
  2. Be currently enrolled at the University of New Mexico for a minimum of 6 hours of course work, thesis or dissertation hours which count towards the graduate degree. Courses taken for AUDIT are not accepted as part of the minimum hours.
  3. Maintain a 3.0 grade point average in graduate course work each semester.
  4. Students on Type 1 or Type 2 probation are ineligible to hold an assistantship. Students on Type 3 probation may provisionally hold an assistantship for one semester (see Academic Probation and Consequences).
  5. Be within the time limit for completion of the degree sought.
  • Master’s Students: All work used to meet degree requirements for a master’s degree, including transfer credit, must be completed within a seven-year period immediately preceding the granting of the degree.
  • Doctoral Students: Doctoral candidates have five (5) calendar years from the semester in which they pass their doctoral comprehensive examination to complete the degree requirements

Procedures for Petition for Assistantship Awards

A student who desires to hold an assistantship appointment under conditions different from those described above should address a petition to the Dean of Graduate Studies. The petition should include a detailed explanation of what is requested, what the exceptional circumstances are, and why a waiver of policy is desirable from the point of view of progress toward his or her degree. The petition will be reviewed by the chairperson/administrator or principal investigator as well as the graduate director who may either deny the petition or recommend approval to the Dean of Graduate Studies. The Dean of Graduate Studies shall make the final decision. 

Benefits

Stipends and Payments

Assistantship salaries are based on minimum salary guidelines. Teaching Assistants (TA) and Graduate Assistants (GA) are funded under the basic allocation made to the department, those classified as “Special” are funded from other sources (i.e., temporary part-time or non-Instruction & General Budget {I&G}).

  • TAs/TA Spec and GAs/TA Spec: Typically, differential stipends are received by pre-master’s and postmaster’s assistants. Stipends are paid in equal monthly installments. Any work performed outside of the approved assignments, i.e., extra compensation, must have prior approval from Graduate Studies. TAs/Spec and GAs/Spec are required to work within their contract dates, which begins one week before the start date of each semester and ends on the last day of the semester. Pay may be adjusted if assistants do not meet their contractual obligations.
  • TAssoc: Salary is based upon stipend ranges established for temporary part-time faculty. Stipends are paid in equal monthly installments.
  • RAs: Salary is determined by the principal investigator based upon a graduate unit’s RA salary guidelines or upon the funding agency’s guidelines; these guidelines are on file at Graduate Studies. Stipends are paid on a monthly basis for actual number of days worked.
  • PAs: Salary is determined by the principal investigator based upon a graduate unit’s PA salary guidelines; these guidelines are on file at Graduate Studies. The rate is at least equal to the federal minimum wage and is paid via the bi-weekly student payroll on an hourly basis.

Resident Tuition and Tuition Waiver Awards

Out-of-state students awarded TAs, TAssocs, GAs, RAs and PAs are eligible for the resident tuition rate provided the FTE is 25% or higher and they hold the assistantship for at least one-half of the semester. Normally assistantships are held for the full semester and the waiver of the non-resident portion of tuition is available only if the start date of the assistantship is before October 15 for Fall, or March 15 for Spring. The tuition waiver may only be used for courses approved by the graduate program in which the student is currently enrolled.

TAs and GAs classified as “Regular” are eligible for a non-transferable tuition waiver of up to 12 hours per semester and 3 hours during the summer session when the FTE is 50% (prorated for other FTEs). The University of New Mexico considers this tuition waiver as a scholarship and not as payment for services rendered. Unused hours of waived tuition do not automatically carry over to future semesters. Students should consult their academic advisors to determine the relevant policies.

TAs and GAs classified as “Special” are not funded under the basic allocation made to the department and may or may not carry a tuition waiver. If a tuition waiver is granted, the same tuition waiver policy for TAs and GAs classified as “Regular” applies.

TAssocs may, at the discretion of the hiring unit, receive a tuition waiver. If a tuition waiver is granted the same tuition waiver policy for TAs and GAs classified as “Regular” applies.

RAs and PAs are eligible for a tuition waiver provided it is included in the grant or project award budget. The University of New Mexico considers this tuition waiver as payment for services rendered. As such, this tuition waiver is subject to tax withholdings. Unused hours of waived tuition may not be carried over to a future semester.

Health Insurance Benefit

The University of New Mexico provides full payment of the assistantship recipient’s insurance coverage premium through the Student Health Center, on a semester-by-semester basis, provided the FTE is 25% or higher and all other eligibility criteria to hold the assistantship is met. The start date of the assistantship must be on or before October 15 for Fall, March 15 for Spring or June 15 for Summer, in order to receive health insurance for that semester.

NOTE: If more than one contract is issued and the student accepts coverage on one and declines on the other the system defaults to “yes” on all coverage.

For more detailed information on the graduate insurance policy click here

Background Checks for UNM Assistantship Recipients

As stipulated by UNM Business Policy 3280, the University of New Mexico is required in certain cases to conduct in-depth background checks on assistantship recipients holding positions that are safety and/or security sensitive. In particular, Graduate Studies is responsible to determine which assistantship positions require background checks and to partner with Human Resources (HR) to ensure that the appropriate background check, when required, has been conducted before approving an assistantship contract. Any assistantship position in which a graduate student works directly with minors (e.g. as a tutor, instructor, coach, supervisor, childcare provider, or similar roles working with persons under the age of eighteen) will necessitate the satisfactory completion of a valid background check.

All background checks must and will be conducted by trained individuals in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations including, but not limited to, the New Mexico Criminal Offender Employment Act, New Mexico Caregivers Criminal History Screening Act, Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. 

To ensure compliance with this policy, Graduate Studies will coordinate with hiring units and HR to identify assistantship positions that require background checks, as well as to adjudicate any adverse findings. 

Graduate Studies Responsibilities

In the duties section of the contract, hiring units must indicate when an assistantship position involves working with minors. Graduate Studies will review all contracts to verify whether or not a background check is required and will coordinate with Human Resources (HR) to initiate the background check. Upon receiving a favorable result, Graduate Studies will approve the contract and return to the hiring unit as usual. In the case of an adverse finding, Graduate Studies will send the applicant or employee a pre-adverse action notice letter that outlines the preliminary findings and gives the individual an opportunity to respond before a final decision is made. Graduate Studies will further coordinate with the hiring unit to determine what type of adjudication is appropriate, given the specifics of the finding and the type of work. 

Hiring (Graduate) Unit Responsibilities

Hiring units must identify the assistantship positions in their units in which the graduate student works in any capacity directly with minors. Hiring units must ensure that any advertisement or recruitment information for these positions states explicitly that a background check is required for the position and that future or continued employment in the position is contingent upon obtaining and maintaining a satisfactory background check (i.e. one that does not discover any disqualifying findings). 

Process (Required only for assistantship recipients who are working with minors)
If an assistantship recipient will be working with minors, the hiring unit must indicate in the duties section of the contract that a background check is required, and if so, whether or not a background check has already been completed.

If an appropriate background check has not already been completed, the hiring unit must initiate a background check by submitting all of the Background Check Request forms to Graduate Studies along with the contract. The candidate must fill out the hard copy Consent and Disclosure form; the hiring unit must submit this form with the Request for Background Check form. Please verify the candidate’s identity with information on the consent form. Detach the portion of the form with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for the applicant to keep. In the event of an adverse finding, the hiring unit must complete a Confidentiality Agreement form prior to release of information regarding the finding.

If an appropriate background check has already been completed, the hiring unit must indicate in the duties’ section of the contract the date when the check took place, the agency or vendor that administered the check, and what type of check took place. 

Although UBPP 3280 holds hiring units responsible for paying the for the background checks, the Office of the Provost will provide funds to defray the costs of these checks.

Minimum Salary Guidelines

Teaching Assistant
Pre-Master Level
5 Months 10 Months
.75 FTE $10,439.52 .75 FTE $20,879.05
.50 FTE $6,959.67 .50 FTE $13,919.34
.25 FTE $3,479.83 .25 FTE $6,959.67
Post-Master Level
5 Months 10 Months
.75 FTE $11,484.28 .75 FTE $22,968.57
.50 FTE $7,656.19 .50 FTE $15,312.37
.25 FTE $3,828.09 .25 FTE $7,656.18
Graduate Assistant
Pre-Master Level
5 Months 10 Months
.75 FTE $9,680.27 .75 FTE $19,360.55
.50 FTE $6,453.51 .50 FTE $12,907.03
.25 FTE $3,226.75 .25 FTE $6,453.50
Post-Master Level
5 Months 10 Months
.75 FTE $10,648.84 .75 FTE $21,297.68
.50 FTE $7,099.22 .50 FTE $14,198.44
.25 FTE $3,549.61 .25 FTE $7,099.21

Maximum amounts are set at department level.

50 FTE TA/GA Regular = eligible for a non-transferable tuition waiver of up to 12 hours per semester.

.25 FTE TA/GA Regular = eligible for up to 6 hours per semester.

TA/GA Special = may or may not carry a tuition waiver. If a tuition waiver is granted the same tuition waiver policy for TA’s and GA’s classed as “Regular” applies.

TAssociates = tuition allocation is at the discretion of the hiring unit.

TA/GA Start-End Dates

Start and End Dates TA/GA 2012-2013

Summer 2014

June 2, 2014

July 25, 2014

Fall 2014

August 11, 2014

December 12, 2014

Spring 2015

January 5, 2015

May 8, 2015

Forms

  • I-9
    This form is to be completed by all new employees and employees whose previous job assignment with UNM expired more than 90 days ago. Please fill out Section 1 only. Section 2 must be completed by personnel in Graduate Studies. Please bring proper identification as indicated on this form. Hiring paperwork will not be processed for students who do not have proper identification.
  • W-4
    This form is to be completed by all new domestic employees and by students wishing to make changes to their withholding allowances. This form can be completed online. Please print out a completed copy and bring it to our office along with any other required hiring paperwork.
  • Electronic Assistantship Contract Form
    This form can only be accessed and completed by UNM staff personnel authorized by the department administrator or manager.
  • Consent and Disclosure form
    This form is to be completed by the candidate and submitted to Graduate Studies by the hiring unit along with the contract. The hiring unit must also detach the portion of the form with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for the applicant to keep.
  • Request for Background Check form
    This form is to be submitted to Graduate Studies by the hiring unit along with the contract.  
  • Confidentiality Agreement form
    In the event of an adverse finding, this form is to be completed by the hiring unit prior to release of information regarding the finding.

Documents, Resources and Links