A student awarded a graduate assistantship receives a financial stipend for services rendered in addition to a full or partial tuition scholarship. Graduate assistantship awards (UGA) are awarded to approximately 2000 full-time graduate students each year at the University of Cincinnati. Graduate assistants are also entitled to a discount at the University Bookstore and may be eligible for one of the two Graduate Assistant/Fellow Health Insurance Awards. (See Graduate Assistant/Fellow Health Insurance Awards section.)
A student who receives a graduate assistantship devotes effort to a combined program of formal study and assigned duties of teaching, research or administrative service that is designed to enhance their university education. The stipend received by the graduate assistant is in recognition of these services. Those with teaching duties are teaching assistants (TAs) and those with research duties are research assistants (RAs). During the appointment, the goal is to produce a graduate student who becomes a more learned, creative, and professional individual through formal instruction, interaction with faculty, research, and administrative experience. Any assignments that result from a graduate award should be consistent with the student’s academic pursuits.
UGA awardees must be registered for 12 graduate credit hours or more, exclusive of audit credits, for each semester they receive the assistantship and they must be appointed to a position that is consistent with their field of academic study. University assistantships will be cancelled if the awardee does not meet his/her enrollment obligation. The exception to this rule is summer semester. See Summer Employment without Full-time Enrollment section.
Assistantships are awarded for designated periods of time by the graduate programs with funds allocated and monitored by the Graduate School. Graduate Assistants are considered exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements, and are paid on a salaried basis. Minimum stipends are set by the Dean of the Graduate School. The current minimum stipend must be the equivalent of a minimum of $14.93 per hour.
Graduate students who have 174 graduate credit hours (including attempted credits with grades F, I, UW, SP, IP, UP, etc.) at the University of Cincinnati are not eligible for an award funded by the university for enrollment beginning with the semester in which said student will exceed the 174 attempted hours. (See 174 Graduate Credit Rule.) This is due to the regulations governing state support of the university, so exceptions are not considered. It should be noted that courses taken for audit credit and official course withdrawals do not count toward the 174 attempted graduate semester credit hours for the purpose of determining stipend eligibility.
The appointing academic program, college, or area of responsibility determines service requirements of students who hold assistantships. If awarded an assistantship outside their program, graduate assistants’ duties are governed by the academic program, college, or the area of responsibility that made the award. In all cases, the award obligate awardees to no more than 20 hours per week of services that make a substantive contribution to the student’s academic and professional development. If the student determines that he/she cannot meet the requirements of the award, it is imperative that he/she notifies the program to initiate renegotiation or reassignment of the award with correspondingly less support. A student’s hours are prorated for weeks with a holiday or school closure and are not required to be available during break periods unless given additional compensation.
Non-native speakers of English who are awarded teaching assistantships at the University of Cincinnati are required to score at least a 3.0 on the Oral English Proficiency Test (OEPT). The OEPT evaluates the spoken language skills of non-native speakers of English. Students who pass are certified for oral English proficiency and may assume the full range of duties associated with their teaching assistantship.
Students whose oral English proficiency has not been officially certified may not assume instructional responsibilities. Students are required to take the test at the beginning of their first term of study. However, students who score 26 or above on the speaking section of the TOEFL IBT or students with a score of 50 or above on the Test of Spoken English are exempt from the OEPT. A student is permitted to take the OEPT twice without charge during an academic year.
Assistantship awards are contingent upon student status, satisfactory degree progress, and performance of service as assigned, and can be terminated at any time. Each year the assistantship is in effect, the appointing program, college, or area must notify the awardee in writing of any significant change to the services or conditions of the appointment. Such changes include, but are not limited to:
- the amount and duration of the award
- any tuition and/or fee not paid by the program
- the average expected time per week or per semester of required duties
- description of the duties assigned to the student
- description of the conditions under which either the student or unit may terminate the award prior to its end-date
- criteria for reappointment of the award
- criteria for determining variations in stipend levels where such variations exist
- information on current IRS guidelines, Medicare, and the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS)
- graduate appointment procedures if any of the documents have been modified since the student’s initial appointment.
Academic programs are strongly encouraged to include information on the Graduate Student Health Insurance award, such as the online award application’s URL and approximate application deadlines. The program’s handbook for graduate study must be available to the student. Upon the student’s acceptance of the offer, the program and the student are bound by the terms and conditions set forth in the letter of appointment.