Graduate assistantships are controlled and/or administered by academic departments. The department decides who receives these forms of financial support, and at what type and percentage of assistantship the graduate student will be supported.
Graduate student assistantships enable students to earn compensation for their research or teaching while continuing their academic and professional development. The policy that governs this form of student employment is described comprehensively in Administrative Guide 10.2.1, Graduate Student Assistantships.
Guide Memo 10.2.1 includes the following sections (go to the document for the text of each):
- Definitions and distinctions
- Assistantship eligibility criteria
- Types of assistantship appointments: Teaching
- Types of assistantship appointments: Research
- Percentage and period of assistantship appointments
- Tuition Allowance (TAL)
- Work in addition to appointment
- Cancellation or modification of assistantship appointments
- Taxes and tax reporting
- Resources for additional information.
Salary and Tuition Allowance tables are published annually.
- Assistantships are a form of graduate student employment, earning a compensation package that includes both salary and tuition allowance, for the performance of research or teaching services to the University as part of the student's academic and professional training and development.
- Only matriculated Stanford graduate students may hold assistantship appointments. There is one exception: "Students of New Faculty" (SNF) may be appointed to Research Assistantships but not Teaching Assistantships.
- There are two broad categories of assistantship appointments: Research Assistantships (RA) and Teaching Assistantships (TA). Administrative Guide 10.2.1 describes the responsibilities of each, including four different levels of TA appointments.
- Assistantships are full-quarter packages -3 months of either teaching or research work. During the school year employment is for full quarters with standard start/stop dates. (Autumn = 10/1 – 12/31, Winter = 1/1-3/31, Spring = 4/1-6/30).
- The maximum appointment during the school year (Autumn, Winter and Spring Quarters) is 50% (20 hours per week).The minimum assistantship appointment is 10% (4 hours per week), and higher appointments must be in increments of 5% (2 hours per week). No 45% appointments are allowed.
- Minimum RA and TA salaries are set each year by Stanford and announced by Vice Provost for Graduate Education. Schools and departments may pay a student more, but not less, than these minimums.
- Tuition Allowance (TAL) is proportional to the size of the student's appointment, and is paid for a full quarter.
- During the school year (Autumn, Winter, Spring Quarters), students must be enrolled in 8-10 units to receive any Tuition Allowance. This enrollment requirement is reduced during Summer Quarter (see below). The GFS system recognizes automatic exceptions to this requirement for TGR and Honors Co-op students. Home Department approvers may authorize an exception to this requirement for students who are within 10 units of TGR status, and for students with documentation from the Office of Accessible Education.
- In Summer Quarter, students may hold assistantship appointments up to 90% FTE (no 55% appointments are allowed). Students must be enrolled for at least 1-3 units in order to hold a Summer Quarter assistantship. 100% FTE assistantship appointments are not allowed. Eligible students can be hired at 100% FTE through PeopleSoft HR and will be considered temporary employees and will not receive any tuition allowance.
- Salaries paid to assistants will automatically be charged a fringe benefit rate, enabling the student to receive a Cardinal Care subsidy. The fringe benefit rate is subject to change each year (see DoResearch Rates web page).
Note that, for a graduate student to be eligible for a Cardinal Care subsidy, the student must be enrolled in Cardinal Care, and the information about the assistantship appointment must be entered into GFS and approved before the quarterly deadline.
- By approving an assistantship in the GFS system, the Home Department Approver is assuring that the work to be done is relevant to the student's academic program, and will contribute to the student's academic progress. See discussion of approver roles in the GFS System section of this manual.
See the following memos related to the charging of expenses for Research Assistants to sponsored projects:
- charges for graduate student insurance (Oct 2003)
- NIH limits on graduate student compensation (Jan 2005).
Screening of International Teaching Assistants
Prior to being appointed to any teaching assistantship (including course assistant appointments), international students must be screened for oral English proficiency by the English for Foreign Students (EFS) staff. (This TA screening is not the Stanford English Placement Test which determines whether entering non-native English speakers need to take courses in English appropriate to their academic program.) Note that students who are native speakers of English may call the EFS office (650-725-5378) to request a waiver. For further information about the TA screening process, please see (and refer students to) the Screening of International Teaching Assistants.
- Prior to the appointment, department administrators should discuss the TA screening and approval process with the international students whom they expect to appoint to teaching assistantships so that students can arrange their schedule accordingly. Whenever possible, the TA screening should take place at least one full quarter prior to the TA/CA appointment.
- Departments that plan to appoint international students who have not been approved for teaching must ask those students to contact the EFS office immediately to arrange an appointment to be tested.
- The TA Screening result (or TA-OK status) is given to the student in paper form and then entered in the GFS system by the EFS staff. To view a student’s status log into Axess and go to STF Graduate Financial Support→STF Graduate Financial Support→Inquire→Student Info.
- "T" = "TA-OK" and indicates that the student is "ready to teach."
- "L" = "Limited" and indicates eligibility only as a Course Assistant (CA) with limited responsibilities.
- "N" = "Not TA-OK" and indicates that the student is not currently eligible for a teaching appointment.
- Before a student with an "L" or "N" result on the TA screening is allowed to be appointed as a Teaching Assistant, Teaching Affiliate, or Mentor Teaching Assistant or Affiliate, the student must complete English courses - usually EFSLANG 692 (Speaking and Teaching in English) and/or 695A (Pronunciation and Intonation). EFSLANG 692 is designed for prospective international teaching assistants. The course focuses on the accurate, fluent, and appropriate use of English for teaching, as well as effective teaching and communication techniques. It is offered every quarter, except Summer Quarter.
- Administrators and faculty members are encouraged to call the EFS staff (650-725-5378) to discuss the English needs of individual students and the particular responsibilities of teaching assistants in their department.
The Contacts page in this manual includes contact information for the English for Foreign Students office.Updated on June 1, 2017 9:45 AM