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Graduate Assistantships

Selection of Graduate Teaching Assistants. Departmental approval of admission and subsequent official notification of admission by the University Office of Admissions is prerequisite to any offer of financial support to an applicant. The Graduate Studies Committee of the department has the responsibility of advising the Chairperson of the department on matters related to the graduate teaching assistantships. The Committee screens the applications and makes specific recommendations concerning the award of teaching assistantships.

The criteria used in selecting Graduate Teaching Assistants include the following (in descending order of priority): 1) merit of the applicant as judged by previous scholastic record, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and the applicant's statement of career objectives; 2) availability of faculty with expertise in the applicant's field of interest, facilities and financial resources to support the applicant's thesis research, and willingness to serve as major professor for the applicant; and 3) compatibility of the applicant's previous academic training and current area of interest with the staffing needs of the department. In the case of foreign students, language skills are an additional important consideration. All international students whose native language is not English must take the SPEAK test before they are allowed to serve as a GTA.

Occasional resignations or the acquisitions of new positions may result in teaching assistantships becoming available during the academic year; these positions are usually filled from the pool of graduate students needing support to complete their degrees.

Selection of Graduate Research Assistants. The criteria used in the selection of Graduate Research Assistants are similar to those used in the selection of teaching assistantships, but the source of funds for the research assistantship is an additional consideration of major importance. Stipends for graduate research assistantships are made possible through research grants from external agencies. These funds are allocated specifically for the support of a defined research project. Therefore, the applicant selected for a graduate research assistantship must be qualified to contribute to the particular research program providing the support and be willing to make a specific commitment to that program.

Renewal of Financial Support. Subject to satisfactory progress in the degree program, satisfactory performance of assistantship duties, and the availability of funding, the policy of the department has been to renew graduate teaching and research assistantships to provide a total of two years of support in the case of M.S. programs or four years of support in the case of Ph.D. programs. This policy is seldom rigorously enforced by the department but the Graduate Studies Committee usually requests an explanation of students taking more than three years for an M.S. or five years for a Ph.D. degree.

Stipends for Graduate Teaching and Research Assistantships. Graduate students entering the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology on appointments as Graduate Teaching Assistants (nine months) or Graduate Research Assistants (12 months) are appointed at a stipend of roughly $1622/month for a 0.455 FTE. A tuition remission is provided for graduate students holding  appointments of .20 FTE or greater stipends, but must pay student fees of about $500. As a result of CGE bargaining this amount may be reduced. All Ph.D. candidates are required to teach two quarters. It is the students’ responsibility to contact Dr. Lynda Ciuffetti, TA mentor, about the availability of teaching availability. Dr. Ciuffetti will contact students regarding assignement

GTA appointments are for nine months only. Many students are employed by their advisers during the summer term, often on hourly wages from research grants. Be sure to ask your adviser about summer support. Supervisor's must contact  Carleen Nutt (Room 2082) regarding employment of graduate students for the summer. Students with summer support must sign up for employment at Student Employment Services (Kerr AdS B008A). This should be done between June 1 and July 1 (to ensure getting paid) and is separate from signing up for GTA or GRA employment. Students thus employed must turn in timecards for each July, August, and September to Carleen Nutt in Room 2082 on the 10th day of each month.

Paychecks are delivered to the department office on the last working day of the month or may be direct deposited (get forms from the Personnel Specialist in Cordley 2082). Note: GTA’s/GRA’s see below.

Scholarships are sometimes available from University funds to supplement the stipends of selected incoming graduate students supported by teaching or research assistantships. These scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis for one year and are not renewable.

Provisional Status Students. New graduate students who lack the necessary entrance requirements and thus have been accepted on provisional status, are not eligible for assistantships. Upon satisfactory completion of these requirements, the student attains regular status and is eligible for departmental assistantships. Provisional students may be hired as student employees in the department, however, they will not be eligible for tuition waivers when working for an hourly wage. An amount of the hourly wage is negotiated with the research leader of the lab in which the work will be done.

If a student's grade point average (GPA) falls below a 3.0, the major professor, the department Associate Chairperson, and the Graduate Studies Committee will be notified by the Graduate School. Failure to restore the GPA to a 3.0 in subsequent terms may result in dismissal from the graduate program.

Competitive Pre-doctoral Fellowships. New graduate students, in a Ph.D. program, who have not completed 30 Quarter Units are eligible to apply for National Science Foundation and Hughes Foundation Fellowships. Other fellowships are also available, and information regarding applications can be obtained from posted flyers in the mail room, the major professor, or the Graduate School. All entering doctoral students are encouraged to apply for extramural funding.

Policy on Graduate Student Assistantships

Graduate student assistants are usually appointed at a 0.455 FTE (full time equivalent) per term at the department's stipend rate for that year and they are expected to spend 16-18 hours per week for 12 weeks/term on  their assigned teaching or research activities. The major professor determines the nature of research activities but he/she is encouraged to expect the student to spend some portion of this time on research or
activities unrelated to the thesis work. In some circumstances, an assistantship can be made at less than a 0.455 FTE; normally the variation would be 0.227 FTE. Individuals can hold a 0.227 FTE GRA and a 0.227 FTE GTA in the same term; under these circumstances, the cost of the tuition waiver is shared by the source of funds. Deviation from the 0.455 FTE or the normal stipend rate for a given graduate assistant appointment requires a written request from the advisor to the department chairperson; approval may be granted under special circumstances.

Tuition waivers are paid by the State for all graduate teaching assistants and some graduate research assistants (the rest are paid by research grants). Tuition is waived for all graduate students on an assistantship appointment OF 0.2 FTE OR GREATER (students are still responsible for fees). 

Effective Fall 1996, all STUDENTS ON APPOINTMENTS THAT RESULT IN TUITION WAIVERS ARE EXPECTED TO REGISTER FOR 15 credits/term.  (Summer term is an exception because registration is optional; however, for any appointment that requires summer registration, enrollment should be for 15 credits.) In general, formal classes will not normally exceed 2-3/term. The remaining credits are to be filled with Departmental
Seminar (1 credit) (Bot 507 or 607) and either Research (Bot 501 or 601) or thesis credit (Bot 503 or 603). Research credit should be selected when the research activity is unrelated to the thesis project; ALL THESIS RESEARCH ACTIVITY SHOULD BE UNDERTAKEN UNDER BOT 503 OR 603 DESIGNATORS.

Both research and thesis credits may be appropriate in some terms. Reading and Conference courses (titled or untitled, Bot 505 or 605) also can be part of the 15 credits. PLEASE NOTE THAT GRADUATE STUDENTS SHOULD NOT ENROLL FOR MORE THAN 16 CREDITS, BECAUSE ADDITIONAL TUITION AND FEES WILL BE INCURRED WHICH WILL NOT BE COVERED BY YOUR TUITION WAIVER.

The department's Associate Chair will monitor credit hours of graduate students with assistantships. Continuation of an assistantship to the next term will be dependent on the 15-credit requirement being met for the current term.

Adopted by vote of professorial faculty on 3 June 1996.
Minimum and maximum credit limits updated per 1996-97 Graduate Catalog, p. 18.
NOTE: New University Graduate Tuition Remission Policy of March 31, 2000.  The complete policy statement can be found at