Department Information


When offering an assistantship it is important that the student understands it is only an offer and that the College of Graduate Studies (COGS) is the final approval authority. An assistantship is not valid until the College of Graduate Studies has approved it. Departments are encouraged to develop supplemental procedures for administration of those assistantships allocated to them. Areas which may be addressed in these procedures include, but are not limited to:

  • Establishing deadlines for submission of applications
  • Establishing the date for offer notification
  • Criteria for assessment of applications
  • Graduate Assistant job responsibilities

Steps for Hiring a Graduate Assistant

There are four types of Graduate Assistant positions:

Graduate Research Assistant (GRA): A GRA has various duties according to the specific research project to which the graduate is assigned. The duties of the GRA are limited to research activities.

Graduate Support Assistant (GSA): A GSA is appointed to perform various types of duties other than those related directly to teaching or research, such as supervisory or administrative functions.

Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA): The GTA works under the direct supervision of a Tennessee Tech Faculty member performing teaching assistance in a classroom, laboratory, tutoring, preparation of course materials, or overall instruction or supervision of students. A GTA does not need a Graduate Teaching Associate Academic Preparation Certification Form.

Graduate Teaching Associate (GTS): The GTS may have the same types of responsibilities of the GTA but will have responsibility for teaching an undergraduate course, and is listed as the primary instructor of record. The GTS must have 18 hours of graduate credit hours in his/her teaching discipline. The department must complete the Graduate Teaching Associate Academic Preparation Certification Form. (This is a docusign form and requires student transcripts be attached.)

The following PDFs provide you with guidance on hiring and paying your graduate assistant:


Graduate Assistantship: Offer Letter

Graduate Assistantship Offer Letter - The signed offer letter must be attached to the DocuSign PAF. It is important that the start and stop dates in the offer letter match the PAF. If the dates do not match, the PAF will be returned to the department for correction.

  • All Graduate Assistantship offer letters for international students must be sent to the International Student Affairs Office (Andrew Bleignier) when issuing the offer to the student and then again upon acceptance, for the completion of the I-20.

Graduate Assistant PAF (Personnel Action Form)

The GA PAF is processed online with digital signatures using the DocuSign system. Before initiating the DocuSign PAF, the following information should be available for input into the system: student information including T#, address, birth date, email, first semester enrolled at Tennessee Tech as a graduate student, current program code, FOPAL string, signed and scanned offer letter, number of hours registered, citizenship, and visa status.

The GA PAF and directions for completing the PAF are found at the Human Resources website: HR Forms Page

For setting up the accounting information needed on the PAF: for assistance with the creation of the detail code, contact the Business Office; contact Financial Aid if you need a detail code; and contact HR for a position number.

Remember that if the Graduate Assistant is a Teaching Associate, the approved Academic Preparation Certification Form must be attached to the PAF.

Deadlines For Approval of the Graduate Assistantship

PAF's: All Graduate Assistantship PAF's along with the original offer letter are to be submitted via DocuSign to the College of Graduate Studies by the following deadlines each semester:

  • Fall: July 27th
  • Spring: November 23rd
  • Summer: April 27th 

If the above deadlines are not met, the student stipend will be delayed.

PAF Start and End Dates For 2024-2025

  • GRA: Starts and ends as determined by the department. (PAF should not cross over two academic years.)
  • GSA: Starts first day of classes and ends last day of classes.
  • GTA and GTS: Starts one week from first day of classes and ends last day of finals.
    Note: A GA who is graduating may not work after the last day of finals. If the student does not graduate, a Change PAF can be submitted to adjust the end date.
Summer 2024
  • GRA—For example: Start 6/1/2024, End 7/31/2024
  • GSA—Both Sessions: Start 5/20/2024, End 7/23/2024
  • GSA—1st Summer Session: Start 5/20/2024, End 6/18/2024
  • GSA—2nd Summer Session: Start 6/24/2024, End 7/23/2024
  • GTA/GTS—Both Sessions: Start 5/13/2024, End 7/26/2024
  • GTA/GTS—1st Summer Session: Start 5/13/2024, End 6/21/2024
  • GTA/GTS—2nd Summer Session: Start 6/17/2024, End 7/26/2024
Fall 2024-Spring 2025
  • GRA—For example: Start 8/1/2024, End 5/31/2025
  • GSA—Both Semesters: Start 8/22/2024, End 5/2/2025
  • GSA—Fall Only: Start 8/22/2024, End 12/6/2024
  • GSA—Spring Only: Start 1/16/2025, End 5/2/2025
  • GTA/GTS—Both Semesters: Start 8/15/2024, End 5/8/2025
  • GTA/GTS—Fall Only: Start 8/15/2024, End 12/12/2024
  • GTA/GTS—Spring Only: Start 1/9/2025, End 5/8/2025

Maintaining Graduate Assistant Files

All graduate assistant worker file records are subject to audit by: Immigration and Naturalization Services, The Department of Labor, The State Comptroller of the Treasury, Open Records Act, and Tennessee Tech Internal Audit.

The hiring department is required to keep a file (online or paper) for each graduate assistant employed by that department. Each graduate assistant worker file must contain: Graduate assistantship application, copy of graduate assistantship offer letter(s), copy of Personnel Action Form(s), copy of valid I-9 card, all training material including dates of completion of Title VI and Title IX online training courses, Graduate Teaching Associate Academic Preparation Certification Form (for Graduate Teaching Associates only), work performance evaluation for each semester of employment, and all re-appointment offer letters. Below you will find links to the documents you will need for the GA file.

When hiring a graduate assistant as a Teaching Associate, the department must verify their academic credentials. The form must be used and attached to the Associate PAF.

Graduate Assistant Training

Graduate Assistant: Evaluation Forms

Evaluation is a very important part of the Graduate Assistantship experience. The evaluation should be an ongoing process of communication between the Graduate Assistant and the supervisor. A formal evaluation should be performed each semester and the results maintained in the departments Graduate Assistant worker file.

Graduate Support or Research Assistant Evaluation GA Support and Research Evaluation
Graduate Teaching Evaluation GA Teaching Evaluation

Research Graduate Assistant: Intellectual Property Policy

Graduate Research Assistants need to have a complete understanding of Tennessee Tech's Intellectual Property policies and how it may impact them. Advise all Research Assistants to visit the Tennessee Tech Intellectual Property website and the TBR Intellectual Property website.


Both the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) and the Tennessee Conference of Graduate Schools TCGS) maintain the position that the goal of the graduate assistantship should be to enhance the ability of the student to complete his or her graduate degree. Enhancement of the ability to complete the degree should not be interpreted such that the financial support provided by the graduate assistantship is the only part of the graduate assistantship that helps the student to achieve the goal of completing the graduate degree. 

Programs of graduate study are designed to transform the individual from student to (knowledgeable practitioner or) professional scholar. When a graduate assistantship is well conceived and executed, it should serve as an ideal instrument to help facilitate the desired transformation. The primary goal of an assistantship, then, is to facilitate progress toward the graduate degree. Rather than interfere or conflict with the student’s educational objective, the assistantship is to aid in the prompt and successful completion of the degree program. While the student assistant makes progress toward an advanced degree, he or she also receives work experience in a profession under the supervision of a faculty mentor. The graduate assistant is both student and employee. As a student, the graduate assistant must perform well academically to retain the assistantship. A graduate assistant will receive counseling and performance evaluation regularly by a faculty mentor to develop his/her professional skills. As an employee, the graduate assistant must to meet teaching, research, and/or administrative obligations. He or she is to work under the supervision of experienced faculty and receive in-service training. In sum, the graduate assistant receives financial support for graduate study by contributing to the teaching and/or research mission of the university. The totality of responsibility may be greater than that required of other students or staff members, but the opportunities for professional development also are greater for the graduate assistant.

- Tennessee Conference of Graduate Schools (C.W.Minkell & Mary P. Richards, 1987, A Model Policy for Graduate Assistantships Administration)

Accepting/Declining an Assistantship

Tennessee Tech adheres to the following for full-year assistantships: Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants Acceptance of an offer of financial support (such as a graduate scholarship, fellowship, trainee-ship, or assistantship) for the next academic year by a prospective or enrolled graduate student completes an agreement that both student and graduate school expect to honor. In that context, the conditions affecting such offers and their acceptance must be defined carefully and understood by all parties. Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this Resolution. In those instances in which a student accepts an offer before April 15, and subsequently desires to withdraw that acceptance, the student may submit in writing a resignation of the appointment at any time through April 15. However, an acceptance given or left in force after April 15 commits the student not to accept another offer without first obtaining a written release from the institution to which a commitment has been made. Similarly, an offer by an institution after April 15 is conditional on presentation by the student of the written release from any previously accepted offer. It is further agreed by the institution and organizations subscribing to the above Resolution that a copy of this Resolution should accompany every scholarship, fellowship, trainee-ship, and assistantship offer.

-National Council of Graduate Schools

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