Montana State University

The Graduate School

Montana State University
P.O. Box 172580
Bozeman, MT 59717-2580

Tel: (406) 994-4145
Toll Free: 1-800-255-7962
Fax: (406) 994-4733
Location: 108 Montana Hall


Dr. Karlene A. Hoo, Dean

The Graduate School - Policies and Procedures

Graduate Assistantships

 General Information

Graduate assistantships are available in many academic departments. Prospective graduate students should contact their department of choice for information regarding assistantship availability. Non-degree graduate students are not eligible for graduate assistantships or tuition waivers.

Graduate Assistantship Appointment Forms do not constitute a contract of employment. Final appointment and continuation authority resides with The Graduate School.

Academic Year Guidelines:

  • Graduate teaching and research assistants (GTA, GRA) must be enrolled for at least 6 credits.
  • Graduate Student Assistants (GSA) must be enrolled in 3-5 credits per semester during the academic year.
  • GSAs are not exempt from payroll taxes and must meet the same deadlines as GTAs and GRAs.
  • Graduate Assistants work a minimum of 10 hours per week and a maximum of 20 hours per week during Fall and Spring semester.
  • All GTAs and GRAs must carry a minimum of six credits during each semester they receive an assistantship.
  • Graduate assistants may enroll in no more than twelve (12) semester credits if appointed to work more than fifteen (15) hours per week.
  • Graduate assistants may enroll in up to fifteen (15) semester credits if appointed to work fifteen (15) or fewer hours per week.

Summer Guidelines:

  • GRAs and GTAs must be enrolled in a minimum of six (6) credits during the summer sessions.
  • GSAs can be enrolled in 0-5 credits during the summer session as long as they are continuing their graduate program from the spring semester.
  • Summer Graduate Assistants appointed as GRAs, GTAS, or GSAs may work up to 40 hours per week. The minimum appointment is 10 hours per week.

Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA)

Graduate Teaching Assistants are those graduate students who are involved in instruction, usually of undergraduates. Qualified GTAs perform instructional duties in an area of their expertise, most often within their home departments, although qualified GTAs may perform teaching duties outside their departments.

General Duties Include:

  • Actual instruction in a classroom setting,
  • Instruction in recitation sections,
  • Conducting help sessions and holding office hours to advise students on class assignments,
  • Assisting with laboratory setup,
  • Grading papers, exams, laboratory reports, and homework, and
  • Other duties pertaining to the instructional mission of MSU.

MSU faculty members oversee all GTA teaching duties. GTAs are usually assigned to work from 15 to 20 hours per week.

GTA Requirements for International Graduate Students

  • The student must earn the minimum scores outlined below,
  • The department also must certify that it has evaluated each student's ability to successfully carry out teaching assignments.

Minimum Scores

  • International students must also meet the minimum score requirements for the TOEFL or IELTS as listed below:
    • Classroom teaching in charge of a class or section:
      • 580 TOEFL paper-based test or;
      • 237 TOEFL computer-based test or;
      • 93 TOEFL internet based test or;
      • 7.0 IELTS total band score.
    • Lab assistant or discussion leader with another qualified GTA, or with a regular faculty member present in the classroom:
      • 565 TOEFL paper-based test or;
      • 225 TOEFL computer-based test or;
      • 86 TOEFL internet based test or;
      • 7.0 IELTS total band score
    • Test/paper grader, assisting with lab set up, or other non-student contact duties:
      • 550 TOEFL paper-based test or;
      • 213 TOEFL computer-based test or;
      • 80 TOEFL internet based test or;
      • 7.0 IELTS total band score
  • International students must meet minimum English speaking scores:
    • Classroom teacher in charge of a class/section; lab assistant or discussion leader with another qualified GTA, or regular faculty member present in the classroom:
      • 50 TSE/SPEAK score or;
      • 26 TOEFL internet based speaking score or;
      • 7.0 IELTS speaking score.
    • Test/paper grader or performance of other non-student contact duties:
      • 45 TSE/SPEAK score or;
      • 26 TOEFL internet based test or;
      • 7.0 IELTS speaking score.

Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs)

Research conducted by Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) is a significant portion of the total sponsored research at MSU. GRAs often conduct research in a relevant area of their major course of study under the direction of a faculty member. GRAs are expected to work 15 to 20 hours per week.

The research is usually a component of the faculty advisors research that is directly supported by external funding. GRAs are generally expected to carry out a specific research project which often forms the basis for a thesis or dissertation.

General Duties Include:

  • Performing experiments, calculations, and analyzing the results and disseminating new knowledge orally or in written publications
  • Reflecting on the state of the field and proposing new research problems
  • Attending conferences to present results and collaborate with other researchers
  • Training and supervising less experienced research personnel.

Graduate Student Assistants (GSA)

Graduate students appointed as Graduate Student Assistants may be involved in instruction and/or research usually in their area of expertise. GSAs assist faculty, departments, or other units in a variety of activities that are closely related to the student's area of academic study and interest. Specific duties of GSAs may be similar or identical to GTAs and GRAs.

Tuition Waiver General Information

  • Tuition Waivers do not waive the various fees attached to a student’s tuition and fee statement.
  • Tuition waivers are available on a limited basis, and eligibility does not guarantee a tuition waiver.
  • The Graduate School is not obligated to award tuition waivers based on promises made by departments.

Student Deadlines for Tuition Waivers Awarded

Late Awarding Waivers

  • Tuition waivers awarded after the fifth class day are not guaranteed, and students may have to pay full tuition.

Other Student Employment

Graduate students may also hold employment in other capacities (i.e. , student employment such as custodial, cafeteria help, tutoring, as well as classified, professional or adjunct positions).  

An individual who comes to MSU as a student may be employed primarily through a graduate teaching or research assistantship. However, students may also work as a student employee at Residence Life, University Food Services, ASMSU Tutoring, or apply for classified, professional and adjunct positions.

Ethical and Professional Standards

Faculty, administrators, supervisors, and others in positions of authority shall take care to maintain the highest ethical and professional standards in their interactions with students and employees.

For more information, contact the Affirmative Action office.

Back to Graduate Catalog of Policies and Procedures