Student Funding & Assistantships

Funding graduate students is a complex process. More detailed information for program directors and their administrators can also be found in this document and this Canvas course.

Policy on Graduate Student Compensation​

Graduate students represent a significant portion of the university's instructional and research staff. As such, they should be adequately compensated, properly training, fairly treated, and given equitable work assignments. This policy defines the categories, sources, and amounts of compensation for graduate students as well as the workload. The purpose of graduate assistantships is described in the Provost’s Academic Personnel Procedures Handbook, summarized as:

  • The major goal of graduate assistantships “is two-dimensional: to promote the student’s progress toward a graduate degree and to provide additional resources to accomplish the mission of the University.”
  • The University has a commitment to “maintain the synergistic relationship between the student’s studies and assistantship responsibilities.”  Therefore, “the student's supervisor has the responsibility both to assure that assigned duties contribute to the student's graduate education and to guide the assistant through the assigned duties.”
  • All Graduate Assistants should balance their assistantship obligations with their academic work. Any additional outside work cannot conflict with the responsibilities of the assistantship. Limiting work hours to a maximum of 20 hours per week is advised to ensure students achieve satisfactory academic progress. Therefore, no graduate assistantship can exceed 20 hours per week. Federal guidelines require that international students are limited to 20 hours of work per week. Domestic students may work up to 25 hours per week on campus, inclusive of their assistantship.
  1. Categories of Support

Graduate students receiving compensation[1] from the university in support of their studies may be paid for one of the following assignments:

a.    Teaching assistants (TA's): Full-time students with instructional responsibility (e.g., independently leading labs, classes, recitation sections, or supporting large enrollment classes) or instruction-related tasks (e.g., grading, recording attendance, preparing instructional materials). Categories of TA's include TA, TA-Instructor of Record, and TA-Instructional Assistant.

b.    Research assistants (RA's): Full-time students solely engaged in conducting research under the direction of a faculty member.

c.    Student Employees: Students employed in a variety of positions not necessarily related to their course of study. These students are paid hourly as Student Temporary Employees through the Human Resources Department. Grant-funded research positions must be hired as RA's.

  1. Funding Sources

Students are funded from a variety of sources and the different sources have specific limitations and requirements. The common sources of funding are:

  1. TA or RA positions awarded to programs by the Graduate School
  2. Assistantships awarded by colleges to departments and programs for support of graduate students
  3. A variety of funds used by departments and colleges from vacant positions, fees, School Based Tuition Increments (SBTI), or other sources to provide support for students in any of the categories listed in 1
  4. Support for students on extramural grants by faculty. 
  1. Doctoral Student Compensation 

RA's or TA's enrolled full time, funded by the Graduate School or through designated college-level assistantship accounts, who work 20 hr/wk for at least 15 wks/semester, will receive, as long as they remain eligible:

  1. A multi-year funding commitment (up to five years unless a master's degree in a related discipline is already earned)
  2. Academic year compensation at a minimum of $20,000[2]
  3. Full tuition through the Graduate Assistant Support Plan (GASP) (see below)
  4. Health insurance - premium payment for the Student Blue plan
  1. Master’s Student Compensation

TAs enrolled full time, funded by the Graduate School or designated college-level assistantship accounts, who work 20 hr/wk for at least 15 wks/semester, will receive, as long as they remain eligible:

  1. A two-year funding commitment beginning with the student's term of admission
  2. Academic year compensation at a minimum of $14,250, for one 20-hour TA appointment
  3. Tuition in the amount to pay for an NC resident for 9 hours (nonresident students will have to pay the rest to cover full nonresident tuition). Dependent on funding availability.
  1. Tuition Support

The Graduate Assistant Support Plan (GASP)  is designed to provide competitive support packages to attract excellent graduate students. Doctoral students may receive GASP support for up to ten semesters or up to eight semesters if enrolled in an Advanced Standing program.Eligibility for tuition support through GASP requires:

  1. Enrollment in a doctoral program
  2. A qualifying TA or RA that begins on or before census (10th instructional day) for the fall and/or spring semester for no more than 20 hours/week and at least 15 weeks per semester
  3. Full-time enrollment (9-12 student credit hours) in an on-campus master’s or doctoral program, or enrollment in GRAD 9999, 9800
  4. In a doctoral student's final year, tuition support is for 3 hours of GRAD 9800, and funding for more may be requested
  5. Satisfactory progress assessed at least annually by the graduate program.
  1. Grant-funded RAs

Faculty are encouraged to add graduate student compensation (stipend, tuition, health insurance, and fee awards for E&T and Health Services fees) to research grant applications to the extent allowable. Because graduate student compensation is subject to federal Uniform Guidance, care must be taken to adhere to university and program policies for research assistants. The following guidance applies:

  1. Extramural funding sources that allow investigators to request tuition must request a minimum of $6,000/academic year on new submissions beginning July 1, 2022, for doctoral students
  2. The minimum requirement for tuition paid by a grant is expected to increase to $8,000/year starting July 1, 2023, for doctoral students
  3. The minimum requirement for tuition paid by a grant is expected to increase to full in-state and out-of-state tuition starting July 1, 2024 for doctoral students.
  4. The minimum academic year stipend requested must match the stipend listed for the student by program, shown in the Compensation Package documents
  5. Health Insurance should be requested at the rate current at the time of submission (for doctoral students)
  6. The E&T fee and the Health Services fee should be requested at the rate current at the time of submission (for doctoral students)
  7. For master’s students, grants must include current in-state (resident) tuition when allowable for new applications submitted beginning July 1, 2022.

Note: If you offer a grant-funded RA before the fund is set up to use, you must set up a departmentally funded RA for the student, so they have a stipend while the fund is being set up. Once you have the grant fund number, Supersede the RA to change the payments from the department fund to the grant fund. Payroll will reimburse the department fund and charge the entire stipend to the grant.

  1. Program Options
    1. Programs are advised to develop written policies that meet the basic requirements outlined in this document.
    2. Stipends can be adjusted to incentivize student progress (e.g., increased support for doctoral student admitted to candidacy), to recognize advanced status, or that reflect duties and responsibilities (TAs or RAs).
    3. RAs can be established at higher compensation levels when the skills required are more advanced; however, compensation must be equivalent for students who are similarly situated, regardless of funding source.
    4. RA and TA positions created from lapsed salary or other sources as described in 2.c. must meet the minimum standard for compensation.
  1. Workload[4]
    1. During the regular academic terms, students in TA or RA positions have up to a 20 hr/week commitment.
    2. TAs are expected to support large classes, teach 2-3 labs/semester, serve as instructor of record, if qualified, or manage 3-4 recitation sections.  Programs are expected to ensure that TAs are well-trained, have equitable workloads, and serve the instructional mission.
    3. Students hired hourly may work up to 25 hours per week during the academic year, unless the student holds a student visa, then they are limited to 20 hours/week.
    4. Domestic students holding both a TA/RA and an hourly position may work up to 25 hours per week in combined total.
  1. Summer support
    1. During the summer session, programs may pay students at the standard monthly rate for 20 hours per week. Enrollment is not required during the summer for continuing students, but enrollment is required for NEW students. New international students enrolled on F- or J-1 Visas must be full-time enrolled in the summer (e.g., six hours).
    2. If not enrolled in courses, continuing GA's may be hired for up to 40 hr/wk.

[1] External, competitively awarded fellowships, philanthropic fellowships, or externally funded traineeships are not considered compensation and do not fall within this policy.

[2] Minimum compensation levels are to be reviewed at least every three years by the Graduate School.

[3] Out-of-state students are eligible for GASP support for the first two semesters of study, after which a student must establish North Carolina residency. This does not apply to international students with visas that render them ineligible for North Carolina residency. Students are advised to begin the residency process immediately upon beginning their studies.

[4] Guidelines for the eligibility and preparation of Graduate Teaching Assistants are described in a separate document.


  1. Beginning with the 2022-2023 academic year, the Graduate School will request that each college provide updated standard compensation packages for every academic program for two academic years, regardless if the program has extramural awards that support graduate students. In odd years, the program may update the compensation package if desired.
  2. Doctoral and master's students in campus-based (non-distance education) programs may be hired on graduate assistantships.
  3. Stipend, tuition, health insurance, and the education and technology (E&T) and health services fees are allowable expenses that may be provided to doctoral students. Stipend and resident tuition is allowable for master's students, although individual programs may choose to include nonresident tuition and other educational costs for students in their programs from other departmental resources.
  4. Uniform Guidance requires that students in the same program, with comparable duties, have the same compensation packages. Packages may be differentiated based on GA type (TA versus RA), student level, experience, etc. Students hired as TA's without the full compensation package must be hired as hourly temporary workers. Students on a grant-funded RA may not be hired hourly.

Graduate Assistantship Eligibility

​To be eligible for appointment as a graduate research assistant or teaching assistant, applicants must meet the terms and conditions located in the Policy on Graduate Student Compensation in addition to the following:

  • To be eligible for appointment as a graduate assistant, an applicant:
    • Must have a baccalaureate degree, or a baccalaureate degree and work experience, that equips them for the assignment;
    • Must have been admitted to full standing in a graduate degree program; and
    • Must have had an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 or better overall, or must have completed at least six hours of graduate work with a GPA of 3.0 or better.
  • To retain their appointment, graduate assistants:
    • Must participate in any required orientation program;
    • Must follow instructions of the employing department to complete the INS Form I-9 to certify eligibility for employment prior to the first day of employment. Assistantships cannot start until the date that work authorization was provided. (International GAs complete this form in the International Student/Scholar Office);
    • Must enroll in at least six credit hours each semester of the assistantship, unless a student is supported by GASP or on a visa, which requires 9 credit hours for full-time status;
    • Must work no more than twenty hours per week in the assistantship and any other employment on or off-campus;
    • Must perform assigned duties satisfactorily according to the terms of appointment and participate in the supervision and evaluation processes required for the assistantship;
    • Must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 and must make satisfactory progress toward completion of a graduate degree at UNC Charlotte or through an approved interinstitutional degree program.
    • Please see this important information about the University's policy on Graduate Student Parental Leave.

Human Resources also outlines employment policies that apply to graduate and teaching assistants, including these highlights:

  • Continuing students may work up to 40 hours per week during the summer semesters unless the student is enrolled in summer classes.
  • Applicants must complete employment paperwork with Human Resources or the International Student Scholar Office no later than the first day of employment.
  • Salary is paid twice monthly, on the 15th and last business day of each month.

Credit Hours and How They Affect Funding

Minimum credit hours need to be met for specific types of funding and aid.  The Academic Load/Time Status for All Graduate Students is detailed in the Graduate Catalog at Below is a list of the most commonly requested minimums:

  • Minimum credit hours for financial aid eligibility (domestic students only): 5
  • Minimum credit hours before clock begins for student to repay student loans (domestic students only): 5
  • Minimum credit hours to hold a graduate assistantship: 6
  • Minimum credit hours to hold GASP: 9 graduate hours or enrollment in GRAD 9800 or GRAD 9999
  • Minimum credit hours to hold MTART: 9 graduate hours or enrollment in GRAD 7800 or GRAD 7999
  • Minimum credit hours enrolled for student visa status: 9 or enrollment in GRAD 9800 or 7800
  • Minimum credit hours enrolled for student health insurance: 3 (domestic), 1 (international)
  • 3 credit hours of GRAD 9800/7800: provides full-time status for financial aid, student visa, GA and GASP eligibility (criteria: completed all requirements except final defense; repeatable)
  • 1 credit hour of GRAD 9999/7999: provides full-time status for GA and GASP eligibility; not for health insurance, financial aid or student visa (criteria: all requirements met; will defend in first 4 weeks of the semester; not repeatable)

NinerWorks for GAs (formerly eGA)

SACSCOC and UNC System Requirements for Teaching Assistantships (TAs)

The following information outlines the responsibilities and SACSCOC requirements for teaching assistantships, which “enhance student understanding of the content and pedagogy of the discipline and extend faculty resources and their contribution to the teaching mission of the University”, as follows:

  • SACSCOC and UNC System requirements for Graduate Teaching Assistants:
    • GTAs who have primary responsibility for teaching a course for credit and/or for assigning final grades for such a course must have earned at least 18 graduate semester hours in their teaching discipline, be under the direct supervision of a faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline, receive regular in-service training and be evaluated regularly. (Comprehensive Standard 3.7.1.f)
    • Students for whom English is a second language may be appointed as GTAs only when the English Language Training Institute certifies that the applicant's proficiency in oral communication indicates that the appointment is appropriate. (UNC Policy Manual section 400.3.6)
    • GTAs must possess a demonstrated competence in the subject matter that they will be teaching as determined by experts in the field. They should have an appreciation for the theory and practice of the subject matter as well as a developing understanding of the major themes and divisions of their field. (UNC Policy Manual section 400.3.6)
    • GTAs should have an appreciation for the teaching and learning enterprise acquired from their own undergraduate and graduate academic programs, as well as by means of both required and optional teacher training seminars, symposia, workshops, publications, and university staff resources. Competency to teach includes an effective command of the language of instruction, usually American English, and an appreciation for the culture of the American university classroom. (UNC Policy Manual section 400.3.6)
    • GTAs must be graduate students in good standing in their programs. (UNC Policy Manual section 400.3.6)

Instructors of Record: Minimum Requirements for Approval

TA's who are the IOR must meet the minimum criteria to serve in that role, which includes:

  • 18 graduate credits in the discipline OR a relevant master's degree
  • Prior experience as a TA in that course OR significant teaching experience 
  • The IOR must already hold the degree for the level of course being taught (e.g., master's degree when teaching master's students)
  • TAs cannot serve as IOR for doctoral-level courses

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