Graduate Student Assistantships

One of the most common sources of funding is the graduate assistantship. Assistantship appointments provide financial support to a graduate student who engages in teaching, research, and/or service. Departments and programs generally make assistantship offers during the admissions process; however, current students may be eligible for an assistantship in their program if funding is available. Graduate assistantships may include a tuition waiver, health insurance, and a monthly stipend. Students should contact their department or graduate program to learn more about assistantship opportunities. If students receive additional awards in conjunction with  financial aid or assistantship, such as a scholarship, fellowship, or other stipend, they may need to fill out a Academic Year Revision Request to have your cost of attendance reviewed by a Financial Aid advisor.

Assistantship Descriptions

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant (TA)

A teaching assistantship (TA) is an appointment in which a graduate student’s primary duty is teaching or serving as a teaching assistant. The TA may assist faculty in teaching undergraduate courses and labs, grading examinations, problem sets, or lab assignments, setting up displays for lectures and labs, or preparing or maintaining laboratory equipment. TAs are available to qualified graduate students in academic departments. Students should contact their department/program to inquire about TA opportunities.

  • Graduate Research Assistant (RA)

A research assistantship (RA) is an appointment in which a graduate student is engaged in research under a faculty member’s supervision. The faculty member is generally a principal investigator on a grant or contract. RAs are available in many departments and special programs. Students should contact their department/program to inquire about RA opportunities.

  • Graduate Staff Assistant (SA)

A staff assistantship (SA) is an appointment in which a graduate student engages in service that enhances their educational pursuits at WSU. The SA provides academic and administrative program support for units such as counseling and testing services, health and wellness services, and other student services offices. These appointments require a letter of support from the student’s faculty advisor.

Assistantship Tuition Waivers

Graduate assistants who maintain at least a half-time (20 hrs. /wk.) appointment are eligible for full tuition waivers. Students appointed a quarter time assistantship (10 hrs./wk.) are eligible for half tuition waivers. To qualify for a tuition waiver, students must reside within the state of Washington. Non-resident graduate students on assistantship appointments are eligible for a non-resident waiver for the out-of-state portion of tuition during the first year they are on assistantship appointment at WSU. During that first year, students are responsible for taking all necessary steps to establish legal residency in the state of Washington. If residency is not established, non-resident graduate students will be responsible for non-resident tuition after their first academic year. International students are provided an out-of-state tuition waiver with their assistantship appointment throughout their academic career.

Secure Offer Letter Templates

The Graduate School requires employing areas to provide offer letters for any graduate assistantship appointment. Offer letter templates provided by the Graduate School are meant to be a starting point for the terms and conditions of each graduate assistantship appointment. Each employing area should update the appropriate offer letter template as needed. To access these secure finance documents, go HERE and look in the right sidebar. You will need your network ID and password for access. If you have problems, email

Graduate Assistantship Processing Memo

The Academic-Year Processing Memo is for all graduate assistantship appointments from August 16 through May 15. The Summer Session Processing Memo (see Summer Graduate Assistantship and Graduate Summer Work below) for appointments from May 16th through August 15th. The Waiver Acronyms Memo offers a list of waiver acronyms options, their associated names, and allowable Fund and Job Classes.

English Proficiency Requirement

All teaching assistants from a foreign country must pass a TOEFL exam, unless the student is from or has graduated from one of the following countries: Australia; Bahamas; Botswana; Guyana; England; Ireland; Jamaica; New Zealand; Nigeria; Scotland; Trinidad; Tobago; Canada. For more information please visit the IELTS website.

Responsible Conduct of Research

Access the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training website for information on state regulations, guidelines, and sponsor requirements. Please log in to MyResearch to begin your Responsible Conduct of Research training. The RCR training is a requirement for all assistantships at WSU.

Certification of Assistantship Duties

If a graduate student is appointed to an assistantship for a semester, including the summer, or for the entire academic year, the department is responsible for ensuring that the student receives a review of their progress in fulfilling the responsibilities of the assistantship. In addition, all students appointed to an assistantship must certify annually that they have met the requirements of the assistantship. Certification requires both the student’s and the department/supervisor’s signature indicating that the student did all of the following during their appointment period:

  • remained enrolled full time (at least 10 credits);
  • maintained a 3.0 cumulative GPA during the period of the appointment; and
  • met the service requirement of an average of 20 hours per week for 0.5 FTE as scheduled by the department/supervisor (or based on hours required for partial FTE appointment).

This certification requirement may be added to the department’s annual review form and/or the assistantship review form. The Graduate School’s annual review template has a sample certification section. If the student did not meet one or more of these requirements, the student will not be reappointed to the assistantship, unless he/she is granted an exception to policy based on extenuating circumstances. Exceptions to policy must be submitted by the department to the Dean of the Graduate School. Download the Student Annual Review Template (Word version) or the GA Evaluations Form (PDF).

All But Dissertation Waiver Program (ABD)

The ABD Waiver program allows faculty supported tuition relief for Ph.D. students appointed to extramurally funded research assistantships. If you have passed your prelims and completed your formal program of study course work apply by submitting the ABD waiver application.

Assistantship Stipends

Graduate assistant stipends range from step 6 to step 115. The current Assistantship Stipend Guide became effective 01/01/2023. For reference only, the previous Historical Step Guide is available. Each step represents a stipend range for half-time (20 hrs./wk.) graduate appointments. Each department and program determines the most appropriate stipend range based on the student’s qualifications, experience, academic standing, and availability of funds. Departments have a wide range of stipend options available to make competitive appointments. At a minimum, the Graduate School recommends Step 26 for Masters and Step 32 for Ph.D.

Assistantship Medical Insurance

Graduate assistants who maintain at least a half-time (20 hrs./wk.) assistantship appointment will be eligible for medical and dental insurance benefits. Visit the graduate student health insurance web page, or contact WSU Billing and Insurance Office at 509-335-3575 (Option 3) for additional information. Graduate assistants appointed and eligible for health insurance during spring semester (January 1 – May 15) are automatically provided health insurance during the summer semester (May 16 – August 15).

Enrolling Family Members

Graduate assistants may also enroll family members including spouses, eligible dependent children, and domestic partners. Coverage must be requested every semester. The PASS Program enables spouses or partners of eligible graduate/professional students on graduate school health insurance (Pullman campus only) to access Cougar Health Care on campus. Enrollment Form. 

Payroll Deduction for Graduate Assistants

Graduate students on half-time (20 hrs. /wk.) assistantship appointment may pay their mandatory fees through payroll deduction during the fall and spring semesters. Students may enroll in the program only after their assistantship appointment has been entered into the payroll system by the hiring department. Students can verify the projected fee amount and projected semi-monthly deduction amount by viewing their online earning statement through Workday. 

Process and Accounting of Graduate Tuition Waivers

This document follows the process of tuition waivers from Department to Graduate School to Student Accounts and more. It also includes contacts and troubleshooting. (PDF).

Graduate School Leave of Absence

Official graduate leave of absence is granted for students in active status who must be away from their studies for one or more semesters. Refer to this linked policy  for detailed information about Graduate Leave Status. To apply for leave, complete the Graduate Leave form (PDF).

Summer Graduate Assistantship and Graduate Summer Work

During the summer, graduate students can be appointed to either an assistantship, graduate summer work or a student hourly position. The resources below are to aid in summer appointment processing for graduate students. Please visit the Summer Session website for faculty appointment processing.

Graduate School Summer Assistantship Processing Memo
Graduate School Summer Processing Tutorial Video
Workday Reference Guides: Summer Graduate Work
Graduate Summer Session PowerPoint
Q&A for Summer Session Processing