Graduate Student Assistantships

  • 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.

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.

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. You will need your network ID and password for access.

Link to Assistantship Appointment or Reappointment Offer Letter

If you have access issues, please request support at


The Collective Bargaining Agreement with UAW representing academic student employees (ASEs) has now been ratified. As we move into the implementation period, we are working across the system to set new processes in place. The new ASE salary tables and timing are detailed Article 35 – Wages.

The Graduate Appointment 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.

New Employee Training

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.

Washington State Senate Bill 5475 requires any non-native English speaking international graduate student who will be appointed as a Teaching Assistant (TA) to meet a minimum spoken English language proficiency requirement. International students who meet any one of the following are considered to have demonstrated English language proficiency and are not required to provide evidence using exams such as TOEFL.

  1. Hold a baccalaureate or graduate degree from a U.S. regionally accredited institution in the United States.
  2. Hold citizenship or a baccalaureate or graduate degree from an institution in any of the following countries: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Overseas Territories, British Virgin Islands, Botswana, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Montserrat, Nigeria, New Zealand, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uganda, or the United Kingdom.
  3. Graduated with a baccalaureate-level or higher degree from a college or university outside the United States where the language of instruction was English (provide an official letter or transcript from the school stating English was the language of instruction).
ExamTOEFL EssentialsTOEFL (PBT)TOEFL (iBT)IELTSDuolingoCambridge B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 ProficiencyMichigan English Test (MET)Pearson Test for English (PTEA)International Test of English Proficiency (iTEP)
Minimum Score8540756.510517652564.5
Sub-scoreListening, 8-9Listening 55Listening, 17Listening, 6.5Conversation, 110
Speaking, 8-9Speaking, 20Speaking, 6.0

Applicants not meeting any of criteria 1, 2, or 3 must demonstrate spoken English proficiency by achieving one of the following test scores or sub-scores in listening and speaking (if available). For such students, graduate degree programs may require higher scores as detailed on their fact sheets.

Students who do not meet any of these criteria (including the program’s higher exam scores, if applicable) will be required to pass the International Teaching Assistant (ITA) exam before being appointed as a TA. The ITA exam evaluates a non-native English speaker’s ability to listen and speak English in a classroom or instructional lab setting. The IALC assists departments, schools, or colleges in matching ITA score thresholds with assistantship duties. Research or Staff Assistantship holders are not required to take the ITA exam.

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 Review Form (PDF).

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. 

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.

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. 

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).

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 (forthcoming) for faculty appointment processing.

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