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Oklahoma State University


OSU is a Research-Extensive University, and graduate students play a vital role in both its teaching and research missions. Over 1700 graduate students help finance their graduate education at OSU through employment as Graduate Teaching Assistants/Associates (GTA) and Graduate Research Assistants/Associates (GRA).The use of “assistant” applies to master’s-level and “associate” to doctoral-level GTA and GRA appointments.

research picture

A Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) must be admitted to and meet the requirements of the Graduate College, be fully admitted to a graduate degree program, enrolled, and be under the supervision of an appropriate graduate faculty member. In consultation with the supervisor, the GTA works to gain instructional skills and an increased understanding of the discipline. GTAs are provided a stipend and their primary responsibilities are to support the University's instructional mission.  Services provided by a GTA may include: classroom or laboratory teaching; advising and mentoring of students; proctoring examinations; grading papers, homework, and/or projects; accompanying/coaching musical or vocal performances, providing artistic instruction or assisting with preparation and management of materials and programs that are utilized in imparting knowledge or in the instructional process; or providing other general assistance in the instruction process.  A GTA may be assigned primary responsibilities in an extension, outreach, or service role for which those responsibilities support the instructional mission of the University. GTAs may not be given duties to support faculty research or those primarily clerical in nature.

Graduate Researcher

A Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) must be admitted to and meet the requirements of the Graduate College, be fully admitted to a graduate degree program, enrolled, and be under the supervision of an appropriate graduate faculty member.  GRAs are provided a stipend and their primary responsibilities are to provide general support to the University's research mission.  These responsibilities may or may not relate directly to the student's thesis or dissertation.  Duties of the GRA primarily involve applying and mastering research concepts, practices, or methods of scholarship.  Services provided by a GRA may include: assisting faculty members in a research or creative activity; performing degree-related professional or administrative services that supports research, instruction, professional development, or outreach missions of the University; developing and evaluating instructional materials or curricula; or assuming responsibility for designated scholarly endeavors.

“Performing degree-related professional or administrative services” does not include jobs that are outside of the student's field of study.

The Student Worker is an employed student not meeting the above criteria and would constitute an employer-employee status within the Oklahoma State University system and requires compensation based on actual time worked as assigned.  Documentation of hours worked via a time sheet and an hourly wage of at least the Federal minimum wage ($7.25, as of 2012), are required.

A student worker may also be considered exempt versus hourly if the following conditions are met:      

"Compensation of no less than $455 per week regardless of FTE or $1,972 per month, as of 2012, regardless of FTE and meet the Fair Labor Standards Act categories of executive professional or administrative"


OSU Graduate Student Tuition Waiver Benefit Information
Graduate students who are admitted and enrolled in any OSU master’s, specialist or doctoral degree-granting program may be awarded a qualifying Graduate Research/Teaching Assistantship/Associateship (GRA/GTA) that may have resident and/or nonresident tuition waiver benefits associated with the appointment. Students solely in graduate certificate programs and non-degree seeking students are not eligible for GTA or GRA positions or associated tuition waiver benefits. The following information includes guidelines regarding tuition waiver eligibility.
Employment Eligibility
  • Graduate tuition waivers only apply to 0.50 FTE (total) GTA/GRA positions. Graduate students with less than a combined total 0.50 FTE GTA/GRA positions do not qualify for tuition waiver benefits. Two 0.25 FTE positions may be stacked to reach the 0.50 FTE requirement.
  • GTA/GRA appointments are a maximum of 0.50 FTE during the spring and fall semesters. During the summer, GTA/GRA appointments are allowable up to 0.75 FTE.  

    * The maximum permissible FTE as a GTA/GRA during “Summer Session 1” (“Maymester”) or Intersessions is 0.50 FTE with enrollment.

  • Hourly and assistantship positions cannot run concurrently due to Federal regulations. Students either have to be an hourly (student worker) or assistantship position. 
  • Tuition waivers are based on the length of qualifying appointment as defined by the academic calendar terms and sessions (e.g., the definition of a fall or spring semester is 17 weeks).
Enrollment Eligibility
  • Tuition waivers are limited to the number of hours in the degree program.
  • Courses eligible for tuition waivers are defined as those graduate courses required for the student’s degree program (i.e., Plan of Study, POS, or proposed POS).
  • With a 50% GRA/GTA the student must be enrolled in a minimum of six (6) graduate credit hours in fall and spring semesters and 2 credit hours in summer sessions (please see Enrollment Exceptions and Summer Enrollment below for important FICA tax information that impacts summer paychecks). If a graduate student is not enrolled for the minimum number of hours, they cannot be employed as a GTA/GRA, the hourly “student worker” title should be used in these circumstances.

 Enrollment Exceptions  

Doctoral Candidacy Enrollment Requirements. A student who has completed the requirements for admission to doctoral candidacy and had their “Admission to Doctoral Candidacy” form accepted by the Graduate College, may enroll for a minimum of two (2) credit hours and be considered full-time. Post-candidacy reduced, continuous enrollment requirement applies to GTAs/GRAs; domestic and international students; and veterans receiving VA benefits. A student is normally expected to enroll primarily in research hours or in program-approved courses after being admitted to doctoral candidacy.

* An enrollment minimum of at least two (2) credits per semester is required for every semester of a student’s candidacy (summer excluded if no work towards degree completion occurs) until graduation. It is ultimately the responsibility of each student to ensure that they meet this enrollment requirement. 

Summer Enrollment

Graduate students who held a tuition waiver-benefit-eligible qualifying appointment in the immediate preceding spring semester, who completed their entire assignment(s) satisfactorily, and who are enrolled in at least two credit hours of eligible course during the summer terms immediately following the qualifying spring appointment, may receive a tuition waiver for those eligible credit hours irrespective of whether they are employed as a GTA/GRA during the summer term(s).

* If a student is employed in a summer session, s/he must be employed when they are enrolled. For example, if a student is only employed the June term, the student must be enrolled in at least the June session. If a student is employed in just July, the student may be enrolled in the eight-week session (June through July) or just the July session.

* Summer enrollment-employment restrictions are due to Federal tax regulation (FICA tax exemption for students: Section 3121(b)(10) of the Internal Revenue Code).

Course Eligibility
  • Tuition waivers are limited to the number of hours in the degree program as approved by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE). The graduate program may approve an additional 10% overage (e.g., an additional 3-hour course on a 30-hour degree). Anything over 10% of the required degree hours requires approval of the graduate dean. 
  • Courses eligible for tuition waiver are defined as  graduate courses required for the student’s degree program.
    • Courses that do not qualify for tuition waiver benefits are: 
      • Undergraduate
      • Outreach Exception
      • Extension
      • Certificate
      • Repeated graduate courses (not designed to be repeated)
  • The Dean of the Graduate College makes the final determination on course eligibility.
            Course Exceptions
              ENGL0003 and ENGL 4893 are covered by the graduate student tuition waiver program.
Academic Standing
  • Once enrolled, good academic standing (i.e., not on academic probation, beyond probationary admission) is a requirement for OSU tuition waiver eligibility.

* In brief, good academic standing is a grade-point average (GPA) of “B” (3.00) and not on academic probation, which can result from unsatisfactory (“UR”) research grades.

* Academic Probation. Once matriculated, a graduate student placed on probation is not eligible for tuition waiver benefits. This does not preclude a GTA/GRA appointment. Graduate programs can request a one-time exception from the Dean of the Graduate College for students on probation with exceptional circumstances.

  • The expected workload for a 0.25 FTE position is 10 hours per week on average and 20 hours a week on average for a 0.50 FTE appointment. 
  • Tuition waivers are prorated based on the business days of employment in the term when a student does not complete the assignment/term/session (e.g., withdraws for the semester).

* Receiving an “incomplete” grade does not cause the proration or removal of a tuition waiver.

  • OSU policy prohibits concurrent use of Faculty/Staff Tuition Waiver and GTA/GRA Tuition Waiver. 
  • Graduate student benefits, such as tuition waivers, are available only to individuals with a primary classification as graduate students.  For example, OSU employees taking graduate classes do not qualify for graduate student benefit programs, irrespective of whether their employment is a benefit eligible position.  In addition, one cannot opt-out of certain benefits in an a-la-carte manner to seek eligibility for other benefits. 
  • Student FICA tax exemption requires a minimum enrollment of 2 credit hours irrespective of an assistantship or hourly worker positions. Paychecks of students employed without enrollment result in FICA taxation according to federal regulations. This taxation is irreversible and cannot be changed with late enrollment.
  • Nondegree- and/or graduate certificate-seeking students are not eligible for tuition waiver program benefits nor are such courses unless they are also embedded and required for a master's or doctoral degree program as approved by OSRHE and the student's Plan of Study.
Related Links
To receive tuition waiver benefits, a graduate student must be enrolled full time and in a qualifying appointment: employed in a 0.50 FTE position for the academic calendar term or session (e.g., 17 weeks in the fall semester). However, there are extraordinary and rare circumstances that merit Graduate College review for potential tuition waiver eligibility where the student does not meet the length of employment qualification. Typical circumstances that will be reviewed are as follows: (1) delay in arrival (e.g., Visa issues); (2) the graduate advisor has received new funding (e.g., grant) with a beginning date after the term has started or (3) the graduate student has been tuition waiver eligible for the past two regular semesters (i.e., fall and spring), has successfully completed all of the degree requirements within the first six weeks of the term, and is departing the university early (e.g., employment).
On the form link below, the graduate student, in consultation with the graduate advisor, should provide brief details about the request as follows:
  • For the circumstances denoted in (1), delay in arrival, please denote what the issue was, when the graduate student arrived and enrolled and when the qualifying employment started or will start. Typical delays would not extend beyond the last day to enroll for a given semester/session.
  • For the circumstance denoted in (2), a new funding source, please provide the following information: project name, funding source name, project PI name and beginning date. Please note that if tuition waiver eligibility is permitted, the waiver amount will be prorated with respect to the remaining weeks in the term unless employment is continuous into the next term. For example, if a GRA is available on a new grant at the beginning of the October 1 of the fall semester and the GRA is appointed from that point through May 31, the full tuition wavier benefit would apply for the fall semester. However, if the GRA appointment is through the end of the fall semester 10/17 or 59% of the tuition waiver amount would be applied.
  • For the circumstance denoted in (3), degree completion, it is expected that the graduate student is primarily enrolled in thesis or dissertation hours. Please include current enrollment information.