Graduate assistantships

Graduate assistantships are appointments made to students enrolled in a master's or doctoral program at Wayne State University. Appointments may be made for one, two or three semesters of the calendar year. Graduate student appointees must be in good academic standing (i.e., have a minimum 3.0 honor point average or its equivalent). The graduate assistant must be enrolled for a minimum of six graduate credits each per fall and winter semester appointments.

Assistantship positions provide a salary and a tuition scholarship. Graduate assistants have the option of accepting subsidized medical, dental and vision insurance. The hiring unit determines the salary but must offer at least the discipline category minimum listed in the Compensation Schedule. The tuition scholarship provides payment for up to 10 graduate credits for each of the fall and winter semesters and up to two graduate credits for the spring/summer semester appointment. The scholarships will pay for only graduate credits listed on a student's Plan of Work.

GTAs and GSAs are represented by the Graduate Employees Organizing Committee/American Federation of Teachers (GEOC), except those who serve as counselors, supervisors, confidential employees or coaches. 

Types of assistantships

Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs)

GTAs provide approximately 20 hours of instructional service per week over the course of a semester. GTAs may be assigned teaching duties, including grading, in undergraduate-level courses or related laboratories or discussion sections, and may serve as instructors of record for undergraduate courses.

Graduate Student Assistants (GSAs)

GSAs provide approximately 20 hours of service per week over the course of a semester. GSAs may be assigned research, administrative and scholarly duties for the primary benefit of the university or granting agency under the supervision of a university faculty member or administrator. Students who are engaged in work whose product is reasonably expected to be used among other purposes for the student's dissertation, thesis, essay, or independent or directed study, or who are engaged in other work for the primary benefit of the student's research, scholarly or education program, should not be classified as Graduate Student Assistants but as Graduate Research Assistants. All Graduate Student Assistant appointments must include a Graduate Student Assistant Certificate of Relevancy.

Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs)

GRAs are typically doctoral students in good standing who hold their appointments in academic or research units. In some instances, the Graduate School may approve appointment of master's students as GRAs, provided their master's program carries a significant research component directly relevant to their own academic programs of study. Graduate Research Assistants provide approximately 20 hours of service per week over the course of a semester in research or academic activities relevant to their own academic programs of study. These activities should relate directly to the student's degree requirements and should be reasonably expected, among other purposes, to contribute to a student's dissertation, thesis, essay, independent or directed study, or otherwise be undertaken for the primary benefit of the student's research, scholarship or academic program. All Graduate Research Assistant appointments must include a Graduate Research Assistant Certificate of Relevancy.

How to apply

The Graduate School does not offer all the graduate assistant positions that are available at the university. Many are determined and offered by departments, although not all departments have assistantship positions. Typically, a department's website will indicate if positions are available. At least one person with contact information will be provided on the site. Assistantship application deadlines vary by department and program. Inquiry or application for fall semester assistantships should begin one year in advance if application deadline information is not readily available on the program website. Most departments or programs with assistantship positions will provide an application form. If you cannot obtain an application form from the department, contact the program concerning your interest in an assistantship.

See frequently asked questions about graduate assistantships
See assistantship forms and policies.


The GEOC is the union representing graduate student employees at Wayne State University. 

Frequently asked questions about GEOC dues

  • Who pays the dues?

    Graduate assistants in positions represented by the GEOC/AFT have the option of paying union dues (union member) or paying a representation service fee (non-member).

  • What forms are to be completed and by whom?

    Every student accepting a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) or a Graduate Student Assistant (GSA) position has the option to:

    • Pay dues as a member of the GEOC-AFT union.
    • Pay a voluntary fair share fee to the GEOC-AFT union.
    • Do not pay membership dues or agency fees.

    To authorize payroll deductions for GEOC membership dues or voluntary fair share fees, a completed  must be submitted to GEOC directly.

  • Does the graduate assistant need to complete a card for every appointment?

    No. The card is activated only if and when a graduate assistant moves to a represented position. When the student is in a non-represented position, the Employment Service Center simply retains the form in a non-represented file for possible future use. A student who was a graduate research assistant would not have completed the card and may only want to do so if and when they are appointed to a GSA or GTA classification.

  • How are dues/fees paid?

    Graduate assistants authorize payroll deduction from their biweekly paycheck, which will be activated when they are in a represented position.

  • When are dues/fees deducted?

    Whenever possible, dues and fees will be deducted beginning with the first pay in a semester and extending through the last  pay of the semester. The biweekly deduction is prorated so that the entire semester dues amount is deducted over the course of all the semester pays.

  • What if the graduate assistant changes their mind regarding the information on the authorization card?

    A graduate assistant may change the information they indicated on the card by submitting a new completed, signed and dated card, clearly marked as REVISION.