University of Minnesota  Appendix

Graduate Assistant Employment Work Rules


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Please use the contact section in the governing policy.

  • Rule 1 - Assignment and Reassignment of Duties
  • Rule 2 - Nonnative English Speaking Teaching Assistants
  • Rule 3 - Work Hours
  • Rule 4 - Work Limitations
  • Rule 5 - Breaks
  • Rule 6 - University Holidays
  • Rule 7 - Official University Closure

Rule 1. Assignment and Reassignment of Duties

Graduate assistants (GAs) may be assigned or reassigned to any teaching or other duties that are appropriate and meet the needs of the department.

Departments are expected to provide a minimum notice of four weeks for particular teaching assignments and two weeks for other duties, with the opportunity for teaching assistants to express preferences for assignments in advance of these notice dates whenever possible. It is expected that the same notices of courtesy that are extended to faculty in determination of teaching assignments and responsibilities will apply to teaching assistants.

Rule 2. Nonnative English Speaking Teaching Assistants

Administrative Policy: Language Proficiency Requirements for Teaching Assistants requires that all nonnative English-speaking teaching assistants must demonstrate proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in English appropriate to the demands of their duties. Proficiency is assessed in the following ways: 

  • English Language Proficiency (ELP) rating earned through coursework with the Center for Educational Innovation (CEI);
  • Speaking section of TOEFL iBT (internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language);
  • Speaking section of IELTS (International English Language Testing System);
  • SETTA (Spoken English Test for Teaching Assistants) test (Twin Cities campus) or alternative test chosen by Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester campuses.

Rule 3. Work Hours

Departments may set limits on the total number of hours that a GA may work in a payroll period. Departments may set limits on the total number of semesters a student may be employed as a graduate assistant within their department.

Departments should accommodate student requirements including class and examination schedules, oral and written preliminary examinations, etc.

Rule 4. Work Limitations

A. Academic Year

Graduate programs are strongly encouraged to carefully consider student degree progress in making appointments during the academic year that exceed 75%-time, and colleges have the discretion to impose restrictions regarding such appointments. Colleges deciding to place restrictions should develop a set of implementation and exception request procedures. In no instances should graduate appointments total more than 100% time.

Federal law prohibits the University from employing GAs with F-1 or J-1 visa status more than 20 hours per week (50% time) during scheduled class periods and finals weeks. Exceptions exist for GAs who have been authorized for "practical or academic training". For a detailed calendar, see F1 and J-1 Visa Holder Maximum Hours Per Week on the International Students, Scholars and Visitors section of the Human Resources website.

B. Summer Terms/Break

During scheduled break periods and summer terms, GAs may work up to 100% time (40 hours per week). In no instance are GAs to work more than 100% time.

International student work restrictions vary according to visa type. Please refer to International Student and Scholar Services for detailed information.

Rule 5. Breaks

Graduate assistants are entitled to a 15 minute paid break when work is scheduled for four consecutive hours. Paid lunch periods are not provided.

Rule 6. University Holidays

Paid holidays will be recognized for:

  • Graduate assistants on designated percentages of time: If an official holiday falls on a day of the week normally scheduled for work, the GAs will receive their regular paycheck and will not be required to make up the hours that fell on the holiday.
  • Graduate assistants on flexible hourly payroll: GAs who work an average of ten hours per week or more will be compensated for un-worked time according to the following:
    • If work hours are fixed on a weekly basis, holiday pay will be provided if the holiday falls on the day of the week normally scheduled to work; OR
    • If the work schedule is variable, total hours for the week must be worked during the week.
    • Pay will be based on actual time worked.

University of Minnesota Holiday Schedule

Rule 7. Official University Closure

Graduate assistants (excluding those employed through Work Study) will be paid their normal salaries during an official emergency closing, but are expected to make arrangements to handle those responsibilities not carried out because of the emergency closing. Refer to Administrative Policy: Emergency Closing.