The Office of Graduate Studies is committed to facilitating successful, effective, and collaborative relationships between Graduate Assistants and supervisors. We appreciate the effort that supervisors put into creating these enriching work experiences for our students, and we want to do all in our power to support you in that endeavor.
Below are some of what we believe are the most helpful resources for supervising Graduate Assistants. As always, if you have any questions that have not been addressed below, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
Hiring a Graduate Assistant
In order to ensure equity in our hiring process, all hiring supervisors are required to adhere to the following steps when hiring a Graduate Assistant:
- Submit a Job Description to be posted to the Graduate Assistantship Opportunities page.
- Interview top applicants.
- Submit a Graduate Assistant Set-Up/Renewal form once you have selected a student to hire.
- Notify any students who have applied for your position, but were not offered employment to let them know you have decided to move forward with another candidate.
Before submitting a Graduate Assistant Set-Up/Renewal form, please ensure that your selected applicant meets the following criteria:
- Has a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
- Is enrolled in 6 or more graduate credits for each semester of employment.
- Is matriculated in a graduate degree program at USM.
- Note:Accelerated Maine Online, Maine Law, and UMaine MBA students are note eligible for Graduate Assistantships at this time.
- Is in good academic standing and making acceptable progress towards their degree.
- Is not a University of Maine System employee.
Students who withdraw from the University, are dismissed from their degree program, or are released from their Graduate Assistant position due to inadequate performance, will forfeit their assistantship. If the status change occurs during a semester, the student may be required to reimburse the University for any unearned stipend and scholarship benefit associated with that semester.
All Graduate Assistantships must offer a stipend, paid monthly on the last business day of each month worked. Stipends must meet the following minimums:
- $500 per month for 10 hours worked per week
- $1,000 per month for 20 hours worked per week
It is recommended, whenever possible, that scholarship be offered in conjunction with stipend. Scholarship amounts vary, but we recommended the following minimums:
- $3,000 per academic year for 10 hours worked per week
- $6,000 per academic year for 20 hours worked per week
Scholarships are distributed evenly between the fall and spring semesters.
Supervising a Graduate Assistant
Graduate Assistants are highly valued employees of the University, however they are students first and foremost. As such, supervisors should design their Assistantships to serve the needs and interests of graduate students.
It is important to set clear expectations for the work your Graduate Assistant will be doing by providing a detailed job description and clear instructions and timelines for specific projects and duties. In order to maintain a positive and productive working relationship, it is recommended that supervisors:
- Hold weekly one-on-one check-ins or meetings with the GA to go over past and upcoming work and answer any questions, concerns, or ideas the GA may have
- Follow up any discussions about performance concerns in writing (email) to the student so they can refer back to it and there is a record of the communication
- Conduct an informal performance assessment half-way through each semester to go over what is going well and any areas for improvement or development
At the end of each appointment, supervisors will meet with their GAs to conduct a Performance Review and complete an assessment form. Both the supervisor and the GA will sign the form and submit it to the Office of Graduate Studies.
- Remember that GAs are both employees and students, so please be flexible with them as they negotiate the demands of graduate school.
- Treat the Assistantship as a professional experience. Here are a few “Don’ts”:
- Don’t ask them to get coffee, clean the office, or perform extended clerical duties
- Don’t treat your GA like a personal assistant or an undergraduate work study student. The work needs to be relevant and meaningful both to the student and the University.
- Talk with your GA about their academic and professional goals and provide a mentorship experience for them.
- Encourage your GA to participate in professional development, campus events, or other University activities that will enhance their work and make them feel part of the community.
- If your GA is working remotely, review this list of Tips for Remote GA Success.
Customarily, Graduate Assistants are expected to work during the weeks/days that USM is in session throughout the academic year from September through May. Weekly work schedules are to be negotiated between the supervisor and the graduate assistant. Assistants are paid the same monthly salary, regardless of the number of USM scheduled holidays or other school breaks in a particular month. If a student is normally scheduled to work on a day when their employing USM facility is closed for a holiday but school is still in session, the student will not be required to work and will be paid for that day as usual.
Any alternative to the above work schedule must be negotiated in writing by the supervisor and the graduate assistant. Such agreements must be recorded with the Office of Graduate Studies (email@example.com). Please see the Academic Calendar for semester dates.
Each semester, the Office of Graduate Studies invites academic, student services and support, and administrative offices to request supplemental OGS funding (stipend, scholarship, or both) to support a Graduate Assistant. A call for applications is sent directly to eligible offices each semester.
Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for additional information.