Handbook of Operating Procedures 9-2030
Graduate and Undergraduate Research Assistants

Effective February 25, 2013
Executive Sponsor: Executive Vice President and Provost
Policy Owner: Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies


  1. Policy Statement

It is the policy of The University of Texas at Austin ("University") that individuals appointed as graduate or undergraduate research assistants at the University abide by the policies stated below.

  1. Reason for Policy

To provide responsibilities and procedures related to recruitment, appointment and duties of graduate and undergraduate research assistants' appointments and expectations.

  1. Scope & Audience

This policy applies to all individuals appointed as graduate and undergraduate research assistants at the University.

  1. Definitions (specific to this policy)


  1. Website (for policy)


  1. Contacts





Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies


Phone: 512-471-4511



  1. Responsibilities & Procedures
    1. Graduate and Undergraduate Research Assistants


Graduate and undergraduate research assistants are students who, in the course of their academic training, are employed in part-time or temporary research positions, where the student's academic training is based in part on the research performed or where the research duties being performed will assist the student in fulfilling his or her degree requirements. All duties and services of graduate and undergraduate research assistants are to be carried out under the supervision and direction of faculty or administration.


  1. Qualifications


  1. Graduate research assistants must be currently enrolled as a student as a condition of employment.


  1. Undergraduate research assistants must be currently enrolled (except as provided below for summer employment), in good academic standing, and must be making satisfactory progress toward their undergraduate degree. Full-time status (12 hours of enrollment) is required to hold an undergraduate research assistant position during long semesters. Good academic standing is defined by a GPA of at least 2.0. Failure to meet these requirements will be grounds for withdrawal of the appointment and termination of employment status in this title.


  1. Graduate research assistants must be graduate students in good academic standing and making satisfactory progress toward an advanced degree.
  1. A graduate research assistant is expected to remain registered in courses that count toward the graduate degree for at least nine semester hours during the long session semesters of employment and three semester hours in any summer term when employed during the summer session.


  1. Failure to meet the enrollment requirements as set forth above, or any withdrawal or change of registration to a course load below the applicable enrollment minimum, which is not approved in advance by the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, will be grounds for withdrawal of a graduate student's service appointment and termination of employment status in this title.


  1. Selection and Appointment


  1. All applicants must receive equal consideration based on established qualification standards.


  1. Whenever possible, announcements of the availability during the next fiscal year of all research assistantships will be made early in the spring semester by the research director. Insofar as possible, the number, type, curricular area and associated pay rate should be announced. Copies of the announcement will be made available upon request to any interested persons.


  1. After appropriate departmental or research center review of the applications received, formal offers of appointment should be made to selected applicants.


  1. Terms of Appointment


  1. Appointments of research assistants must be made on the basis of percent time employment and are normally made on a semester-by-semester basis.


  1. The title and rate of pay will be according to the student's level of academic attainment:


  1. Job Code 0090 - graduate research assistant - a holder of a Bachelor's degree, with or without prior research experience.


  1. Job Code 0095 - undergraduate research assistant - a student enrolled for an undergraduate degree program.


  1. Once established for the fiscal year, the base annual rate for graduate research assistants will remain the same for the term of the appointment, except that changes in rate of pay and stipend are permitted effective January 16; otherwise, changes in rate of pay and stipend will be approved only for September 1 of the following academic year appointment.


  1. Appointments for graduate research assistants may not exceed 20 hours per week during the first two long-session semesters of graduate study at the University and 30 hours per week during subsequent long-session semesters.


  1. Schedules setting forth stipends to be paid to research assistants will be published annually, (under €Student Employee Compensation found at: http://www.utexas.edu/hr/student/compensation.html. Experienced research assistants and those who are conducting independent research or other special responsibilities should be appointed in the upper range of the appropriate salary scale. Use of state funds appropriated for Resident Instruction - Faculty Salaries is not authorized for such appointments.


  1. Employment of Research Assistants in the Summer Session


Research assistants may be employed in the summer session, subject to the same policies, criteria, and qualifications as are applicable in the long session, except as provided below for undergraduates.


  1. Graduate Studies


  1. During the summer session, as during the rest of the academic year, holders of graduate research assistant appointments are expected to continue to make satisfactory progress toward completion of their degree programs and are also expected to be enrolled for three (3) credit hours during any term of the summer session.


  1. As in the long semesters of the academic year, graduate students who are not enrolled during the summer are not eligible for academic research assistant appointments.


  1. Graduate students employed in research related to their degree program are not eligible for employment under a classified employee title and must be appointed as graduate research assistants.


  1. Undergraduate Students


  1. A student may work in an undergraduate research assistant position during the summer if that student either: (1) was enrolled in at least 12 credit hours during the entirety of the previous spring semester; or (2) is enrolled in at least 3 credit hours over the course of the summer session.


  1. Undergraduate students who were enrolled full-time in the spring semester and who graduated at the end of the spring semester may work in an undergraduate research assistant title until August 31 of the year in which they graduate.


  1. Duties of Research Assistants


  1. The principal duty of a research assistant is to contribute under supervision to a program of departmental or interdepartmental research. The appointment is made with the understanding that the required services will contribute to the professional training of the student. While graduate research assistants are committed to performing assigned services, their work is usually suitable for and may be used as part of their report, thesis, or dissertation research to the extent approved by the faculty supervisor.


  1. Research assistants shall engage in research as assistants to members of the faculty or administration of the University. Appointment to one of these positions is usually made only in the student's own department or in another unit of the University where the research to be undertaken is related to the student's field of study. Appropriate service for an advanced research assistant may include the carrying out of independent research under the guidance of a faculty member.


  1. Other Employment Information


  1. Graduate and undergraduate research assistants are subject to the Rules and Regulations of The University of Texas System Board of Regents, the University, the Graduate School and/or the college/school and department in which they hold employment. In the performance of their duties they must abide by and adhere to the academic and instructional criteria and policies established by the department in which they render service.


  1. The Responsibilities, Rights, and Welfare of Graduate Student Academic Employees Committee (a standing committee of the General Faculty) serves in an advisory capacity for institutional policy and governance relating to the affairs of graduate and undergraduate research assistants.


  1. Graduate research assistants, as student academic employees, are eligible:


  1. to participate in the University Group Insurance Program in accordance with the current eligibility criteria for the Program;


  1. to purchase parking permits in designated areas;


  1. to participate in certain other benefits in accordance with existing policy criteria; and


  1. may be eligible for tuition benefits (see HOP 9-1120, "Request for Exemption From Non-resident Tuition on the Basis of Employment or Military Assignment").
  1. As with all other student academic appointments, graduate and undergraduate research assistant appointments do not provide for accrued vacation or sick leave entitlements or Teacher Retirement System membership. Time off due to illness or during academic breaks will be arranged with the approval of the student's supervising professor or project director.


  1. Graduate students appointed to these positions should consult the Office of Human Resources for information concerning benefits and conditions of employment.


  1. Reappointment


A department or research center may reappoint a research assistant if it is determined that reappointment is to the benefit of the institution. Prior service does not guarantee reappointment to a research assistant position.

  1. A research assistant may be considered for reappointment if he or she:
  1. has provided satisfactory prior service and,


  1. is in good academic standing and making satisfactory progress toward their degree. In the case of graduate level appointments, satisfactory progress includes continuing enrollment in the UT Austin Graduate School or the Red McCombs School of Business, satisfactory completion of coursework in a graduate program, satisfactory and timely completion of the examinations customary in the graduate program, and also steady and substantial progress toward completion of the report, thesis or dissertation. Each graduate studies committee shall set forth general guidelines describing what constitutes satisfactory progress in its various fields of graduate training.


  1. No graduate student shall be eligible for employment as a graduate research assistant for more than fourteen (14) long-session academic semesters. The total combined period of service of a graduate research assistant, teaching assistant, academic assistant, assistant (graduate), or assistant instructor shall not exceed fourteen (14) long-session academic semesters.


  1. Dismissal and Termination of Appointment and Procedure for Grievances


  1. Research assistant appointments are usually terminated only at the end of a designated period of appointment. However, this policy statement does not create contractual obligations. In the event that an appointee becomes ineligible for continued appointment through unsatisfactory academic progress, failure to maintain the minimum required credit hours per semester, or through failure to continue enrollment as a student, the appointment may be terminated at any time. Appointments may also be terminated at any time for nonacademic reasons, such as for failure to perform the required duties of the position.


  1. Every effort should be made to resolve grievances informally between the research assistant and the employing faculty member. When serious issues cannot be resolved informally, the research assistant shall have recourse to the grievance procedure outlined below in Sections 3 and 4.


  1. Employment disputes by research assistants are handled according to departmental review policies by the department employing the research assistant. The order of review for employment disputes is as follows:


  1. the faculty member employing the research assistant;


  1. the program graduate adviser (for graduate students);


  1. the department chair or head of the hiring unit employing the research assistant;


  1. the dean of the college or school employing the research assistant.


  1. The decision of the college or school dean is final.


  1. Forms & Tools

 Student Employee Compensation 

HOP 5-4020 - University Time Reports

  1. Frequently Asked Questions


  1. Related Information

Additional guidelines are available on the Student Employee section of the HR website


  1. History

Last review date: February 25, 2013
Next scheduled review: February 2015
(Previously HOP 12.C.3)