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Cost, Financial Support, and Graduate Assistantships

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4. Cost, Financial Support, and Graduate Assistantships

4.1 Cost and Financial Support

The cost of attending the University of Oklahoma includes tuition, fees, books, housing (including room and board), transportation, and miscellaneous living expenses. The actual cost of attending the university will vary depending on a student’s resident status, academic level, course load, housing arrangements, personal needs, and spending habits.

Contact Bursar Services in the Student Financial Center for specific information about tuition and fees.

1000 Asp Ave., Room 105
Norman, OK 73019
(405) 325-9000 or sfc@ou.edu

Financial support is any financial resource that a student may receive to assist in meeting the cost of attending the university.

These resources include:

  • financial aid, such as federal and state grants, loans, and work-study programs
  • graduate assistantships
  • fellowships and scholarships
  • tuition waivers.

4.2 Financial Aid

Financial Aid Services awards and monitors all federal and need-based awards. For additional information on financial aid programs and application information, contact:

Student Financial Center
1000 Asp Ave., Buchanan Hall, Room 105
Norman, OK 73019
(405) 325-9000 or sfc@ou.edu                                

Students are encouraged to utilize the Financial Aid Services website for general financial aid and scholarship information, as well as to check the status of their financial aid application.

4.3 Graduate Assistantships

Many academic units and other administrative areas employ graduate students on a part-time basis as graduate assistants. Graduate assistantships are awarded and governed by the individual appointing units. Students should contact the appointing unit to obtain information about graduate assistantships.

  • A graduate student is a student who has been admitted to the Graduate College.
  • A graduate assistant (GA) is a graduate student appointed to the title Graduate Teaching Assistant or Graduate Research Assistant. These are defined according to the emphasis placed on the student employee’s teaching or research responsibilities.
  • A Qualifying Graduate Assistant (QGA) is a GA who qualifies for a tuition waiver. Not all graduate assistants qualify for tuition waivers.

4.3.1.1 Graduate Teaching Assistants

  • A Graduate Teaching Assistant is a graduate student on stipend whose primary responsibilities support the instructional mission of the university.
  • Services provided by a teaching assistant may include classroom or laboratory teaching, counseling students, proctoring examinations, grading papers, or providing other general assistance in the instruction process.
  • Graduate teaching assistants may occasionally conduct research as part of their service requirement.

4.3.1.2 Graduate Research Assistants

  • A Graduate Research Assistant is a graduate student on stipend whose responsibilities are other than teaching. Graduate Research Assistants do not instruct students.
  • Services provided by a research assistant may include assisting faculty members in a research or creative activity, serving as an administrative assistant or intern, developing and evaluating instructional materials or curricula, or assuming responsibility for a designated research area.
  • Research assistants appointed in relation to research or creative activities with external funding may assist faculty members in the completion of contracted research and creative activities; they may be assigned responsibility for the independent completion of parts or all of specific contracts; they may be responsible for preparation of required reports and proposals; and/or they may be responsible for the supervision of other research personnel.

The QGA tuition waiver program is designed to provide tuition support to graduate students whose graduate assistantship is relevant to their study and an integral part of their graduate education experience.

4.3.2.1 FTE Requirements for Qualifying Graduate Assistants

  • In order to qualify for a tuition waiver in the fall or spring semester, a GA must hold at least a .50 FTE appointment as a Graduate Research Assistant or Graduate Teaching Assistant from the first day of classes to the last day of final examinations and be appointed in an academic unit or related research unit.
  • If a student has multiple appointments totaling .50 FTE, then each appointment also must meet all other eligibility criteria (i.e., appointment length and job title) in order for the student to qualify for this tuition waiver.

4.3.2.2 Enrollment Requirements for Qualifying Graduate Assistants

  • A student must be enrolled in a minimum of five hours to hold a Qualifying Graduate Assistant (QGA) position in the fall or spring.
    • Students in the final semester of their degree program may be eligible to enroll in fewer than five hours (see Final Semester Enrollment).
  • Enrollment requirements for summer GAs differ depending on the student’s circumstances. Not all summer GAs need to be enrolled.
  • A student is eligible to hold a GA position in the summer if:
    • The student is enrolled during the summer, or
    • The student was enrolled during the previous spring semester, or
    • The student is admitted for the coming fall semester.
  • Although not all summer GAs need to be enrolled during the summer, some summer GAs may need to meet enrollment minimums for other reasons. These include:
    • Students wishing to receive financial aid. Graduate assistantships do not affect enrollment for financial aid purposes.
    • International students first attending OU in the summer and appointed as a GA in the summer must enroll in three hours.
    • Students in degree programs that require summer hours.
  • GAs who may be included in one of these groups should check with their academic unit, Financial Aid Services, International Student Services, or the Graduate College for the minimum hour requirement.

4.3.3.1 Definitions

  • Tuition is payment required of an individual for enrollment in courses. This term is not interchangeable with fees.
    • Resident tuition is the tuition rate paid by all University of Oklahoma students.
    • Non-resident tuition is the additional tuition paid by all students who are not residents of Oklahoma.
  • Fees are charges in addition to tuition which students are assessed as a condition of enrollment.

Tuition Waiver

  • Tuition waiver is a reduction in a student’s tuition bill.
  • Each waiver is for a specific amount, a specific term, and for resident and/or non-resident tuition.
  • Waivers are not transferable between semesters, nor between resident and non-resident tuition.
  • Tuition waivers are applied only to tuition costs. They may not be applied toward fees.
  • Financial Aid Services will not process a waiver for an amount greater than the student’s tuition bill.
  • The student is responsible for any tuition not covered by the waiver.
  • Graduate College tuition waivers are awarded to Norman campus graduate students taking Norman campus courses.
    • Under special circumstances, tuition waivers awarded by the Norman campus Graduate College can be applied toward courses taken on the Tulsa campus. A student should contact the OU campus where they are employed as a graduate assistant for additional information.
    • Under special circumstances, tuition waivers may be applied to courses offered through the OU Health Sciences Center. Waivers for HSC courses must be approved prior to enrollment. Contact the Graduate College at gradga@ou.edu for more information.

Costs Not Waived

  • Graduate College tuition waivers may not be applied toward fees. OSRHE policy prevents the Graduate College from waiving fees.
  • Graduate College tuition waivers may not be applied to courses offered through Extended Campus. This includes the College of Professional and Continuing Studies (formerly OU Outreach/College of Continuing Education) and OU North America and Europe (formerly Advanced Programs) courses.
  • Graduate College tuition waivers may not be applied to courses offered through the College of Law.
  • Students in the following programs are not eligible for Graduate College tuition waivers:
    • Online Energy Executive Master of Business Administration
    • Online Master of Accountancy
    • Online Master of Arts in Global Affairs
    • Online Master of Science in Civil Engineering
    • Online Master of Environmental Science in Hydrology and Water Security
    • Online Master of Science in Natural Gas Engineering and Management
    • Online Master of Science in Finance
    • Online Master of Social Work
    • Professional Master of Arts in TESOL
  • Graduate College tuition waivers may not be applied to professional degrees offered through the OU Health Sciences Center. These degrees include:
    • Master of Arts in Nutrition
    • Master of Arts in Speech Language Pathology
    • Master of Health Administration
    • Master of Health Sciences
    • Master of Occupational Therapy
    • Master of Public Health
    • Master of Science in Nursing
    • Doctor of Audiology
    • Doctor of Dental Sciences
    • Doctor of Medicine
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice
    • Doctor of Pharmacy
    • Doctor of Physical Therapy
    • Doctor of Public Health
    • Doctor of Science in Rehabilitation Sciences
  • A graduate student with a 1.0 FTE appointment is considered a university employee and is not eligible for a Graduate College tuition waiver. Students with 1.0 FTE appointments should contact the Student Financial Center regarding a reduced tuition rate.
  • Audited courses are not included in a student’s enrollment calculation. Therefore, Graduate College tuition waivers do not apply to audited courses.

Intersession Tuition Waivers

If a QGA has available tuition waiver following a given semester, the remaining amount may be applicable to certain courses in the Intersession immediately following the semester. Students should contact the Graduate College at gradga@ou.edu for complete information.

Residency and Tuition Waivers

Under certain conditions, students may establish state residency after one year on campus. Information on this policy is available from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

4.3.3.2 Tuition Waiver Policy for Qualifying Graduate Assistants

Qualifying Graduate Assistants are eligible for a waiver of up to the total number of hours required for the graduate program. Doctoral students also in a master’s program are eligible for the total number of hours required for the doctoral degree.

Eligibility

  • To be eligible for a waiver in a fall or spring semester, a QGA must enroll in a minimum of five credit hours and hold a graduate assistantship total FTE of at least .50 the entire semester (see also Final Semester Enrollment below).
  • Eligibility for waiver in the summer is based on whether the student held or will hold a qualifying appointment in the preceding spring or following fall semester.

Limitations

  • Only hours that are taken at OU after admission to the graduate program may be waived.
  • The maximum total waiver allowed for a student will be reduced by graduate credit completed at OU prior to admission to the current degree program and applied to the current degree requirements.
  • Maximum allowable tuition waiver will not be increased to cover repeated courses.

Final Semester Enrollment

  • Students in their final semester may receive an additional waiver of up to the minimum enrollment requirement.
  • Graduate assistants, especially those who have a .50 or greater FTE assistantship, may be eligible to enroll in fewer than five hours of coursework during their final semester and still be considered full time for the purpose of maintaining eligibility for a tuition waiver and FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) tax exemption (see Compensation and Taxes).
  • Graduate assistants who are eligible for reduced enrollment in their final semester may be considered eligible for a one-semester exception from the FICA tax if they declare their final semester with the Graduate College by completing the online Graduate Assistant Final Semester Declaration form.
    • This form may be completed one time only.
    • Should a student declare their final semester with the Graduate College but not graduate in that semester, the student will no longer be eligible to retain full-time student status with reduced enrollment.
  • The Graduate College will report to Financial Aid Services any students who have self-identified the current semester as their final semester. Students should contact Financial Aid Services for enrollment requirements with regard to financial aid eligibility and student loan deferment information.
  • International students will need to contact International Student Services regarding approval for a reduced courseload.

Most teaching assistants are funded from the state-allocated education and general budget funds. Most research assistants are supported with funds generated by research or training programs and generally awarded to the University of Oklahoma by institutions or agencies outside the university community (for example, NSF, NIH, DOD, etc.). These distinct funding sources necessitate differences in policy, particularly with regard to eligibility, appointment, performance review, and reappointment.

4.3.4.1 Eligibility for Appointments

  • To be eligible for appointment as a graduate assistant in a fall or spring semester, a student must be enrolled in at least two credit hours for that semester.
  • It is the responsibility of the unit employing a graduate assistant to check with the student and with Payroll and Records to determine whether the student is eligible for employment at the university.

4.3.4.2 Graduate Teaching Assistant Appointments

Teaching appointments are ordinarily made for an academic year, one semester, or the summer term.

Teaching Assistant Training

  • Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) must attend the Teaching Assistant Orientation (TAO) offered by the Center for Teaching Excellence prior to beginning their teaching responsibilities.
    • GTAs who do not have substantive contact with students (e.g., those who only do grading) are exempt from this requirement.
  • International GTAs also must attend the Development of International Teaching Assistants (DITA) training program.
  • For additional information, contact the Center for Teaching Excellence, Wallace Old Science Hall 224, (405) 325-2323 or at teach@ou.edu.

English Language Certification

  • Before assuming duties that require any instruction of students, every graduate student for whom English is a second language must be certified as having the English language capacity appropriate for their teaching appointment.
  • English Communication Certification is obtained through English Training and Certification Services (ETCS), Robertson Hall 213, (405) 325-1838. More information about certification requirements and levels of certification for international teaching assistants can be found on the ETCS website.
  • International graduate students who wish to or need to improve their English communication skills may choose from the variety of ETCS training options.
  • Ongoing certification is contingent upon performance, and in some cases, further language support may be needed to avoid lowering the international teaching assistant’s certification level. Classroom observations and individual coaching are available for international teaching assistants, as needed or required by their performance.

Evaluation

  • Academic units must conduct a periodic review and evaluation of the services rendered by teaching assistants and communicate the substance of such reviews to the individuals concerned. These reviews and evaluations must be performed at least once per year.
  • The University Regents require each college to implement a procedure for student evaluation of teaching performance. For teaching assistants, student evaluation forms serve as one of several sources of information in the evaluation process and can provide constructive information for improving performance.
  • In addition to the required evaluations, graduate assistants are encouraged to develop their own evaluation instruments and administer them periodically.

Reappointment

  • Because graduate assistant appointments are term appointments, graduate assistants do not have a right or guarantee of reappointment. Graduate assistants should not assume that they will be reappointed merely because no notification of termination at the end of the contract has been received.
  • Reappointment is ordinarily based on satisfactory progress in the academic program of study, satisfactory performance as a graduate assistant, other relevant factors determined by the appointing authority, and the availability of continued funding.
  • By May 1, academic units should advise those graduate assistants who apply for reappointment for the next academic year as to the status of their application. In some circumstances, such as addition of course sections, later notice may be necessary.

4.3.4.3 Graduate Research Assistant Appointments

Each project director/principal investigator is responsible for establishing the minimum qualifications for the appointment of graduate research assistants and the criteria by which appointments, reappointments, advancement, and evaluation of performance will be made. In some academic units, these responsibilities may be exercised through a formal policy and procedure. In most instances, however, the decisions concerning graduate student employment are made directly by the project director.

The starting dates and duration of research appointments may vary according to the availability of funds.

Evaluation

Principal investigators are responsible for periodically reviewing and evaluating the services rendered by graduate research assistants and communicating the substance of these reviews to the individuals concerned.

Reappointment

  • Because graduate assistant appointments are term appointments, graduate assistants do not have a right or guarantee of reappointment. Graduate assistants should not assume that they will be reappointed merely because no notification of termination at the end of the contract has been received.
  • Reappointment is ordinarily based on satisfactory progress in the academic program of study, satisfactory performance as a graduate assistant, other relevant factors determined by the appointing authority, and the availability of continued funding.
  • Beyond that, it is necessary to recognize that the faculty project director frequently undertakes a major commitment for completion and submission of specific research or development results. In these instances, the evaluation of a graduate research assistant’s performance must be measured against the requirements and expectations of the supporting grant. The project director must consider the effectiveness of the graduate assistant’s contribution to the program objectives along with the student’s personal academic progress in determining whether to continue, reappoint, or terminate a graduate assistant.

4.3.4.4 Limitations on FTE, Workload, and Appointments

  • The primary purpose of a graduate assistant appointment is to aid the student in the successful completion of an academic program. For this reason, enrollments and appointments are subject to certain restrictions.
  • Employment is generally measured as a proportion of Full Time Equivalent or FTE status, with 1.0 FTE representing full-time employment or 40 hours per week.
  • Graduate assistantships are subject to FTE limitations and cannot resemble full-time work. The standard Qualifying Graduate Assistantship is .50 FTE, which is equivalent to 20 hours per week.  
  • In necessary circumstances, graduate assistantships totaling .51 to .70 FTE can be approved by submitting a written request to the associate dean of the Graduate College. A signature from the student’s advisor, graduate liaison, or chair of the student’s academic unit will be required. The Request to Appoint a Graduate Assistant Over .50 FTE must state the nature of the increased FTE and the rationale for the appointment.
  • It is the responsibility of the graduate student to submit the request form to the Graduate College prior to the start of the semester during which the appointment(s) exceeding .50 FTE will be held.
  • Whenever a unit is aware that a graduate student's total appointment(s) will exceed .50 FTE, the unit should inform the student of their responsibility to complete and submit the request form.
  • Review and approval of the Request to Appoint a Graduate Assistant Over .50 FTE will be based upon the following criteria:
    • Graduate students may not be appointed over .70 FTE at any time.
    • Appointments totaling more than .50 FTE cannot be approved for the fall and spring semesters for any international student on a student visa. During summer and Intersession, international students on a student visa may not exceed .70 FTE.
    • Students must be in good academic standing.
    • The assistantship(s) must be relevant to the student’s program of study.
    • The assistantship(s) must not impede the student’s progress toward their degree.
    • Students are not approved to work over .50 FTE during the first semester of graduate-level coursework.
  • The Graduate College will review the request based upon the student's GPA, current academic standing, and progress toward the degree. The Graduate College may approve a student’s appointment(s) for the upcoming academic year or for a single semester only. The Graduate College also may deny the student’s request.
  • Such requests are not required for summer appointments which will exceed .50 FTE.
  • The student and unit(s) will be notified of the determination by the Graduate College via email.
  • If a graduate student's appointment(s) will continue to exceed .50 FTE after the term of approval has expired, the graduate student must submit a new form prior to the start of the subsequent semester.
  • Units may not effectively increase a graduate assistant’s FTE via supplemental pay. The Graduate College does not review supplemental pay requests. However, Human Resources will verify that a graduate assistant’s composite appointment (FTE and supplemental pay) does not exceed 28 hours per week.
  • The Graduate College may terminate any appointment(s) that exceeds .50 FTE and has not been approved by the Graduate College.
  • Academic units are encouraged to set limitations on the number of semesters a student may hold a graduate assistantship. These limitations should be made available in writing at the time of a student's application, appointment, or reappointment.
  • In general, the Graduate College expects that a graduate assistant will not be appointed for more than the number of semesters required to complete the degree program, assuming six semester hours of enrollment per semester.

4.3.4.5 International GA Final Semester Appointment Dates

International GAs who submit an application for optional practical training (OPT) to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after completion of their course requirements often report their program completion date as the last date of the semester. If their GA appointment has not already ended as of that date, this may create a conflict with USCIS policy.

Units appointing an international GA in the final semester of their program are advised to use the “Final Day to Complete Work Needed for Graduation,” as listed on the University Academic Calendar, as the appointment end date for that semester.

4.3.4.6 Notification

  • Notification of appointment should be in the form of an offer letter from the academic unit administrator. Templates are available from the Graduate College.
  • The notification should state the appointment is contingent upon approval by the appropriate budget dean and the provost.
  • In addition, the notification letter should contain information about:
    • the appointment period
    • compensation
    • expected duties
    • the person to whom the graduate assistant is responsible.
  • It also may be appropriate to include information about:
    • hours of work per week
    • enrollment requirements
    • tuition waivers
    • teaching and/or research load
    • specific duties
    • review procedures
    • summer employment (if the appointment is an academic year appointment)
    • the availability of other financial support.

4.3.4.7 Compensation and Taxes

  • Appointment and initial stipend are determined on the basis of academic background, prior experience, scholarship, service requirements, and general potential.
  • Graduate assistant stipends above the minimum set by the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost are determined by the unique needs of the academic units, the particular responsibilities of the graduate assistants, the availability of funds, and the specific priorities of the academic units.
  • Graduate assistant stipends are generally treated as wages and are subject to federal and state income taxes.
  • In fall and spring, QGAs are exempt from paying FICA taxes. However, GAs must pay FICA taxes if they are enrolled in less than five credit hours during the fall or spring semester, or less than two credit hours during the summer semester.
    • If a GA’s enrollment falls below the minimum required in any month, Payroll Services will automatically change the student’s status and withhold FICA taxes. Students should contact Payroll Services for complete information.
    • Graduate assistants who are eligible for reduced enrollment in their final semester may be considered eligible for a one-semester exemption from the FICA tax if they declare their final semester with the Graduate College (see Final Semester Enrollment).
    • Courses through OU North America & Europe (formerly Advanced Programs) and/or the Center for Independent and Distance Learning (whether online or in-person) are not eligible credit hours for exemption from FICA.
  • Under certain conditions, students may establish state residency after one year on campus. Information on this policy is available from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

4.3.4.8 Payment Options

Graduate assistants whose duties conform to a fall/spring semester calendar generally may choose between two monthly distributions of their stipends. They may receive their stipend over nine months with their appointment starting Aug. 16, or they may choose to have their nine-month stipend spread over a 10-month period with their appointment starting on Aug. 1. The unit employing the graduate student should ascertain the student’s preference for a nine- or 10-month appointment. Graduate assistants should check with the appointing unit to determine their payment schedule.

Nine-Month Option

  • For the nine-month option, the fall semester appointment dates are Aug. 16 through Dec. 31. The spring semester appointment dates are Jan. 1 through May 15.
  • Academic year appointment salaries are paid as eight full months and two half months (August and May).
  • Semester salaries are paid as four full months and one half month (August or May).

10-Month Option

  • For the 10-month option, the fall semester appointment dates are Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. The spring appointment dates are Jan. 1 through May 31.
  • Graduate assistants appointed for the entire academic year are paid in 10 equal payments.
  • Graduate assistants appointed for either the fall or spring semester are paid in five equal payments.

12-Month Option

Graduate assistants whose duties do not necessarily conform to the normal academic semester/year calendars may be appointed on a 12-month basis with starting and termination dates defining the actual period of employment.

4.3.4.9 Health Insurance

  • Graduate assistants (GAs) who receive medical insurance as part of their GA appointment are enrolled in the University of Oklahoma Student Health Plan. The university pays for the Student Health Plan for qualifying Graduate Teaching Assistants and Graduate Research Assistants.
  • For information about eligibility, enrollment in the health plan, and details of the health plan, contact the Student Health Plan Office at (405) 325-9196.

4.3.4.10 Fringe Benefits

Student employees are considered temporary employees and are not eligible for paid vacation or other fringe benefits.

4.3.4.11 Participation in Departmental Faculty Meetings and Committees

  • Policies on graduate assistant participation in department meetings and committees are governed by the regulations of individual academic units.
  • Graduate assistants should be informed of the policies of the academic unit.

4.3.4.12 Absence from Service

  • The academic unit may honor, with pay, a reasonable absence for good cause from service responsibilities.
  • The graduate assistant will notify the academic unit in advance of the absence and, when possible, assist in obtaining a replacement or rearrangement of duties.
  • Excessive absence, regardless of reason, is cause for termination before the end of the contract.

4.3.4.13 Termination before End of Contract

  • If a graduate assistant’s performance is unsatisfactory, the employing unit will inform the graduate assistant.
  • Except in the case of gross misconduct or a violation of the Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination, and Harassment Policy, which warrants immediate suspension in the judgment of the appointing authority, an attempt should be made to help the graduate assistant improve their performance before the academic unit begins procedures for termination.
  • If a graduate assistant is to be terminated prior to the end of the contract period, the academic or research unit should advise the student in writing of the reasons for the action.
  • Copies of the notice also should be sent to the dean of the college of the academic unit, the dean of the Graduate College, and the provost.
  • The reasons for which the termination is requested will normally include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Academic misconduct (as established under the terms of the Academic Integrity Code (pdf))
    • Poor academic performance or excessive absences from class
    • Misconduct in instructional or research duties
    • Unsatisfactory performance in instructional or research duties
    • Incapacitation of the graduate assistant for an excessive period of time
    • Other personal misconduct
    • Budgetary constraints
  • If a graduate student believes that a termination is unwarranted, they may file a graduate assistant appeal (see Graduate Assistant Appeals). However, unless the student has a reasonable expectation of renewal (such as a letter from the appointing authority), non-renewal at the end of the specified term of appointment may not be appealed.
    • If a graduate assistant appeal is filed, the graduate assistant will continue in regular duties until the date of the hearing, unless gross misconduct exists, which in the judgment of the appointment authority warrants immediate suspension.
    • If a graduate assistant appeal is not filed within the specified period of time, the opportunity for a hearing will be waived and the termination will become effective immediately.
    • Any appeal of a termination based on a finding of impropriety by the Sexual Misconduct Office will be handled through the appellate process of the Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination, and Harassment Policy and the Sexual Misconduct Office, (405) 325-2215.

Graduate assistants make a vital contribution to the university at every level. As teaching and research assistants, they carry on the highest levels of intellectual inquiry; as professionals in training, they connect the university to the community and the world. In these roles, graduate assistants represent not only the student body but the university as a whole. Therefore, the university expects graduate assistants to conduct themselves with the highest standards of judgment and behavior in every area.

As instructors, graduate assistants follow all university policies concerning instruction. They demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors. They make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to ensure that their evaluations of students reflect each student's true merit. They respect the confidential nature of the relationship between instructor and student. They avoid any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students. Graduate assistants will not receive payment from students for tutoring or help sessions in any course in which they are currently assigned as an instructor, and they will accept the judgment of their department as to other limitations on such activities.

As researchers, graduate assistants have a responsibility to ensure the integrity and ethical standards in any research activity in which they are engaged. Graduate assistants will not engage in research misconduct and will notify a responsible party if they become aware of research misconduct by others.

As professionals in training, graduate assistants have a professional obligation to their colleagues and to the university. They show due respect and civility to their associates. They understand that any other employment or enterprise in which they engage for income is secondary to their university duties, and they accept the judgment of their department regarding conflicts of interest, either real or apparent, that may be caused by such outside activities.

4.3.6.1 Supervision of Graduate Teaching Assistants

Teaching loads and teaching/research responsibilities should be commensurate with the background and experience of the individual concerned. In addition, new graduate assistants may require a closely supervised apprenticeship program. Graduate assistant status calls for consultation and guidance from those with more teaching experience and academic preparation.

  • The chair or director of the academic unit should designate one or more persons to supervise all graduate assistants’ performances. Supervisory duties include periodic observation of the graduate assistant’s teaching and meeting to discuss those observations.
  • Consultation regarding grading, preparing examinations, and other aspects of teaching should occur when necessary. The supervisor also may be called upon to aid graduate assistants in resolving disputes concerning evaluation or misconduct of the graduate assistant’s students.
  • For some international teaching assistant appointments, close supervision is required, per their English communication certification level.

4.3.6.2 Instructional Procedures

Academic unit policies may differ in regard to the instructional autonomy of teaching assistants. They may range from requiring that teaching assistants follow an outline to allowing the assistants complete control of course content.

4.3.6.3 Limitations on Teaching Assistant Responsibilities

  • Graduate assistants cannot be given teaching responsibility for courses in which students are enrolled for graduate credit, including 3000- and 4000-level courses approved for graduate credit.
  • International teaching assistants cannot have teaching appointments that do not match their level of English communication certification. English Training and Certification Services offers training and support for individuals to improve their English competency.

4.3.6.4 Materials and Work Space

  • Each academic unit should make available to each graduate assistant suitable facilities and materials to enable the graduate assistant to carry out their teaching responsibilities.
  • Delegation of office space is generally made by the chair/director of the academic unit.

4.3.6.5 Course Requirements

It is expected, as a matter of good teaching practice, that the graduate assistant will provide a general orientation to their students. Such an orientation will, in most cases, include the course title and appropriate identifying numbers, information regarding prerequisites, texts, testing, grading, class assignments, academic integrity, disability accommodations, and other expectations for the course or laboratory section.

  • A syllabus containing such information should be published and distributed to students at the beginning of the term.
  • Graduate teaching assistants should follow the guidelines in the provost’s yearly memorandum, “Honoring Our Commitment to Our Students.”

4.3.6.6 Office Hours

  • Graduate assistants should announce and post a schedule of hours when they will be available for student conferences. The office of the academic unit should be notified of these hours.
  • When possible, special appointments should be available to meet the needs of students whose schedules conflict with posted office hours. Special appointments should be made at alternate locations, if necessary, to accommodate students with disabilities.

4.3.6.7 Grading

  • Responsibility for determining final grades in courses or laboratories taught by graduate assistants usually rests with the assistant. Exceptions to this policy may be necessary in unusual circumstances.
  • For graduate assistants who are appointed as an instructor of record, instructions for reporting course grades are disseminated by the University registrar at each grade reporting period.

4.3.6.8 Makeup Examinations (Other than Final) Due to University-Sponsored Activities

The following guidelines have been approved by the Faculty Senate and the SGA to aid the faculty in determining a policy for make-up examinations (other than final examinations) in cases of absences due to participation in educational extracurricular activities.

  • Faculty, if given notice two class periods before an examination or quiz (excluding pop quizzes), are encouraged to make every effort to find an accommodation by:
    • Giving a makeup examination, an early examination, or a quiz
    • Changing the examination schedule
    • Dropping the examination or quiz and increasing the weight of another examination or quiz or other agreed-upon approaches acceptable to the instructor and the student.

NOTICE: If the student and the faculty member cannot agree, normal appeal procedures (faculty to director/chair to college dean to provost) are available to the student and can be followed.

4.3.6.9 Academic Misconduct

  • A graduate teaching assistant (GTA) who discovers an incident of alleged academic misconduct in a particular course should notify the instructor of record and contact the Office of Academic Integrity Programs to report the incident.
  • Reports need to be made within 15 class days of discovery.
  • The Academic Integrity Code (pdf) contains a detailed description of the policies and procedures for dealing with academic misconduct. Further information about academic misconduct is contained in the Student’s Guide to Academic Integrity.

Graduate assistants who have research appointments should consult with the chair or director of the academic unit or the principal investigator of the research project to learn the specific duties and expectations associated with their appointment.

Graduate research assistants also should be familiar with the university policies on use of human subjects in research, use of vertebrate animals in research, and intellectual property.

Graduate assistants should be familiar with the following:

The following policy in no way abridges the right of a student under Title 14 of the Student Code to appeal unresolved disputes to the appropriate academic appeals board. This policy also appears in the Faculty Handbook, section 4.17.

It is the policy of the University of Oklahoma that all who provide instruction at the university be proficient in English language communication, so that they may adequately instruct students. OU has established procedures to ensure that instructors have this proficiency through the English Training and Certification Services program.

In addition, a student who believes that an instructor is not sufficiently proficient in English communication may file a written formal complaint with the provost. The identity of the complainant(s) will remain confidential. Anonymous complaints will not be accepted.

The provost will notify the instructor, the chair or director of the academic unit in which the instructor is employed, and the dean of the Graduate College that a complaint has been received. If, after consulting with the college and department, the provost determines that a formal inquiry is necessary, he/she shall appoint an independent evaluator to evaluate the instructor in a fair manner, with due process. The evaluator may visit the class of the instructor named in the complaint, interview the instructor, interview students, or engage in such other activities as necessary to evaluate the English communication capacity of the instructor.

The evaluator will provide the provost with a written report of his/her findings as to the English proficiency of the instructor and make recommendations of actions that should be taken. The provost will notify the complainant(s), the instructor, the chair or director of the academic unit, and the dean of the findings as to the validity of the complaint. In the event that the instructor is found not to be sufficiently proficient in English, the provost will specify actions to be taken by the instructor and/or the academic unit. Such actions may include but are not limited to: (1) reassignment of the instructor to other duties; (2) re-evaluation of the instructor for purposes of hiring, tenure, promotion, salary, or other personnel decisions; (3) appropriate remedial measures to assist the instructor in improving his/her English capacity; and (4) appropriate remedies for the affected students.

4.4 Other Funding Opportunities

  • Students are encouraged to apply for funding based on academic ability or talent.
  • Students may conduct an online search for funding by visiting www.ou.edu/financialaid.
  • Funding recipients who also are recipients of other financial aid sources may expect their award letters to be revised.
  • The university strongly encourages graduate students to apply for funding from external agencies.  Students are encouraged to write directly to granting agencies.
  • There are a number of major funding opportunities available for students engaged in full-time study leading to the doctoral degree.
  • Graduate students may visit the Centralized Academic Scholarship Hub (CASH) to apply for Financial Aid and Sooner Heritage scholarships, as well as certain departmental or college scholarships.
  • The Graduate College website provides additional information on funding opportunities.

In an effort to assist graduate students in locating funding opportunities, the Graduate College provides access to the Community of Scholars National Funding Opportunities database. This comprehensive web-based listing of funds from various government agencies, private foundations, industries, and academic institutions offers eligible students excellent opportunities for advanced study. Each entry contains a brief description of the program and an address to obtain further information and an application. This service is an invaluable tool for quickly identifying funding opportunities for graduate students and faculty. The OU Vice President for Research, Center for Research Program Development and Enrichment, and OU Libraries provide COS Pivot to assist faculty, staff, and students searching for funding opportunities in research development. COS Pivot is a comprehensive database that can be personalized for accurate and automated searches. 

Since 1949, students and faculty of the University of Oklahoma have benefited from the university’s membership in Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU). Through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, the DOE facility that ORAU operates, undergraduates, graduates, postgraduates, and faculty enjoy access to a multitude of opportunities for study and research. Students can participate in programs covering a wide variety of disciplines, including business, earth sciences, epidemiology, engineering, physics, geological sciences, pharmacology, ocean sciences, biomedical sciences, nuclear chemistry, and mathematics. Appointment and program length range from one month to four years. Many of these programs are especially designed to increase the number of underrepresented minority students pursuing degrees in science and engineering-related disciplines. A comprehensive listing of these programs and other opportunities, their disciplines and details on locations and benefits, can be found in the online resource guide.

Additional information regarding grants, scholarships, or other funding should be directed to the following agencies. Recipients of funding from these programs who are recipients of other financial aid sources may expect their award letters to be revised.

4.4.3.1 Vocational Rehabilitation Services

  • Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services may assist students who have certain physical, mental, or emotional disabilities by providing funding or other support services.
  • Contact the Department of Human Services Rehabilitation Services Division in your community for information and applications.
  • The vocational objective must be approved by a representative of the division.

4.4.3.2 GI Bill

  • Educational benefits may be available to students who are active-duty, reserve personnel, or veterans.
  • Students should contact their area Veterans Affairs office for information regarding educational benefits.

4.4.3.3 Tribal Grants

  • Native American students are encouraged to contact their tribal agency for specific information and application materials for higher education grants, scholarships, and fellowships.
  • Students also may obtain information from American Indian Student Life, Center for Student Life, Oklahoma Memorial Union, third floor south.
  • Another valuable source of funding is through the American Indian Graduate Center at 3701 San Mateo NE #200, Albuquerque, NM 87110, or at 1-800-628-1920.