A number of departments offer graduate assistantships to carefully selected students. The primary goal of an assistantship is to facilitate progress toward the graduate degree by providing work experience in a profession under the supervision of a faculty mentor, thus, as a graduate assistant, you are both a student and employee.
Depending upon the needs of the academic units, available funds, and the qualifications of the individual graduate student, three types of master's and doctoral assistantships may be offered. The duties of a particular assistantship can be and most often are a combination of the types of duties listed below.
A graduate assistant works with the administrative staff of a department, college or campus office primarily in gathering, organizing and analyzing information.
A research assistant normally is employed by the principal investigator of a funded research project or may be employed by an academic department in the pursuit of its broader research mission. The R.A. will be assigned a range of duties, such as library searches, fieldwork, laboratory experiments, and preparation of reports. Work on a research project often leads to a thesis or dissertation or a professional presentation or publication, and provides long-range direction for the student's development as a scholar.
If you are interested in a graduate assistantship, you should contact the appropriate academic department well in advance of the semester in which you are interested in the assistantship.
Stipends, Assistantship Duration, and Insurance
The stipends vary according to the major and extent of the assignment. Graduate assistants assigned at 50% FTE (50% FTE = a full graduate assistantship) are expected to serve 20 hours per week in the department to which they are assigned. Those assigned to other percentages are expected to work a proportionate number of hours per week. Graduate assistantships are usually limited to four semesters (except for the Ph.D., Ed.D., and M.F.A. programs). Graduate Assistants appointed at the 50% FTE are eligible for medical insurance coverage by paying one-half of the premium for employee only coverage or a proportionate rate for optional coverage, such as employee and family. See the Office of Human Resources for additional details.
If you have any questions regarding the gross amount of your stipend, contact the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. Contact the Payroll Office for questions regarding net pay or deductions.
Payment Schedule for Graduate Assistantship Stipends
- Fall Semester - Four (4) equal installments to be released on the first university workday of October, November, December and January.
- Spring Semester - Five (5) equal installments to be released on the first university workday of February, March, April, May and June.
In addition to graduate assistantships, jobs and internships are available both on and off-campus. All SFA students and alumni have access to Handshake, an online employment platform hosted by the Center for Career and Professional Development. Numerous employment opportunities, career events, and helpful resources for job searching are available on Handshake.
To access Handshake, click on "Student," click on the "Stephen F. Austin State University" button, and then enter sign-on credentials for mySFA. Account information is pre-loaded for all current SFA students. Students should complete their profile and then can search for positions.
SFA Human Resources also lists information for on-campus student worker positions.
Graduate students also have access to all CCPD services, which include career coaching, professional document critiques, career expos, mock interviews, and the career closet, where students can borrow professional clothing for presentations or interviews. All services can be found and requested on Handshake, by clicking on the “Career Center” tab.
For more information on Handshake or any CCPD services:
Federal Work Study
Many students take advantage of the Federal Work Study Program, in which students are awarded money as part of their financial aid package that they can earn through an on-campus job. In order to qualify for the program you must demonstrate financial need, maintain satisfactory performance in your studies, and meet varied time and work load requirements in departments and divisions across the campus.
If you are receiving an official salary from the university as a graduate assistant or student worker, it is very important that you sign all of the necessary payroll papers in your department. Necessary information and forms for payroll and insurance must be completed and forwarded to Human Resources and business offices in a timely fashion to ensure payment on schedule. All work payments are electronically transferred to your bank of choice through the business office.