Selection of Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs). Departmental approval of admission and subsequent official notification of admission by the University Office of Admissions is a prerequisite to any offer of financial support to an applicant. The Recruiting and Admissions Committee of the department advises the Chairperson of the department on matters related to the GTAs. The Committee screens the applications and makes specific recommendations concerning the award of GTAs.

The criteria for selecting GTAs include the following:

  1. The merit of the applicant as judged by the previous scholastic record, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and the applicant’s statement of career objectives;
  2. Availability of faculty with expertise in the applicant’s field of interest, facilities and financial resources to support the applicant’s thesis research, and willingness to serve as major professor for the applicant;
  3. Compatibility of the applicant’s previous academic training and current area of interest with the staffing needs of the department. In the case of foreign students, language skills are an additional important consideration. All international students whose native language is not English must take the SPEAK test before they are allowed to serve as a GTA.

Occasional resignations or the acquisitions of new positions may result in GTAs becoming available during the academic year; these positions are usually filled from the pool of graduate students needing support to complete their degrees.

Selection of Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs). The criteria for selecting GRAs are similar to those used in the selection of GTAs, but the source of funds for the GRA is an additional consideration of major importance. Stipends for GRAs are made possible through research grants from external sources. These funds are allocated specifically for the support of a defined research project. Therefore, the applicant selected for a GRA must be qualified to contribute to the particular research program providing the support and be willing to make a specific commitment to that program.

Renewal of Financial Support. Subject to satisfactory progress in the degree program, satisfactory performance of assistantship duties and the availability of funding, the policy of the department has been to renew graduate teaching and research assistantships to provide a total of two years of support in the case of M.S. programs or four years of support in the case of Ph.D. programs. This policy is seldom rigorously enforced but the Department usually requests justification for students taking more than three years for an M.S. or five years for a Ph.D. degree.

Stipends for Graduate Teaching and Research Assistantships. The departmental office can provide a current list of stipends, fees, and benefits. Graduate students entering the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology on appointments as GTAs (usually one to three terms of three months) or Graduate Research Assistants (variable length, often 12 months) are appointed at a stipend (revised annually) at a 0.49 FTE. Tuition remission is provided for graduate students holding appointments of .20 FTE or greater stipends but must pay student fees (revised each year). All Ph.D. candidates are required to teach two quarters. It is the students’ responsibility to contact the department head about the availability of teaching availability.

GTA appointments are usually only for the 3 to 9 months of the academic year. Most students are employed by their advisers during the summer term from research grants. Be sure to ask your adviser about summer support. The departmental Personnel Specialist in the BPP main office should be consulted regarding any actions needed for summer employment. Students that are employed during the summer are expected to enroll in 5 credits of Thesis (BOT 503/603).

OLD: {Students with summer support must sign up for employment at Student Employment Services (Kerr AdS B008A). This should be done between June 1 and July 1 (to ensure getting paid) and is separate from signing up for GTA or GRA employment. }

Summer Support

Most GRAs and GTAs are 9 month appointments during the academic year. Continuation of stipend and tuition remission in the summer can take three different forms depending on where the financial support is coming from. Regardless of where support comes from, all students should enroll in 5 credits during the summer session to be considered full-time students and avoid Medicare and Social Security taxes, along with potential student loan payments.

  1. GRA – where grant money allows for tuition payments – Tuition remission occurs like it does during the academic year. Stipend remains the same. New contract is required to be signed.
  2. GRA – where grant does not allow for tuition payments – Student becomes an hourly employee from July to September and pay is increased to compensate for tuition cost. Tuition must be paid by the student through your university account. The cost of tuition divided over the 3 summer months. This does not change the baseline stipend you receive.
  3. Fellowship –

Paychecks are delivered to the department office on the last working day of the month or may be directly deposited (get forms from the departmental Personnel Specialist).

Scholarships are sometimes available from University funds to supplement the stipends of selected incoming graduate students supported by teaching or research assistantships. These scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis for one year and are not renewable.

Provisional Status Students. New graduate students who lack the necessary entrance requirements and thus have been accepted on provisional status, may not be eligible for assistantships. Upon satisfactory completion of these requirements, the student attains regular status and is eligible for departmental assistantships. Provisional students may be hired as student employees in the department, however, they will not be eligible for tuition waivers when working for an hourly wage. An amount of the hourly wage is negotiated with the research leader of the lab in which the work will be done.

If a student’s grade point average (GPA) falls below a 3.0, the major professor, the department Associate Chairperson, and the Graduate Studies Committee will be notified by the Graduate School. Failure to restore the GPA to a 3.0 in subsequent terms may result in dismissal from the graduate program.

Competitive Pre-doctoral Fellowships. New graduate students in a Ph.D. program are eligible to apply for National Science Foundation and Hughes Foundation Fellowships. Other fellowships are also available, and information regarding applications can be obtained from posted flyers in the mailroom, the major professor, or the Graduate School. All entering doctoral students are encouraged to apply for extramural funding.

Credit Requirement for Student Assistantships

All STUDENTS ON APPOINTMENTS THAT RESULT IN TUITION WAIVERS ARE EXPECTED TO REGISTER FOR 15 credits/term.  (Summer term is an exception because registration is optional; however, for any appointment that requires summer registration, enrollment should be for 15 credits.) In general, formal classes will not normally exceed 2-3/term. The remaining credits are to be filled with Departmental Seminar (1 credit) (Bot 507 or 607) and either Research (Bot 501 or 601) or thesis credit (Bot 503 or 603). Research credit should be selected when the research activity is unrelated to the thesis project; ALL THESIS RESEARCH ACTIVITY SHOULD BE UNDERTAKEN UNDER BOT 503 OR 603 DESIGNATORS.

Tuition waivers are paid by the State for all graduate teaching assistants and some graduate research assistants (the rest are paid by research grants). Tuition is waived for all graduate students on an assistantship appointment OF 0.2 FTE OR GREATER (students are still responsible for fees).

Both research and thesis credits may be appropriate in some terms. Reading and Conference courses (titled or untitled, Bot 505 or 605) also can be part of the 15 credits. PLEASE NOTE THAT GRADUATE STUDENTS SHOULD NOT ENROLL FOR MORE THAN 16 CREDITS, BECAUSE ADDITIONAL TUITION AND FEES WILL BE INCURRED WHICH WILL NOT BE COVERED BY YOUR TUITION WAIVER.

The department’s Associate Chair will monitor credit hours of graduate students with assistantships. Continuation of an assistantship to the next term will be dependent on the 15-credit requirement being met for the current term.

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Adopted by vote of professorial faculty on 3 June 1996.
Minimum and maximum credit limits updated per 1996-97 Graduate Catalog, p. 18.

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