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Student Employment

Graduate Assistantships

Approximately 1,850 graduate students hold Clemson University appointments.

As a member of the Council of Graduate Schools, Clemson University subscribes to the following policy inherent in the resolution adopted by the Council regarding graduate appointments.

In every case in which an appointment for the next academic year is offered to students currently enrolled in or accepted to graduate programs:

  • If the student indicates acceptance before April 15, they will have complete freedom through April 15 to submit, in writing, a resignation of the appointment in order to accept one elsewhere.
  • However, an acceptance given or left in effect after April 15 commits the student not to accept another appointment (at Clemson or elsewhere) without first obtaining a written release from the first party to whom a commitment has been made.
  • Similarly, an offer made after April 15 is conditional on presentation by the student of the written release from any previously accepted offer.

To be eligible for any graduate appointment, a graduate student must satisfy the appropriate minimum enrollment requirement described in each section below, and the Enrollment Limit requirements. The University reserves the right to withdraw the appointment at any time because of failure to meet these requirements. Graduate students also should understand that an appointment may be withdrawn at any time for failure to maintain a satisfactory academic status including grades (See the topics “Academic Probation” and “Assistantships and Fellowships” in the Policies and Procedures Handbook), special examinations, and research efforts.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requires that all Graduate Teachers of Record (GTR) have “earned at least 18 graduate semester hours in their teaching discipline, be under the direct supervision of a faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline, receive regular in-service training and be evaluated regularly” (Section 4.8.4 of the SACSCOC Criteria for Accreditation).

The department chair has the responsibility for determining that the 18-hour requirement is met either through coursework or with a memo containing documentation that the graduate assistant meets the requirement as an exception. Graduate School staff will check the Assistantship/Fellowship Report and/or memo and confirm that the 18-hour requirement has been met.

Departmental Graduate Assistantships

Assistantships are available in academic departments involving primarily instruction, research, or extension and in nonacademic departments involving primarily administration. Application forms may be obtained from department chairs and should be completed and filed as early as possible in the academic year before the student enrolls. Selection of assistantship recipients, notification of the appointment, the appointment duration, and the stipend are the responsibilities of the employing departments. All graduate assistants are granted partial remission of academic and other fees and enjoy certain other benefits provided for University staff personnel.

  1. Eligibility. To qualify for a departmental assistantship, the graduate student must possess at least a bachelor’s degree and be enrolled in a graduate degree program. In addition, the graduate student must devote 10 to 28 hours of service per week to the University and be engaged in employment that bears a recognizable relationship to his or her major field of study. Multiple employment of graduate students by the University (graduate appointment and/or hourly employment) is permitted. It is the responsibility of the secondary employer to receive permission of the primary employer and the Graduate School prior to assignment of any additional work and to ensure that the maximum work load of 28 hours per week is not exceeded. Upper limits on academic loads as related to hours of service per week are found in the section below titled Enrollment Limits.”

    International graduate students who are interested in receiving an assistantship should submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), IELTS or PTE Academic scores. International students whose native language is not English and whose secondary education (and beyond) was not taught fully in English, and who are seeking graduate teaching assistantships, are required to pass the standardized exam, Test of Spoken English (TSE). Specialists in English as a Second Language administer this test at Clemson University after the students have arrived. Prospective international TAs also undergo an interview during which they are evaluated by faculty members in their respective departments. Videotaped oral presentations are utilized in some departments. Successful scores on the test, the interview, and the presentation (if required) are completed before the student can be approved as a teaching assistant.

  2. Minimum stipend. The minimum graduate assistantship stipend must be commensurate with a rate 1.2 times the prevailing federal minimum wage.

  3. Minimum enrollment. A minimum enrollment is required for appointment as a graduate assistant. During the academic year, the minimum enrollment is nine semester hours for all graduate assistants. During the academic year, the minimum enrollment is nine graduate-level semester hours for all graduate assistants. Minimum enrollment in the summer sessions is three graduate-level semester hours per session. Undergraduate credits may be included in the minimum provided they are relevant to the student’s degree program and required by the advisory committee. In unusual cases, credits in GS 7990 may be included in the minimum when cleared in advance with the Graduate School.

  4. Employment schedule and leave without pay. Graduate students with 9-month or 12-month graduate teaching assistantship appointments work on the same calendar as faculty with 9-month or 12-month appointments, respectively. Duties over holiday periods for graduate research assistantship appointments should be agreed upon in writing by the student and the immediate faculty advisor in charge of the research program.

    A graduate assistant may request from their immediate supervisor up to four weeks of leave without pay per semester and one week of leave without pay per summer session for illness of a close family member, death in the immediate family, or personal illness or hardship. If leave is not approved by the administrator of the graduate assistantship, the graduate assistant may petition the Dean of the Graduate School for approval.

    A graduate assistant of any gender is eligible for up to six weeks of parental leave without pay. The request for parental leave must be made to the department at least one month in advance. The Graduate School encourages the department and
    student to work together to enable the student to maintain enrollment and employment status during this time.

Assistantship Appointment Process

Appointments for all types of assistantships (teaching, research, laboratory, administrative, and grader) must be electronically entered on the Fellowship/Assistantship Report. Work assignments for students should be as specific as possible and should be developed to reflect the relationship to the student’s academic program. The work to be performed must also be above the paraprofessional level.

Administrative units hiring graduate administrative assistants will need to form a partnership with an academic department or departments. Two signatures will be required: 1) the employing supervisor’s and 2) the student’s academic advisor’s. The department shall provide a brief description of the expectations of the employer, the anticipated beginning and ending dates, stipend amount, average hours of service per week, work schedule (where appropriate), and the conditions for reappointment, if any. In addition, the assistant must be apprised of the financial penalties that may be incurred regarding Academic Fees should the assistantship start after the beginning or be terminated before the end of the semester or session. The Graduate Assistantship Tuition Remission Form (GS2000) must be maintained by the department on all new and continuing appointments.

Termination of Assistantships

  • Termination of assistantship by student. Normally, an assistantship is offered on an annual or academic-year basis. A student may terminate an assistantship at the conclusion of a semester or summer session without penalty. However, if the student terminates his or her assistantship during a semester, the student may be liable, calculated on a pro rata basis, for the difference between the normal academic fees and the reduced fees assessed as a result of the assistantship. If, in the opinion of the immediate supervisor of the assistantship, the termination was justifiable, the administrator may recommend to the Dean of the Graduate School that no additional charge be made to the student.

  • Termination of assistantship for failure to perform duties. If, in the opinion of the immediate supervisor of the assistantship, a student is not carrying out the duties of the assistantship in a satisfactory manner, and the matter has not been resolved through thorough, well-documented communication between the graduate assistant and the supervisor, the assistantship may be terminated and the student held liable, calculated on a pro rata basis, for the reduction in academic fees assessed as a result of the assistantship.

  • Termination of assistantship for cause. Policy on terminating an assistantship for cause follows:

An assistantship may be terminated for other serious violations of Clemson University community norms and values, including violations of the Student Code of Conduct and/or Academic Integrity Policy. Allegations regarding violations of this nature should be referred to the appropriate disciplinary body. If a student is unable to perform their duties as a result of violations such as these, their assistantship should be suspended pending completion of due process. A student suspended from their assistantship but ultimately found not to be guilty of the alleged violations should be reinstated in good standing and reimbursed for lost assistantship revenue.
  • Termination for academic requirements. The assistantship may also be terminated for dropping below the minimum credit hours required as described on this page, or for failure to meet other academic requirements.

  • Termination of assistantship because of unexpected loss of research funding. A sudden or unexpected loss of external funding may result in a termination of an assistantship. The policy described below will be used to calculate any tuition and fees required by a graduate student. A department chair may request an exception to the policy with appropriate documentation

For more details about the termination of graduate assistantships, see the subtopic “Termination of assistantship” in the Financial and Assistantships section of the Policies and Procedures Handbook).

International Student Employment & Financial Assistance

Financial assistance is available to Clemson’s international graduate students through instructional and research assistantships. Assistantships are awarded by individual academic departments, and students should contact their departments directly regarding the availability of assistantships. The department will notify the student if and when an assistantship is awarded. Applicants who hope to receive instructional assistantships must submit satisfactory scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), IELTS, or PTE Academic exam.

Special employment regulations for international students are determined by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Off-campus employment generally is not available to international students during the first academic year and should not be considered as a means of support. Students with F-1 visas may apply to the INS for limited off-campus work authorization after their first year of study. Nonacademic employment opportunities are available on campus on a first-come, first-considered basis. Applications are made directly to the hiring source upon arrival on campus. Beyond a valid I-20, no special authorization is required. Further information is available in the International Services Office (OIA), 108 Long Hall, telephone 1-864-656-3614, email

Hourly Employment

Employment on an hourly basis for a portion of a semester or session is possible in some departments. The maximum credit load is the same as that for graduate assistants found under the topic “Enrollment Limits”  in the Policies and Procedures Handbook. Enrolled graduate students (exclusive of full-time University employees) may not be employed by the University for more than 28 hours per week (graduate appointments and hourly employment combined), and no portion of the hourly employment shall be used to qualify students for benefits afforded those on graduate assistantship appointments.