Graduate assistantships are controlled and/or administered by academic departments. The department decides who receives these forms of financial support, and at what level the graduate student will be supported.


Graduate student assistantships enable students to earn compensation for their research or teaching while continuing their academic and professional development. The policy that governs this form of student employment is described comprehensively in Administrative Guide 10.2.1, Graduate Student Assistantships.

Guide Memo 10.2.1 includes the following sections (go to the document for the text of each):

  1. Definitions and distinctions
  2. Assistantship eligibility criteria
  3. Types of assistantship appointments: Teaching
  4. Types of assistantship appointments: Research
  5. Percentage and period of assistantship appointments
  6. Salary
  7. Tuition Allowance (TAL)
  8. Work in addition to appointment
  9. Cancellation or modification of assistantship appointments
  10. Taxes and tax reporting
  11. Benefits
  12. Resources for additional information.

Salary and Tuition Allowance tables are published annually (will open in a separate browser window).


  1. Assistantships are a form of graduate student employment, earning a compensation package that includes both salary and tuition allowance, for the performance of research or teaching services to the University as part of the student's academic and professional training and development.

  2. Only matriculated Stanford graduate students may hold assistantship appointments,with the exception that "Students of New Faculty" may be appointed to Research Assistantships (not Teaching Assistantships, see below).

  3. There are two broad categories of assistantship appointments: Research Assistantships (RA) and Teaching Assistantships (TA). Administrative Guide 10.2.1 describes the responsibilities of each, including four different levels of TA appointments.

  4. Assistantships are "full-quarter packages" (12 weeks of either teaching or research work). Employment is for full quarters with standard start/stop dates.

  5. The minimum assistantship appointment is 10% (4 hours per week), and higher appointments must be in increments of 5% (2 hours per week). No 45% appointments are allowed. The maximum appointment during the school year (Autumn, Winter and Spring Quarters) is 50% (20 hours per week).

  6. Minimum RA and TA salaries are set each year by the Vice Provost for Graduate Education. Schools and departments may pay a student more, but not less, than these minimums.

  7. Tuition Allowance (TAL) is proportional to the size of the student's appointment, and is always paid for a full quarter.

  8. During the school year, students must be enrolled in 8-10 units to receive any Tuition Allowance. This enrollment requirement is reduced during Summer Quarter (see below). The GFS system recognizes automatic exceptions to this requirement for TGR and Honors Co-op students. Home Department approvers may authorize an exception to this requirement for students who are within 10 units of TGR status, and for students with disabilities.

  9. In Summer Quarter, students may hold assistantship appointments up to 90% FTE (no 55% appointments are allowed). Students must be enrolled for at least 1-3 units in order to hold a Summer Quarter assistantship. 100% appointments will be considered as temporary employment, rather than as a student assistantship, and will not carry any tuition allowance.

  10. Salaries paid to assistants will automatically be charged a fringe benefit rate, enabling the student to receive a Cardinal Care subsidy. The fringe benefit rate is subject to change each year (see one-page summary of rates, pdf).

    Note that, for a graduate student to be eligible for a Cardinal Care subsidy, the student must be enrolled in Cardinal Care, and the information about the assistantship appointment must be entered into GFS and approved before the quarterly deadline.

  11. By approving an assistantship in the GFS system, the Home Department Approver is assuring that the work to be done is relevant to the student's academic program, and will contribute to the student's academic progress. See discussion of approver roles in the GFS System section of this manual.

See the following memos related to the charging of expenses for Research Assistants to sponsored projects:

International Students: English Proficiency for Teaching Assistants (TA Screening)

Prior to being appointed to any teaching assistantship (including course assistant appointments), international students must be screened for oral English proficiency by the English for Foreign Students (EFS) staff. (This TA screening is not the Stanford English Placement Test which determines whether entering non-native English speakers need to take courses in English appropriate to their academic program.) Note that students who are native speakers of English may call the EFS office (723-1310) to request a waiver.

  1. Prior to the appointment, department administrators should discuss the TA screening and approval process with the international students whom they expect to appoint to teaching assistantships so that students can arrange their schedule accordingly. Whenever possible, the TA screening should take place at least one full quarter prior to the TA/CA appointment.

  2. Departments that plan to appoint international students who have not been approved for teaching must ask those students to contact the EFS office immediately to arrange an appointment to be tested.

  3. The TA Screening result (or TA-OK status) is given to the student in paper form and then entered in the GFS system by the EFS staff.
    • "T" = "TA-OK" and indicates that the student is "ready to teach."
    • "L" = "Limited" and indicates eligibility only as a Course Assistant (CA) with limited responsibilities.
    • "N" = "Not TA-OK" and indicates that the student is not currently eligible for a teaching appointment.

  4. Before a student with an "L" or "N" result on the TA screening is allowed to be appointed as a Teaching Assistant, Teaching Affiliate, or Mentor Teaching Assistant or Affiliate, the student must complete English courses - usually EFSLANG 692 (Speaking and Teaching in English) and/or 695A (Pronunciation and Intonation). EFSLANG 692 is designed for prospective international teaching assistants. The course focuses on the accurate, fluent, and appropriate use of English for teaching, as well as effective teaching and communication techniques. It is offered every quarter, except Summer Quarter.

  5. Administrators and faculty members are encouraged to call the EFS staff (3-1310) to discuss the English needs of individual students and the particular responsibilities of teaching assistants in their department.

The Contacts page in this manual includes contact information for the English for Foreign Students office.

International Students: Immigration Regulations 

On March 1, 2003, the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services) became part of the new US Department of Homeland Security and was renamed as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). New reporting requirements implemented in 2003 require Stanford University to report to the Government certain conditions related to an international student's status, e.g., change of address, change of major program, or failure of the student to enroll for a full course load (8 unit minimum). See Bechtel website for additional information about SEVIS (Student Exchange Visitor Information System) reporting requirements (will open in a separate browser window).

Immigration regulations can change unexpectedly and it can be difficult for department administrators and student services officers to stay current on regulations and requirements. To ensure that current and correct information is always provided, students should be directed to the Bechtel International Center to verify the information below whenever they have questions regarding their visas, work, or travel. Violation of any immigration rule can disqualify the student from her/his legal status, create a reporting requirement for Stanford University, and could be cause for deportation.

Note: Graduate students must be in proper J-1 (scholar) or F-1 (student) status in order to receive fellowships or to be employed on-campus by the university. Although J-2 visa holders are allowed to attend school, F-2 visa holders cannot attend Stanford full-time without first changing status to F-1. F-2 visa holders are not allowed to work in the US. J-2 visa holders may work on/off-campus only with Government approval. J-2 and F-2 visa holders are not allowed to receive fellowships.

  1. Autumn, Winter and Spring Quarters

    1. Graduate students on J-1 and F-1 visas are limited to 20 hours per week of employment. (Note: 20 hours is equivalent to a 50% assistantship.)
      Note: International students with a 50% assistantship may not work any additional hours on an hourly basis during the quarter in which they have the assistantship. However, the student may work extra hours during the period between the end of one quarter and the start of the next quarter.
    2. F-1 visa holders who have not yet graduated do not require authorization for any on-campus employment from either Bechtel International Center or from the Government.

    3. J-1 visa holders are required to seek authorization for on-campus employment from their Visa Sponsor.

    4. If graduate students have completed all of their courses except the thesis or dissertation, they are allowed to work full-time (on or off-campus) with a work permit.

      Note: Bechtel International Center offers periodic workshops concerning employment authorization issues. Students should be advised to attend.
  2. Any off-campus employment requires work authorization from the Bechtel International Center or USCIS for F-1 Visa holders or the Program sponsor (usually Stanford) for J-1 visa holders. Violation of work permit rules will jeopardize the student's legal status. Any F or J student considering off-campus work should always consult with the Bechtel International Center.

  3. Currently enrolled international students should review the Bechtel International Center web page or visit the Bechtel International Center and speak with an advisor.
Updated on June 2, 2015 9:30 AM