University of Minnesota
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Electrical and Computer Engineering

Financial Assistance
Employment Terms and Conditions
Employment Benefits

Teaching Assistants
Current students who wish to be considered for a teaching assistantship for the following academic year should apply online by February 1 for consideration for the following summer and academic year. Appointments typically are made in May. Hiring decisions are based on satisfactory performance and progress towards the degree. Priority for funding is given to PhD students. Students admitted to graduate study with a warning about limited departmental support have the lowest priority in these decisions.

University of Minnesota Language Proficiency Requirements policy requires that all non-native English-speaking teaching assistants or prospective teaching assistants assigned to teaching, tutoring, or advising duties must:

    • Take the SPEAK Test
    • Score 55 or 60 on the SPEAK Test

SPEAK Test Resources
U of MN English Language Proficiency Policy

Research Assistants
Research Assistantship positions are determined by individual professors. We are looking for diligent researchers capable of working hard and a consistent individual able to stick to a difficult task for a long time. The positions are funded from research grants awarded to faculty members to support their research. A project carried out by a research assistant may be used to satisfy dissertation requirements, subject to adviser approval.

Conditions. Continuation of research assistantships through the period indicated in offer letters is subject to the availability of funds, satisfactory research progress, and satisfactory academic progress. Satisfactory progress in research activities, which will be monitored by your research adviser, includes (but is not limited to) timely progress towards publication and laboratory work, timely completion of other specific research activities or requirements, regular physical presence at your lab/office, etc., as determined by your research adviser. As requirements for research vary considerably between research groups, please consult with your research adviser for a detailed description and time line of the research tasks you are expected to accomplish as a condition of this offer. Satisfactory academic progress is measured in terms of your grade point average and your timely completion of requirements and meeting of milestones, both academic and administrative, as listed in the Electrical Engineering Handbook.


Fellowships Funding Resources
Graduate School Fellowship Office
    • Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship
    • Thesis Research Travel Grant
    • Privately-Funded Fellowships
    • Torske Klubben Fellowships
          - Minnesota Residents
          - Norwegian Citizens 

Other Fellowship Information

    • External Funding
    • National Science Foundation- Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)
    • Best Dissertation Award
    • National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship (NDSEF)   
    • Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) Graduate Fellowship Program   
    • IBM PhD Fellowship Program

Outside Funding Resources


Employment Terms and Conditions for University of Minnesota Graduate Assistants
Policy and Guideline information pertaining to graduate assistantship employment is available online, from your hiring department, or from Graduate Assistant Employment. Please be aware you are responsible for knowing the policies and guidelines applicable to your appointment as a graduate assistant.

In addition to the terms and conditions set forth in your graduate assistant appointment letter, graduate assistantships are contingent upon admission to the Graduate School, current registration as a graduate student and satisfactory progress toward a Graduate School degree.  In order to hold a graduate assistantship during fall or spring semester, you are required to be registered for credit (audit registration only is not acceptable).  For regular assistantships, six credits of registration are required; for Advanced Master's and PhD Candidate positions, one credit is required.  If personal circumstances require registration for fewer than six credits, you may apply for an exception.  For details, see the above Web site.  Registration during May Intersession and summer term is not required to hold an assistantship.

Registration must be completed by the end of the second week of classes and maintained for the entire semester or your graduate assistantship will be terminated.  Withdrawal from all credits will result in termination of your assistantship.  If your assistantship is terminated, the hiring department has the option of converting your appointment to a non-student classification for the remainder of that semester only; however, benefits such as your graduate assistant health insurance plan and tuition benefits may be adversely affected.

Tuition benefits will be available to you if you meet eligibility requirements.  These benefits are summarized below.  Further details may be found online at the Graduate Assistant Employment Office Web site.

If you have F-1 or J-1 visa status, federal law prohibits the University from employing you more than 20 hours per week (50% time) during scheduled class periods and finals weeks. Exceptions exist if you have been authorized for ‘practical or academic training.’  Consult with the Office of International Student and Scholar Services about these matters.


Employment Benefits
As a graduate assistant, there are various benefits available. Please review these benefits and how they may apply to you.

    • Medical and Dental Benefits
    • Tuition Benefits
    • Informal Sick Leave
    • Leaves
    • Vacation Benefits
Medical and Dental Benefits
The Graduate Assistant Health Insurance Plan, through Boynton Health Service, provides medical and dental coverage to eligible Graduate Assistants working 195 hours during the official semester payroll dates. For information about eligibility or coverage, contact the Graduate Assistant Insurance Office at Boynton Health Service, 612-624-0627 or Graduate Assistant Insurance Office is located at N323 Boynton Health Service. You must enroll during the enrollment period in order to receive Graduate Assistant Health Insurance.    

Tuition Benefits
Waiver of Nonresident Portion of Tuition. Graduate Assistants who work a minimum of 25% time (10 hours per week) per semester and are properly registered are eligible to receive resident rate tuition during that semester.  Resident rate tuition also applies to eligible students’ immediate family members (spouse or registered same sex domestic partner, children, parents, or legal guardian or ward living in the household).

Maximum Benefits per Semester. A graduate assistant appointed 50% time (an average of 20 hours per week) for the full-semester payroll period (which begins before the start of classes and extends beyond finals week) typically receives a tuition benefit equivalent to the Graduate School’s tuition band level (at resident rates).  This benefit would cover 6-14 credits per semester. Those in the Advanced Master's or PhD Candidate job classes receive a benefit equal to one credit of Graduate School tuition.  Legal Project Assistants with Tuition Benefits receive the equivalent of Law School tuition. Medical Fellows must work 100% time for the full semester to receive the equivalent of the Graduate School’s tuition band level.

Pro-rated Tuition Benefits. Graduate assistants appointed for less than 50% time or for less than the full semester payroll period will not receive the maximum tuition benefits.  Their benefits are pro-rated according to the total number of hours worked over the 19.5 week payroll semester. Maximum benefits require appointments of at least 390 hours per semester (20 hours x 19.5 weeks). Appointments for fewer than 97.5 hours per semester (equivalent to a 12.5% appointment for the full term) do not qualify for any tuition benefit.

The tuition benefit percentage can be calculated by dividing total semester hours of employment by 390.  A full-semester 25% appointment (195 hours) receives half of the Graduate School tuition band level.  Full term appointments between 25% and 50% receive pro-rated tuition benefits, the percentage equivalent to double their appointment percentage (e.g., a 40% appointment receiving 80% tuition benefit).

Appointments Beginning After or Ending Before the Official Semester Appointment Dates. Appointments that begin after or end before the official semester appointment dates will be pro-rated according to total hours worked for the semester payroll period.  The student will have the unearned portion of tuition benefits billed to them, at non-resident rates if applicable.  If the shortened appointment falls below the 97.5-hour eligibility threshold (equivalent to a 12.5% time appointment for the full semester period), 100% of the tuition will be billed to the student, at non-resident rates.

Appointments Ending Due to Graduation. If an appointment ends early because of graduation, the student will receive the full tuition benefit awarded for that final term of employment as a graduate assistant. The benefit will not be pro-rated and charged back to the student.

Summer Tuition Benefits. Nine-month academic year assistantships carry no summer tuition benefit. Summer benefits are earned only from hours of assistantship employment during the 13-week summer period between spring and fall semesters. In order to provide comparable maximum benefits to those earned during an academic year semester, summer benefits accrue at a 50% faster rate; maximum benefits (typically, the Graduate School’s tuition band level) are earned for 260 hours of summer employment (i.e. 20 hours x 13 weeks) and lesser hours are pro-rated according to that 260 hour norm. The minimum summer appointment threshold for tuition benefits is 65 hours. Benefits are higher for the 9574 job class, Summer Session Teaching Assistant, and are calculated differently. See the GAO Web site ( for details.

Extended Waiver of Nonresident Portion of Tuition. Former graduate assistants, their immediate family members, and/or domestic partners are eligible to receive extended resident rate reductions if the graduate assistant has held at least two semesters of qualifying appointments (at least 25% time).  This benefit is extended to graduate assistants who are no longer employed as graduate assistants for a maximum of four semesters, one term of extended benefit earned for each term of employment. Extended benefits must be used within three years of the last term of assistantship appointment.   

Informal Sick Leave
Graduate assistants are entitled to a paid informal sick leave, not to exceed two weeks consecutive pay, for absences caused by illness or injury to yourself, your dependent child, or the dependent child of a registered same-sex domestic partner. In the case of repeated absences due to illness, the appointing authority may request a health provider's certification verifying your inability to work.   

Graduate assistants may be eligible for absences during the term of the appointment for parental, family medical leave, or personal medical leave based on the qualifying appointment.

Family and Medical Leave Act Policy
Parental Leave for Academic Employee

Vacation Benefits
Graduate Assistants receive no paid vacation, see  You are responsible to work between semesters and during semester break.  You are responsible to work between semesters and during the semester break. If you find you need time off during your appointment, you must get prior approval from your supervisor (if you are a Teaching Assistant you must get approval from Professor Ernie). If you take time off without permission during the dates of your appointment, work time can be deducted from your paycheck and your graduate assistant benefits (tuition and health insurance) may be affected.