Financial Assistance

The Graduate School
Wetherby Administration Building 207
(270) 745-2446

Graduate Assistantships

Programs of graduate study are designed to transform students into knowledgeable practitioners and/or professional scholars. Graduate assistantship appointments do not constitute a contract of employment. Assistantships are awards given to our most outstanding students. The assistantship provides necessary support for graduate students to complete their degree program. Research, teaching, and related activities conducted by graduate assistants are a required and essential part of their degree program. Assistantships are designed to enhance the educational experience of graduate students and increase their competitiveness for doctoral programs and/or careers.

The graduate assistant is first and foremost a graduate student.  As a student, the graduate assistant must be a student in good academic standing and be making significant progress toward completion of their graduate degree.  The student as a graduate assistant is directed and mentored by a faculty member.

Graduate Assistantship appointments available are:

  1. Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) – A Graduate Research Assistant conducts research/scholarly activities under the guidance and direction of a faculty member. The Graduate Research Assistant develops and applies conceptual and theoretical ideas, practices, or methods to their discipline-based scholarship.
  2. Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) – A Graduate Teaching Assistant provides direct support for the teaching mission of the unit. Graduate Teaching Assistants may serve as discussion leaders, graders, leaders of laboratory sections, and may assist in capacities such as preparation of assignments, and other administrative duties necessary for course instruction.
  3. Graduate General Assistantship (GGA) – A General Graduate Assistant engages in scholarly activity in a capacity related to their degree program, but not defined as research or teaching.
  4. Graduate Assistant Instructor (GAI) – A Graduate Assistant Instructor supports the teaching mission of the unit in a more advanced capacity than a teaching assistant by serving as instructor of record for a lower division course or courses (numbered 100-299).

Requirements for Appointment

Students wishing to apply for an assistantship should contact their academic department. The following general requirements must be met for consideration as a graduate assistant:

  1. Graduate Assistants must carry a minimum of six credits during each semester they receive an assistantship unless they are in the final semester of their degree program.
  2. Graduate Assistants must be enrolled in a graduate degree program.  Non-degree graduate students and graduate students in a certification or certificate program only are not eligible for assistantships or tuition remission.
  3. Graduate Assistants must dedicate a minimum of 10 hours per week and a maximum of 20 hours per week during Fall and Spring semesters.
  4. The combined load of teaching responsibilities and graduate course enrollment may not exceed 15 hours per semester.  Teaching responsibilities may not exceed 6 hours.
  5. During the summer term, graduate assistants must be enrolled in at least 1 hour of graduate credit during any summer session.
  6. Graduate Assistants are eligible for tuition remission.
  7. Graduate Assistant Instructors (GAI) must complete the Graduate Assistant Teaching Institute (GATI) offered through the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL), or a similar departmentally-administered program approved by the CITL.
  8. Graduate Assistant Instructors (GAI) must receive regular in-service training, which may be completed by participation in seminars offered by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) or with departmentally-based mentoring to assist the student in the teaching process.
  9. Complete a Graduate Assistantship Agreement form with approval from the faculty member directing the assistantship, the hiring department head, and the academic department head (if different than the hiring department) granting the assistantship.

To receive maximum consideration, and prevent delay of stipend payment and posting of tuition scholarship, the agreement form should be received in the Graduate School by deadline dates posted on the Graduate School website.


Graduate assistants may be appointed for one academic year or for one semester with the possibility of renewal.  Continuation of the assistantship is contingent upon the following:

  1. Satisfactory progress toward the degree
  2. Maintaining a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA
  3. Completing graduate courses at the rate expected for a full-time student
  4. Fulfillment of duties as determined in the assistantship appointment
  5. An approved new agreement from the department.

The progress of the graduate assistant will be evaluated at the end of each semester to determine his/her eligibility to continue in the position for the term of appointment. Academic department heads and college deans reserve the right to recommend termination of a graduate assistantship appointment if the student is not fulfilling the terms of appointment.  The Dean of Graduate School will make the final decision on continuation and termination.


Graduate assistantship stipends are funded from the instructional budget of the University or from grants/contracts. Stipends are considered taxable income. The half-time (20 hours per week) assistantship generates a full stipend and the quarter-time assistantship generates a half stipend. Checks are issued monthly with students normally receiving four checks each semester. Receipt of the initial check is dependent upon when the student signs necessary tax forms in the appropriate college dean’s office.  A graduate assistant identification card (ID) card will be issued which entitles the graduate assistant to a 20% discount on most purchases at the University Bookstore, excluding books.

Tuition Remission

Graduate assistants are responsible for their in-state tuition for on campus courses and the Distance Learning Course tuition fees for any online course; however, the out-of-state and international portion of the tuition for non-resident and international students is paid by the University during the period of appointment.  In many cases the resident portion of the graduate assistant’s tuition is also paid.

Rights & Responsibilities of Graduate Assistants

Graduate assistants are expected to observe the guiding principles of the University as described in the Faculty Handbook section on ’Academic Information’, in the WKU Student Handbook, and by the Graduate School.  In addition, the following statements of rights and responsibilities apply to graduate assistants:

  1. Graduate Assistants are responsible for meeting academic requirements in their respective degree programs.
  2. Students are responsible for meeting the assistantship responsibilities as outlined in the Graduate Assistantship Agreement.
  3. Graduate assistants must attend orientations conducted by the Graduate School, the academic college, or the department, and must participate in departmental training activities.
  4. If problems or conflicts arise in the performance of duties or pursuit of the degree, the graduate assistant should discuss the situation with his/her graduate advisor. If the problem is not resolved at that level, then the problem should be taken through the following levels until a resolution is reached: the department head, the appropriate college dean, and finally to the Dean of the Graduate School.
  5. The graduate assistant assumes responsibility to notify the supervisor if the term of appointment cannot be completed. A letter of resignation must be submitted to the department head, the departmental graduate advisor, the college dean, and the Dean of the Graduate School no later than two weeks before his/her leaving the position unless emergency conditions exist.  Resignation will forfeit all remaining stipend payments.
  6. If an assistant is terminated before the final date of the assistantship, the graduate assistant will be notified by letter from the Dean of the Graduate School no later than two weeks prior to termination.
  7. The graduate assistant is invited to submit to the department head suggestions concerning the assistantship experience during the evaluation procedure at the end of each semester.
  8. All graduate assistants are expected to demonstrate personal honesty and professional integrity.

Other Funding

Research and Travel Grants

Graduate students are invited to submit proposals to the Graduate School to support their research or travel to present their scholarship at professional/discipline-based meetings.  Funds are made available on a competitive basis.

Alumni Grant Program

An alumni grant scholarship is available to any qualified nonresident student whose parent, stepparent, or grandparent holds an associate, baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral, or specialist degree or has completed a certificate program from Western Kentucky University. Residents of Kentucky are not eligible for the Alumni Grant.

International Student Scholarships

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services provides scholarship opportunities for international graduate students. Scholarship recipients are expected to volunteer with the Office of International Student and Scholar Services for 20 hours per semester. All recipients are notified via an official letter from WKU.  International Students may also apply for other university scholarships if meeting eligibility requirements.

Western Kentucky University offers tuition scholarships to qualified international graduate students. Scholarship awards are based on merit, need, and institutional priorities. Following acceptance into a graduate program, the scholarship amount will be determined and stated on the I20 issued to the applicant. WKU may adjust the value of the scholarship to reflect changes in tuition.

Distinguished Minority Fellows Award

WKU is committed to assisting individuals from underrepresented minority groups in obtaining their higher education goals. The Distinguished Minority Fellows Award is designed to help minority students attain graduate degrees by providing tuition support and a stipend through a graduate assistantship. Applications are accepted once annually in the spring for admission in the following fall semester.

Senior Citizen Scholarship

Kentucky residents who are 65 years of age or older, on or before the day the semester begins, are granted Senior Citizen Scholarships for any college class in which they enroll for credit or to audit in accordance with KRS 164.284. A senior citizen (65 years or older) who holds a bachelor's degree may be admitted to the Graduate School as a non-degree student or may pursue admission to a specific degree program.

Veterans Administration Benefits

Some of the programs offered by Western Kentucky University have been approved by the Kentucky Approving Agency for Veterans Education for persons eligible to receive VA educational benefits.  Several categories of educational benefits are available including the Montgomery GI B ill, both Chapter 30 (active duty) and Chapter 1606 (reserve/national guard), Chapter 35 (Dependents Educational Assistance Program), Chapter 32 (Veterans' Educational Assistance Program) and Chapter 31 (Vocational Rehabilitation).  Contact the Veteran's Coordinator at (270) 745-3732 for assistance.