Graduate Student Assistantships

An assistantship is a financial award to a graduate student for part-time work in teaching or research while pursuing study toward an advanced degree. The primary goal of an assistantship is to assist students in strengthening and successfully completing their academic program.

Terms and conditions of employment for Graduate Student Assistantships are governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of New Mexico and United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.

Teaching Assistant (TA): is directly involved in producing student credit hours, i.e., responsible for one or more classes or lab sections. Teaching Assistants may not teach courses offered for graduate credit.

Teaching Associate (TAssoc): is an advanced teaching assistant who holds a master’s degree (or equivalent) and directly produces student credit hours. Students who have been advanced to doctoral candidacy may be approved, as Teaching Associates, to teach courses offered for graduate credit through submission by the graduate unit of an Approval for Graduate Instruction form to Graduate Studies.

Graduate Assistant (GA): one whose duties are related to instruction, but who is not directly involved in producing student credit hours.

Research Assistant (RA): assists in research work that is relevant to the assistant’s thesis, dissertation or other requirement for a graduate degree.

Project Assistant (PA): performs work required by a research grant, contract or special project that is not necessarily directly related to degree requirements. Employment associated with administrative/office support should not be classified as a project assistantship.

*Assistantship types are defined by UNM’s Graduate Program Catalog 

To be eligible for an Assistantship, students must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Be officially admitted to a graduate program at the University of New Mexico.
  • Maintain good standing as a graduate student, subject to the discretion of UNM administration.
  • Maintain enrollment at the University of New Mexico for a minimum of 6 hours of coursework, thesis, or dissertation hours that contribute towards the graduate degree during both Fall and Spring semesters.
  • Maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average in graduate coursework each semester.
  • Be within the time limit, as specified in the UNM Graduate Catalog, for completion of the degree sought.
Assistantship TypeEmployee StatusPay
Pay Calculation MethodContract Term
Teaching AssistantExemptMonthlyEqual Monthly Payments18 Weeks
Graduate AssistantExemptMonthlyEqual Monthly Payments18 Weeks

Research Assistant

ExemptMonthlyBased on actual dates work18 Weeks
(Department responsible for time entry)
Based on actual dates worked18 Weeks
* Please see Salary rates for Assistantship Holders, as defined in Article 5 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement [pdf]

* Contract terms are defined in Article 5 of the  Collective Bargaining Agreement [pdf]

Residency TypeFall & Spring Term FTE LimitSummer Session &
Winter Intersession
FTE Limit
Domestic Students75%100%
International Students with CPT or OPT75%100%
International Students without CPT or OPT50%100%

*CPT or OPT must be approved by the Global Education Office (GEO) prior to the submission of the contract

Fall & Spring Session

  • Academic year assistantships typically require an average of 10 to 20 hours of service per week (25% - 50% FTE). An assistantship holder may not under any circumstances be appointed for more than 75% FTE, when considering all combined assistantships.
  • Assistantship holders are permitted to simultaneously hold a student employment or work-study position within the FTE limits above.

Summer Session

  • Continuing assistantship holders (both domestic and international) may work up to 100% FTE.
  • Continuing assistantship holders who are not enrolled in a minimum of 3 credit hours of coursework during the summer session are obligated to pay Federal FICA tax (Social Security and Medicare).
  • Incoming domestic graduate students who receive an assistantship during the summer session must be enrolled in a minimum of 3 credit hours of coursework relevant to their graduate degree. Incoming international graduate students should consult with the Global Education Office (GEO) regarding the minimum credit hours required for the summer term.

* The regulations from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) restrict international students on J-1 and F-1 visas to appointments of up to 50% FTE. The provision permitting graduate students to work 30 hours per week does not exempt international students or the University from complying with USCIS regulations

* Assistantship recipients may not concurrently hold a University of New Mexico staff or faculty position.

Eligible for Benefits

Graduate Assistants, Project Assistants, Teaching Assistants, Teaching Associate, and Research Assistants.

Eligibility Criteria

An Assistantship contract must be at 0.25 FTE or higher for 8 weeks or longer. Work weeks are calculated according to the Payroll Schedule  (Saturday through Friday).

Coverage & Enrollment

  • Assistantship Holders are automatically enrolled in UNM's Student Health Plan
  • Assistantship Holders may choose to add dependent(s) to the plan, with associated costs deducted from the Assistantship Holder’s paychecks throughout the semester.
  • Assistantship Holders may also choose to add vision and dental at an additional cost.
  • Assistantship holders wishing to decline UNM health benefits should contact Benefits.

Coverage Terms

For coverage dates see the Student Health Plan Rates, located on the Student Health Plan benefit’s page.

For questions pertaining to benefits or the Student Health Plan please contact Benefits & Employee Health  at 505.277.6947 or