Student Service Appointments

Student service appointments are intended to help properly qualified students of UBC meet the cost of their studies at the university, as well as to assist the University in meeting its educational and research objectives. Such appointments may involve part-time duties in teaching, research, or other academic activities.

Appointments: general

Only those students registered as full-time in the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies are eligible for Graduate Teaching Assistant, Graduate Research Assistant and Graduate Academic Assistant appointments. Appointments offered to students prior to their admission to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies are contingent upon admission. Student service appointments are co-ordinated and administered at the graduate program level. 

Categories of appointment

There are five categories under which graduate students may be appointed:

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant I
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant II
  • Marker
  • Graduate Research Assistant
  • Graduate Academic Assistant.

Teaching Assistantships (GTA) and Markers

The conditions of appointment as a Graduate Teaching Assistant or as a Marker are governed by the collective agreement between the University and CUPE Local 2278. Most graduate programs have a limited number of Teaching Assistantships available for registered full-time graduate students. For specific information about Teaching Assistantships, students should contact their graduate program.

Research Assistantships (GRA)

Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (RA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their direction. The duties usually constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. The entire stipend is considered to be a scholarship, the conditions of which may be specified by the granting agency. For tax purposes it is considered to be a fellowship rather than payment for work. Income tax is not withheld by the university, and GRA income is reported via a T4A tax form each spring. The stipend is normally paid semi-monthly through UBC Payroll.

A Graduate Research Assistantship is a form of financial support for a period of graduate study and is, therefore, not covered by a collective agreement. Unlike other forms of fellowship support for graduate students, the amount of a GRA is neither fixed nor subject to a university-wide formula. The stipend amounts vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded. Individual faculty members should ensure that payments from grants are consistent within the graduate program and disciplinary norms. Graduate Research Assistantships are less common in the humanities and social sciences.

Appointments may be for any specified period satisfactory to the grantee. All letters to students offering funding through a GRA should clearly state the period to which the offer applies. Study Permit students, in particular, require such letters in order to enter Canada. Such letters should also indicate that the offer is subject to satisfactory academic progress and to demonstrated competence in laboratory duties and/or other procedures relevant to the student's area of study. Transfers from one degree program to another, or from one supervisor to another, may affect the payment of Graduate Research Assistantships. Transfers between degree programs are subject to approval by the graduate program and the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The continuation of a GRA is always contingent on the student's maintaining satisfactory academic standing in his or her graduate program.

Research Assistantships are coordinated and administered at the graduate program level. For specific information about Research Assistantships, students should contact their graduate program.

Graduate Academic Assistant (GAA)

The duties of a Graduate Academic Assistant (GAA) include all academic duties not conforming to those specified above (for example, research performed for a member of faculty not directly related to the student’s own research). The stipend may not be considered a scholarship. Appointment as a Graduate Academic Assistant (GAA) for a full-time graduate student shall not exceed an average of 12 hours of duty per week averaged over a year. Permission to exceed this limit may be given by the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies in special circumstances. For specific information about Academic Assistantships, students should contact their graduate program.

Awards and Other Sources of Funding

Most external funding agencies have clearly defined policies regarding additional funding for award recipients. Funding agencies might restrict the amount students are eligible to receive from other awards, number of hours they can spend on work unrelated to their research, the type of research grants used to pay any additional Research or Teaching Assistantships, etc. It is the award recipients' responsibility to comply with the rules and regulations of their award.

Students who hold awards totalling $17,500 or more per year are required to limit their number of hours of employment to an average of 12 hours per week. In general, GRAs are not considered employment for this purpose, but GTA and GAA appointments are. Requests for exceptions may be made to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Additional Resources

UBC Calendar - Teaching and Research Assistantships

UBC Human Resources - Student Workers

UBC Payroll - Scholarship & Fellowship Taxation