Other than loans, assistantships are the primary source of funding offered by JMU to graduate students. You may search for additional funding for your graduate education on our Funding Opportunities page for a few links to scholarship searches and listings.

To be eligible to receive an assistantship upon entry into a graduate program, the following criteria must be met:

  • The student must be degree seeking, and conditionally or unconditionally accepted into a graduate program. Students who are provisionally accepted will not be eligible until they achieve conditional or unconditional acceptance into their program.
  • The students must have an official transcript on file indicating completion of a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • After receiving an assistantship, the student must maintain at least a 3.0 graduate GPA in order to retain or reapply for the assistantship.

These are minimum criteria. Graduate program coordinators have the right to impose additional criteria if they see fit.

Information found on this page:

Types of Assistantships
Tuition Scholarships
Typical Total Compensation
Registration Policies
Application Process
Additional JMU Employment
Frequently Asked Questions


Additional information can be found at the following links:

Hiring and Contract Guidelines
GA Contract Form 

Are you a member of a JMU hiring department? Click here for info.

Types of Assistantships

Teaching Assistant (TA) 
A limited number of Teaching Assistantships are available in departments offering major programs of graduate study. Students awarded a teaching assistantship are assigned to an academic unit and are expected to instruct six credit hours of course work or laboratory. Students may also be awarded a teaching assistantship to assist professors within the department with grading, etc. 

Any graduate student who is the instructor of record for a course must hold a master’s degree in the teaching discipline or have completed 18 graduate credits in the teaching discipline. Fewer credit hours may be acceptable for the TA when they serve as in-class supervisors for supplemental sessions, i.e., labs; these justifications must be documented and provided to the AUH prior to final class assignments.

TAs must be directly supervised by a faculty member experienced in the discipline. TAs must participate in regular in-service training for teaching assistants conducted by their faculty, as well as undergo planned and periodic evaluations.

TAs carry a course load of 9 credit hours of graduate study per semester.

Graduate Assistant (GA) 
Graduate Assistants are assigned to an academic department or administrative office to assist faculty members in preparing for instruction, grading papers, conducting research, preparing laboratories, performing departmental administrative tasks, or other assignments as required by the assistantship department. Assistantships require 20 hours per week in the assistantship department; GA’s carry a course load of 9 hours of graduate study per semester.

Doctoral Assistants
Some Doctoral Assistantships are available and may cover more than 9 hours/semester tuition. Doctoral Assistantships may be in effect through summer.

Other Types of Assistants
Some Graduate Assistants are assigned to Student Affairs, Athletics, or grants. The assistantships in Student Affairs and Athletics are handled within their division, and the grant related assistantships are handled individually by departments with external funding.

  • Graduate assistantships do not pay undergraduate tuition.
  • Tuition will be covered at the on-campus rate for the hours stated on the contract. Any additional credit hours and any additional charges for web-based courses will be the responsibility of the student.


Assistants are typically paid the following stipends (as of the 2022-2023 academic year): 
Teaching Assistant and Athletics Assistants (TA and AA):  $10,442 ($5221 per semester)
Graduate Assistant, Service Assistants, and Research Assistants (GA, SA, and RA): $8898 ($4449 per semester)

Doctoral Assistants and Assistants funded through grants may be paid at different rates. 
The standard Doctoral Assistant stipend (as of 2022-2023 AY) is $17474 ($8737 per semester). 

Health Insurance is not included in assistantships. Graduate students may purchase health insurance; for information please call the Health Center.

Tuition Scholarships

Graduate, Teaching, Service, and Athletic Assistants generally receive 9 hour tuition scholarship amounts, per semester, for graduate level course work only.

Doctoral tuition awards may differ. Grant-funded assistantship tuition scholarships may or may not be available. GAs are responsible for tuition for any undergraduate hours and for all additional hours for which the student is registered over and above the designated number specified in your contract.

Typical total compensation*** provided by an assistantships, based on 2022-2023 stipends and tuition.

Type of Assistant  Stipend per Year  Hours of Tuition per Year
in-state /
Total annual value of assistantship per year
in-state /

Graduate Assistant (includes Service and Research Assistant) $8,898
 18 hours                 



Teaching Assistant or Athletic Assistant $10,442
 18 hours                  



Doctoral Assistant  $17,474
 hours vary by program $12,792 / $30,024

***PLEASE NOTE: Amounts listed in this chart are generalized. Actual awards are determined by the program at the time of acceptance.

Registration Policies

All assistants must register each semester for all courses to be paid by tuition scholarship during the regular registration period, and prior to the tuition refund date outlined in the current Schedule of Classes. Students who register for additional courses after this time will be held personally responsible for additional tuition and fees.
NOTE: Assistantships do not pay tuition for courses dropped after the university's tuition refund deadline. Tuition for dropped courses will be the responsibility of the student and the student will receive a grade of W for the course. Exceptions will be made only for documented extenuating circumstances and will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
The registration period for graduate students coincides with registration for undergraduate students.

Application Process

Your graduate program may have assistantship positions that you may be eligible to fill. Your first step to acquire an assistantship should be to contact your own graduate program to inform them of your interest in an assistantship.

To apply for an assistantship 
· Go to http://joblink.jmu.edu/ 
· Click on "search job openings" 
· Select "graduate assistantship" from the position type dropdown menu
· Click on "search" 
· Select the position you are interested in then complete and submit the application

Assistantship departments contact applicants directly to set up interviews. If you are selected for an assistantship, the department draws up contract materials and forwards them to the Graduate School. After you sign the contract and complete the tax forms, return them immediately to the assistantship department so information can be entered into the payroll system.

Questions concerning your assistantship should be made directly to the assistantship department.

Regarding Additional JMU Employment

Graduate students receiving stipends from VA state funds are occasionally permitted to accept JMU employment in addition to the assistantship’s 20 hours. Permission for such employment must come from The Graduate School, in response to a request by the student's graduate program director or advisor. The student and the director or advisor should carefully consider the overall effect of additional employment on the student's academic performance. The Approval of Additional Employment Form, signed by the student, director/advisor, and assistantship supervisor, is to be submitted to The Graduate School for review.  If approved, TGS will notify payroll.

With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, students and part-time employees of the university may work no more than 29 hours per week in any given week during the year. This restriction applies during breaks, holidays, and summer semesters as well. You cannot be paid for work until it is approved. For this reason, it is imperative that any additional employment at JMU be approved prior to work completion, that total hours worked in any given week total 29 hours or less, and that the number of expected work hours per week be appropriately noted on hiring paperwork. 

Approval of Additional Employment Form (pdf fillable) 


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the difference between a scholarship and graduate assistantship?
    Even though both are the same in terms of being part of a financial award package, a scholarship can provide monetary assistance for a specific purpose – tuition, books, etc. A graduate assistantship provides a stipend amount based on 20 hours of work per week, and graduate tuition support for a certain number of credits per academic year, based on the assistantship classification.

    2. Are graduate assistantships guaranteed or do I need to apply for one of them?
    Graduate assistantships are not guaranteed upon applying for admissions to a specific program. If you are interested in an assistantship through your academic program, you are required to apply by the stipulated deadlines and be able to meet specific requirements set by the designated department. Assistantships are extremely competitive and require additional effort from your part to obtain an offer. Other additional opportunities can be found through JMU’s JobLink  in other academic and non-academic departments at JMU.

    You should apply for an assistantship if you need financial support to cover your graduate studies, a portion of your living expenses, and are willing to meet the necessary requirements to obtain and maintain one

    3. Where can I find more information about graduate assistantships?
    We highly recommend that you reach out directly to your graduate program director first for any opportunities inside and outside the academic department. Also, other additional opportunities are posted through JMU’s JobLink, and these postings are usually active February – August of each year.

    4. Do I have to reapply for graduate assistantships each year?
    You won’t have to reapply for an assistantship each year, but assistantships are subject to renewal each academic year. Once you have received an assistantship offer, the department will conduct before the end of each semester a performance evaluation. Based on your academic and work performance, the hiring department will make the decision to renew your assistantship for the next academic year around April 15th or before the end date of the existing contract.

    5. How long does a graduate assistantship last?
    Assistantship contracts are made for one academic year and subject to renewal before the end of the contract year. Typically, an assistantship would last two academic years for a master level student, and three years for a doctoral student.

    6. If I defer my admission, will I be able to keep my assistantship?
    Admissions’ deferment does not guarantee that assistantship offer will be held until the next academic year. Extenuating circumstances will be evaluated by hiring department and The Graduate School.

    7. Who should I contact with a question about a possible deferment and keeping my assistantship?
    The best person to start this process is with the respective graduate program director and assigned assistantship supervisor to discuss any possible options. The graduate program director will reach out to both Admissions and Student Services areas to explore the student’s situation and best way to discuss the request.

    8. How do I know if my program offers assistantships?
    During the graduate application process, if you interested for an assistantship within your academic department, please make sure to check the box to show when asked about these opportunities your interest. Also, make sure to follow up directly with the department if additional information is being required from your end to complete.

    9. Who do I contact in regards to this assistantship question within my program of study?
    Please make sure to contact your program of choice and/or graduate program director to inquire about assistantship opportunities within your program of choice.

    10. I am currently a JMU classified, full-time employee and would like to consider going back to graduate school, while getting an assistantship. Can I actually quit my full-time job to transfer to an assistantship position?
    Unfortunately, you will be required to take a 26-week break in service prior to being hired into a part-time position at the same agency. This is referred as the “1326 rule” which requires former full-time employees (classified and faculty) to have a 26-week break in service prior to being hired into a part-time position at the same agency.


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