Graduate Assistant (Research) Appointments

The University of Lethbridge has a GSA Collective Agreement that governs Research Assistantships for graduate students. Under the new agreement these positons are called Graduate Assistant (Research) appointments. These positions are intended to allow faculty continue to employ graduate assistants whose duties include the performance of research and related duties unrelated to the program of study. These positions are typically funded by a faculty member’s research funds. For more information on the new appointment classification, please see the most recent GSA Collective Agreement.

It is important to note the difference between a graduate research stipend and a GA (Research) appointment. Graduate research stipends can be offered in order to promote the completion of the students’ academic program of studies and is not considered employment income. GA (Research) funding is payment for research work completed on behalf of a faculty member’s research program (which is unrelated to the students’ academic program of studies). This is considered employment income. For more information or clarification between a stipend and GA (Research) funding please contact the SGS.

Under the new guidelines an “Offer of Appointment” must be extended to the potential GA (Research) candidate outlining the details of the GA (Research) position. The School of Graduate Studies has provided a template for this purpose. Click below to see the most recent version of the Offer of Appointment:

Offer of Appointment Tips

  • Offer of Appointment Letters must include:
    • Term of appointment;
    • Rate of pay;
    • GA Coordinator & date of reporting to Coordinator;
    • Assignment of duties;
    • indication of number of hours per week or per semester;
    • Statement that GA remuneration is subject to taxation in accordance with Canada Revenue Agency legislation, and
    • A statement that a GA Appointment is not intended to cover full cost of living, including but not limited to housing costs, and that the student is responsible for paying tuition and fees.
  • As outlined in the GSA Collective Agreement, GA (Research Positions) must adhere to:
    • Minimum hourly wage;
    • The maximum average number of hours worked per week;
    • The maximum number of hours worked in a given semester;
      • As per the GSA Collective Agreement, it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that he/she does not accept an Offer of Appointment that will result in his/her workload exceeding the maximum number of hours without specific approval from the Dean of Graduate Studies.
  • The Offer of Appointment should be signed by both the student and the GA Coordinator in all instances.
  • Per the GSA Collective Agreement, a copy of the Offer of Appointment should be retained by all parties, with an additional copy send to the appropriate Faculty Dean for inclusion in the student’s employment file.


Under Article 5 of the GSA Collective Agreement graduate students are eligible to hold an assistantship under the following conditions:

  • All registered graduate students are eligible to hold a graduate assistantship;
  • Eligibility to hold a graduate assistantship is not a guarantee of an offer of appointment;
  • Initial GA appointments are done at the time of admission. Graduate students may be appointed at any time during their studies and should be aware of any departmental application deadlines to be considered for a graduate assistantship;
  • These terms and conditions do not restrict graduate students from combining a graduate assistantship with graduate scholarships, fellowships, or any other awards. If a student received an award and an assistantship, they are advised to check the eligibility requirements of the award to ensure there are no restrictions on holding an assistantship.

It is the duty of the GA Coordinator to ensure a safe work environment for graduate students to conduct the duties of the GA (Research) assistantships. Coordinators should consult the GSA Collective Agreement for more information.

Process of Appointment

Upon student appointment, or if the GA (Research) appointment is taking place at any time post admission, the appointment process is as follows:

  • Completion of the Offer of Appointment Letter, signed by supervisor and Research Assistant candidate.
  • Completion of the Smart Payroll Authorization Form (PAF).
    • Please circulate for appropriate signatures as per the form instructions.
  • Distribution of Originals to Payroll Services.
  • Circulation of copies of the Offer of Appointment package to the appropriate Faculty Dean for inclusion in the student’s employment file. If required, the SGS will contact the Faculty Dean’s office for up to date employment records.
  • Within one month of the completion of the GA’s assistantship, the Coordinator shall complete a written evaluation of the student’s performance and provide a copy of the evaluation to the student. A copy of this evaluation shall also be provided to the relevant Faculty Dean to be placed in the student’s employment file.

If you require any assistance with an appointment or require further information please contact the School of Graduate Studies.