A. The Graduate Appointment
Graduate students are most commonly supported as “full” Graduate Teaching Assistants or Research Assistants. The Graduate School requires that any student past their first 12 credit hours of coursework must maintain a grade point average (gpa) of ≥3.0 to hold an assistantship. Students must sign a Memorandum of Appointment (MOA) to accept an offered TA and/or RA position. Students are free to decline the offer of any assistantship but will become responsible for paying tuition (either by fellowship or personal/family funds).
Graduate appointments are normally 0.5 FTE (full-time equivalent) commitments and should require roughly 20 hours per week. However, graduate study requires a full-time commitment on your part. Considerable additional time (≥20 hr per week) must be devoted to academic work including coursework, seminars, and research.
B. Holding Jobs Outside of the Department
The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry regards its teaching and research assistantship stipends as an aid to the graduate student’s education as well as payment for specific services rendered. To make satisfactory progress toward your degree, you must devote substantial time to your coursework, research, and other degree requirements. Therefore, graduate assistants are not allowed to hold outside jobs or to receive other remuneration for services rendered without written permission from the Director of Graduate Studies. This includes the operation of independent enterprises such as online businesses.
Tutoring aids graduate students in learning chemical subject matter more thoroughly. Thus, tutoring is allowed with the agreement of your research advisor. To be added to the Department’s list of tutors, you should complete the request form, obtain your advisor’s signature, and submit to the graduate program assistant. The Department will not endorse or recommend specific tutors to undergraduate students. Details such as hours and fees are left to the individuals to negotiate. Time spent on tutoring must not impinge on the normal activities expected of full-time graduate students and should be limited to a maximum of five hours per week. Paid tutoring of students in a course to which you are assigned as a TA is not allowed, nor may you charge for tutoring during TA office hours.
D. ITAP Accreditation (International students only)
International students with non-US degrees are required to gain accreditation by ITAP (International Teaching Assistants Program) within their first year as a TA to qualify for future TA support. This requires taking assigned ITAP courses and passing the ITAP exam.
E. Background Checks and Training
All graduate students receiving paychecks from the University of Alabama must first clear an Employment Background Check administered by the Graduate School. These checks are intended to provide information regarding past serious issues that might affect interactions with the UA community (felony convictions, sex offender status, etc.). Potential graduate student employees are required to sign a release form providing permission for the check. Any issues raised by the check are subject to review by a committee that includes representatives from the Graduate School, the College of Arts & Sciences, UA Department of Public Safety, and Student Affairs. Graduate students will have the opportunity to respond, rebut and explain any issues that arise. Note that beyond collecting release forms for the Graduate School, the Department of receives no knowledge of these proceedings beyond access to a student’s status.
In addition to this initial background, the College of Art & Sciences requires that all graduate students receive periodic training regarding their legal responsibilities while interacting with the University community. At the beginning of your first year in residence, this training can be satisfied by documented attendance at the A&S Legal Training Workshop. Refresher training will be required by the College every two years.
The Graduate School requires that all teaching assistants complete the Teaching Assistant Workshop which is offered annually in August. January admits can hold TAs in Spring and Summer but should plan on attending the next available workshop to qualify for further appointments.
F. Vacation Time and Holidays
Graduate students are normally afforded one week of vacation per year. Students traveling long distances may forego vacation time in one year and take multiple weeks in a subsequent year. The vacation period should not occur when Fall/Spring classes are in session. For vacations planned in the Summer semester, TAs must consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies before arranging travel to ensure that the vacation time will not conflict with summer term TA duties. All vacations must be approved by the student’s research supervisor.
Remember, students are expected to work full time in the program; times when classes are not in session are prime periods for research and for working on other degree requirements.