Appointment and Reappointment Guidelines for Graduate Employee

Appointment and Reappointment Guidelines for Graduate Employees

Appointment and reappointment procedures for all graduate student employees within the Department of Sociology will be guided by the Graduate Employee Organization/University collective bargaining Agreement.  Revisions of these guidelines will be made as needed to remain in conformity with contractual agreements.

1. Teaching Assistants and Teaching Associates (TAs and TOs).

(A) Eligibility. In order to receive funding as TAs or TOs, graduate students must make satisfactory progress towards the degree and show satisfactory performance in assistantships. Students are eligible for five years of funding, which most commonly takes the form of TAs or TOs, but may also include RAs or PAs (see Section 2 below for information on the latter). Depending on Department resources and needs, students who have already exhausted their five years of funding may still be assigned TA or TO positions, so long as all students in good standing who have not used their years of eligibility have already been funded.

(i) The Sociology Department will fund all graduate students who are in good standing and whose eligibility has not been exhausted. In semesters when the available funding is initially insufficient to support all students who would like a TA or a TO, the GPD will create a “waiting list” and notify students on this list of their position on it. The criteria used to establish relative position will include the total number of semesters of funding they have previously received.  As jobs become available, they will be distributed to those on the list in the order that has been established.

(B) Announcing Availability of TA and TO positions. In advance of TA/TO assignments, students will be provided with a list of possible assignments and asked for their preferences. This announcement of openings and request for preferences will be distributed as early as possible, given scheduling and budget constraints.

(C) Assignment of TAs. Assignments of TAs will be made by the Graduate Program Director in accordance with priorities established by the Graduate Studies Policy Committee. These priorities may be reconsidered at the request of either the Graduate Studies Policy Committee or the Sociology Graduate Student Association. Following are the priorities which will guide TA assignments:

i) Years of eligibility for funding remaining.
ii) Appropriate development from graders to section leaders
iii) TA rank-ordered preferences
iv) Faculty rank-ordered preferences

(D) Assignment of TOs. The availability of TO positions will be announced to all graduate students as soon as these become known. Following are the priorities which will guide TO assignments:

i) Years of eligibility for funding remaining.
ii) Appropriate development from section leaders to instructors
iii) TO rank-ordered preferences

2. Project Assistants and Research Assistants.

(A) Eligibility. Investigators shall be encouraged to give preference to Sociology graduate students in filling both PA and RA positions. There is no limit on the number of years or semesters graduate students may receive funding as PAs or RAs.

(B) Announcement of Positions. As soon as new RA or PA positions are to be filled all graduate students will be notified by e-mail, via the socgrad listserv. A copy of the announcement should be sent to the Grad Office and GPD. Announcements will include general descriptions of the research being undertaken, the source of funding, and the nature of the PA/RA positions which are available. Interested graduate students may request additional information from principal investigators. Rehires of existing RA or PA positions do not need to be advertised.        

(C) Selection of PAs and RAs. Principal investigators will interview interested graduate students and select among applicants on the basis of interests, research ability, and prior experience. PIs subsequently report to the Grad Office and GPD the names of applicants and those hired.

(D) Notice. The Department and principal investigators will endeavor to provide maximum possible notice of funding decisions and of changes in funding.

3. Timeline for Eligibility

  1. Timeline for students entering before Fall 2016.  Students entering before Fall 2016 were offered either four or five years of TA or TO funding; any RA or PA-ships do not count toward these four of five years of funding.
  2. Timeline for students entering in Fall 2016 or later.

(i) All full-time (20-hour, with benefits) Research Assistantships (and PAships with a research orientation) on the UMass campus, whether with a Sociology faculty member or with a faculty member in another department, will be considered equivalent to a Sociology TA or TO for purposes of the 5 years of funding offered to students in good standing.

(ii) Other forms of employment will not count against a student’s 5-year funding offer. This includes jobs such as: a non-research-oriented Project Assistantship (PA) for a faculty member in Sociology or another department or institute/center; a TA or TO in another department; campus service jobs, including GEO, GSS, CWC; non-research oriented administrative jobs, including those in Whitmore, OIT, IRB, ISSR, and CSSI; teaching at another college or university; or any other off-campus employment. Students may extend their funding eligibility by up to two years, by taking one of these jobs while they are still within eligibility.

(iii) In case of questions about whether a job counts against the funding guarantee or not, the GPD will adjudicate. Appeals of the GPD’s decision may be made to the GPC.

(iv) The department’s five-year offer of funding to incoming students must be used by no later than the end of the student’s 7th year in the program.

(v) Student-initiated fellowships (e.g., NSF) will be exempt from the time limitation. They will extend funding eligibility by the number of years the student holds the fellowship.

4. Positions for Students beyond eligibility

  1. Students who are beyond eligibility (either because they have used up 5 years of internal funding or because they are past the 7-year window for funding) may continue to apply for TA/TO or RA/PA jobs within the department, as available.
  2. TA/TO jobs will be available to beyond eligibility students once all eligible students who have requested one have been assigned.
  3. RA and PA positions will be available at the discretion of the PIs who are doing the hiring. PIs may hire students at any level in the program. Unlike the TAs and TO hiring process, PIs are not required to offer RAs or PAs to students within eligibility first.