Employing Graduate Students Over Summer Session


A college/unit/department may have a need to hire a graduate student during Summer term, usually for the situations listed below.

  • To hire a graduate student over the summer to bridge the gap between Spring term and the next Fall term,
  • To begin the orientation process early for new graduate assistants, and/or
  • To extend an appointment period for a graduating student to finish a thesis or project.

The University has determined that utilization of other position types, including summer graduate assistantships, hourly graduate student employment, and in limited cases, Academic Wage or Temporary employment as more appropriate options for these situations. 

Departments are to utalize the following options for summer session:

  1. A summer Graduate Assistantship 
  2. An hourly graduate student position

An academic wage appointment or temporary appointment may be used in situations where a student has graduated and is needed on a limited, short-term basis.

Additionally, a Summer Session Teaching appointment may be used for students who will be teaching over the Summer, but not enrolled in any credits.

Summer Graduate Assistantship vs. Hourly Graduate Project Assistant

There are several considerations to be made in determining if a graduate assistantship or a student hourly position fits best for the summer session.

Considerations are:

  • Is tuition remission going to be provided to the student?
  • Is the student going to be doing the same scope of work as their graduate assistantship?
  • Is the student going to be performing teaching duties?

If the answer is yes for any of these considerations, then a graduate assistantship is the appropriate position. Hourly student positions do not provide tuition remission, cannot require the same scope of work as a graduate assistantship, and cannot include teaching duties. For these reasons the student would not be able to be paid at the same rate as their graduate assistantship.

  • Funding for graduate assistantships can be split between indexes if multiple funding sources are available.
  • For a graduate assistant to remain eligible for a graduate assistantship position in the summer they must maintain 3 graduate credit hours.
  • Graduate students are subject to a continuous enrollment policy per the graduate school of a minimum of 3 credit hours.
    • If a student does not plan on summer enrollment, they are not eligible for a graduate assistantship.

Hourly student employees do not need to take credit hours during their “term off.” Students can take any term during the academic year as the term off, as long as they are enrolled during the term before and after. (A student who is in their final term is not eligible for a term off and must meet the minimum enrollment requirement for their status.) Additionally, a graduate student is enrolled in less than 5 credits they are subject to additional taxes, fees, and withholdings (ex. FICA taxes). 

The hourly student position (Graduate Project Assistant) is best utilized for work that is less than the full scope of a student’s graduate assistantship, short-term, when the student does not have any summer enrollment, or as a last means of employment if the department is unable to provide funding for a graduate assistantship. Per the CGE agreement, Section 5 – Hourly Work.

“Employing units must use Graduate Employee appointments rather than hourly positions where appropriate and supported by budget. Recognizing that there are a variety of scenarios where faculty members or units have the resources and interest in appropriately providing support to graduate students that is less than that of a Graduate Employee appointment, the University and the Union agree that hourly positions can be used in circumstances that include (but are not limited to):

  • Work which is of limited duration (grading, tutoring, field assistance, etc.) or the work is unrelated to instructional or research duties normally performed by Graduate Employees (whether in the department of a Graduate Employee or in another department).
  • A position which is to supplement an appointment supported by a funding source other than Education and General funds that does not provide a stipend equal to that of a Graduate Employee’s stipend in the unit.
  • Summer session employment of graduate students. Hourly positions will not be used to substitute for Graduate Employee appointments when the work and the resources are sufficient for such an appointment.”

Maximum Allowable Work Hours

Hourly student employees may work full-time (40 hours per week) during term breaks and summer breaks if they are in an hourly position only. Graduate assistants are not eligible to work up to 40 hours at any time they are in an active contract. Graduate assistant contracts extend through term breaks. Breaks begin the day after finals week and end the day before the term begins. This applies to all OSU student employees, regardless of the institution they are attending.

Please refer to the Summer Session Classes (Per Session) table below for maximum allowable work hours for summer term.

Summer Session Classes (Per Session)

Graduate student 

Enrolled in 5 credit hours or more: Maximum of 24 hours per week. 

Enrolled in 4 credits or less during term off: Maximum of 40 hours per week. * 

Graduate international student  

Enrolled in 9 credit hours or more, or on an approved reduced course load/reduced enrollment: Maximum of 20 hours per week.  

Enrolled in 8 credit hours or less during term off: Maximum of 40 hours per week. *

Graduate student with a Graduate Assistantship 

Combined maximum of 24 hours per week (GA+ hourly)

Graduate international student with a Graduate Assistantship Combined maximum of 20 hours per week (GA + hourly)

*If taking less than 6 credits during a term, stuednt may be subjected to additional taxes, fees, and withholdings. May be considered a student's term off. 


Hourly student employees do not receive health insurance benefits. However, if the graduate student has held a graduate assistant position for at least one term of the academic year, their graduate health insurance extends throughout summer term—

  • Per the CGE bargaining agreement, Article 28, all Graduate Assistants with a position during at least one term of the academic year are to be automatically enrolled in the summer session insurance. Summer session insurance includes the same level of PacificSource Health coverage for July, August, and September as was held during the preceding academic year. The premiums are deducted over a course of 9 months between October and June, prior to summer session. No premiums are deducted in July, August, or September if premiums are prepaid during the academic year.

More information about graduate health insurance is available at https://hr.oregonstate.edu/graduate-student-insurance-plans. For any clarification regarding graduate health insurance, please contact [email protected] .

No. Hourly graduate project assistants should not perform the same scope of work as the graduate assistant position type; therefore, they should not be paid the same or higher rate of pay.

No. Hourly graduate employees should not perform the full scope of job duties that were assigned to them as a graduate assistant, nor should they maintain the same level of decision-making responsibilities associated with the graduate assistant role.

Based upon pay cycles, graduate students who begin a summer hourly appointment on 6/16 will not receive their first paycheck for that position until 7/31. OSU employees may utilize the Payroll Draw form to request a draw on earnings to date based upon individual needs.

Graduate students will remain exempt from FICA taxes so long as they are enrolled in 5 or more credit hours in the term they are employed, per federal guidelines. This enrollment requirement differs from the 6 credit hours required by undergraduate hourly employees to remain exempt from FICA taxes.

EmpCenter resources are available to both employees and supervisors:

Supervisors: http://mytime.oregonstate.edu/empcenter-training/supervisor-training

Additional assistance and/or answers to specific questions or concerns can be accessed by submitting an EmpCenter Online Help Form.

No, the Graduate Project Assistant position should not be used for situations in which the student will be teaching, or an instructor of record over the summer. If the student were to assist a professor (i.e. helping to grade, putting together materials that the professor will present), then the Graduate Project Assistant position would be appropriate. In the absence of enrollment, degree progress and the student meets the eligibility requirements, a Summer Session Teaching appointment would be appropriate.

Graduating students will be given up to one pay period and can be placed into an hourly Graduate Project Assistant position. However, international graduating students must complete their on-campus employment on the final day of the term in which they graduate or on the final day of their graduate assistantship in their final term of their degree. For questions, please check with the Office of International Services for Post-Graduation Options and meet with an OIS advisor if you have specific questions. If the work will take longer, depending on the scope of the work, the following options may be available:

  1. Employment in an Academic Wage position type.
  2. Employment in a Represented/Temporary position type.

In both cases, your Classification & Compensation Team can assist you in developing a position description and determining which position type is most appropriate.

To qualify for a graduate assistantship, the student would be required to maintain a minimum of 3-credit enrollment toward their degree during Summer Term (this requirement increases to 12-credits during the academic year). If the student does not meet this requirement an hourly graduate project assistant position can be a suitable option so long as the scope of work is reduced.

Here are some scenarios that may help you make that determination:

1) A graduate student who is registered for classes and working towards their degree AND is on a graduate assistantship must be registered for at least 3-credits in the summer. Any graduate student on an assistantship over Summer Session must be registered for a minimum of 3-credits to receive tuition remission and the associated stipend. Note that pay may be impacted as enrolling in the 3-credits will make the graduate employee subject to Medicare and social security taxes.

2) A graduate student employee (not on an assistantship) is not required to register for 3- credits if they are performing work in service to the university and the work is unrelated to pursuit of their academic degree.

3) If a graduate student (not on an assistantship) is using university resources over the summer for the pursuit of their degree, whether they are working or not, should be registered for 3-credits.

The Graduate Student Employment Team can assist you with your access in Benny Hire, [email protected] .

Use the “Non-Competitive Hourly Hire” tab in Benny Hire you will enter the appointment information.

Liaisons should select the Graduate Project Assist position in the dropdown menu on the Hourly Non-Competitive Interface in Benny Hire. If you do not see a position with the Job Title Graduate Project Assist please contact the Graduate Student Employment Team at [email protected]u and they will assist you.

Please reach out to the Graduate Student Employment team, [email protected].