VCU Bulletins

Graduate School

Graduate assistantships and fellowships

University graduate teaching and research assistantships and fellowships are awarded to continuing and newly admitted graduate students. Eligibility is based on a variety of criteria. Special rules, contained in the VCU Graduate School Policies and Procedures Statement on Graduate Fellowships and Assistantships, apply to graduate assistants. Such awards must be coordinated with any other financial aid. Any stipend support is reported to the Internal Revenue Service and is subject to IRS rules. Refer to the Graduate School Web site ( for a copy of the policy statement. Graduate program directors and prospective graduate assistants should agree upon the specific conditions of employment before finalizing appointments.

Additional opportunities for involvement in outside activities may arise in the course of the training period, some of which may provide for additional/supplementary compensation. Involvement and/or participation in such opportunities may assist the department in maintaining the research infrastructure, provide additional experience in instructional activity, assist other units of the university in the delivery of programs consistent with the missions of the institution, involve participation in university organizations and so forth. Such activities may include those for which supplementary compensation is provided. While such activities have the potential for enriching the development of the individual graduate student, they also hold the potential for interfering with the graduate students responsibilities to his/her department or program and her/his timely progress toward the completion of his/her educational degree requirements.

Therefore, graduate students must consult with their advisers prior to undertaking additional activities that may detract, or which have the potential for detracting, from their timely progress to degree completion. Advisers are encouraged to provide/encourage opportunities which broaden the training experience for students in preparation for the wide variety of career opportunities now available. The graduate program director should also be made aware of any such activities to ensure that completion of degree requirements is not compromised.

Inquiry about such awards should be made directly to the school or department in which the student intends to enroll. Students in the process of applying for admission should indicate their interest in such support. Some programs include a separate application for support with the application for admission. Refer to the individual chapters in this Bulletin, program Web sites and the Graduate School Web site ( for additional information on graduate student support and funding opportunities.

Termination of appointments

Graduate assistantships and fellowships normally end when the period of appointment is concluded and the term of the assistantship or fellowship agreement is fulfilled. An appointment may also end when the grant or contract supporting the student expires, even if that occurs before the end of the student’s current appointment. Otherwise, a graduate fellowship or assistantship may be terminated for the following reasons:

  1. Resignation for cause by the student. Such resignation is to be in writing for approval by the department chair or program director, with a copy to the dean of the Graduate School.
  2. Failure of the graduate fellow or assistant to perform assigned duties adequately or to behave professionally. Termination of assistantship or fellowship appointments requires written documentation to support the action. Documentation should clearly show that the infraction, any needed remedy and consequences were conveyed to the graduate student in writing in a timely manner. Such termination is to be recommended by the department chair or program director, with a copy to the dean of the Graduate School.
  3. Failure of the graduate fellow or assistant to remain in good academic standing or to adhere to enrollment policies in accordance with this policy statement.

Any stipend funds remaining after termination of a graduate fellowship or assistantship revert to the funding department or program and may be reallocated to another graduate student. If students withdraw from classes or programs or reduce enrollment below full time, tuition and fees and stipends may be rescinded and students will be responsible for returning all funds to the university. Exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis by the dean of the Graduate School on the recommendation of the student’s graduate program director.

A graduate student who believes that his or her graduate fellowship or assistantship has been terminated unjustly, and who has exhausted all departmental and school appeal procedures, may appeal the decision in writing to the dean of the Graduate School. A student who wishes to appeal a termination of a graduate fellowship or assistantship must notify the graduate dean in writing within 10 business days after the decision to terminate has been upheld by departmental and school appeal procedures.

Revised 5/8/2012
University Graduate Council


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Last update: 7/20/2012

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