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4.0 Employment, Research and Teaching Assistantships, Tuition Benefit, and Vacation or Leave

Graduate students in most cases do not receive financial support unless working on a research project or having been awarded a fellowship. Supplemental salary is provided to students who also work as a teaching assistant/grader.

4.1 Research Assistantships

Research assistants include all graduate students assigned directly to funded research projects. Research assistants are normally selected by the Principal Investigator of the project. See your thesis advisor for what may be available.

4.2 Teaching Assistantships

Teaching assistantships involve teaching responsibilities such as grading papers, leading discussions, or serving as an instructor or laboratory supervisor. Teaching assistantships are available in the Department for selected students. The instructor for each course selects the students. If you are interested in teaching a particular course, you should meet with the instructor at least a month prior to the start of the semester. The department gives an award each year to the teaching assistant with the most favorable student feedback. The winner of the department teaching assistant award is included in the competition for the top teaching assistant award for the College of Mines and Earth Sciences.

4.3 Tuition Benefit Support

4.3.1 Qualifying for the Tuition Benefit

Teaching assistants, research assistants, and graduate fellows who meet minimum financial support requirements through the university for the academic year receive tuition benefit support from the university. Please see the department office for the current amounts and for the availability of tuition benefit support for Summer term.

Students receiving a full tuition benefit are required to work on their funded project for twenty hours per week in order to receive the benefit. Three-quarter and half tuition benefits are available for students working fewer hours. Additional work hours each week are typically needed in order for the student to meet the objectives of their thesis research.

The tuition benefit is not provided to students compensated for their work through organizations other than the University, such as internships or fellowships paid directly through another institution or agency.

All students receiving the tuition benefit from the university must be full-time matriculated graduate students. Full-time status for this purpose is defined as registration for at least nine credit hours per semester during the regular academic year. Benefits are valid for a minimum of nine and a maximum as specified by the tuition benefit guidelines. Students whose necessary coursework is less than nine hours should make up the nine hours by registering for Thesis Research (MET E 6970 or 7970). Students who drop and/or add courses after the published university deadline are responsible for paying any fees incurred, including the tuition charges for the dropped classes. Students are responsible for paying late fees.

If a student withdraws from courses and falls below the required nine hours, receives less than the minimum required compensation for a semester, fails to provide evidence of acceptable SPEAK test scores as applicable, or in any way fails to meet the requirements and restrictions associated with any of the supported graduate student roles or Graduate School policy, the tuition benefit will be revoked and the student billed at the end of a semester for the full tuition for that semester at the applicable resident or nonresident rate. A petition for an exception for a personal emergency such as illness may be made to the Dean of the Graduate School with a letter of support from the student's Department Chair. See the graduate school website for current minimum financial support requirements. If your stipend is below these amounts, you should immediately discuss with your thesis advisor, director of graduate studies, and/or department chair.

4.3.2 Tuition Benefit Limits

Students receiving the tuition benefit have the nonresident portion of tuition waived until they have reached 84 credit hours. The Graduate School benefit then covers the remaining full, three-quarter, or half tuition costs at the in-state (resident) rate. After eighty-four credit hours, students are responsible for the nonresident portion of tuition. Domestic out-of-state graduate students who receive the tuition benefit must apply for state residency at the end of their first year of study.

Students who enter their graduate programs with a baccalaureate degree are limited to two years (or four semesters) of tuition benefit support for the completion of the master's degree, to five years (or ten semesters) for the completion of the doctorate if bypassing the master's, and to five years (or ten semesters) if continuing in the doctoral program after receiving a Masters degree from the University of Utah (two years for a master's degree plus three additional years for a doctorate).

Students who enter a doctoral program holding a master's degree may receive up to four years (or eight semesters) of tuition benefit support.

These restrictions do not limit the number of years or semesters a program, department, or college may choose to support a student in addition to this tuition benefit program. Since this benefit is provided by the university rather than the department, semesters used in a previous major count against the total. A student who receives more semesters of tuition benefit than s/he is eligible for will be billed for the tuition retroactively.

4.4 Outside Employment

Students on research/teaching assistantships, scholarships, or fellowships are not permitted to engage in regular outside employment without special permission from their Principal Investigator or Supervisory Committee Chair. Permission is granted only in hardship cases.

International students on a student visa are not permitted to work off-campus.

4.5 Vacations and Leave (within a Semester)

While the department does not specify the number of vacation days permitted, it is understood that students demonstrating quality performance may arrange with their thesis advisor for time off. It is the responsibility of the student to plan all leaves and vacations with his/her thesis advisor. Leave necessary for presentation of research work, a job interview, etc., should also be planned in advance. Any absences not approved in advance by the thesis advisor may not be compensated for if the student is funded through a sponsored project. As a general guideline, research assistants should be allowed at least 2 weeks of vacation each year if they are achieving satisfactory progress on their project. If the thesis advisor does not allow this time off, the student may appeal to the director of graduate studies and/or the department chair. If on the Tuition Benefit program, check with the payroll secretary that unpaid leave does not drop earnings below the amount necessary to qualify.

See section 3.4 Leave of Absence or Vacation Semester (Full Semester) for information on taking a leave of absence or a vacation semester.

4.5.1 Policy on Parental Leave

The Department of Metallurgical Engineering will reasonably accommodate the needs of its graduate assistants when they become parents or adopt a child of five years of age or younger. This applies to both mothers and fathers. A graduate assistant who becomes a parent is eligible for paid leave under this guideline. Graduate assistants desiring a new parent paid leave must submit a written request to the Department. The request should be made as soon as possible after the date of the anticipated birth or adoption is known. The decision to approve/deny the paid leave is made by the Department Chair after appropriate consultation with the thesis advisor and the Graduate School. If the leave is approved, the graduate assistant will be excused from his/her regular assistantship duties for a period of up to six weeks, or until the end of the appointment (whichever occurs first). If extended time is needed beyond the six weeks leave, written approval for an unpaid Leave of Absence must be requested, and approval obtained from the student's Thesis Advisor and Department Chair. Note that individual fellowships, such as the NSF Graduate Fellowships, may require sponsor approval for extended leaves of absence. Specific guidelines should be consulted.

During this period, students may postpone course assignments, examinations, and other academic requirements but remain active full-time students, with access to Department facilities and to faculty and staff. While students will continue to be fully funded off any existing funding sources (e.g., fellowship, assistantship) during the leave period, students will be excused from regular teaching or research duties. However, it is the student's professional responsibility to work with her/his advisor or faculty member to prepare for the absence in advance of the leave. This includes reviewing the status and continuation of research projects, adequately preparing those who will assume teaching responsibilities during the student's absence, and arranging for a smooth transition in any other responsibilities.

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Last Updated: 2/27/19