University to Increase Graduate Assistant Minimum Stipends

In a 2015 photo, Jeff Lewis (right), assistant professor of biological sciences, works with then-graduate assistant Rebecca Sides.
Whit Pruitt

In a 2015 photo, Jeff Lewis (right), assistant professor of biological sciences, works with then-graduate assistant Rebecca Sides.

The minimum stipend for graduate assistants at the U of A will increase to more closely align with peer institutions and provide consistency in pay across academic units. The increase will take effect Aug. 16.

Chancellor Joe Steinmetz and Provost Charles Robinson approved the recommendation for increases made by the Graduate Assistant Minimum Stipend Committee, led by co-chairs Patricia Koski and Kim Needy. The committee spent the fall semester assessing the need for the increase, which included benchmarking the university's pay with peer institutions and measuring stipend levels in different departments and programs, among other factors.

"Graduate assistant pay is a constant conversation in the Graduate School and International Education, and we are pleased to be able to increase stipends to help our graduate students and recognize the important work they do for this campus," said Koski, dean of the Graduate School and International Education. "The university relies on graduate assistants to teach numerous foundational courses and to participate in critical creative activity, adding significant contributions to our academic environment. "

New minimum stipends for graduate assistants are:

  • 12-month master's — $15,000, or $1,250/month (previously was $12,516 or $1,043/month)
  • 9-month master's — $11,250, or $1,250/month, (previously was $9,387 or $1,043/month)
  • 12-month M.F.A./doctoral — $18,000, or $1,500/month (previously was $13,906, or $1,159/month)
  • 9-month M.F.A./doctoral — $13,500, or $1,500/month (previously was $10,430 $1,159/month)

Graduate assistants who currently have a minimum stipend greater than the new campus minimum may not see a change in their stipend. 

Graduate assistants at the U of A have a 50 percent appointment, meaning they work an average of 20 hours per week. In addition to stipends, graduate assistants receive other benefits such as health insurance and waived tuition, which averages $5,000 per year.

"Benchmarking ourselves against other institutions is a complex undertaking that goes beyond simply the dollar amounts of stipends," said Needy, dean of the Collge of Engineering and former dean of the Graduate School and Internationla Education. "It includes benefits such as health insurance, tuition waivers, cost of living and many other factors. While some schools may offer higher stipends, they may not offer tuition waivers or other benefits. We are confident that with these changes, the comprehensive financial package we offer graduate assistants remains a competitive and attractive opportunity."

The university will invest $1 million to fund the stipend increase, which will also affect grant-funded positions. Central administration will cover 100 percent of the costs in fiscal year 2022, with a gradual shifting of costs to units through fiscal year 2025.

The recommendation also encouraged units to continually benchmark graduate assistant stipend levels to ensure they are competitive with peer institutions.

"The committee's work recognized and made a compelling case for the need for increased graduate assistant pay, and I want to thank Deans Koski and Needy, as well as the rest of the committee members, for their tireless work in evaluating this important issue and providing well-sourced recommendations," Robinson said.

Contacts

John Post, director of academic communications
University Relations
479-575-4449, johnpost@uark.edu

Amy Unruh, director of communications
Graduate School and International Education
479-575-5809, unruh@uark.edu

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