Student Assistantships

Appointment Information for
Assistantships and Traineeships

Graduate student assistants, graduate student researchers, teaching assistants, and teaching fellows are students who receive support in return for specified duties while gaining teaching, teaching-related, or research experience under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Whenever available, assistantships and traineeships are awarded by the departments. There are no assistantships available through the Office of Student Affairs or the Dean’s Office. Students may receive an assistantship from any department in the University, but there is no central listing of assistantships available.


A traineeship is money from a training grant allocated to students to support advanced study in a specified field. A traineeship may provide full or partial tuition and/or living expenses. Usually, there is no service requirement. Several departments have traineeships available for students in particular concentrations.


An assistantship provides a full or partial tuition scholarship, a stipend, and individual health insurance coverage in exchange for performance of specified duties, usually in support of a faculty member’s research project. Assistantship appointments can be full or part-time. Each department may award a limited number of student assistantships, usually to doctoral students. Students may also be awarded an assistantship by another University department. There is no central listing of University assistantships.

Teaching Assistants 

A teaching assistant (TA) is a student who holds a teaching or teaching-related appointment made within the University regulations pertaining to teaching assistants. No teaching assistant shall be appointed to teach post baccalaureate courses.

Teaching Fellows

A teaching fellow (TF) is the same as a teaching assistant except that the teaching fellow is more educationally advanced or experienced, typically holding the equivalent of a master’s degree. TFs should not be assigned to teach graduate courses. Exceptions may be made only in rare cases where in the individual shows clear evidence of outstanding skills in specialized areas and when the individual is directly supervised by faculty.


Students must be enrolled in a degree or certificate program at Pitt Public Health.


Full-time GSRs are expected to devote twenty hours per week to the research project they are assisting. GSRs may be required to work more hours if the research pertains to their thesis or dissertation. Time expenditure of part-time GSRs is proportional to this standard of twenty hours (i.e. half-time GSRs must devote ten hours per week to their research project, and more if the research pertains to their thesis).

TAs and GSAs have the same work obligation of twenty hours a week. However, their assignments will differ from a GSR and will not likely relate directly to their research interests.


GSR, GSA, and TA appointments may be made annually for one to no more than three terms at a time (one academic year). Renewals are subject to satisfactory job performance and availability of funding.


At least once each year, the faculty supervisor must provide a written evaluation of a GSR/TA/GSA’s performance to the student and to the department. A suggested evaluation form is available from the department administrator, who should request the evaluation in the spring term. A copy of the completed evaluation should be provided to the department administrator.


The monthly stipend amount is set by the department within a range established by the University. Monthly stipend payments for part-time GSR positions will be proportional to this standard. The University does not set a different stipend level for TA and GSA positions. Learn more about stipends.

Tuition Scholarships

Full-time GSR/GSA/TAs are eligible to receive full tuition scholarships to cover up to and including 15 credits per term. Part-time positions are eligible for partial tuition scholarships in accord with their appointments, i.e., a half appointment receives a scholarship for six credits and a quarter appointment covers three credits per term.

Health Insurance

GSRs, GSAs, and TAs are provided individual coverage under the UPMC Health Plan for graduate students. Family coverage is available at an additional cost to the student.