How Many Working Hours Per Week Is Expected For a TA Or RA In a Grad School?

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Updated August 4, 2020

Graduate school is a different financial proposition for many students due to the availability of graduate assistant and resident assistant positions. These jobs are available to graduate students who maintain minimum GPA requirements, and who are able to successfully balance the demands of school with the requirements of the job. These two types of employment are vastly different in their structure and their required work hours, however.

Hours and Typical Compensation for Graduate Assistants

Graduate assistants work in a dual role as both a student and a professional representative of the university. As such, they are held to a high standard in both areas. Students who serve as graduate assistants must maintain a minimum GPA and not have any honor code violations on their record. Also, they must be able to serve in the capacity that their particular position requires. However, most graduate assistants are not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week, with some positions and programs allowing for 10 hours of work per week.

The list of the types of graduate assistant positions is made up of multiple types of employment. Graduate administrative assistants are often utilized to help the administrative staff of a specific department or office. They provide clerical support, data management and event planning. Graduate teaching assistants provide instructional support for one of the university's schools. Graduate research assistants are used to provide support in a research field, usually in conjunction with the university library or a research facility.

Depending on the type of job taken and the level of employment, the specific hours of employment can vary. Administrative assistants might need to attend evening seminars and events in order to manage sign in sheets and to help with information distribution. Teaching assistants would tend to work when class is in session or during a professor's office hours. Research, on the other hand, is often more flexible in terms of scheduling.

Resident Assistant Hours and Work Schedule

Resident assistants, on the other hand, have a much different work schedule and duty list. This is due, primarily, to their functioning as a community builder and student life support agent. Because of the nature of their position, resident assistants often work during the evening hours. They are required to keep their training in crisis management and response up to date, and are called upon to respond to any crisis as it happens. They must also present training support to coworkers and induction support to students who live on campus. Their hours are extremely variable, but often cannot exceed 29 hours per week. They must also maintain a minimum GPA and be clean of honor code violations, just like other graduate assistants.


When considering graduate school financial options and opportunities, it is important for the student to choose an employment path that suits their study habits and their educational goals. For many, a research position or teaching support position would be a boost on a resume and align with their studies. However, for other students, the management training and responsibilities of a resident assistant might be a perfect way to help with tuition costs.

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