Graduate Student Recruitment & Retention Plan

Graduate students are vital to the success of the research and teaching missions at the University of North Texas. The University is committed to offering competitive recruitment and retention packages, which may include financial, benefits, and tuition and mandatory fee support, for highly qualified and diverse full-time graduate students who maintain good academic standing. This document outlines the comprehensive plan put in place to demonstrate this commitment.

Graduate Employment

Graduate students are defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as “Any student who is pursuing a program, or has a bachelor's degree and is enrolled in courses which are normally part of a program, leading to a graduate or professional degree or certificate at an institution of higher education and has successfully completed the equivalent of at least three years of full-time study at an institution of higher education either prior to entrance into the program or as part of the program itself.”

  • Assistantship: An assistantship is offered by a department to provide financial support to a student who is pursuing graduate studies and who agrees to enter into an employment relationship with the university. The university has four types of assistantships as described below, along with a brief job summary for each type. The salary received is considered employment income and is subject to employment-related taxes. Students on assistantships for at least .5 FTE are eligible to participate in the Group Benefit Program (GBP), which is administered by the Employee Retirement System (ERS) of Texas. However, in lieu of participating in the GBP insurance plan, they may participate in the university’s Student Insurance Plan, which is administered by UnitedHealthcare Student Resources. Student insurance costs will vary depending on the plan and the level of coverage selected in either plan.
  • Salaried Graduate Student Offer Letter Template (Word doc)
  • Salaried Graduate Student Dynamic Form
  • Dynamic Form Login Page to Track Forms

Criminal History Check Process

The University of North Texas (UNT) is committed to protecting the welfare of its students, employees, institutional resources, and the public. To achieve this objective, the University will conduct criminal history background checks as detailed by UNT Policy 05.006 Background Checks. Some of the highlights of the procedure include:

  1. Departments will submit signed offer letters utilizing the new dynamic form process (link to form found in section above).

  2. Academic Resources will respond confirming offer letter received and will let department know if CHC is needed.

  3. If CHC is required, Academic Resources will initiate the request to Accurate.

  4. Accurate will email the student invitation to complete CHC request online.

  5. Student will complete CHC request online.

  6. Accurate will run the CHC and report the results back to Academic Resources.

  7. Academic Resources will forward results to the department contact.

  8. Department will submit ePAR with signed offer letter attached.  An ePAR without a signed letter will not be approved.

  9. Hourly students should continue to be checked through the current hiring process conducted via the Career Center.

  10. Students will be required to do a background check if there is a break in service for one long semester. 

Job Codes

  • Teaching Fellow (TF) (Job Codes 0801, 0802, 0803) - Teaching fellows have direct student contact in a formal instructional setting and are charged with primary responsibility for teaching a course for credit under the direct supervision of a faculty member or chair, receiving regular in-service training and planned and periodic evaluations. Teaching fellows are listed as the instructor of record.

  • Teaching Assistant (TA) (Job Codes 0811, 0812, 0813) - Teaching assistants are graduate students who do not have primary responsibility for teaching a course for credit; they perform under the instructor’s direct supervision and provide general assistance to the instructional process, such as grading, tutoring, etc. Teaching assistants may not be listed as instructor of record and duties must be part of the graduate students overall educational program.

  • Research Assistant (RA) - (Job Codes 0821, 0822, 0823) - Research assistants are graduate students who are engaged in research activities under the direction and supervision of a principal investigator or faculty working on research. Duties assigned must be part of the graduate students overall educational program.

  • Graduate Services Assistant (GSA) (Job Codes 0831, 0832, 0833) - Graduate assistants are graduate students whose responsibilities are administrative in nature or consist of other activities that do not generally fit within the TF, TA, or RA job responsibilities, but contribute to the overall academic progress or professional development of the student. Duties assigned must be part of the graduate students overall educational program.

New job codes based on the new two level system of academic progression effective 9/1/2024 will be posted in Summer 2024.

Job Code Table: Salaried Graduate Students

Teaching Assistant (TA) Job Description Template

Compensation Plan

A Graduate Student Pay Schedule has been created to ensure graduate students have proper financial support. Students must maintain good academic standing while on an assistantship in order to continue receiving university support.


Pay Schedule

The rates in the pay schedule were determined based on two factors:

  1. The academic progression level of the graduate student
  2. The academic department for which the student is employed or the academic department that closely aligns to a non-academic department for which the student is employed.

The default department rate that will be used for non-academic departments will be that in which the Higher Education program resides unless justification is provided to use another academic department’s rate. Summer monthly rates are equivalent to the monthly rates provided during the regular academic year.

Progression to the next level requires meeting the minimum qualifications of the higher level at the beginning of the Fall semester only.

Upon the initial hire of a graduate student, the entry level salary will generally be at the minimum rate based on the qualifications outlined below. However, a College, School or Division may elect to hire individuals above the entry level salary based on internally developed criteria. Hire above entry does not require approval by the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Hires at or above midpoint require the submission of a justification statement explaining why the higher rate is being requested. All salaries must be funded by the college, school, or division.

Graduate students may receive annual pay increases if warranted and recommended by the department head or the department chair and dean if financial resources are available. However, under no circumstances should a graduate student exceed the maximum salary at the level in which they are situated.


The primary purpose of the multi-level pay schedule is to encourage timely progression to graduation.

  • Academic Progression Level 1: Master's or doctoral students without experience in a graduate degree program and with less than 18 credits toward a graduate degree.
  • Academic Progression Level 2: Students pursuing a master’s degree or seeking a doctoral degree with at least 18 credits toward a graduate degree. This is the entry level for doctoral students with an earned master’s degree.
    • For information on eligibility criteria and requirements, please review the information here.
  • Academic Progression Level 3: Doctoral students who have completed all coursework, have passed all their qualifying examinations, and are in good academic standing. Exceptions must be approved by the Graduate Dean. For advancement to Pay Level III, departments must fill out the Qualifying Examination Results form.

Effective 9/1/2024 the academic progression levels will be changing to a two-level system based on the program the student is enrolled in.

  • Master’s: Students enrolled in and pursuing a master’s degree.
  • Doctoral: Students enrolled in and pursing a doctoral degree.

The academic progression level submitted by a department and college to authorize payroll for a graduate student is subject to audit. If intentional discrepancies are found, reevaluation of the amount of graduate student positions allocated to the department and college will be reassessed, and a major work rule violation will be deemed to have occurred, initiating appropriate disciplinary action.

Length of Appointment

Doctoral students on UNT assistantships are eligible for funding for no more than 12 long, academic semesters, regardless of whether students work at any time at .5 or .25 FTE. Students who file an approved request for a leave of absence will not have months spent on leave counted against these limits. Time spent on externally funded grants will not be counted against these limits.

Master’s students on UNT assistantships are eligible for funding for no more than 6 long, academic semesters, regardless of whether students work at any time at .5 or .25 FTE. Students who file an approved request for a leave of absence will not have months spent on leave counted against these limits. For MFA students, semester time limits will be determined by the number of required SCH in the degree program divided by 6. For example, students in a 48 hour MFA program would be eligible for 8 semesters of funding (48 ÷ 6).

Allocation of Graduate Student Lines/Positions

Each College and school receives an allocation of centrally-funded, graduate student assistantship lines/positions. Colleges and schools shall allocate positions to the departments. A position can only be split in half for a .25 FTE. Each year the colleges and schools will have an opportunity to request changes to the positions allocated based on changed qualifications of the students, changing needs of their departments, and/or other relevant reasons.

Graduate students paid from local/grant funds (not centrally-funded) will not be placed in lines/positions. However, students supported from local/grant funds must be paid at the rates specified in the UNT Graduate Student Pay Schedule. International students should visit the Toulouse Graduate School Course Load Exception Request information page for additional relevant information.


The University recognizes the essential need to provide adequate benefits to sustain the graduate student and his/her family while the student pursues his/her studies. Benefit plans will be offered for fellowships and assistantships for domestic and international students who meet the eligibility requirements of the benefit plans. The two available plans are the Group Benefit Program (GBP) Insurance Plan administered by the Employee’s Retirement System (ERS) and the University’s Student Insurance Plan administered by UnitedHealthcare Student Resources.

Group Benefit Program (ERS)

Graduate students, whether domestic or international, who are employed in a salaried capacity that requires graduate student status for at least .5 FTE are eligible to participate in this plan. Details regarding the program can be found at UNT Group Insurance.  Any questions regarding the Group Benefit Program can be answered by HR benefits located here: .

Student Insurance Plan (UnitedHealthcare Student Resources)

The University has contracted with United Healthcare Student Resources to offer a Student Insurance Plan to domestic and international students. Details regarding the plan can be found at UNT’s Health & Wellness Center or at UnitedHealthcare Student Resources. Students on assistantships are eligible to participate in this plan, as well as, other students on the UNT campus. Students receiving centrally-funded support via assistantship will receive centrally-funded contributions to this plan similar to that which is provided under the GBP.

International Students

All international students and scholars holding non-immigrant visas must carry UNT-approved health insurance coverage during the entire period of their UNT residence. Residence is defined as that continuous period from initial orientation and enrollment or employment, including holidays, through graduation or final separation from the university. International students are automatically charged for the UNT-offered policy each semester at registration, and must provide proof of comparable insurance by the established deadline at International Advising to avoid purchasing the UNT-offered policy. International scholars must demonstrate acceptable insurance coverage at International Advising during their initial orientation session. The University has contracted with UnitedHealthcare Student Resources to offer a Student Insurance Plan to international students. Details regarding the plan can be found at the UNT's Health and Wellness Center or UnitedHealthcare Student Resources.

Tuition and Mandatory Fees / Scholarship Programs

Evidence of the University’s commitment to recruiting and retaining high quality and diverse full-time graduate students is the payment of tuition and mandatory fees on behalf of selected students. These payments will be processed in the form of a tuition benefits plan and will be allocated to each college for distribution to their departments and/or students. Additional funding will also be held centrally in the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies for strategic distribution to colleges, departments, and/or students. Students must maintain good academic standing to continue to receive support.

For information regarding the CLE (Course Load Exception) form and process please review the information provided here.


Graduate Fellowship/Research Assistantship Load Specifications

Recruitment and Selection of Teaching Fellows and Teaching Assistants

Contact Information

Questions regarding the graduate student compensation plan and graduate student lines should be addressed to Mary Atkins, 940-565-2702 or or Nicole McAlister,

For graduate award inquiries please email

For information regarding the TBP (Tuition Benefit Program), please review the information here.

*Revised 02/17/2023