Graduate Student Instructors and Graduate Student Staff Assistants Appointment Guide

The terms and conditions of employment of Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and Graduate Student Staff Assistants (GSSAs) at the University of Michigan are subject to the provisions of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (Agreement) between the University of Michigan and the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO).*  The 2023-2026 Agreement can be found online here

This guide is intended to assist Faculty Supervisors, Departments, and Academic Units that employ GSIs and GSSAs.  However, it does not replace or substitute for the UM-GEO Agreement, which is the definitive source of information about the terms and conditions of employment for GSIs and GSSAs.

For additional information about administration of the UM|GEO Agreement, please contact Academic Human Resources or call (734) 763-8938.

*Note: Graduate students performing research activities may be appointed as Graduate Student Research Assistants (GSRAs). The terms and conditions of GSRA appointments are not subject to the UM|GEO Agreement. More information regarding GSRA appointments is available here and via the U-M Office of Research and Sponsored projects here.

Key Points for Graduate Student Instructor and Graduate Student Staff Assistant Appointments

The hours, wages, and working conditions of employment for Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and Graduate Student Staff Assistants (GSSAs), are governed by the Agreement between the University of Michigan and Graduate Employees’ Organization. Some key provisions of that Agreement are:

  1. Enrollment Requirements (Article VIII): To be appointed as a GSI or GSSA, a graduate student must be in good standing in their degree program and, for Terms I and II, must be registered for not less than six (6) credit hours each term or, with the written approval of the student's graduate faculty advisor, not less than five (5) credit hours consisting of not less than two (2) courses relevant to the student's degree program. For Term III, a graduate student must be in good standing as a student in a degree program, but no registration is required as a condition of employment. Exceptions can be made with approval from the Unit, see Article VIII Section A (1) for details. 
  2. Job Postings, Distribution of Postings, Notification and Hiring Procedures (Article IX): Job postings for GSI and GSSA positions must comply with the requirements of Article IX. Please review that Article prior to posting any GSI or GSSA positions, to ensure all contractual requirements are met. Additionally, academic units that appoint GSIs and GSSAs (Employing Departments), must ensure that information about their posting practices is included on their departmental website. NEW: Once a posting has been filed the unit MUST notify unsuccessful applications within 10 business days, see Article IX Section B (2) for details.
  3. Salary and Fraction Calculations (Article X): Both GSIs and their Faculty Supervisors must receive a copy of the GSIs Fraction Calculation Form. Faculty Supervisors must sign the Form and they may not authorize work expectations beyond those indicated on the Form. If you have questions regarding the fraction calculation form or hour expectations for GSIs and GSSAs, please contact Academic Human Resources. Please see this link for GSI and GSSA salary information.
  4. Class Size (Article XVII): Each Department employing GSIs will establish a class size policy for classes to which GSIs are assigned. This class size policy will include, but need not be limited to, the maximum number of students in each section (recognizing the potential for reduction within sections with regard to programmatic need) and the maximum ratio of students to GSIs. The Department’s Class Size Policy must be published publicly on the unit’s website. Notification from the University to the Union when changes are being made is mandatory. GSIs are not required to accept enrollees in excess of the maximum class or section size.
  5. Employee Rights (Article XXI): Employing Departments will provide, without charge, appropriate space, tools, facilities and other resources necessary for the fulfillment of the Employee’s assigned work obligations. Employee work hours should not be later than 11 p.m., there are new guidelines regarding scheduling work meetings and mandatory meetings during University recesses, see Article XXI Section I for details.
  6. Grievances (Article XIV): A grievance is a disagreement, arising under and during the term of the current UM|GEO Agreement, concerning compliance with the provisions of the Agreement. Failure to abide by the terms of the Agreement may result in the Union’s filing of grievances, which are subject to binding arbitration. If you receive a grievance please reach out to AHR. 
  7. Job Security (Article VIII): Contractual obligations for addressing performance concerns, including misconduct, and voluntary resignations can be found in Article VIII. Employing Departments should contact Academic Human Resources for guidance before proceeding with any actions pertaining to GSI or GSSA performance concerns or alleged misconduct.  
  8. Leaves of Absence (Article XIII): Regular and prompt attendance is an expectation of University employment. GSIs and GSSAs have contractually provided leaves available to them that can be found in Article XIII. GSIs and GSSAs are now covered under the SPG 201.30-6 for maternity and paternity leave. Accommodations are now available in the event of a school or daycare closure. Employing Departments are responsible for tracking GSI and GSSA exception time. Additionally, if substitute or replacement coverage is needed for absent GSIs or GSSAs, please review Article XIII and Article X. 
  9. Disability Accommodation (Article XXII): The University is obligated to make a reasonable employment accommodation only to the known disability of an otherwise qualified employee. The University has designated the Rackham Graduate School as the central office for responding to requests for accommodations from employees with disabilities. Each Employing Department must also assign an Administrative Designee to facilitate the reasonable accommodation process locally. For information about Requesting Employment or Appointment Accommodations, please see here.

For additional information about administration of the UM|GEO Agreement contact Academic Human Resources or call (734) 763-8938.