Academic Policies and Procedures

Maximum Levels of Appointments

University policy restricts appointment levels for Project, Research, or Teaching Assistants; fellows; trainees; and university staff who are enrolled as graduate students. The levels established by the university are maximums, not minimums or expected levels.

Project Assistant (PA) and Teaching Assistant (TA)
Appointments exceeding 75% for domestic students are rare and require approval of the advisor and chair of the payrolling program(s), the payrolling college dean’s office(s), and the Graduate School. Some colleges, schools, or programs may set lower limits, but in general require prior specific approvals if the appointment or some combination of appointments exceeds 75%. Project Assistants may be employed 100% during summer term, semester breaks, and spring vacation. International students cannot have an appointment exceeding 50%. International students should refer to the section on International Students Maintaining Legal Status for additional appointment restrictions.

Research Assistant (RA)
Appointments exceeding 50% are not permitted. Domestic students may have a combination of appointments not exceeding 75% with no more than 50% being the RA appointment. International students cannot have any combination of a RA and another appointment over 50%. International students should refer to the section on International Students Maintaining Legal Status for additional appointment restrictions.

Predoctoral Fellows/Trainees
Students can hold a concurrent appointment as a TA, RA, PA, or student hourly with their fellowship within the limits set out in the current university policy. Whenever assistantships (RA, TA, or PA) are combined with fellowships or traineeships, total compensation cannot exceed the department's full-time RA rate that was reported to the Graduate School for the current year. (fellowship/traineeship + assistantship = total compensation). The updated list of approved rates is posted here. More information about concurrent appointment policy for fellows/trainees can be found in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Policy for Supplementation and Concurrent Appointments for Graduate Students Holding Predoctoral Fellowships or Traineeships

Limited/Academic Staff, Non-dissertators
Combinations of appointment percentages and academic load percentage exceeding 175% are very unusual because of the difficulty that such academic loads place on the ability of the employee to perform their responsibilities. Therefore, approval by the employing division’s dean/director (or designee) is required prior to the start of classes. The Graduate School dean should be informed in writing of any approved requests. See Chapter 11.03 of the Unclassified Personnel Policies and Procedures document for the current university policy entitled, Employees Enrolled as UW-Madison Students

Limited/Academic Staff, Dissertators
Combinations of appointment percentages and academic load percentage exceeding 175% are more common because dissertators have no classes to attend. Although these are approved only at the program chair or director level, the employing unit’s dean/director (or designee) and the Dean of the Graduate School must be informed in writing of any approved requests. See Chapter 11.03 of the Unclassified Personnel Policies and Procedures document for the current university policy entitled, Employees Enrolled as UW-Madison Students.

Student hourly
In some situations it may be appropriate to hire graduate students as student hourly help. Employers should contact their Dean’s office to determine when this is appropriate. Maximum levels for appointments also include student hourly appointments. See Chapter 1.06 of the Unclassified Personnel Policies and Procedures document for the current university policy entitled, Student Hourly Help.

For any combination of appointments (except fellowships and traineeships), the total appointment percentage may not exceed 75%.

A 100% academic load for graduate students is:

  • Non-dissertators: Fall or spring terms, 8 graded credits in courses numbered 300 or above; summer sessions, 4 graded credits in courses numbered 300 or above.
  • Dissertators: Fall, spring, or summer, 3 graded credits numbered 300 or above.

If a student holds an assistantship concurrently with a staff appointment, the combination of appointments may not exceed 75%, regardless of the number of credits for which the student is enrolled.

Further information about maximum levels of appointments can be found in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Maximum Levels of Graduate Assistantship Appointments Policy or the Maximum Appointment Levels for Graduate Assistants by Appointment Type policy. 

See Enrollment Requirements, International Students Maintaining Legal Status

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