Graduate Research Assistantships

A Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) must be a part-time or full-time registered Western graduate student. To assist his/her student financially; to bring the student up to the guaranteed level of funding as stated by SGPS or the Department, a GRA may be given.

Additional Details

Compensation Rate Determined by hiring unit
Benefit Charges None
CRA Tax Treatment While not employment, this income is taxable; however, the GRA can claim research expenses, Graduate Research Assistants will be issued a T4A tax receipt.
System Paid Through HR Payroll system, Online Appointment Process
Job Code; When Paid X0100; Monthly

Graduate Research Assistants (GRA) vs. Graduate Student Assistantship (GSA)

In an effort to assist in deciding whether a student should be hired as a Graduate Student Assistantship (GSA) or funded as a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA), we have prepared the following chart.  It is very important that anyone making these appointments first answers the following questions:

Graduate Research Assistant (GRA)

Graduate Student Assistantship (GSA)

What is the primary motivation of the professor in appointing the student? To assist his/her student financially; to bring the student up to the guaranteed level of funding as stated by SGPS or the Department To hire an individual to assist completing the tasks necessary for the professor's own research and for his/her own academic and professional gain
What is the primary motivation for the student in accepting this role? To assist in his/her training to become an independent researcher; to assist in qualifying for his/her degree; financial assistance to enable the student to focus on his/her graduate studies Financial gain
What will be the nature of the activities to be performed by the student? Research will relate to student's own thesis or own academic pursuits (still does contribute to the professor's overall research); tasks will include those necessary to learn to become an independent researcher; may be in receipt of GRA funds even when primarily involved in coursework Not directly related to their own thesis or graduate studies; tasks may be more basic in nature and not of assistance in developing the student (e.g. data entry, reference checking, photocopying papers, etc. for professor's research)
What will be the nature of the interactions between the professor and the student? More collaborative in nature; professor as academic mentor Student takes direction and instructions from the professor; as an employer/employee
What degree of independence will the student have? As much as can be expected for current level of training of the student Low - will take instruction from professor and possibly others in the lab/team
What is the status accompanying this appointment? Student Employee
What tax treatment will the funds receive? T4A, this income is taxable; however, the GRA can claim research expenses Regular - T4 with statutory deductions

If you have any questions or concerns with the above or with a specific appointment, please contact Ron Wagler.