Graduate Student Assistantships

The role of a Graduate Student Assistant (GSA) is to provide academic duties including proctoring exams, marking examination papers and/or research duties assigned to a graduate student engaged in research performed for a member of faculty not directly related to the student’s own research.

The research oriented projects contribute to the student’s academic and professional development. Must be a part-time or full-time registered Western graduate student.

Additional Details

Compensation Rate Determined by hiring unit
Employment Deductions and Benefit Changes Regular deductions - Tax, CPP, EI etc., 13%
CRA Tax Treatment Regular income, 100% taxable, reported on T4 tax receipt
Posting Required? No Posting Required
System Paid Through HR Payroll system; Hired by Staff Appointment Notice (HR) (login required)
Job Code; When Paid X0500; Monthly or weekly
Employment Contract Requirements for International Students

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