Fourteen-Semester Rule on Student Employment

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Graduate students may be employed in the following titles for a maximum of 14 long semesters: Assistant Instructor (0045); Teaching Assistant (0063); Teaching Assistant, no student contact (0062); Graduate Research Assistant (0090); Academic Assistant (0065); Assistant (0071); and Tutor (0064).

Background on the current rule:

In fall 2007 the Graduate Assembly passed legislation which allowed, for the first time under very strict criteria, exceptions to the fourteen-semester rule. The full description of the criteria for exceptions is included here. Petitions for exception to the fourteen-semester limit on student academic employment may be submitted under either of the following conditions and will be granted for one or two long semesters only after the student completes his or her fourteenth semester of employment.

Fourteen-Semester Rule Exceptions

I. Master's Degree from UT-Austin

A student who earned the master's degree from the university and was employed as a TA, AI, GRA, or other student academic title while completing that degree may be granted one semester of employment beyond the fourteen-semester limit for each semester employed while classified as a master's student, up to a total of two additional semesters. The petition should include the date of beginning and completion of the master's degree and the specific semesters during which the student was employed.

This exception does not apply to doctoral students who elect to receive the master's degree for courses completed in pursuit of the doctorate. Students admitted to doctoral programs sometimes complete sufficient coursework along the way to the doctorate to receive the master's degree. Choosing to receive the master's as a by-product of a doctoral program does not qualify for exception to the fourteen-semester limit.

II. Formal Review

The Graduate School will approve Formal Review petitions only under extraordinary academic circumstances. Though the petition is not submitted until the fourteenth semester of employment, documentation to accompany the petition is to be gathered beginning in the twelfth semester of employment. The twelfth semester review is not required for a student who will not need an exception to the fourteen-semester limit. The review is required for any student who will need or might need an exception to the fourteen-semester limit. Retroactive twelfth semester reports are not permitted.

  • The student's dissertation or treatise committee reviews the status of the dissertation or treatise at the end of the twelfth semester of employment and reports that status in writing to the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC). It is the responsibility of the student's academic program to monitor the number of semesters the student has been employed and to undertake the reviews during the twelfth semester.
  • During the fourteenth semester of employment, the dissertation committee, on behalf of the GSC, hears a presentation by the student, reviews the progress made by the student since the twelfth semester report, and determines via recorded vote whether a petition will be submitted.
  • The petition for exception to the fourteen-semester limit will include the twelfth semester status report, a fourteenth semester progress report, a plan for completion not to exceed two long semesters into the future, the vote of the dissertation committee, and an explanation for any dissenting votes.
  • The petition is submitted to the Graduate School jointly by the GSC chair and the graduate adviser.

Cautionary Note: Completing both the twelfth and fourteenth semester formal reviews is necessary for submission of a petition for exception. However, there is no guarantee that the exception will be granted. Though other factors are involved in the decision on the petition for exception, two of critical importance are the dissertation progress during the period between the twelfth and fourteenth semester reviews and the promise of dissertation completion in the near future.

Guidelines for departmental staff to check 14-semester eligibility for appointments

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