10.0 Graduate Student Employment

10.1 Working While Studying

Student service appointments are intended to help qualified graduate students meet the cost of their studies at the University.

Student appointments may involve part-time duties in teaching, research, or other academic activities. Normally, only those students registered full-time in the College of Graduate Studies are eligible.

Appointments offered to students prior to their admission to the College are contingent upon admission.

10.2 Appointments: General

The categories under which graduate students may be appointed include: Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) I and IIMarkerGraduate Research Assistant (GRA), and Graduate Academic Assistant (GAA).

Most student appointments average 12 hours of work per week, with the exception of GRAs whose hours may be set by granting agencies.

Please review the Student Appointment Matrix for a summary of appointment types.


Many faculties have a limited number of GTA positions available for registered full-time graduate students. GTA positions normally entail an average of 12 hours of work per week.

Full details concerning GTA rates and employment guidelines are available in the Collective Agreement between UBC and BCGEU.


It is a conflict of interest for a graduate teaching assistant to grade the work of another graduate student, regardless of differences in degree program or year in program. The faculty member teaching the course is solely responsible for evaluating all work by graduate students taking the course.


Some faculty members offer Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) positions to full-time graduate students under their supervision. The duties may constitute part of the graduate degree requirements for the student. Funding for such positions typically comes from the research grants of the faculty member and is coordinated and administered at the program level.

Stipends for GRAs vary widely and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant funding the assistantship.

The entire stipend of a GRA is considered a scholarship, the conditions of which may be specified by the granting agency. Appointments may be for any stated period satisfactory to the grantee, and conditions of appointment may be specified by the granting agency. A GRA appointment is a form of financial support for a period of graduate study and is therefore not covered by a collective agreement.

Unlike other forms of fellowship support for graduate students, the amount of a Graduate Research Assistantship is neither fixed nor subject to a university-wide formula, and will vary depending on the grant holder, granting agency, or program policies.

All letters to students offering funding through a Graduate Research Assistantship should clearly state the period to which the offer applies. Such letters should indicate that the offer is subject to satisfactory academic progress and to demonstrated competence in duties and/or other procedures relevant to the research.

Transfers from one degree program to another, or from one supervisor to another, may affect the payment or retention of GRAs.

The continuation of a research assistantship is always contingent on the student maintaining satisfactory academic standing in their graduate program.


The duties of a Graduate Academic Assistant (GAA) include work not covered under the GRA role.  A graduate student would be hired as a GAA if a faculty member hired the student to conduct research that is not directly related to the student’s field of study.

The stipend for a GAA is employment income and is not considered a scholarship.

10.3 College of Graduate Studies' Policy on Graduate Student Teaching

The purpose of this policy is to support opportunities for graduate students to obtain teaching experience and contribute to the teaching mission of UBC Okanagan. This policy promotes successful and timely completion of graduate degrees by stipulating the conditions under which graduate students can take up a position as a Sessional Lecturer. This policy refers only to Sessional Lecturers who serve as sole instructors (or co-instructors) of an undergraduate course, and does not cover graduate students’ employment as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA).

  1. A graduate student must have suitable academic credentials and expertise relevant to any course they are assigned to teach.
  2. All teaching appointments of a graduate student require the written approval of the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies in addition to the approval of the student’s graduate program coordinator and supervisor.
  3. Graduate programs cannot require students to teach, nor can a student’s remuneration as a Sessional Lecturer be counted as part of the minimum annual funding guaranteed for doctoral students. Although income from GTAs can be counted towards the minimum funding package for graduate students, any remuneration provided to a graduate student for teaching as a Sessional Lecturer will be over and above the student’s minimum annual guaranteed funding.
  4. A master’s student may not normally hold an appointment to teach unless the degree program in which the student is enrolled is the highest-level credential offered at UBC Okanagan in that field of study, or unless the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies determines that an exception may be made. Such an appointment will be limited to a maximum of three credits of course work over the duration of the degree.
  5. A doctoral student who has been admitted to candidacy may hold an appointment to teach, with a limit of a total of nine credits of teaching over the duration of the degree.
  6. A doctoral student not yet admitted to candidacy may not normally hold an appointment to teach unless the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies determines that an exception may be made. Such an appointment will be limited to a maximum of three credits of course work prior to advancing to candidacy.
  7. Neither a master’s nor a doctoral student may hold an appointment to teach a graduate course. Exceptions may be granted at the discretion of the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies, where the Dean determines that:

i. allowing such an appointment is unlikely to give rise to any conflicts of interest;
ii. the appointment meets all other requirements of this policy; and
iii. the appointment is consistent with the purposes of this policy.

  1. Students appointed to teach must be making good progress in their program, reflected by an Annual Progress Report evaluation of “satisfactory.” Students evaluated as “unsatisfactory” or “needs improvement” may not be appointed to teach.
  2. A doctoral candidate whose program has been extended will be granted approval to teach only under exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.
  3. Prior to accepting a teaching appointment, graduate students are advised to ensure that the number of hours worked under such employment will not affect their eligibility to receive or maintain scholarships and fellowships, whether they are internally or externally funded.
  4. Clauses in the Faculty Association Collective Agreement governing the appointment of Sessional Lecturers do not supersede this policy. For example, the right to re-appointment defined in the Collective Agreement does not apply to a student who is not eligible to teach under this policy.

10.4 Teaching While on Program Extension

Only under exceptional circumstances will a student on a first program extension (in the seventh year of their PhD program) be permitted to teach a course or courses for which a Board of Governors appointment is required.

A request for permission to teach must be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies and must include an outline of the exceptional circumstances. A detailed timeline for degree completion, signed by both the student and their supervisor, must accompany the request.

Teaching responsibilities should not significantly impede a student’s progress towards degree completion.

Students on their second extensions (in the eighth year of their PhD program) are not permitted to teach a course for which a Board of Governors appointment is required.

These restrictions are intended to ensure that the student’s main occupation is finishing their doctoral degree and that the student’s best interests in this regard are protected. Granting a second or third extension because a student’s progress has been slowed by teaching responsibilities is undesirable and in some cases, in contravention of policy.

For full details, please read 10.3 College of Graduate Studies’ Policy on Graduate Student Teaching.

10.5 International Student Employment

International students who want to work in Canada, need to follow certain regulations and may require a work permit.


On-campus employment is defined as employment within the boundaries of the campus or in facilities owned, leased, or rented by UBC. Further information regarding on-campus work is available on the International Programs and Services website.


Off-campus work allows eligible international students to work off-campus while completing their studies at UBC. Further information on off-campus work is available on the International Programs and Services website.


Co-op work permits allow international students to work when the work is for credit and is integral to your program of study. Further information is available on the International Programs and Services website.


Spouses or common law partners of international students studying full-time with a valid study permit, can apply for an open work permit. For further information, visit the International Programs and Services website.

For questions or concerns regarding a student’s legal status or ability to work/study in Canada, please visit International Program and Services.