Graduate Assistantship Training


Congratulations on your assistantship with Western Michigan University! We are proud to have you as a member of the WMU community, where teaching, research and scholarship are central to the mission of our institution. The Graduate College, the Graduate Student Association (GSA), graduate faculty, advisors and staff are all committed to supporting your success and creating a community that is welcoming, respectful and inclusive. 

At Western Michigan University approximately 20% of graduate students are on a Graduate Assistantship (GA) appointment and serve many  important roles at the university. Holding a GA position provides an excellent opportunity for  professional development in that you gain new skills that enhance your academic work, build valuable work experiences and develop your career network, in addition to having the financial support that comes with the appointment.

We have three types of Graduate Assistantships: 

1. Research Discovery Assistants (RDs) are research assistants who perform duties related to research and scholarship for their appointment. 
2. Research Application Assistants (RAs) work in service roles, such as performing office work or clinical service, acting in student support roles, or performing other activities. 
3. Teaching Assistants (TAs) serve in a role related to teaching; some are instructors of record (meaning they are the one primarily responsible for a course); some are instructors of lab sections; and some assist the instructor in some support capacity (such as grading or holding discussion sessions). TAs are part of the Teaching Assistants Union


to familiarize you with your new role, please complete the following Steps: 

1. *Review your offer letter, sign, and email back to the hiring department

2. *Register for classes Contact your program director for advice on course selection. To self-register for classes, log into GoWMU at Click All Links to view the Add/Drop Classes link.

3. Contact your program department to determine your training and start dates Some departments have onboarding activities in addition to the general Graduate College orientation and GA Training.

4. Complete the Graduate Student Online Orientation (eLearning) This is recommended for students new to WMU; however, online orientation provides valuable information for graduate students at every stage of your degree, so a review may prove helpful. Learn more by logging into Elearning at and searching for Graduate Student Online Orientation in your courses.

5. *Complete Graduate Assistantship (GA) Training, 2020-21 (eLearning)
       a.      Review position training booklets
       b.      Review the Graduate Appointee policies in the appointment letter and on the Graduate College website
       c.       Review the WMU FERPA Policy
       d.      Review the WMU Policy on Sexual Misconduct
       e.      Submit the Graduate Appointee Statement of Responsibility and Confidentiality (located in eLearning)

6.  *Attend one Virtual GA Training video presentation (the information presented is the same, select one option):
       a.       Live on August 11 at 4 p.m. EDT
       b.       Live on August 26 at 10 a.m. EDT
                *Teaching Assistants (TA) are required to attend training the afternoon of August 26 from 2 to 5 p.m.
                *Research Appointees (RD) are required to attend training the afternoon of August 26 from 1 to 2 p.m.
       c.       Prerecorded (eLearning)

*indicates a mandatory requirement

If you are new to WMU, you will need to complete the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) course by December 14, 2020. First semester graduate students will receive an introductory email, sent to their WMU email address. There is no fee for the course, and no credit hours are earned. Completion of this course is a university-wide requirement and is not directly associated with any specific graduate program.

To request accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act for the Virtual GA Training video presentation, please email no later than Monday, August 10. Please also plan to join the August 26, 10 a.m. session.