Memorandum of Appointment



All assistantships require some work, task, or service to be performed in return for consideration by way of a stipend. The appointment is similar to a contract of employment and as such requires formal documentation to record the terms and conditions between the student and the assistantship provider. This is evidenced by the Memorandum of Appointment. It is the responsibility of the appointing department to prepare the Memorandum of Appointment and obtain the necessary approvals.


Terms and Conditions

Like an employment contract, the Memorandum of Appointment sets out the following key elements:

  1. The student’s identity – name and campus wide id number.
  2. The appointing official.
  3. Start and end dates.
  4. Monthly stipend to be paid.
  5. Total stipend to be paid.
  6. FTE of the appointment – this is determined by the number of hours’ work per week that the appointment requires.
  7. The student’s immediate supervisor, and
  8. The specific duties of the appointment.


Please note that it is insufficient to simply state under duties vague description such as “to be determined by supervisor”, or “as required”. Care must be taken to ensure that the description correctly reflects the exact nature of the work or service being performed. When the assignment is for teaching assistance it is vital to include details of  classes being taught, or whether or not the student is, say, grading papers or homework.


In addition, the Memorandum also sets out clearly the student’s obligations under the contract of employment regarding:

·   Continuing to meet the minimum qualifying requirements throughout the entire period of the appointment.

·   Meeting minimum performance standards established by the appointing official.

·   The student’s obligations when the appointment is terminated prior to the end of the appointment and/or prior to the end of an academic semester.


Evidencing Approval and Agreement

The Memorandum must be signed by both the appointing official AND the student as evidence that both parties understand the commitments, rights, and obligations of both parties under the contract.


Modifying the Terms and Conditions

When any of the terms and conditions is modified prior to the termination of the contract a new Memorandum must be prepared which replaces the original effective from the date of change. Modifications include but are not limited to:

*      Increasing or decreasing the monthly and total stipend rate.

*      Increasing or decreasing the hours worked and the FTE.

*      Changing the tasks or responsibilities of the appointment. This includes changing the class to be taught where appropriate.


Retention and Distribution of Memorandum of Appointment

The original signed Memorandum must be kept on file in the appointing department. Copies must be given to (1) the student and (2) the Graduate School. The Graduate School’s copy should be attached to the Personnel Action Form (PAF) when submitted to Graduate School.


Pro-forma Memorandum of Appointment

Memorandum of Appointment forms can be obtained from the Graduate School. There is also a downloadable version on the Graduate School's web site. Departments may tailor their own versions however the information included in the pro-forma version must be included as a minimum on all memoranda.



IMPORTANT – Please Note

Contracts and Grants

The specific duties, tasks, and responsibilities for assistantships funded under external contracts and/or grants will be detailed within the master document of the contract or grant. However, a Memorandum of Appointment is still required where a graduate student is appointed to work under that contract or grant. The memorandum in these instances must be signed off by the Principal Investigator (PI) on the project.


The university is obligated to ensure that as a condition of receiving funding from external sources that the terms and conditions of supplying those funds are met in full without exception, including any funding for graduate assistantships.


Please remember that all general qualifying requirements for graduate student appointments apply also to appointments made under contracts and/or grants.


Special Memorandum for Contracts/Grants

For contracts and grants assistantships please use the special Memorandum of Appointment for Contracts and/or Grants. There is a downloadable version on the Graduate School’s web site.