Graduate Employees (GEs) in Graduate-Level Courses

Generally speaking, graduate instruction is expected to be delivered by faculty members.

GEs may be assigned to non-evaluative/non-instructive tasks (see category 1 below) with no petition required. 

To assign graduate employees (GEs) to graduate-level courses in which they will perform evaluative and/or instructional duties (see category 2 below), departments must petition for each course to which they wish to assign one or more GEs. 

Once a course is approved, the department must notify The Division of Graduate Studies of which GE(s) will be assigned to the course each term.

Petitioning the Division of Graduate Studies to Assign Evaluative/Instructional Duties to a GE in a Graduate Course

A petition must be filed for EACH graduate course to which a department wishes to add a GE with evaluative and/or instructional duties. Please allow one week to obtain a response to your request.

If the petition is approved, it will be approved until further notice by the Division of Graduate Studies.

Once the petition is approved, then each term, no less than one week prior to the start of classes, the department will submit a notification form to the Division of Graduate Studies naming any GEs who are assigned to the petition-approved graduate course for the upcoming term.

On the form, the department will specify for each GE which of the conditions below have been met.

Full Policy

It is a fundamental assumption that graduate education, which includes instruction, supervision, and evaluation, is to be delivered by faculty (as defined below) at the University of Oregon according to this principle:

“Graduate courses (those numbered 500-599, 600-699, and 700-799) at the University of Oregon represent teaching and research at the highest level, and are taught by faculty of the institution. Membership in the Graduate Faculty is not a requirement to teach graduate-level courses (those numbered 500-599, 600-699, and 700-799). However, faculty teaching these courses must hold a graduate degree in a field relevant to the course. Exceptions to this policy may be granted by the academic unit offering the course in cases where the faculty member is otherwise qualified to teach the particular material offered. Exceptions are granted for up to three years and may be renewed. Academic units are required to record the rationale for the exception and provide the faculty member's CV to the Division of Graduate Studies. The Division maintains the record of exceptions which will be eligible for review by the Graduate Council and which will be made available to be part of decennial program and accreditation reviews.”

However, under some circumstances, a department may have valid rationale for adding a Graduate Employee (GE) to assist with a graduate course. This policy is designed to articulate conditions governing GE assignments to assist with graduate-level (500, 600, or 700) courses.

A graduate student with a GE appointment who is assigned to assist a faculty member with a graduate-level course creates the potential for problems, including conflict of interest, privacy concerns, and graduate students being evaluated by their peers. For this reason, GEs should be assigned to assist in graduate-level courses only when other options for delivering the course effectively are not available or possible. However, when using a GE in a graduate course is deemed necessary, the procedure for petitioning to do so is described below.

Two broad categories of graduate courses with GEs assisting are described:

  1. Courses in which the GE’s role is non-evaluative and non-instructive.
  2. Courses in which the GE’s role is evaluative and/or instructive. 

1. Courses in Which the GE's Role Is Non-Evaluative and Non-Instructive

No special permission is required of departments offering graduate courses in which a GE’s role is limited to the following non-evaluative/non-instructive tasks (although as noted above, GEs should be assigned to graduate courses only when other options for delivering the course effectively are not available or possible):

  • Monitoring attendance.
  • Posting assignments on Canvas or on other sites.
  • Organizing the assignment of students to project work groups.
  • Answering questions that clarify the structure of class assignments.
  • Handling and monitoring paper submission and return (as long as grades are not visible).
  • Providing an initial review of email messages, forwarding any questions about the academic content of the course to the instructor. GEs may answer administrative questions.
  • Gathering course readings and making them available on Canvas or other sites, or placing them on reserve in the library.
  • Serving as the first source of information for students about deadlines, format requirements, and any non-content issues.
  • Monitoring, but not participating in, Canvas discussions in a manner that does not involve evaluating academic content of conversations.
  • Participating in other classroom management duties that do not involve the academic content of the course or evaluations of student mastery of that content.

When a GE has been assigned to assist a faculty member with non-evaluative and non-instructive tasks in a graduate course, the syllabus for the course must explicitly acknowledge that a GE will be assisting the faculty member in charge of the course and it should also outline the specific responsibilities of the GE. This will allow instructor, GE, and students enrolled in the course to share a common understanding of the GE's duties.

2. Courses in Which the GE's Role Is Evaluative and/or Instructive

There are some circumstances when a graduate course may need a GE to perform evaluative and/or instructional tasks for the successful delivery of a graduate course. Any GE assigned to an evaluative and/or instructive role in a graduate course must have content knowledge, prior experience, or expertise directly related to the course content.

Evaluative tasks include but are not limited to: 

  • Serving as instructors of record.
  • Evaluating graduate student work.
  • Entering grades for graduate students.
  • Organizing and facilitating lab/discussion sections in the assigned course in which other graduate students participate.

If a department wishes to have a GE perform evaluative and instructive tasks in a graduate course, the department must petition the Division of Graduate Studies for permission to do so for the course. The petition for the course can be either for a one-time request for a particular term or a request to cover the course each time the course is offered. Permission is likely to be granted if at least two of the conditions listed below can be met each time the course is offered:  

  1. The GE already holds the academic degree being sought by the students in the course or the GE is at a demonstrably different level in the same graduate program (e.g. the GE has passed prelims; the students in the course have not). Note: A description of different levels that are idiosyncratic to a particular department will need to be described by the department.
  2. The GE is a student in a department/program that is different from the one the course is being offered in.
  3. The GE and the students enrolled in the course will not have any other courses in common during the term of the appointment and/or the GE has advanced to candidacy and is registered only for research/dissertation credits. Note: Exceptions for some “minor” 1-credit courses like journal clubs or “brownbags” may be made. 

 If the GE’s role in the course is non-evaluative, a lower threshold (e.g., meeting just one of the conditions above) may be all that is needed for a successful petition, depending on the nature of the GE’s specific role in the course.

In graduate courses where the GE’s role is evaluative and/or instructive, the syllabus must explicitly acknowledge the GE’s role. A statement must also be provided to graduate students enrolled in the course about paths of recourse, should they perceive the course as leading to any conflict of interest, privacy concerns, or unfairness related to having a GE in an evaluative/instructional role. The statement should include whom they should contact with concerns and how they can request that a faculty member, not the GE, grade their assignments.

Additional Notes

GEs assigned to undergraduate-only courses (400 and below) may instruct and evaluate graduate students enrolled in that course. However, the petition process described above applies for 400/500 level courses.

Graduate students may give a guest lectures in a course to which they are not assigned as GEs as long as they only do this once a term. 

Approved by Graduate Council