GEs in Graduate-Level Courses

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 Graduate School (see here). The Graduate School 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. 


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):

  • Answering questions that clarify the structure of class assignments.
  • Gathering course readings and making them available on Canvas or other sites, or place them on reserve in the library.
  • Posting assignments on Canvas or on other sites.
  • Organizing the assignment of students to project work groups.
  • 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.
  • Handling and monitoring paper submission and return (as long as grades are not visible).
  • 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.
  • Monitoring attendance.
  • 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 (such as those listed above), 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.


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: 

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


If a department wishes to have a GE perform evaluative and instructive tasks in a graduate course, the department must petition the Graduate School 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). 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 (exceptions for some “minor,” generally 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.   



GEs assigned to undergraduate-only courses (400 and below) may instruct and evaluate graduate students enrolled in that course (for example, when graduate students are enrolled in GE-led lower-level foreign language courses). However, the petition process described above does apply 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 


Petitioning the Graduate School

A petition must be filed for EACH graduate course to which a department wishes to add a GE. The petition is available here. 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 Graduate School. 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 Graduate School 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 above have been met.



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