Academic Student Employment

Academic student employment ("ASE") appointments can provide a substantial source of financial support for Berkeley graduate students. Most financial packages for doctoral students, such as multi-year fellowships, usually include academic appointments during the third or fourth year.

Berkeley Social Welfare most often appoints doctoral students to the GSI, GSR and Reader titles. Specific duties for each position are detailed in the written notification of appointment provided to the appointee by the department. The titles GSI, Reader and Tutor are covered by a labor agreement between the University and the United Autoworkers (UAW). GSRs are not covered by this agreement, although university appointment eligibility rules apply to both ASEs and GSRs.

Eligibility for ASE Appointments

Students must meet certain academic requirements and other eligibility criteria to qualify for graduate student academic employment. Graduate students are also subject to Graduate Council and Graduate Division policies regarding appointments to academic and staff titles, including minimum enrollment requirements and limitations on percentage of appointment. To learn more about graduate student academic appointment eligibility and employment requirements at Berkeley, please see Graduate Student Academic Appointments.

Departmental Policies and Procedures

Hiring departments are responsible for verifying eligibility of students proposed for graduate student academic employment, and for ensuring ASE recruitment and selection is conducted fairly and equitably. The following departmental policies and procedures are in effect for the School of Social Welfare:

Appointment Eligibility

  • An Academic Student Employee is ineligible to hold an additional ASE appointment simultaneously for the same course (i.e., cannot be both Reader and GSI for the same course), and may not be enrolled in a course for which they hold an ASE appointment.
  • The School of Social Welfare Doctoral Committee limits holding a GSI appointment to no more than twice for the same course, even under different instructors.

Required Pedagogy Course

Every first-time GSI must either have completed or be enrolled in a 300-level, semester-long pedagogy seminar offered by the GSI’s department on teaching in the discipline. In Social Welfare this course is SOC WEL 375-Teaching in Social Welfare, generally offered in the fall semester when there is sufficient student demand. Entering doctoral students are highly encouraged to take this course early in their program of study in order to be eligible for GSI appointment. A GSI may only take the pedagogy seminar in another department with the advice and approval of the Faculty Adviser for GSI Affairs in the teaching department, and the consent of the 300-level course instructor in the other department.

Recruitment and Selection

Campus policy and the labor agreement require procedures for recruiting and selecting GSIs and Readers be public, transparent, and managed at the department level, rather than be controlled by private arrangements between course instructors and ASEs.

  • Announcements of ASE opportunities in the School of Social Welfare are released by February 15 each year, for anticipated positions in the following Summer Sessions and academic year. Postings shall include criteria required for appointment, and criteria involved in determining selection of ASEs. The Dean, acting as Department Chair, and the Faculty Adviser for GSI Affairs are responsible for ensuring that postings are widely circulated within the eligible pool, and are in compliance with the union contract. Application packets will be forwarded to supervising faculty members for review, interview and selection once hiring eligibility has been verified by student services staff. Priority review dates are March 1 for Summer Sessions and April 1 for the following academic year.
  • Continuing students have priority over entering students for GSI positions. Priority may also be given to students with fellowships that include a student employment commitment, and/or those students in the School of Social Welfare who have not had a teaching opportunity.

Appointment and Workload

  • For a graduate student who has not yet been advanced to doctoral candidacy, appointment as a GSI or Reader for a graduate Social Welfare course always requires advance approval by the Head Graduate Adviser.
  • Graduate students with ASE appointments during the academic year may not exceed half time, nor may such appointments, in combination with other University appointments, exceed half time.
  • Per the labor agreement, a GSI with a 50%-time appointment may not be assigned a workload exceeding 340 hours per semester. This standard applies proportionately to other percent appointments.
  • It is the responsibility of the supervising faculty member to ensure that workload is consistent with the appointment percentage, and provide an estimated breakdown of distribution of GSI hours for the term. It is the ASE’s obligation to inform the supervisor when they first perceive that their assignments might exceed the assigned workload maximum for their appointments. ASEs must obtain express advance written permission from their supervisors before working beyond the number of hours defined for their appointments. At no time should an ASE continue to work beyond eight hours in a day, or forty hours in a week.
  • All GSIs are required to meet at the beginning of the semester with the faculty member responsible for the course to go over the course syllabus, to clarify GSI responsibilities in the course, and, in the case of discussion sections, to discuss the relationship of sections to lecture. The faculty member responsible for the course is required to meet with GSIs to go over the course syllabus, to clarify GSI responsibilities in the course, and, in the case of discussion sections, describe the relationship of sections to lecture. F
  • The Dean, acting as Department Chair, and the Faculty Adviser for GSI Affairs are responsible for explaining principles associated with workload in accordance with departmental needs and the current union contract.
  • GSI and Reader appointments are for one academic year or less, and reappointment is not automatic. ASE appointments in Social Welfare are self-terminating unless the appointee is otherwise notified.

Unit Credit for GSI or GSR Positions

Social Welfare doctoral students holding a GSI or GSR appointment must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 units for the entire semester for which they hold the appointment, unless already advanced to doctoral candidacy. Some of these units may be satisfied by enrolling in the appropriate number of units of either SOC WEL 301-Training in Teaching, or SOC WEL 403-Training in Research, as shown below:

SOC WEL 301 or 403 units:

2 units

3 units

4 units

GSI sections taught:


2/same course

2/different courses

GSR hours per week: