MSU Human Resources >> Employment >> Graduate-assistants >> Graduate Assistant Criminal Background Check Policy & Procedure



Michigan State University (MSU) is committed to providing a safe environment for its students, faculty, and staff in support of its educational mission. This policy is intended to help the University achieve that goal by mandating the use of criminal background checks in the hiring process for graduate assistants and by establishing procedures for conducting those background checks.

Applies to:

Students for whom an offer of employment1 as a Graduate Assistant (teaching or research) has been made on or after May 1, 20112.
The criminal background check will include the following

  • Verification of Social Security Number
  • Examination of county criminal records in counties of current and recent residence(s) (nationwide)
  • Examination of national criminal records
  • Examination of sex offender registry (nationwide)



  • Student must be informed that successful completion of a criminal background check is a prerequisite to any appointment at MSU.
  • The student will be required to complete the "Consumer Disclosure And Authorization Form" for a criminal background check to be conducted by an outside vendor for review by the University. The student’s refusal to submit the authorization form will constitute a withdrawal from consideration for any Graduate Assistant position.
  • The criminal background check will be initiated by MSU Human Resources, once a contingent offer of appointment has been given and a "Consumer Disclosure And Authorization Form" is completed. Appointment and Reappointment Letters must clearly state that the offer is contingent on satisfactory criminal background check results.

 Human Resources:

  • The results of the criminal background check will be sent to an authorized individual in Human Resources. If questionable results are obtained, Human Resources will contact the student and provide him/her with an opportunity to explain the results and provide clarifying information. Prior criminal convictions do not automatically preclude employment.
  • Human Resources is responsible for evaluating the relevancy of the candidate’s criminal history to the position the student is seeking. Human Resources may also seek advice and guidance from other University offices, such as the MSU Police Department and Office of the General Counsel.
  • The assessment of a student’s criminal history will take into account:
    • The nature and gravity of any criminal offense(s);
    • The individual’s age at the time of the offense(s);
    • The number and type of offense (felony, misdemeanor, traffic violations, etc.);
    • The sentence or sanction for the offense and compliance with the sanction(s);
    • The amount of time that has passed since the offense and/or completion of the sentence(s);
    • Whether there is a pattern of offenses;
    • Whether the offense arose in connection with the student’s prior employment;
    • Information supplied by the student about the offense(s);
    • Work record and references after the offense(s);
    • Subsequent criminal activity; and
    • Truthfulness of the student in disclosing the offense(s).
  • The University may decline to hire any student whose criminal history the University deems incompatible with the position the student is seeking.
  • Appointments may not receive final approval until the required background check has been performed and the results received and assessed.
  • In order to provide the maximum degree of protection for the student’s privacy, all records related to criminal background checks will be maintained in a secure location separate from employee personnel records. Criminal background check records will be maintained on a confidential basis to the maximum extent allowed by law.
  • Any student who provides false or misleading information will be eliminated from further consideration. If false or misleading information is discovered after an individual has been appointed, the individual’s employment may be terminated pursuant to the appropriate dismissal procedures.

Appeal Process:


  • If the student wishes to appeal any action taken as a result of the background check findings, the student may send a letter or e-mail to Human Resources, Attn: Graduate Assistants, 1407 S. Harrison Rd, Suite 110, East Lansing, MI 48823.

Human Resources:

  • A representative from Human Resources will meet with the student to hear the appeal.
  • Human Resources will consult with the Dean of the Graduate School or other University administrators, as appropriate.
  • Human Resources will communicate the decision in writing to the student.


1 Those students who have not previously held an assistantship with the University or who have had a lapse as a Graduate Assistant greater than six months.
2The University will rely on the background check conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in lieu of a University background check for individuals coming to the University directly from residence outside the United States.