Teaching Assistant Guidelines

Teaching Assistantships are typically given to students not just with an advanced understanding of the subject matter, but also with the qualities of a course ambassador. There is a strong level of trust, confidence, and respect between the course instructor and the TA. These appointments are not strictly utilitarian; they are also honorific.

  • Student teaching assistants are appointed to assist course instructors in a variety of ways. Their responsibilities may include the following:

    • Attend class lectures, seminars, labs, studios, or conference sections
    • Research and/or prepare course materials
    • Manage and lead review sessions
    • Hold office hours for students to provide academic support
    • Monitor and outfit classrooms, studios, performance spaces, and/or labs for safety, organization, and instructional presentation
    • Assist and/or lead lab sections and field work  Assist in the organization of course-related events or projects, such as guest speakers, field trips, demonstrations, etc.
    • Some grading or scoring is appropriate, but TAs should never be used to grade examinations or quizzes where the evaluation is subjective or even borders on the subjective. Even where the evaluation is objective (or could better be described as scoring), the instructor should prepare a detailed answer key or rubric for TAs to consult. The use of TAs for grading should consciously be minimized and the portion of the grading for which they are responsible should never constitute more than 15% of the final grade.

    In all cases, instructors should make a conscious effort to convey to the students in their courses that the TAs, whatever the duties assigned to them, are working under close faculty supervision and have been given very little room to exercise their own discretion. Enrolled students should understand that the course instructor – and not the TAs – is completely in charge of the assignment of grades. 

  • While individual instructors may nominate appropriate candidates, the academic unit chair is responsible for coordinating the selection of TAs – after a review of all eligible candidates.

    • In most cases, only sophomores, juniors and seniors are eligible. First-semester first-year students and foreign visiting exchange students are not eligible to hold TA positions.
    • In some rare cases, first-year second-semester students can serve as TAs. But before recommending a first year student for a second semester TA position, the department or program chair must provide the Dean of the College with its rationale and receive authorization for the hire. Authorization forms are available here.
    • Students from the Graduate Program in the History of Art are eligible to serve as TAs for courses in the Art Department.
    • Whether graduates or undergraduates, the same policies apply regarding appointment procedures and uses of TAs for undergraduate courses. 
  • The hiring of the teaching assistants will be done by the department/program administrators via the HR System’s Manager Self Service module, only after recommendation by the chair of the department or program.

    • Academic units may hire TAs through the HR system at the time the TA is selected. TAs may be selected prior to the start of a semester or after it has begun.
    • TAs need to be hired/rehired for each semester. The HR department will inactivate TA positions at the end of each semester.
    • TAs are not hired during the summer months, nor during the Winter Study term (except by special arrangement for the intensive Winter Study courses).
    • For reasons both of instructional quality and equity in job distribution, students are not permitted to undertake TA responsibilities for more than 10 hours per week in a given semester.
    • It is possible for a single student to work as a TA for two classes in a single semester; but again, not for more than a total of 10 hours per week between the two.
    • Each academic unit has a unique billing code (account) for hiring TAs and is able to track employment expenses within the college’s financial database. The accounts are managed within the Dean of the Faculty’s office, so the expense of employing TAs does not accrue to department or program budgets.
    • Please note that when hiring a spring semester TA who is a first-year student, the unit chair must first obtain signed approval from the Dean of the College (Gretchen Long) and submit the signature form to the Manager of Student Employment (Janine Burt) between December 1 and January 15. See form here.
    • TAs may take on additional employment on campus, but cannot exceed 10 hours per week as a TA, nor more than 20 hours per week between all positions.
    • Those who manage TA hiring should check the Student Employment Inquiry in the HR System for other positions a TA may have.
  • The College commits very significant financial resources to its financial aid program, which has recently been enhanced, including the removal of student work requirements. Therefore it is not necessary to use the TA program as a form of financial aid. Student TAs should only be hired when necessary, and for the necessary number of weekly hours.

    • Effective with the 2022-23 academic year, undergraduate TAs are paid on an hourly basis at $14.25 per hour.
    • Ten hours each week is the maximum, although five hours per week is usually sufficient. Some instructors hire TAs for fewer than five hours per week.
    • Please be clear in setting expectations for TAs regarding the number of hours they are expected to work each week.
    • Students working as TAs must record the hours they work each pay period in the HR System and these hours will be reviewed and approved by each unit’s administrator.
    • Please be judicious in making TA appointments. Though this program is free to the academic units, TA spending falls within the Dean of the Faculty’s budget area and therefore unnecessary spending does put pressure on the financial resources available to the academic units and to individual faculty members.