The Grad TA application for Master's students and non-CS PhDs is OPEN. We will be accepting students on a rolling basis, so apply early! CS PhDs: do not use this application; there is a different process for you based on requirements and advisor demand.
Being a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) is a serious obligation that requires a firm and substantial weekly commitment on your part. A full-time GTA should average at least 12 hours per week, meaning that you may work more than 20 hours during occasional busy weeks, and less at other times. GTAs, unlike UTAs, are not paid by the hour; we pay you to do a job. If, however, you find yourself working a lot over or under the ~12 hour average, speak to the professor or grad program staff.
The GTA job may begin before the first day of classes and will usually continue through the posting of grades following final exams. Do not make travel arrangements for the end of the semester before discussing this with the professor.
All GTAs will be required to attend an orientation session at the beginning of the semester before classes start.
Duties vary between classes and between professors; in large classes with UTAs, the GTA role may require the organization of tasks and supervision of UTAs, while in smaller classes, the GTA will be expected to do everything on the professor’s list. Following are the most common duties.
- Grade – Responsibilities range from grading students’ assignments, course projects, and exams to setting up and supervising grading parties involving UTAs.
- Hold office hours – Most courses will have office hours in the evening. Office hours are used to answer student questions about topics covered in lectures, homework problems, etc. You may be asked to organize all office hours (GTA and UTA if applicable) at the beginning of the semester and/or hold office hours yourself, either as one of several office hour sessions or as the sole office hours provider outside of the professor.
- Lead a recitation/lab – Many classes have a section during which students get more application problems on topics covered in class. These can be taught by UTAs or GTAs, in pairs or alone. GTAs may have responsibility for creating the recitation materials, and guidance from the professor can vary greatly. At a minimum, leading a recitation or lab requires that you prepare beforehand, have answers to problem sets, and know the material well enough to answer questions that arise. This may require attending lecture regularly.
- Answer Piazza, etc. questions – Most courses use Piazza, plus email and Teams or Slack as a tool for communicating with students, the prof, and the other GTAs or UTAs. On Piazza, instructors can post course announcements and communicate important information to students. Students use Piazza to ask questions about logistics of the course or get clarification on the homework or a study problem. You may have primary responsibility for timely answers, or you may simply provide answers and help to other GTAs or UTAs. You may be in charge of setting up some or all of these services.
- Attend planning meetings – The prof will usually arrange a regular group meeting for all of that course’s TAs, or for only the GTAs and possibly the head UTAs; the meeting is used to prepare TAs for the upcoming week and to address questions and concerns that TAs may have. GTAs are responsible for communicating pertinent information to the TAs not in attendance at the meeting.
- Meet with student groups – Some project-based courses such as 308 or 316 will require that TAs independently meet with an assigned group of students.
- Administrative duties – GTAs may have to send emails and organize various UTAs (and/or fellow GTAs) for specific duties. GTAs will work closely with the Head UTA(s) in larger classes, and the Head UTA(s) may take on the organizing and emailing. Show your appreciation to your head UTA(s) for this big job!
- Attend lecture, scribe - Some faculty request TAs attend the classes, for a variety of reasons: because the course is structured like a lab and you will have duties helping the students, because there is a need for note-taking (scribing), because TAs may not be as familiar with the course content as needed, or because attending insures coherence with what is presented or reviewed in the recitations.
- Write homework and exam problems and/or solutions – These duties can vary widely depending on the prof: from expecting GTAs to write all of the homeworks, exams and solutions, with faculty review before publishing, to the opposite, in which the prof writes all homeworks, exams, and solutions, and the GTAs review before publishing. Some courses have a more collaborative experience between the faculty and GTAs.
- Write autograders and skeleton code for problems –
- Lead special review or “catch-up sessions” – The GTA might organize a review session (reviewing Discrete Math in Intro to Algorithms, for example) or a setup session (downloading and setting up required software) or a coding session (comparing, for example, how Python is different from Java.)
GTA pay is set by The Graduate School as a flat semester rate; a full-time GTA is paid $6100 per semester, half-time $3050, etc. PhD students receive the pay as a portion of their monthly stipend; the balance up to the semester’s stipend rate can come from a variety of other sources. Master’s students receive the GTA stipend spread in equal parts each month of the semester for Fall, and over the 4 full months of Spring in order to avoid pay complications caused by graduation.