Teaching Assistant (TA) Appointment Procedures


Who is a TA?

  • Responsibilities of Teaching TAs include having sole responsibility for teaching one or more course sections (i.e., all lecturing, office hours, etc.).
  • Responsibilities for Support TAs include any or all of the following: grading, leading recitations, providing administrative support, and clerical tasks.
  • Courses are also assigned Hourly Graders. Hourly graders are not TAs. Hourly graders are selected by the instructor according to the FTE provided by the TA Committee. For master’s students who would like to serve as a Grader- the minimum GPA requirement is 3.70. For bachelor’s students who would like to serve as a Grader- the minimum GPA requirement is 3.50.

Which Courses Get TAs?

  • The CISE Department TA Committee determines the number of TAs per course based on predicted enrollment and budget.

Who Makes TA Assignments?

TA Committee implements the assignment procedure of TAs to classes guided by the rules below.


We distinguish two groups of assignees:

  1. First semester students (FSS)
  2. Continuing graduate students (CGS)

CGS are students that have been CISE graduate students for one semester or more at the start of the appointment.

CGSgs are CGS with guaranteed support (also called ‘compulsories’).

Roughly, FSS are appointed by recommendation from the Graduate Committee, while CGS are appointed according to instructor recommendation. Every semester, the TA Committee assigns a number of TA slots reserved for FSS and CGSgs to particular courses. The number of slots is determined with input from the Graduate Committee, based on the need of the department to attract new, incoming students, and by the number of old commitments (fellowships, etc.). The distribution of slots to courses is determined by the TA Committee. Typically, the committee tries to distribute reserved slots equitably over lower level courses.

First Semester Students (FSS)

  • time = 1 week before reappointments are due (typically the last week of classes of the previous semester).
  • Until time, the Graduate Committee has the responsibility to select the pool of FSS eligible for the reserved slots.
  • At time, the Graduate Committee informs the TA Committee of the number of slots it has covered. The TA Committee places selected FSS in the reserved slots.
  • After time, instructors can recommend FSS for slots not covered. However, priority will be given to late Graduate Committee nominees.

Continuing graduate students (CGS)

  • All CGS wanting to be a TA must apply for TA positions by filling out our Online TA application form in the semester prior to employment. This includes CGS with guaranteed support. CGS are also advised to approach instructors of courses for which they are well qualified to solicit a recommendation for assignment to a particular course.
  • Instructors will be asked to recommend specific applicants from the TA database for unreserved slots of the courses they teach. Instructors are urged to interview candidates ahead of time to ensure their qualifications for, and interest in, a particular TA position. Instructors should let students know if a recommendation has been made.
  • Eligibility of applicants to hold TA positions will be certified both initially and when semester grades become available. GPA and score in SPEAK tests will be considered. All applicants must have a 3.5 GPA. Students may serve a maximum of 10 semesters as a TA. To be eligible for a TAship after his/her 4th semester at CISE (not counting summer terms), a CGS must have taken the comprehensive Ph.D. qualifying exam. The Graduate Committee can petition for an exception from the last rule on behalf of Ph.D. students with demonstrably exceptional circumstances.
  • Where possible, eligible applicants who have been requested by just one instructor by the due date will be assigned to those courses. In all other cases, the TA Committee will try to assign according to the following guidelines.
  • If more than one request for a given applicant is received by the due date, the instructors involved will be notified of the conflict and asked to resolve it on their own. If resolution is not achieved within 3 days, the TA Committee will assign based on the following factors:
    1. The skills/background/interest of the student vis-a-vis the courses in question,
    2. The student’s previous TA assignments (preference will normally be given to continuing course+instructor assignments),
    3. The student’s academic progress and scores,
    4. Any commitment the Department may have with regard to assigning the student a TA position,
    5. The number of instructor recommendations already acted upon favorably for the courses in question.
  • If an instructor recommends more than one student for a given position the following factors, in order, will be considered in determining which student is assigned:
    • The order in which the instructor ranked the students.
    • Factors (1) through (4).
  • If an instructor’s request cannot be satisfied, the instructor will be asked to make another recommendation after interviewing suitable, unassigned candidates.
  • If an instructor chooses not to recommend, TAs will be assigned according to (1) through (4).

Policy Regarding Periods of Absence for all CISE Teaching Assistants

All prospective TAs are required to identify any and all periods of time they expect to be absent from work from one week before the start of classes through the Monday following the end of classes (the day course grades are due). This information MUST be provided to Adrienne L. Cook (Coordinator, Graduate Student Adviser). This information and will be provided to course instructors (via the TAAS website or otherwise) BEFORE being asked to nominate TAs for assignment to their courses. After being provisionally assigned to a course, students who will be absent from work during the aforementioned period must meet with the course instructor within 2 business days to determine if acceptable accommodations for the absence can be made. If accommodation cannot be made, an alternative assignment will be sought by the TA Assignment Coordinator. If NO assignment can be found for which accommodations can be made, the student will NOT be appointed for the term in question.

Examples of work absences for which accommodation can usually be made include:

  • Brief trips required to renew a visa when the trip cannot be taken during a break period and when it does not involve taking extra time to visit home or relatives
  • Brief trips to present a paper at a conference or workshop within the US
  • Brief job interview trips within the US

Examples of work absences for which accommodation may not be possible include:

  • Trips to attend/present papers at one or more conferences or workshops that require being away from work for more than a total of 5 business days
  • Other professional trips that require being away from work for more than 3 business days

Examples of work absences for which accommodation will generally NOT be made include:

  • Vacation trips and other elective travel (during your term of appointment)
  • Attending non-emergency family events such as weddings, birthdays, etc. (during your term of appointment)