Teaching Assistant Policies

Policies for Teaching Assistant Appointment and Assignment




The Department normally expects that all incoming Ph.D. students will have some form of funding. These most often come in the form of intramural Teaching Assistantships (TA-ships) or Fellowships. Most incoming Ph.D. students receive a written offer of four (4) consecutive years of employment as a TA (or 8 semesters) at a rate that matches the GEO contract minimum salary for a 50% appointment (i.e., 20 hours/week). Hence, most TAs in our unit are either first, second, third, or fourth-year recipients of these four-year guarantees of support.



The Department may have additional TA-ships at the standard 50% appointment available to M.A. and M.A.T. students, as well as Ph.D. students beyond their fourth year of funding. Likewise, it may have summer TA-ships available. The Department sends announcements to the History grad student email listserv, Hgrad, asking those who are interested to apply for a summer TA-ship and/or a regular TA-ship for one or both semesters of the following academic year. The application informs students of the estimated number of TA-ships available (for summer) and requests information on students’ availability, qualifications, and previous TA experience.


The Department will endeavor to make year-long appointments to the students who request these additional TA-ships following their initial four years of guaranteed funding. In most cases, Ph.D. students who need a fifth year of funding will receive the highest priority. Thereafter, the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), in consultation with the Graduate Advisory Committee, will award any remaining TA-ships by taking into account the students’ year in the program and their availability during scheduled class and discussion section times (if students elect to provide this information). In addition, the advisors of M.A. and M.A.T. students who request a position will be consulted to ensure that accepting a TA-ship will not negatively affect students’ time-to-degree progress. Finally, preference will be given to those Ph.D. students making clear progress toward the degree, as well as those who have held the fewest TA-ships relative to other applicants. When awarding TA positions to students who are not in their first four years of guaranteed funding, preference will generally be given first to doctoral students (following the criteria mentioned above), and second to students in the History M.A. and M.A.T. programs.


On rare occasions, the Department may have available appointments of GAs or TAs at 25% (half the normal TA appointment, or 10 hours/week). These assignments are made at the discretion of faculty whose research funds support the positions.




The Department will assign TAs to specific lead instructors/classes based on student and instructor preferences; students’ fields of study; previous TA experience; and availability during class and discussion section times. Each semester, the DGS asks students and faculty to submit ranked lists of preferences for TA assignments. Where possible, the DGS assigns students to one of their requested courses. To the extent possible, the Department also seeks to provide TAs with a range of teaching experiences, including working in grader positions, in large lecture courses with sections, and teaching across a variety of historical periods and fields. This often means assigning students to different courses each semester in order to broaden their pedagogical training.


Assignments are made first to students who are still within their first four years of guaranteed funding and to whom the Department is contractually obligated to provide TA positions. Following that, the DGS assigns the remaining available positions to students in years 5 . Only then does the DGS turn to interested MA and MAT students if positions are still available.


Online TA Assignments:

The Department typically has a small number of online TA positions available during the regular academic year. Each Spring, an Online TA Application is distributed via the History graduate listserv, and interested students are invited to apply for consideration for one of these online positions. The first priority for these online assignments is given to students who have a pressing need to be away from Chicago, whether for research interests or personal reasons. Students living outside of Chicago who are still in the first four years of the program are typically given priority in assigning these positions. Because of the limited number of online positions, the Department seeks to rotate these assignments among interested students.


Summer TA assignments, many of which are online, are made on a rotating basis, typically prioritizing students who are still in their first four years of the program and have passed their comprehensive exams. In practice, this means many students will have the opportunity to teach summer session only once during their time at UIC.