Graduate assistantship expectations


To be considered for in-state tuition, all graduate students who are U.S. citizens must establish NM state residency.  First year students who are employed at least 10 hrs./week will automatically receive the resident tuition rate during the first 12 months.  Please note that the graduate school does not grant this waiver for domestic students beyond the 12 months. International students receive the resident tuition rate throughout their degree program as long as they receive at least a 10 hours assistantship.

Basic information

  1. The Director of Graduate Studies makes assistantship assignments every semester.
  2. All assistantships funded by the State General fund are teaching assistantships (T.A.s). The level of work for this funding is usually either 10 or 20 hours per week. Your performance in your assignments is important in determining the likelihood of your future financial support.
  3. In addition to the positions based on State General funding, faculty members may have funding from grants and contracts supported by government agencies or by industry. For the most part, the faculty members who have the grants or contracts select research assistants based on their skills and prior performance. As with State General funding, these positions are usually either 10 or 20 hours per week.

Your Responsibilities for Graduate Teaching Assistantships

  1. Assistantships start the week before classes and end when final grades are turned in (usually the Tuesday after finals week). You must be present the week before classes start, and make arrangements with your instructor about the day grades are due.
  2. Note that faculty must maintain grades and papers for years after the class has been taught. Make sure to maintain any spreadsheets or other graded material, just in case.
  3. Contact the instructor to whom you’ve been assigned at least one week before classes start. Note that each instructor may have different uses for their teaching assistants.  For labs, TAs may teach the whole section(s), prepare lectures and grade papers.  For courses, some TAs may be asked to grade papers only, while other TAs may be required to attend the classes, proctor exams, and grade papers.  Some instructors may even ask their TAs to teach some of their classes when they are sick or away on business.  Be aware that the assignment can vary widely among faculty and it is up to you to make sure you perform whatever tasks are requested.
  4. Throughout the semester, contact the instructor at least once a week with status and other information. Unless the faculty member approves your early leave, you are expected to stay on campus through the day that grades are turned in (usually the Tuesday after the last final).  You must also inform your supervisor whenever you plan to go out-of-town (when, where, how to contact you).  If the faculty member needs your help for those days, you are expected to be there to help them.
  5. Respond promptly to any e-mail or phone contact from the instructor.
  6. Proctor exams as necessary, arriving to class at least 5-10 minutes early.
  7. Grade exams/papers as quickly as possible. You need to look at the instructor’s syllabus and plan your time around grading these exams (or any other activity that the instructor/research faculty requests).  Your own classes do not come first.  Use good time management to make sure your own classes are covered but they cannot be used as an excuse for either not showing up for your duties or not completing your TA assignments.
  8. Have reasonable office hours and be available to undergraduates. Interact with undergraduates in a professional manner and respond to their requests promptly.
  9. Be accurate when entering grades into a spreadsheet and keep grade records up-to-date. Ask someone else or a fellow graduate student to check your work if you have any doubts.
  10. Treat students’ exams and assignments with respect. Do not eat, drink or smoke near your papers.  They should come back clean with only your graded marks on them.
  11. If more than one T.A. is assigned to an instructor (ex, PSY201 or PSY310), work with other graduate T.A.s to get the job done.
  12. Offer any assistance to the instructor if you see some place where help might be needed. Strive to go beyond what the instructor requires.

Evaluation of Graduate Teaching Assistants

Supervisors of graduate teaching assistants will use the department’s Teaching Assistant Evaluation Form to communicate the instructor’s expectations for his/her teaching assistant at the beginning of the term and to document the assistant’s performance in those tasks. The instructor and T.A. should meet early in the term to discuss the instructor’s expectations. The instructor and T.A. should meet at the end of the term to complete the rating portion of the form. Both the T.A. and the instructor should complete the ratings and discuss any discrepancies in the ratings. The final version of the instructor’s ratings will be added to the T.A.s permanent file and may be discussed by Psychology Department faculty at the annual evaluation of spring graduate students. Should the T.A. choose to do so, he/she may use the evaluations to document teaching effectiveness (e.g., when applying for jobs, awards, or fellowships).