AI/TA Course Appointment Policy

Communication Studies Department graduate students can be funded in two ways, either as

  • Multi-semester commitment - students who are offered funding during the initial admissions process are multi-year commitments (eight long semesters for doctoral students, four long semesters for master’s student)
  • Semester-by-semester basis – students offered funding at the beginning of the school year are offered funding on a semester-by-semester basis

If a student is appointed for at least 20 hours for 4 1/2 months, the student will receive from the first day of employment, the following benefits:

Communication Studies Department has two paid positions that can be offered to graduate students: Teaching Assistants (AI) and Assistant Instructors (TA).

At the University of Texas, Assistant Instructors must be doctoral students. However, not all funded doctoral students will start working as an AI. Funded doctoral students with little teaching experience will be assigned to TA positions while taking the introductory teaching class, CMS 398T and then can move to teaching their own classes as Assistant Instructors.

Assistant Instructors teach their own classes such as:

  • CMS 306M Professional Communication Skills
  • CMS 310K Team-based Communication
  • CMS 313M (Survey of) Organizational Communication
  • CMS 314L Language, Communication and Culture
  • CMS 316L Interviewing Principles and Practices
  • CMS 317C Speechmaking and Society

Generally, the first course AIs teach is the introductory public speaking class, CMS 306M. In later semesters, doctoral students may indicate interest in teaching other freshman and sophomore level classes, such as those listed above. Doctoral students may indicate interest for the opportunity to be the Course Coordinator for 306M or Head TA for 315M.

Graduate student AIs are picked for this sort of assignment based on consideration of these factors:  1) The AI’s academic preparation, including relevance to the course matter taught. 2) The AI’s record of teaching, including course/teacher evaluations and written evaluations from previous course supervisors, and acceptable grade inflation figures. 3) The AI’s appropriate progress toward a degree and strength of achievement during that progress. 4) Specific preparation for the specific course, including but not limited to “shadowing” other instructors of the course. 5) The course coordinator for 306M must in addition possess administrative competencies as well as teaching competencies, editing competency for the course book, and the ability to deal effectively with other grad students (coaching, feedback, etc.)  6) An ability to work well with support personnel in technology, office staff, other instructors, and so forth.

There is no “application” process, although AIs may express interest in teaching a course to the faculty supervisor of the course.  In all cases, the decision to appoint an AI to teach one of these opportunities is ultimately the responsibility of the faculty supervisor of the course.  All such courses have faculty supervisors.  The department chair and executive staff consult with these supervisors in assignment of AI’s to the courses.

Masters students are funded as Teaching Assistants and do not teach their own classes. The duties of a TA include creating exams, grading papers and exams, and meeting with undergraduate students and answering students' questions. The department offers several large lecture classes per semester with a need for TAs such as:

  • CMS 315M Interpersonal Communication Theory
  • CMS 332K Theories of Persuasion
  • CMS 334K Nonverbal Communication

Initial funding is offered on a half-time or twenty hour basis. As a Teaching Assistant, the teaching load is usually being a TA for one large lecture course of about 100 students. Courses larger than 100 students will have multiple TAs. Occasionally, TA's have a split assignment working 10 hours for two smaller undergraduate courses.

As an Assistant Instructor, half-time is teaching two courses. After doctoral students have taught for a year and if there is a departmental need, some students may teach three classes or a ¾ time basis or 30 hours. Summer teaching funding is available for about three to four graduate students and usually goes to students who have high teaching evaluations in previous semesters. We do try to “spread the wealth” and not appoint the same graduate students to teach every summer. See Summer Teaching Policy.

Learn more about how the department assists graduate students financially on the Financial Assistance page.