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How to get Teaching Assistantship (TA) in Graduate School USA ? Planning ?

How to get Teaching Assitanships in US Graduate SchoolsOne of the best sources of funding in Graduate school when pursuing Masters program like MS or MBA is to get a Teaching Assistantship. Many students do not exactly understand the way how they are awarded and how to plan or prepare yourself to get one.  I will share few thoughts on How TA awarding works and what they look for, etc. If you are not sure what TA is, read this article : Teaching Assistantship (TA), GA Funding in US

What are the requirements to get Teaching Assistantship (TA) ?

TA is awarded based one or more of the following requirements below:

You will be eligible to be TA for a particular class

  • If you have taken that particular class and got a good grade (Ideally “A” or “ A—“ )
  • If you have taken a more advanced class than that particular class you are applying to be TA. i.e. if you have taken 700 level class and applying for a 400 level class in the same area, then you will be eligible. E.g. If you have 700 Computer Graphics, then you are eligible for 400 Computer Graphics. Read this article for Course Numbering System 100 – 900 in  US
  • If you have taken a similar class in your home country with  most of the topics covered.
  • If you have any research publications related to that topics tied to that class
  • If you have some significant work experience in the area of the class you plan to be TA.
  • If you are in the first semester and applying for TA, then your Academics percentage, GRE and TOEFL scores may be considered.

How to prepare yourself or Plan to get a Teaching Assistantship(TA)?

Many people do not properly plan for TA, that’s the reason they do not funding. Most of the times now-a-days it is not very common to get TA awarded right in your I20 along with your admission. Typically, students would study for one semester and then you apply for TA. Here is what you should do:

  • Many students overlook the importance of taking right classes for funding. You should plan to take classes, where you see an option for TA openings in next semester. Think of it, if your senior at school has a TA for a class and he is there for next couple semesters there is no way you are going to get that TA. He has experience and most likely professors will keep their previous TA. So, if you take a class that, that is waste of your time for funding. You should take classes where your seniors will be graduating and there is potential chance of vacancy. You should talk to seniors to get this info about which courses TA will graduate in next semester.
  • You should take advanced level classes that are tied an Undergraduate class. The key is, if you take a 700 level class with a 400 level prerequisite, you can apply for 400 level class if you get good grade in 700 level class.
  • Having good Academic percentage or grade, GRE scores will help you distinguish.
  • If you have option to do research or do conference publications, do them with your professor. You can show them to US professors and ask for funding
  • Your work experience also helps. If you have option to teach to someone in Summer break or any teaching experience, it may help.

Bottom line, proper planning of classes by talking to seniors will help you get TA.  Make sure you get an”A” Grade in the class.

Do you have any other tips for getting TA ?

Image Credit :http://tulane.edu/sse/eens/images/daniel_2-2_1.jpg


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  1. This year I finish French Filologia in Greece I want to come in USA for Masters with my husband and children in Texas can I do these.. thanks

  2. Hi,

    Im a third year student from bangalore doing my B.E in Computer Science . I wanted to know if i could apply for a position as a TA before i joining a university as I would get financial assistance right from the first quater.


    • Well, you can. But, unless you have previously done that course or the professor knows you or they are promising you some sort of funding, getting that could be hard. You can write to the admissions and the department and get some light on this as it varies by school. But, it is very tough to get TA in first semester. You can try for GA or RA.

  3. Hi,
    I have completed my undergraduate studies and I am currently planning for MS. There is an online course on edx.org called “Introduction to Evidence based STEM teaching” by Vanderbilt University. Will enrolling in this course improve my chances of getting a TA in the US?

  4. I am studying metallurgy in IIT and planning to do MS in Data Science…does switching this majors will have impact if I apply for TA since I have less background in Data Science

  5. Hi,
    I have score 96 in TOEFL, i am interested in applying for TA /RA. Should i consider giving TOEFL again as i heard min requirement is 100 in universities? Pls suggest

    • Jyoti, It depends on the school. Having a higher TOEFL score will not guarantee you TA or RA. It is very subjective and depends on a lot of factors. You can give TOEFL again, if the schools you apply to have higher average TOEFL scores for admission..

  6. I have scored 306 in GRE but I have an experience of 2 years in teaching. I teach B.tech students. I teach them about signal processing in which I want to do my masters. My academic CGPA is 8.04. I also have an experience of 2 years in IT sector. If I score well in Toefl, what are my chance to get a TA? Please be as specific as you can.

  7. Hey! I’m a second-year student of Spanish and Czech in Croatia. Being a native speaker of Croatian, I would like to know if I’m eligible to receive TA in Croatian at a university in the USA that offers it in their Slavic department. I would like to come to masters to the United States.

    Thanks in advance!

  8. Hello everyone,
    I´m a Colombian teacher who is interested in applying for a Spanish assistantship at a US university. I hold a master degree in TEFL, so what can I do?

  9. Kumar,

    I have a question I have a full-time H-1b. I understand you can go to school part-time. I was thinking about doing my masters in Engineering but my employer refused to pay for it. So Could I get a TA position while in school? or can I get any other type of scholarships, stipends or what can I get from school that would be legal. !


  10. hi Kumar,
    If I am not mistaken, the Universities in US provide financial assistance to students based on financial needs also. If this is true then how does a student show financial need to convince the department or the graduate school? What are the possible different ways that a student can employ to do so? Please suggest.

  11. Hi,

    I heard we can apply for RA and TA while we are applying to the colleges or universities…How far is it true?..Is it possible to get the funding right from the first semester?

    • Yes Simtha, it is possible. But, the reality is it does not happen often unless the school has lot of funding. Most of the times, PhD students get funding with admission, for MS students it used to be good, not anymore. Still, you can always talk to the admission coordinator or professor and apply, you lose nothing by applying.

  12. Hey Kumar,

    Great Post,

    But do you think it is feasible option in Universities with majority of Desi crowd. For Example I am going to USC, and seniors say there is no funding of whatsoever type in the i
    university and that makes USC a costly affair.

    And about on campus jobs, most of the technical jobs opening which I have seen requires knowledge of pearl, php and other programming languages. But as i am a fresher i do not have any experience or projects to show my skills.

    So, please advice what kind of on campus jobs can we search for if in this situation and I badly need an Internship so I would be more concentrating on getting good grades then earning part-time…

    • Rushil, I will agree with your seniors at USC, it can be tough if there are more desis. They do not necessarily expect you to have work experience, just whatever projects you have done in classes must be good. If you have not done, you can learn on your own… Anyways, read this article : How to get Part time On campus Jobs in US Universities . There are quite a few offices listed down there and quite a few strategies. You should get one if you try all of the strategies.


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