TAs/Readers/Tutors (IAs)

Position Descriptions

Instructional Assistants (IAs) consist of TAs, Tutors and Readers.

Teaching Assistant

A Teaching Assistant (TA) assists in the instruction of any upper or lower division course at the University under the supervision of a faculty member. The TA primarily assists the faculty member in charge of the course by conducting discussion or laboratory sections that supplement faculty lectures and by grading assignments and examinations. Graduate students registered full-time (twelve units or more) may be appointed up to 50 percent time (twenty hours/week) as Teaching Assistants during the academic year.


A Tutor provides tutoring to small groups (three or more) of undergraduate or graduate students who require additional help to understand a course or topical material. In some instances, tutoring may focus on improved use of the English language.


A Reader, on the other hand, assists a course instructor by grading homework, papers, or exams. Graduate students may be appointed up to 50 percent time (twenty hours per week) as Readers and Tutors.

Description of Duties

Description of Duties by Position - Please see the allowable duties for each position as agreed upon by the UC and Union in the table below. The red "X" indicates a duty that is not allowable under that position as agreed upon by the Union. Following the table are written descriptions for each position; both convey the same information.

Payment Information
  • Graduate students who are appointed as Teaching Assistants or Associates-In (sub 0, fixed salary) or Readers or Tutors, at a minimum of 25% for the entire quarter, are eligible for payment of graduate student health insurance (GSHIP) and partial fee remission that covers Tuition (formerly the Education fee), the Student Services fee (formerly the Registration fee) and effective Fall 2023, 100% of campus-based fees. Nonresident Supplemental Tuition (formerly Nonresident Tuition) is not covered.
  • Fee Payment Information for Academic Student Employees
  • Student Academic Title Pay Rates
Minimum Qualifications and Eligibility
  • All graduate appointees must
    • Be registered full-time (at least 12 units),
    • Be in good academic standing (maintain a GPA of 3.0 in upper-division and graduate course work and must not have more than a total of eight units of F and/or U grades overall), and
    • Meet the language requirement (only applicable to TA positions) as indicated below.
  • Graduate students can hold positions as TAs, Tutors or Readers.
    • Incoming graduate students (B.S./M.S., M.S., or Ph.D.) can submit TA and Tutor/Reader applications at the beginning of their first quarterDue to limited positions, it is a highly competitive process. Students are more likely to receive an offer after they have an established UC GPA. They can also apply to other departments as long as they meet the requirements of that department.
  • Undergraduate students can hold positions as Tutors and Readers.
  • All undergraduate appointtes must have a minimum overall 3.0 GPA

Language Requirement to TA

All UC San Diego graduate students whose native language is not English are required to demonstrate oral competency in the English language before they can be appointed as a Teaching Assistant. This requirement will be enforced irrespective of how long a student has been at UCSD or were waived out of the language requirement for admission to the MS/PhD program. Based on a student's last language exam, they can use the table below to plan how they will fulfill the language proficiency requirement:

ISPO webinar: New Fall 2023 Graduate Students: Teaching Assistantship & English Proficiency Requirements

Application Timeline

The call for applications for a TA, Tutor, and/or Reader position is sent to current graduate students via email. The application deadline is typically the end of the 7th week in Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters for positions beginning the next quarter. The application for Fall positions is sent to current graduate students via email in July, so please regularly monitor your UCSD email.

The ECE Department has a limited number of TA, Tutor, and Reader positions available. We strongly encourage students to investigate employment opportunities available outside the department.  Please visit ASES for information on academic employment positions that may be available in other departments.

IA Application Timeline

Teaching Credit - ECE 501
  • ECE 501 is a designated course for Teaching Assistants (TA), Tutors and Readers the quarter they are serving.
  • ECE 501 serves as teaching credit for graduate students who are working 10 and more hours per week.
  • If you are looking to enroll in ECE 501 under your instructor's name, please submit an EASy request.
    • Please indicate how many units (1-4) you would like to enroll in under the "Justification" section of the request.
    • If the professor that you are employed for is not populating on the EASy system, please email ece-ta@ucsd.edu so that they can help create a section for that professor. 
  • Enrolling in ECE 501 and the number of units (1-4) you register for must be approved by the instructor of that course.
  • Making an EASy request does not guarantee enrollment in the course.
  • ECE 501 cannot be used towards your degree and can only be taken for an S/U grade.
    • Details about S/U grading can be found here. S/U grades do not count towards the GPA.


Role of TA and Instructor
  • Teaching Assistants enhance the learning experience of UC San Diego students by complementing the activities of the course instructor. TAs receive training under the mentorship and supervision of the instructor.
  • Decisions made by TAs have a significant effect on their students' grades. TAs should carry out their responsibilities professionally, and be especially careful not to abuse their authority. TAs should evaluate student work objectively and fairly. In particular:
    • TAs may not agree to be paid as tutors for students in their class. These students would by definition receive preferential access to the TA. TAs should not become romantically involved with students in their class. Such involvement makes objective evaluation difficult and also raises questions of sexual harassment. If a TA has a friend or partner who is a student in the class, they should not grade that student's papers.
Work Attendance and Preparation
  • TA course responsibilities begin at the start of preparation for the academic quarter and continue until the final grades have been turned in--usually the Tuesday after the end of final exams. TAs are responsible for contacting the instructor of their course prior to the first day of instruction and for determining when their responsibilities have finished for the quarter.
  • TAs are expected to be present during scheduled office hours or sections. If a TA must cancel office hours or sections due to illness or another conflict, they should contact the course instructor about the possibility of having someone substitute to cover duties. The TA should notify their students as soon as possible if there will be a cancellation or rescheduling of the usual discussion section or office hours. 
  • TAs are expected to be adequately prepared for office hours and sections. For lab/discussion sections, it is common to spend as much time preparing examples or other notes as in the lecture itself.
Compliance with Academic Appointment Guidelines
  • TAs have academic appointments and must comply with all the regulations relating to such a position. These include regulations prohibiting Sexual Harassment, misuse of University property, substance abuse, and any violations of the law. The definitive source about such regulations is the UC San Diego Policies and Procedures Manual.
  • Graduate students who accept an offer of a Teaching Assistantship have a professional obligation to teach during that period. Students who are not able to fulfill their commitment to teaching should notify the department as early as possible so that a qualified replacement may be found. Only students with teaching appointments equal to or greater than 25% are eligible for partial fee remission. Students who elect not to teach, or who reduce their workload to less than a 25% appointment, must obtain tuition support from another source.
  • All completed assignments, exams, grades, correspondence, and other information about individual students in the class shall be kept confidential except where the student has given written consent. In particular:
    • No student in the class should ever be allowed access to a TA computer account or to TA files. Grade files on the computer should be kept protected. Grades should never be posted by name, nor by any identifying number such as a PID, other student identification number, or social security number.
  • These provisions are consistent with Federal and State privacy laws.
  • Graded assignments should not be left in a public place. Answer keys or exam materials should be kept secure in a locked drawer.
Office Hour Policy Information

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Safety and Well-Being
  • Emergency Numbers: Campus police: 9-1-1 from campus phone or 858-534-4357 (Help) form cell phone
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 858-543-3755
  • Most classrooms and labs have signage about where to evacuate if there is an emergency.

IAs may find themselves in a situation where there is concern about the well-being or safety of one or more individuals, including the IA themselves. This could include a highly distressed or upset student, a threat made by a student to harm themselves or others, or harassment of others (including the IA). It could take place in person, on the phone, via email or other electronic formats. These issues should be taken seriously. The IA must immediately report the incident to the instructor. If you ever feel there is an imminent danger (student harming themselves or others--including you), dial 9-1-1 or numbers above.

Instructional Assistant Resources

For more information about TA, Tutor, and Reader positions, please consult the following sources:

  1. Teaching Assistant Responsibilities   
  2. TA Training and Development Programs (Teaching and Learning Commons)
  3. Disability Counseling and Consulting
  • Please refer to the Grievance Procedures as outlined in the Union Contract Agreement, Article 11. Disputes regarding workload are not subject to Article 11, Grievance and Arbitration of this Agreement. For workload complaint procedure, please see Article 30, Workload.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
1. I will be a half time student this quarter, am I eligible to apply for an IA position (TA, Tutor, or Reader)?
  • Yes, however, you may only accept a 10 hours/week position or less for that quarter.
2. Do I need a Social Security Number (SSN) to apply/work as a TA?
  • No it is not necessary to have an SSN to apply for a position. Our Financial Support Coordinators will work with you on how to obtain a SSN once you have accepted the position.
3. How can I increase my chances of getting a TA position?
  • We recommend applying to departments across campus and emailing faculty for courses you believe you are qualified for, have taken classes with, and performed well with. You can include a brief 1-2 sentences about your qualifications, why you're a qualified candidate, and a copy of your resume or CV.
4. May I earn teaching credit as an IA (TA, Tutor, or Reader)?
  • Yes. Graduate students who are appointed as TAs, Tutors, and Readers can earn teaching credit or enroll in ECE 501 as long as they are working 10 and more hours per week. Please review the information above about how you might be eligible to enroll in ECE 501.

5. What is the ELCE?

  • The English Language Certification Program (ELCE) is a 10-minute assessment of your language proficiency and knowledge of basic course content. It will be a Question and Answer format - you are not being evaluated on answering questions correctly, but rather on how you communicate.
  • Please note that we only test students who have pending TA offers; you are not tested if you apply to be a TA.  

6. What happens after I pass the ELCE?

  • If you pass the assessment, you are eligible to TA. You will receive an official TA offer from the ASES shortly after your exam. 

7. What happens if I failed the ELCE?

  • All MS students have 2 chances to pass the ELCE and all PhD students have 3 chances to pass the ELCE
  • You can still accept a Tutor or Reader offer if applicable
  • If you do not pass the assessment, you will need to select from one of the following options to be eligible to retake the ELCE. Depending on the resource you select, you must provide evidence of your participation and completion. This may include
    • Option 1: A transcript of the acceptable courses (see below) and earn at least a “B” OR 
    • Option 2: A letter from the resource used outlining attendance and skills developed OR 
    • Option 3: You may try to retake the TOEFL or IELTS and get a TOEFL speaking score of 26 and higher or IELTS speaking score of 8.0 or higher. We would only recommend retaking the TOEFL or IELTS if you believe you can score at least 26 or 8.0 respectively on the speaking section.
  • Upon submitting the transcript, letter or new test score, we will verify that you are eligible to retest.

8. What does it mean to be class eligible?

  • Being class eligible means that you must take 1-2 classes to enhance your conversational and instructional English skills. Acceptable courses you can take through the English as a Second Language program include:
    • Advanced Pronunciation & Fluency
    • Pronunciation & Fluency
    • Grammar & Vocabulary Building
    • Effective Oral Presentation
  • Courses must be taken for a grade. The ESL course, “Conversation Improvement” is not offered for a grade, and therefore does not count toward eligibility. It is, however, useful for those students who are in need of developing basic conversational fluency.
  • UCSD Extended Studies courses cost money, which means you must pay for them out-of-pocket. Please see UCSD Extended Studies’ website regarding the request form and eligibility for the discount.  All questions regarding the discount should be directed to unex-reg@ucsd.edu.

9. What free resources do I have besides taking courses at UCSD Extended Studies?

  • Please refer to the Language and Communication Resources on Teaching + Learning Commons website for a complete list of free resources to improve your English skills.
  • If participating in these free resources, a letter from the instructor must be submitted with attendance and a list of skills worked on to the hiring department as proof of eligibility to test. Please include the following information in your letter of recommendation:
    • Your name and PID
    • The instructor/mentor's name and title and contact information
    • The program you were involved in
    • The length of time you worked together
    • A list of skills you worked on and your progress during the program