Cornell University

Teaching Assistantships

Being successful in locating a teaching assistantship, as with many other areas of your undergraduate education, requires a certain amount of initiative and investigation on your part. The following should get you started. The Biological Sciences Program, the Department of Communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Department of Policy Analysis and Management in the College of Human Ecology are examples of departments which use undergraduate teaching assistants. Many other departments also offer teaching experience for undergraduates.

In general, to be eligible to be an undergraduate TA you have to do SOME or ALL of the following (requirements vary):

  • complete the course for which you want to TA and do very well in it
  • receive the instructor's permission
  • have a certain minimum GPA (cumulative and/or in a specific major)
  • demonstrate interest and enthusiasm in the area of study
  • have additional related coursework or experience as background
  • have the interpersonal skills needed to teach successfully
  • be a junior or a senior (usually preferred)
  • complete an application and be interviewed
  • submit letter(s) of recommendation
  • submit transcript(s)
  • have a specific major, or a closely related major
  • be able to make a two-semester commitment, if preferred
  • have a schedule compatible to the course times
  • register for the appropriate departmental teaching experience course after you have been accepted as a TA

    College of Agriculture and Life Sciences departments and Biological Sciences all use the same 4980 Teaching Experience course number, while Policy Analysis and Management uses 4030 Teaching Apprenticeship (See "Courses of Study" for complete information. Credits available vary.)

    Students in the College of Arts and Sciences may not use credits for teaching experience towards graduation requirements. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students may take no more than 15 credits of internship, teaching experience, or independent study courses.

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES courses currently offering opportunities to TA include: BioG 1050-1060 and BioMG 3300, BioMa 3310, BioMG 2810, BioMI 2910, BioEE 2740, BioAP 3190, BioMG 2330.

Undergraduate TAs may not assign course grades. Typically TAs must read additional material related to the course and teaching methods; most are required to write a paper based on their experience.

You may be able to locate additional undergraduate TAships by reviewing the "Courses of Study" or talking to individual professors for whom you would like to TA.