Teaching Assistant / Graduate Assistant Program

Revathi Krishnaswamy

Graduate Coordinator
Faculty Offices 109 


Ryan Skinnell 

Teaching Associate Coordinator 
Faculty Offices 111

Selected graduate students work for the Department of English and Comparative Literature as Graduate Assistants or Teaching Associates.

Graduate Assistant (GA)

Most GAs help professors who are teaching large classes or multiple sections of composition classes. Their duties may include grading papers, helping design lessons, teaching an occasional class or portion of a class, and holding conferences with students. Some GAs help professors with scholarly research or administrative tasks. See below for a description of workload expectations and benefits.

Teaching Associate (TA)

TAs are faculty members as well as students. They work under the supervision of the TA Coordinator and are the instructors of record for one or two sections of English 1A or 1B, or 2 per semester (depending on the needs of the department). They are thus responsible for all elements of the course, from syllabus design to final grades, with support and guidance from the TA Coordinator and the Writing Programs Administrator. The TA Coordinator will hold meetings and individual conferences, visit TA classes, review syllabi, and advise TAs throughout the year. All TA classes are also formally evaluated by students, using the University's standard forms. See below for a description of workload expectations and benefits.


Some graduate students also work outside the department as Tutors for the University Writing Center or Peer Connections. See their websites for details about applying.


There is one course requirement for a TAship: English 259 Seminar in Composition Studies. This course must be taken prior to the first semester of teaching, but it is generally offered only in the Fall semester. Applicants are strongly encouraged to take this class in their first semester in the MA or MFA program. English 259 can be waived on a case-by-case basis for candidates who have fulfilled a similar requirement elsewhere. Please contact the TA Coordinator, Dr. Ryan Skinnell, at ryan.skinnell@sjsu.edu to inquire about such a waiver.

Application & Deadlines


TA applications are due February 26, 2024, followed by interviews with the MA Advisor and the TA Coordinator. Check the most recent Graduate Newsletter for specific deadlines. GA applications are due April 1, 2024.

GAships and TAships are awarded on the basis of written applications, resumés, relevant prior experience in teaching or tutoring, students' academic records, letters of recommendation, and performance in an interview. Graduate students typically work as GAs before being awarded a TAship. TAs usually begin by teaching English 1A; if they teach a second year, they may teach English 1B or English 2, depending on the needs of the department. 

To apply for one of these positions:

To apply for a Teaching Associate position, please submit copies of the following to the TA Coordinator, Dr. Ryan Skinnell at ryan.skinnell@sjsu.edu:

A letter of application describing your interest in the position, any experiences you have that prepared you to teach writing, and goals for which teaching writing might help you prepare.

  1. One of the following: a sample writing assignment sheet, a description of a lesson you would like to deliver, a sample writing course syllabus, or a writing sample.
  2. Three letters of recommendation (at least two of which should ideally be from faculty).
  3. Please have these letters sent directly to the TA Coordinator, Dr. Ryan Skinnell at ryan.skinnell@sjsu.edu.

To apply for a Graduate Assistant position, please submit copies of the following to the GA Coordinator, Dr. Revathi Krishnaswamy at revathi.krishnaswamy@sjsu.edu:

  1. A letter of application describing your interest in the position, any experiences you have that prepared you to be a GA, and goals for which a graduate assistantship might help you prepare.
  2. A writing sample
  3. Three letters of recommendation (at least two of which should ideally be from faculty).

Please have these letters sent directly to the GA Coordinator, Dr. Revathi Krishnaswamy at revathi.krishnaswamy@sjsu.edu.

Benefits, Salary, Workload, Fee Reimbursements & Employee Parking Permits

Working as a GA or TA enhances one's professional development. Graduate students who intend to pursue a career in teaching, particularly at the college level, will gain valuable experience collaborating with professors and trying their own hand at such activities as leading discussions, grading student work, and doing research. Applicants to doctoral programs are more attractive when their MA study includes teaching or GA experience. One TA serves on the department's Composition Committee.

For Benefits and Salary information, please visit the University Personnel website.

GA workload is ten hours of work per week during the semester. Although this can vary, it should never average more than 10 hours per week.

TAs will receive fee reimbursement during the semester(s) in which they teach. The fee reimbursement covers mandatory campus miscellaneous fees and mandatory state university fees at the California-resident tuition level. Those teaching one course will have fees reimbursed at the “graduate 1.0 to 6.0 units” rate.

The Department Analyst oversees all appointment and fee waiver paperwork, office assignments, copier codes, and other administrative matters. TAs get a department mailbox and a shared office with a shared phone, desk, and computer.

TAs may purchase a faculty parking permit. Faculty parking is almost always available at the top of the 7th St. garage. For more information, please visit Parking Services Employee Permits.

Requirements & Cautions

Per Senate Policy [S00-7], “To be eligible, graduate students shall be enrolled in classified status in a graduate program of study, for a minimum of three units of coursework per semester. For one semester only, students who have already served as a TA or GA who are currently enrolled in fewer than three units are also eligible for employment. If fewer than three units a student should be enrolled in at least one unit or be in the process of completing a Satisfactory Progress (SP) grade. Exceptions to the eligibility requirements will only be granted in rare and unusual circumstances. Exceptions can be obtained via departmental petition approved by both the Office of Faculty Affairs and the Office of Graduate Studies and Research.”

GAs and TAs do challenging work, sometimes with long hours. It can be difficult to handle the dual roles of graduate student and part-time instructor, especially for students with other time-consuming commitments. TA duties include preparing lessons plans, teaching classes, holding at least one office hour per section taught, attending meetings, and responding to at least 8,000 words of writing from each composition student (more than 700 pages of writing for the average 1A class) in a timely fashion.

In addition to teaching their classes, TAs must attend meetings every other week (usually on Wednesdays from noon to 1:30). They must also attend mandatory training sessions and department meetings in the Spring and Summer prior to beginning their teaching assignment.

TAs will generally be offered one section per semester, but depending on department need, they may be offered a second. TAs may teach no more than two classes (8 units) per semester. There is a four-semester limit for TAships. Although the department tries to accommodate TA preferences, re-appointment after the initial semester is not guaranteed. Also, you might be offered only one class when you would prefer two, or be offered English 1A when you prefer 1B or 2.

English 1A, 1B, and 2 are General Education classes serving the University as a whole. They are not creative writing classes nor introductions to literature. Accordingly, literary texts may constitute only a small portion of the reading material for these courses based on program guidelines. For more information, consult the composition section of the website.