Information for Teaching Assistants

As a Teaching Assistant (TA), you are an important and integral part of teaching and learning in the Faculty of Environment.

TAs support our faculty to improve the quality of our teaching and generate an enriched learning experience for our undergraduate and graduate students. The teaching assistantship is also an opportunity to develop skills that will support your subsequent academic and professional careers.

Please review our University's policies, guidelines and procedures. Policy 30: Employment of Graduate Student Teaching Assistants applies to currently-registered graduate students in any graduate program offered by the university, doing work which forms a normal part of a teaching assistant (TA) assignment in any program leading to a degree or diploma offered by the university. 

TA allocation and assignment

In the Faculty of Environment, teaching assistantships are offered to research graduate students as part of their funding package. The number of teaching assistantships to which a student is entitled is detailed in their offer of admission.

Each term, the Faculty and your department/school assigns TAs to courses on the basis of their background and skillsets. In the term prior to your teaching assistantship, your department/school will ask you for information on your teaching-related skills and/or the undergraduate courses in which you could serve as a TA.

After collecting this information, TAs are matched to courses based on their skillset and the subject material in the course as best as possible. You will be notified of your TA assignment near the beginning of the term.

A normal full TA assignment constitutes 160 hours of work in a term or an average of 10 hours per week, although your hours worked may vary from week to week. A ½ TA assignment comprises 80 hours per term or an average of 5 hours per week. Other TA assignments, comprising different hours, may occasionally be assigned.

Before you start your TA

At the start of term, you should consult with the instructor of the course to which you are assigned as a TA.

With the instructor, you are expected to complete a Time Allocation Form and return it to your departmental Graduate Program Administrator.

The following questions may provide a framework for your discussion with the course instructor:

  • What is structure of the course – lectures, labs, tutorials?
  • What are your duties and responsibilities as a TA, including; preparing for and running labs or seminars, grading tests/assignments and providing feedback, attending lectures or other regular meetings, holding office hours, etc.
  • What is grading structure and timetable?
  • Are there reference materials – such as a textbook, course notes, etc. – that I should have for course?
  • What are the assignment submission dates? How will marking be distributed to TAs?
  • What is the turn-around time for returning marked papers and how is this done?
  • How are marks recorded?
  • Are extensions allowed? How are they approved and recorded?
  • Will the instructor provide marking keys or schemes?
  • How much feedback should be provided on tests and assignments? What form should it take?

How TAs are paid

TAs are paid on a monthly basis in accordance with the University of Waterloo's rates for Graduate Teaching Assistantships.

Payments are made by direct deposit to your bank account, in monthly instalments on the last Friday of each month.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships are considered employment income and are subject to statutory deductions for income tax, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions and Employment Insurance (EI) premiums.

In addition to the monthly payment, students in the Faculty of Environment who hold a TA as part of their funding package also receive a Graduate Experience Award (GEA) for the term in which they are a TA. The GEA is paid to your Quest account and is not subject to deductions. 

For Spring 2021, Fall 2021 and Winter 2022, the Faculty of Environment GEA is worth $1250.00 (Full TA) / $625.00 (Half TA).

More information and resources for TAs

If you have questions or comments about the content of this page, please contact the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies: Peter Deadman