Carnegie Mellon University

Become a Teaching Assistant in Dietrich College

Teaching Assistantships (TAs) provide students a unique opportunity to support and educate fellow students, while working collaboratively with a CMU faculty member and growing personal and professional skills.

Find TA Opportunities By Department

What Does a Teaching Assistant Do?

While the TA role varies across different courses and faculty, some common responsibilities among teaching assistants might include: 

  • Grading papers, projects, tests, etc.
  • Holding office hours.
  • Leading recitation sections.
  • Leading discussion sections.
  • Assisting in laboratories or studios.
  • Supervising group projects.
  • Conducting review sessions of course content.

Why Become a Teaching Assistant? 

  • Gain valuable experience to add to your resume and to talk about in interviews.
  • Clarify future career goals and prepare for future Experiential Learning opportunities.
  • Enhance presentation, organization and leadership skills.
  • Develop relationships with faculty mentors.
  • Learn about different teaching models and styles.
  • Improve language and communication skills.
  • Refine the ability to balance multiple responsibilities and prioritize tasks.
  • Practice handling difficult situations.
  • Gain personal satisfaction from helping others.

How Do I Find and Prepare for a Teaching Assistant Position?

While the TA position in each course is different, here are some of the qualifications that might be needed to become a TA:

  • Prior completion of the course, sometimes with a specific grade earned.
  • Enrollment in similar courses.
  • Be a declared minor or major in the department sponsoring the course for which you wish to TA.
  • Good academic standing, sometimes with no academic integrity violations.
  • International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Certification (offered through the Student Academic Success Center) may be required for multilingual speakers.

Finding a TA Position

Each academic department hires TAs differently. Some have a formal application and interview process, whereas others may hire TAs more informally via conversations between the faculty member and a student. If you’re not sure where to start, your academic advisor is always a good first point of contact. The first step in finding a TA position is determining what courses or department you wish to TA for. Once you identify what department you’d like to work for, contact the department representative

Learn more about TA opportunities listed by department

Preparing to Apply

As with any job you might apply for, you want to be prepared with your application materials (i.e. resume and cover letter) and ready for a potential interview. The Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) can help you create or edit your resume and cover letter and can hold a mock interview with you to prepare. 

I got the job, now what?

Most departments host a TA training and/or orientation. Be sure to communicate with the department about any necessary paperwork or steps you need to take. 

What Resources are Available to Teaching Assistants? 

  • The Eberly Center’s Graduate and Undergraduate Student Instructor Orientation (GUSIO) training on how to create a welcoming climate, teach problem solving, conduct discussions, work one-on-one with students, and grade and provide feedback on writing or quantitative assignments.
  • The Eberly Center’s graduate student support resources, including workshops, one-on-one teaching consultations, classroom observations, early course feedback focus groups and lesson plan reviews.
  • Collected Wisdom," a compilation of teaching strategies and resources for TAs, written by TAs. Topics include setting and understanding expectations, how to effectively be in front of the classroom, best practices for supporting outside of the classroom, how to hold effective office hours, how to grade, guiding on the side and improving your teaching.
  • Student Employment Resources
  • The CPDC offers workshops on time management, study tips, group work, motivation/procrastination, etc.
  • Department Resources: some departments offer a handbook, a mentor program or a practicum to support TAs. You may also be observed or be given feedback from your instructor.

Meet Your Peers

Nicole Guccione

Nicole Guccione

CFA student with 2 minors in Dietrich: Ethics and Gender Studies
Class of 2023

What course(s) did you TA for?
I am a TA for the Dietrich Grand Challenge 1st Year Seminar Course called Intersecting Identities in Higher Education: Challenges and Opportunities (66-140).

Why did you decide to become a TA?
A TA position was a great fit for me because I was looking for a way to stay engaged in some new academic content and get to learn new ideas with the benefit of having part-time work as financial support.

What did you enjoy most about being a TA?
A lot of my studies revolve around social justice and intersectionality work, so helping with a course designed for first years on these topic has been really fulfilling and full-circle. I would have liked to take this class when I was in my first year, so it's great to see it being offered.

What did you gain from your experience as a TA and how has that impacted future employment or experiential learning opportunities?
The assignment that I primarily focus on has been reading current event articles and grading students' responses to them. It's been really helpful for staying up to date with current challenges facing students and getting a feel for the general student sentiment around these issues.

What advice do you have for future TAs?
If you're wondering about time commitment and if you have enough space to be a TA - consider your TA position as if it were another class. Would you have the capacity to essentially add an additional class to your schedule?

Victoria Chen

Victoria Chen

Statistics and Machine Learning Major
Class of 2025

What course(s) did you TA for?
I've been a 15-112 TA for 3 semesters!

Why did you decide to become a TA?
I loved 15-112 as a student and have enjoyed teaching in the past, so I figured I'd give TA-ing the class a shot.

What did you enjoy most about being a TA?
I honestly think TA-ing as a whole is a really fun experience, but if I had to pick, getting to meet so many different people and hopefully helping them understand the content are the best parts.

What did you gain from your experience as a TA and how has that impacted future employment or experiential learning opportunities?
I think the primary transferable skill you gain from being a TA is public-speaking. Teaching content on a weekly basis definitely hones your speaking skills, and in addition to that, having to field questions on the fly helps with learning to adjust your presentation in real time.