Teaching Assistants

Cognitive Science Ph.D. Students

The undergraduate program offers a special challenge to instructor and student alike, and experience with the teaching of that program can provide a valuable part of the education of a cognitive scientist. The department works closely with the Teaching + Learning Commons to design effective training and development programs for its Teaching Assistants.

All graduate students must serve as a Teaching Assistant for at least one quarter of each academic year in residence (students must TA for two quarters per academic year in years 1-4 for guaranteed funding).

The Department will invite applications for TA positions, generally due by Friday of week 6 in the previous quarter. TA positions will be offered to students based on a balanced consideration of multiple factors including the TA’s preferred courses, faculty’s preferences, specific expertise needed for each course, the TA applicant’s academic standing and stage, as well as the date on which the TA’s application is received. Offers for TA positions will in most cases be made by the end of Week 10 of the prior quarter. Cognitive Science graduate students with questions or concerns about the TA assignment process should contact the Graduate Advisor or the Faculty Graduate Advisor.

Teaching assistantships performed in other departments must be approved by petition to the graduate committee to count toward the requirement (petitions can be found on the Resources page). At the end of each quarter, instructors prepare evaluations of all teaching assistants.

Cognitive Science LCD Students

Model 2 requires that the doctoral student serve as a TA (SDSU) and/or TA (UCSD) for two courses. Please note that 1st year students are not eligible to TA. Students should also check with their advisor before submitting a TA application.

Non-Cognitive Science Graduate Students

Minimum eligibility requirements that must be met by the start of the quarter of TA assignment:
  1. Completion of at least a Bachelor's degree.
  2. A grade of A- or higher in the same or equivalent course/course sequence of TA assignment.
  3. A transcript showing degree conferral must be uploaded via the online TA Application.

Undergraduate Students

International Students

International students must pass the English Language Proficiency Certification Examination (ELCE) requirement prior to being hired as a TA for the first time.
  • Students with a spoken TOEFL score of 26 or above are exempt from this requirement.
  • Students whose spoken TOEFL score is 23-25 or who received a TOEFL waiver during admission must pass an in-person English Language Proficiency Certification Examination (ELCE) requirement prior to being hired as a TA for the first time. Students who have already passed the ELCE do not need to take it again.
  • Students with a spoken TOEFL score of 22 or below will not be allowed to take the certification test. Students who fall into this category should contact their home department Graduate Coordinator or the Cognitive Science Graduate Advisor at cogsphd@ucsd.edu.
For more information, please see the Graduate Division's policy here, and a helpful FAQ guide from the Teaching + Learning Commons here.

Spring 2020 TA Application

Note: CogSci graduate students YRS 1-5 are given first priority.  Then, CogSci graduate students YR 6, followed by LCD students.  Non-CogSci graduate student applications will be reviewed, as needed.  If you have any questions, please email cogsassistant@ucsd.edu.


Minimum TA Eligibility Requirements

  1. For academic year TA employment in the Cognitive Science Department, a student must be registered full-time (12 units or more).

  2. A graduate student must be in good academic standing, i.e.,

    1. Meet departmental standards including a satisfactory annual spring academic progress evaluation
    2. Maintain a GPA of 3.0 in upper-division and graduate course work
    3. Must not have more than a total of eight units of F and/or U grades overall

  3. A graduate student must be within the departmental time limits:

    Ph.D. Degree Aim: A doctoral student must advance to candidacy by the Pre-candidacy Time Limit (PCTL) and also be within the Support Time Limit (SUTL) to remain eligible for campus employment. In addition, no one may be employed as a teaching assistant for more than 18 quarters.

  4. An international graduate student whose native language is not English or who has serious pronunciation problems may not serve as a TA until s/he has passed the oral English Language Certification Exam.

  5. Graduate students must enroll in COGS 500 (4 units) every quarter they TA. For TAs with a 50% appointment, enroll in 4 units. 


TA Responsibilities

A teaching assistant (TA) assists in the instruction of an 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 section/s that supplement faculty lectures and by grading assignments and examinations.

Expectations for Satisfactory Performance. We encourage TAs to reach out to the instructor of record to go over the details of the course.  Duties typically required of all TAs are:

  • Attend all instructor-TA meetings.
  • Attend all lectures of the course they are TAing.
  • Lead one or more discussion sections as agreed at the time of TA assignment.
  • Assist with grading and proctoring.
  • Hold office hours.
  • Other duties as needed for a particular course, such as quizzes, preparation for sections, and lab demonstrations.

Performance Evaluations and Standards. TAs are evaluated by the instructor of the course and by the students they teach. TAs can access their evaluations at http://academicaffairs.ucsd.edu/Modules/Evals


TA Workload

A typical TA assignment with the department is a 50% appointment, or a total workload of 220 hours over 12 weeks. Most of these hours are accrued in the 10-week quarter and finals week (see Schedule of Classes). Depending on the needs of a specific course, instructors will inform TAs of the need to work hours in the pre-quarter week.


Employment Information

  1. The Cognitive Science department will contact you by email if you must complete employment paperwork.

  2. Graduate TAs are paid monthly. The payroll period for Fall quarter is October 1-December 31 (first check November 1). For Winter quarter, it is January 1-March 31, and for Spring quarter, it is April 1-June 30.

  3. Graduate students employed in Teaching Assistant title code 2310 are covered by a collective bargaining agreement between UCSD and the ASE/UAW.

  4. ASE/UAW membership dues will be deducted each monthly paycheck. 

  5. See the Graduate Division website for additional information concerning Academic Student Employment (ASE).

  6. Take a look at the Cognitive Science Department Useful Contacts for TAs and IAs for helpful information on the support faculty and staff at our department can offer. 


Remark Grading System Information

The Cognitive Science Department utilizes the Remark Scantron grading system for exams and evaluations. There are several steps you need to take to operate this automated grading system, including software set up. Please read the CogSci Remark User Documentation.