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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 Sunday of Week 2 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 7 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. 

Note: This TA processing timeline is subject to change.

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 sent to CogSci Student Services Office if applying to be a Non-Student Tutor.
Be sure to see details about employment information below.

Undergraduate Students

For more information on opportunities for UCSD Undergraduates, please visit our page on Instructional Apprenticeship (IA). 

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 28 or above are exempt from this requirement.
  • Students whose spoken TOEFL score is 23-27 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
For more information, please see the Graduate Division's policy here, and a helpful FAQ guide from the Teaching + Learning Commons here.

Fa24 TA Application


Note: CogSci graduate students YRS 1-5 are given first priority.  Then, CogSci graduate students YRS 6 and 7, followed by LCD, IDP, and HCD students and then by other PhD students in the School of Social Sciences.  Non-CogSci graduate student applications will be reviewed, as needed.  If you have any questions, please email CogSci Student Services Office.

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) with their TA assignment instructor every quarter they TA. For TAs with a 50% appointment, enroll in 4 units. Non-Cognitive Science Graduate students are not required to take COGS 500 unless the course is needed for units or for a student's program. 

  6. Note: Assoc-in-Teaching a Course should NOT enroll in COGS 500.

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

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. Non-Cognitive Science Graduate students’ tuition & fees will be paid for with a 50% TAship, unless told otherwise.

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

  7. 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.

TA/IA Training and Teaching Resources

Once hired as a TA or IA in Cognitive Science, be sure to complete all required training for first-time or new TAs/IAs.  Additional or optional training and resources are also available on campus and in the department.

1. Required: New TAs/IAs must complete the 2 hour “Preparing for Success: Online Course for New IAs” on Canvas (includes TAs and instructional apprentices).  The Graduate Division will be sending an email to new TAs/IAs with further information. 

2. Required: First-time TAs/Tutors/Readers must attend the UAW/ASE orientation before the start of the quarter.  Additional information will be emailed by Graduate Division and Cognitive Science department before the start of each quarter. 

3. Optional: The Teaching and Learning Commons’ Instructional Assistant Teaching Symposium welcomes TAs/IAs from across campus to choose their own path of asynchronous and live Zoom events. Priority registration for new TAs/IAs.  Workshops and courses are also available throughout the year.  

4. Optional: New and Continuing TAs/IAs can request a Teaching Consultation at the Engaged Teaching Hub, with CogSci grad students.


Department Teaching Resources

Faculty Advisor to TAs
Dr. Drew Walker

Provides training and advice to new TAs and IAs and may be consulted on best practices, TA welfare, and fair respectful treatment

CogSci Head TA
Aiden Iveris

Provides training and advice to TAs and may be consulted on TA best practices.