Types of Assistantships

Teaching Assistants

The University of Kentucky employs graduate assistants through its various educational, research and administrative units.

For application information, see Assistantship and Fellowship Information and Instructions for Applying. Department and research units award assistantships to deserving students based on the recommendations of the Director of Graduate Studies or the unit Chair or Director. A Notice of Appointment to Graduate Student Academic Staff (GSAS) for delineating terms of appointment and assigned duties must be submitted to the Graduate School Funding Office through the online form.


Teaching assistants are employed by academic departments and are responsible to the Department Chair, Director of Graduate Studies, or other appropriate academic officer within the department. TA's are subject to policies in effect within their department and college in which they are employed. Teaching assignments, workload, and compensation may vary within the employing college. All teaching assistants are carefully supervised and guided in their duties and responsibilities. In departments which employ TA's, an experienced teacher or a specialist in teaching methods provides guidance and supervision in assigned instructional activities.("Policies Relative to Teaching and Research Assistants") (Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:2).

Teaching assistants are selected on the basis of their past teaching experience or on their academic potential to be effective instructors in their field of training. TA's who have primary responsibility for teaching a course for credit and/or for assigning final grades for such a course must have completed at least 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline and hold at least a master's degree. If this criteria is not met, TA's must have earned at least 18 graduate semester hours in their teaching discipline, be under the direct supervision of a faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline, receive regular in-service training, and be regularly evaluated.


The duties of teaching assistants (TA's) may include full classroom responsibilities, instructional assistance in a laboratory or discussion session, or other related activities.


All new teaching assistants are required to attend the university-wide TA orientation program at the beginning of their first semester designed to provide an overview of effective pedagogical strategies and to inform them of their upcoming duties, rights, and responsibilities. Most departments also conduct an orientation and training program to guide TA's in their specific classroom or laboratory responsibilities.

International TAs

Prior to beginning their duties, International TAs (ITAs) are required to attend and participate an orientation program designed to aid them in their transition into the American university classroom, acquaint them with campus resources useful in their roles as teaching assistants, and introduce them to institutional policies relevant to ITAs. ITAs who are non-native English speakers are also required to participate in a language screening, which evaluates the ITA's English language skills with regard to readiness for instructional responsibilities. This evaluation, conducted by a committee of faculty, staff, and undergraduate students, is under the purview of the Dean of The Graduate School. Screenings include a representative from the ITA's educational unit. ITAs who earn a score of unconditional approval will be assigned appropriate duties in their department. ITAs who receive conditional approval or who are not approved for teaching will be assigned other duties until they have earned an approval score on the language screening. An ITA not approved for teaching will be rescreened by a Committee at a later date. (ITA Language Screening Information) (See also - "Policies on International Teaching Assistants" Univ. Administrative Regulation 5:3)


Research Assistants


Research assistants (RA's) are employed by many of the University's academic departments, as well as administrative and research units. Some RA's are employed by a research or administrative unit outside their departmental or disciplinary interest, but in a program of research to which the RA brings certain knowledge or skills of value to the project.


Specific responsibilities within a department or center may be assigned by the unit Chair, Director, or Director of Graduate Studies. Responsibilities may also be assigned by a faculty member as part of that individual's specific research grant or contract. In such cases, students' research activities may be directly related to their field of specialization or to a thesis or dissertation topic. RA's should be provided with a clear indication of the assigned duties, the person(s) to whom they are responsible and by whom their performance will be evaluated.


Graduate Assistants


Graduate assistants are employed by some of the University's academic departments, as well as administrative offices on an "as needed basis." GA positions assist Directors of Graduate Studies, manage special projects or work in a clerical capacity within a variety of university departments. Non-departmental positions select candidates from many areas of graduate studies and information is usually made available through your department via email.


Responsibilities of GAs will depend on the department of employment.