Essential Information for Teaching Assistants

Your First Semester

Required Courses and Preparation

Once you’ve been informed of your Teaching Assignment, review the training activities for your assigned program . TAs assigned to the Composition First-Year Writing Program must enroll in ENG 511, Theory and Research in Composition, in their first year to prepare for their assistantship. You may enroll in fall or spring.

TAs assigned to teach creative writing will shadow an MFA faculty member in their first year as they prepare to teach in the second year. TAs assisting faculty in Film or Linguistics will receive information from a faculty supervisor once these assignments are finalized. No special course registration is required for these teaching assignments in other areas. TAs in all programs will attend meetings and workshops, shadow a faculty mentor, and participate in other preparatory activities throughout the year. You’ll learn more from your TA supervisor during your orientation meeting.

Course Load and Registration Requirements (MA, MFA, MS)

The standard full-time graduate course load is 9 hours for all programs. You are considered full-time if you are enrolled in 9 credit hours or more during your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd semesters. In your 4th and final semester, you may enroll in fewer than 9 hours if that's all you need to complete your degree (3 hours at minimum). You will still be considered full-time for GSSP purposes.

Each semester you must be registered full-time by Census date (usually the 10th day of class). If you are not registered full-time by this date, your GSSP benefits will be automatically discontinued. Unfortunately, the Graduate School cannot make any exceptions, so please make sure that you are registered correctly. This means that you need to check the number of credit hours for which you are enrolled, not just the number of classes, as some classes have variable credit hours (e.g. ENG 636, 695). 

TAs are not permitted to take more than 9 hours in a semester while teaching.  In addition to supporting you as a teacher and as a graduate student, the English Department is responsible for supporting the undergraduate students in your classes--by ensuring that you are well prepared to teach them and that you have sufficient time to devote to them throughout the semester. If you have a compelling reason to take more than 9 hours, consult with the Director of Graduate Programs (DGP) and your TA supervisor. Overload requests are rarely approved.

Important! 18-hr Requirement (MA, MFA, MS)

TAs must earn at least 18 hours of graduate credit in the field of English in their first year in order to be eligible to teach their own ENG classes in their second year (in composition, creative writing, or professional writing). Please be mindful of this accreditation requirement as you select courses in your first year. Courses must have an ENG prefix to count towards these hours. 

Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP) Information 

Extent of Appointment

Teaching Assistantships are one year appointments renewable for a second year as indicated in your Terms and Conditions letter. All TAs are limited to two years by the terms of the Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP). TAs may take summer classes, but those who do pay their own tuition. Health insurance, however, remains in force during the summer.


Teaching Assistantships at NCSU are defined by the Graduate School as one-half-time appointments. The workload in English thus averages about 20 hours per week.  Depending on your teaching assignment, this workload may be somewhat lighter in the first year, when you’ll be beginning your training and assisting other instructors, and heavier in the second year, when you may be teaching classes of your own.

Constraints on Additional Employment

Please note that your appointment as a TA places some constraints on your eligibility for other employment on campus.  

--- First, of course, is the workload.  Your assistantship duties are designed with your full-time courseload in mind; you must maintain a 9-hour load and stay in good academic standing each semester to retain your assistantship. We do not recommend taking on additional employment lest it affect your success in one or both of these arenas. 

--- A second constraint is the campus payroll system. Students on assistantship are technically permitted to work up to eight or nine extra hours per week with the approval of their departments. But if that limit is exceeded you will be ruled ineligible for your assistantship (because you'll no longer look like a full-time student).  To avoid jeopardizing your TA appointment, check with the Director of Graduate Programs before you commit to any additional employment.


Students will receive an ebill approximately one month before the beginning of each semester.  For TAs, the in-state tuition charge is covered and the mandatory student health insurance fee is removed under GSSP.  Tuition and the student health insurance will appear on your bill, but you may ignore those charges because they will be removed at a later date.  TAs are responsible for other charges on the bill, including fees.  A thorough explanation of required fees is provided at the Student Services Center page, "Explanation of Tuition and Required Fees."  For more information about tuition, fees, and estimated annual expenses, please visit the Student Services Center page, "Tuition and Fees."  For information regarding fee payment, with Tuition Management Systems (TMS) or financial aid, please visit the “Bills, Payments and Refunds” page at Student Services Center.

Direct Deposit

Direct Deposit is mandatory for TAs.  The deadline is one week prior to your first paycheck.  Please refer to the bi-weekly pay schedule to see when you will receive your first paycheck.  Remember, your first day of hire is August 16th so please look at the payday for the pay period in which August 16th falls.  You will want to have direct deposit completed at least one week before your first payday. 

Information about enrolling in Direct Deposit can be found at the NC State Human Resources webpage entitled, "Direct Deposit Information."  

Please note, even if you completed direct deposit for financial aid, you must also complete direct deposit for your role as a TA.  

Health Insurance

You will be automatically enrolled in the GSSP health insurance plan if you meet the minimum requirements on the Requirements/Benefits at a Glance chart. You will be automatically waived from the Mandatory Student Health Insurance plan if you qualify for the GSSP insurance by the waiver deadline. The deadline is posted on the GSSP webpage


If you are considered a Non-Resident for tuition purposes, your GSSP benefits only cover one year of out-of-state tuition. You are REQUIRED to apply for in-state residency status once you have lived in NC for at least 12 months, as the GSSP will not cover out-of-state tuition your second year. As indicated in your Terms and Conditions document, it is your responsibility to complete the necessary "residency acts" in your first year to ensure you are able to convert to in-state residency your second year. Important: You must initiate those acts ("Some examples of residency acts include getting a NC driver’s license, registering to vote, registering a vehicle, and further actions which demonstrate ties to NC.") as soon as you move here, so that you will be able to document 12 months of residence before your second year begins.  Please review the Residency website and reference the Residency PDF to ensure that you complete an item for all three categories.  After 12 months of residency you will visit the residency website to complete the application.

For more information about the Graduate Student Support Plan, please review the
GSSP Handbook.

TA Carrels

All TAs are assigned to a carrel (cube). The carrels are located on the second floor of Tompkins. The cube assignment/directory is posted outside office T221 and outside the lounge. Cube assignments are posted at the start of classes each year. Once you know where you've been assigned, please choose your desk. The desks are set up to accommodate personal laptops and come with hutches for storage. Your desk and hutch may be locked as well. If you'd like a key for your desk, please see the Graduate Services Coordinator in Tompkins Hall 246. 

Computers, Printers, and Copiers

Please see the general guidelines for computer access and printing for all students, at the bottom of the "Essential Information for New Graduate Students" page for information regarding computers and printers.

Second year TAs are given an allocation for department copiers that are to be used only for their role as TAs. Please note: Print copies are limited to brief (1-2 page) handouts for classroom use.  Most teaching materials can be easily posted for students on a course Moodle site or made available through the libraries’ electronic reserve or via printed course packs.  In general, the English department is not able to subsidize the cost of reading materials for students.  


Each TA is assigned a mailbox located in the lounge on the second floor of Tompkins (261A).