Graduate Teaching Assistantships

A limited number of teaching assistantships are available to applicants in our masters programs. English Department TAs receive full tuition coverage along with health insurance and a modest stipend intended to help defray living expenses. Although tuition is paid in full, the arrangement does not cover university fees and other living expenses.

Availability of Assistantships

In the MA English and MS Technical Communication programs, we are able to offer assistantships to approximately one third of applicants. Assistantships are awarded upon admission and are only available for full-time students who begin their graduate work in the fall semester. In the MFA in Creative Writing program, all admitted students with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher are offered assistantships. To be considered for an assistantship in any program, you must apply by the Feb.1 deadline. Because our TA training program extends for the entire four semesters of the master's degree, we can only consider students for TAships when they initially apply for admission.

Teaching Assignments

Teaching assignments are based on departmental need and vary by program. See descriptions in the blocks below.

  • Most TAs in the MA and MFA programs prepare to teach composition in the First-Year Writing Program.
  • TAs in the MS Technical Communication program prepare to teach Undergraduate Professional Writing.
  • A smaller number of teaching appointments are available in creative writing, linguistics, film studies and literature.

Most graduate T.A.s in the M.A. and MFA programs will prepare to teach ENG 101, Academic Writing and Research, in the First-Year Writing Program (FYWP). These T.A.s assist ENG 101 faculty in the first year, participate in a one-week planning workshop the following summer, and teach their own sections in the second year. If you have an assistantship in the FYWP, you’ll follow the sequence of activities outlined below.

First year, Fall semester: Enroll in ENG 511, Composition Theory and Research,* in either the fall or spring semester of your first year. This course introduces prospective instructors to the theoretical and research scholarship that grounds current practices in writing pedagogy. You must earn a B or higher in ENG 511 to be eligible to participate in the TA program. In this first semester, you’ll also participate in meetings with FYWP Associate Director Zachary Beare to prepare for the mentoring semester. You’ll may also help plan and lead campus activities celebrating the National Day on Writing in October, under the leadership of the associate director.

First year, Spring semester: Shadow and assist a full-time lecturer in an ENG 101 class. TAs attend all class meetings of their mentor’s ENG101, in addition to attending weekly cohort meetings, maintaining a reflective teaching journal, and participating in ongoing programmatic professional development workshops. You will gain experience in these areas: designing and teaching mini lessons; designing and teaching whole class sessions; designing and teaching extended lessons across class days; conferencing with students (individually or in groups); and conducting formal and informal assessment. Mentors file mid-term and end-of-term readiness evaluations for each T.A., reviewed by the associate director. 

Summer following first year: Participate in a week-long course design workshop in May (directly following finals) to prepare to teach your own 101 course in the fall.

Second year, Fall semester: Teach one section of ENG 101 (4 credit hours). Enroll in ENG 624, Teaching College Composition.* This is the pedagogy practicum that supports the teaching cohort. Participate in FYWP professional development workshops. Mentors from the first year conduct classroom observations.

Second year, Spring semester: Teach one section of ENG 101. Participate in FYWP professional development workshops.

*ENG 511 and ENG 624 are 3-credit-hour graduate courses that may be used to fulfill open elective requirements in the M.A. or MFA program. In some M.A. concentrations, ENG 511 satisfies a distribution requirement. You must earn a B or higher in 511 in order to continue in the TA program.

GTAs in the M.S. Technical Communication program train to become instructors of record for ENG 331 (Communication for Engineering and Technology), ENG 332 (Communication for Business and Management), or ENG 333 (Communication for Science and Research).

GTAs participate in two semesters of observation, training, and preparation in their first year. The training is completed in conjunction with the Graduate School’s Teaching and Communication Certificate (TCC) Program. GTAs in the M.S. Technical Communication Program complete a specialized track in TCC and earn a transcript notation for successfully completing this program. More specific details are available on the Inquiry-Guided TA Training page. Here is a brief overview of the T.A. training process and experience:

First year, Fall: Enroll in TCC program, participate in TCC orientation through the Graduate School, meet with your T.A. mentor, observe experienced teacher(s), attend PW seminars, and complete the Inquiry-Guided T.A. Training program.

First year, Spring: Continue to attend PW seminars and TCC training, practice grading and participate in grade norming, practice delivering a full class session, create online resources and course materials, and get comfortable with classroom technology.

Second year, Fall: Teach ENG 331, ENG 332, or ENG 333 and participate in observations including pre-and post-meetings. GTAs teach a total of three sections (9 credit hours) in their second year; you’ll be scheduled to teach one section in fall and two in spring or vice versa. In the semester that you teach two classes, you will enroll in ENG 685 (MR Supervised Teaching) for 3 credit hours, the outcome of which will be a teaching portfolio.

Second year, Spring: Review ClassEvals. Teach ENG 331 or ENG 332 and participate in observations including pre-and post-meetings. Complete work for TCC including a professional development portfolio.

Program Contributions

T.A.s in the MSTC program also contribute to our teaching, research, and outreach missions in other ways during their four semesters at NC State. Examples of such activities may include:

  • providing program assistance (website support, social media coordination, administrative support for MSTC and the Professional Writing program)
  • participating in special projects (research to support program initiatives), and
  • taking leadership roles in the Technical Communication Association student association (event planning, assisting with the annual SpeedCon Unconference).

Teaching Assignments

Around half of the MFA students will prepare to teach undergraduate courses in Creative Writing.  In the first year they shadow an instructor teaching ENG 287—Explorations in Creative Writing—in  preparation for teaching their own sections in the second year. If you have an assistantship in Creative Writing, you’ll follow the sequence of activities outlined below.

First Year: Be prepared to attend an ENG 287 course in either the fall or spring semester of your first year. This mentored teaching experience prepares students to teach Creative Writing (287, 288 Fiction Writing, or 289 Poetry Writing) through observation and participation. T.A.s attend all class meetings, assist regularly as needed, meet periodically with the professor for mentoring and feedback, and participate in weekly cohort meetings on-line. You will gain experience in these areas: designing and teaching a full class lecture and creating an exercise on a specific craft technique; teaching a workshop across two class days; conferencing with students (individually or in groups); and responding to student writing. 

In whichever semester you do not attend the ENG 287 course, you will informally visit and observe the classrooms of tenure-track faculty and second-year T.A.s teaching ENG 287-8-9. 

Summer following first year: Prepare a syllabus for 287, 288, or 289 and meet with supervising teacher for discussion and approval.

Second Year: Teach a total of three sections (9 credit hours) of ENG 287, 288 or 289. You’ll be scheduled to teach one section in fall and two in spring or vice versa.  MFA faculty will conduct classroom observations.

Program Contributions

T.A.s also support the teaching mission of the Creative Writing program in other ways, including
program assistance (website support, communication, publicity for events), special projects (research to support program initiatives), teaching technologies (utilizing smart classroom projects). T.A.s might be asked to facilitate a well-planned class activity for a professor who is away at a conference or presenting a reading.

Students in the Literature concentration of the M.A. English are eligible for appointment as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) with the Literature faculty through a new pilot program. One such appointment is available in Fall 2018.

First Year. Fall Semester: The Literature GTA will take at least one, preferably two, graduate-level courses in their teaching area as part of their MA courseload. Spring Semester: The GTA will shadow a literature professor and make classroom visits to other undergraduate literature courses with follow-up discussion.

Second Year. In the Fall Semester, the GTA will co-teach a 70-student section of relevant course (ENG 208 or ENG 251). This will include meeting in August with the professor of record to discuss syllabus, expectations, etc. The professor of record will offer lectures and the GTA will be responsible for leading weekly “labs” or discussion groups of 20+ students based upon the lectures and discussions offered by the teacher of record that week. Using a seminar-style discussion format, labs will be dedicated to a close analysis of the texts on the syllabus as well as a consideration of the role contextual issues (history and culture, for example) play in the texts. Grading oversight will be provided by the professor of record. In addition to grading responsibilities, Teaching Assistants will also be responsible for participating in other aspects of the course in order to prepare them for assuming the responsibilities of teaching a course themselves in the following semester. 

Second Year, Spring Semester. Upon successful completion of the preparatory work above, the GTA will teach his or her own section of the course they co-taught in the fall. 

Students in the Linguistics concentration of the M.A. English are eligible for appointment as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) with the Linguistics faculty.  One such appointments is available each year.  Alternatively, Linguistics students may be offered assistantships in the First-Year Writing Program. 

Teaching Support

The Linguistics GTA assists faculty teaching undergraduate linguistics courses, with assignments coordinated by the program director.  Ordinarily, Linguistics TAs will serve three different courses during their two years at NCSU: ENG 210 (Introduction to Language and Linguistics), ENG 326 (History of English), and either ENG 324 (Modern English Syntax) or another linguistics course such as ENG 525 (Variety in Language) or ENG 584 (Ethnolinguistics). These courses have been selected in large part because they are the courses that students are most likely to be asked to teach if they enter the college teaching profession later in their careers, though program needs may also figure into assignments. TAs consult regularly with faculty mentors and perform tasks as needed for the class, such as:

  1. Attending class whenever possible and taking careful notes on the lectures—not just on the content, but on how the faculty mentor teaches it.  This is crucial so that the TA has materials with which to teach a similar course in the future.
  2. Filling in for the faculty  mentor on occasion if needed.  The TA may also have opportunities to lecture when the faculty mentor is present.
  3. Helping with in-class exercises and assisting students in the process.
  4. Collecting and keeping records of daily attendance. 
  5. Grading homework assignments, quizzes, and tests.
  6. Recording homework, quiz, and test grades in a spreadsheet and sending updates of it to the faculty mentor periodically.
  7. Holding regular office hours during which students can meet with the TA.
  8. Assisting the faculty mentor in other ways as needed.

Program Contributions

The Linguistics program may utilize TAs in support of our teaching, research, and outreach mission in other ways, such as program assistance, special projects, and technological assistance. Examples of such activities include staffing the linguistics booth at the North Carolina State Fair, assessing video documentaries, preparing equipment for fieldwork, updating the interview archive (SLAAP), working with faculty on research projects and presenting them at academic conferences, and participating in the annual dialect curriculum teaching in Ocracoke. T.A.s also customarily serve, with pay, as proctors for the Linguistics Laboratory (Tompkins 204).

Students in the Film Studies concentration of the M.A. English are eligible for appointment as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) with the Film Studies faculty. One such appointment is available each year. Alternatively, Film Studies students may be offered assistantships in the First-Year Writing Program.

Teaching Support

First Year: The Film Studies GTA assists faculty teaching undergraduate film courses, with assignments coordinated by the program director. Whenever feasible, Film TAs will have opportunities to work with different faculty members in each semester.  Supervising instructors provide the TA with opportunities to observe and participate in the following aspects of teaching film:

  • delivering a lecture and leading discussion
  • writing and/or grading written assignments
  • meeting individually with students to work on assignments, including papers  

The TA meets regularly with the faculty mentor to discuss the course and receive feedback on his or her performance. 

Summer following first year: Prepare a syllabus for 282 and meet with supervising teacher for discussion and approval.

Second Year: Film TAs teach their own sections of ENG 282, Introduction to Film.

Program Contributions

The Film program may utilize TAs in support of our teaching mission in other ways, including program assistance (website support, communication, publicity for events, archiving holdings); special projects (research to support program initiatives); and teaching technologies (dubbing clips for classes, and supervising production projects). TAs might be asked to run a screening for an absent professor (i.e. one travelling to present a paper at a conference) or to facilitate another well-planned activity.  

University and Department Definitions and Expectations

Teaching Assistantships at NC State are defined by the Graduate School as half-time appointments. The workload in English thus averages about 20 hours per week. Depending on teaching assignment, this workload may be somewhat lighter in the first year, when T.A.s are beginning their training and assisting other instructors, and heavier in the second year, when they may be teaching classes of their own. TAs may register for no more than 9 hours per semester when teaching.

In the first year, TAs must earn 18 graduate credit hours in English to be eligible to teach their own ENG classes in the second year. This requirement does not pertain to TAs who will not be teaching their own courses.

Reappointment to a second year of an assistantship requires successful progress toward the degree as measured by maintaining a 3.0 or higher GPA, the completion before the fall of the second year of 18 hours of graduate credit in English, and the recommendation of those who have taught and supervised the TA during the initial year.

If you have been awarded a Teaching Assistantship, see this page for details about your first year: Essential Information for Teaching Assistants.