Teaching Assistantships

Applying to Teaching Assistantships

Graduate Assistantships 

Assistantship Policies

A student walks by a tree growing next to Mesa Vista Hall
Photo: Yulia Ryzhik

Teaching Assistantships

A Teaching Assistantship is our primary financial award to a graduate student for part-time work in teaching or research while the student pursues study toward an advanced degree. Teaching Assistants earn a stipend and receive a tuition remission up to 12 credits per semester. Current information on TA salaries can be found on the Office of Graduate Studies website. During the two weeks leading up to the first semester, first-year TAs at the MA, MFA and PhD levels are required to take English 530 (Teaching Composition), a graded, three-credit practicum that counts towards the required pedagogy or professional studies hours of your degree program. During their first semester and beyond, TAs typically teach two sections per semester unless a reduced assistantship is requested. The award of a Teaching Assistantship also includes graduate student health insurance.

The English department encourages our graduate students at MA, MFA and PhD levels to apply for teaching assistantships, and we consider the professional support and teaching opportunities we offer second-to-none. We have been charged by the University to improve student literacy by putting all undergraduates through a minimum of three writing courses at the 100 and 200 levels, so there are many opportunities for graduate students to teach these classes. While the Department’s first priority is to provide instructors for the many sections of freshman composition offered each semester, qualified TAs will also have the opportunity to teach more advanced courses in composition, technical and professional writing, creative writing, and literature.

In most cases, Teaching Assistants will actually be the instructor of record for the courses he or she teaches, and they are responsible for all course planning, content, and grading. Some upper-division courses, however, do offer traditional Teaching Assistantship positions, with the responsibilities of the TA being determined by the professor leading the course. Teaching Assistants must be registered for 6 hours of graduate credit in both Fall and Spring semesters.

Applying for Assistantships

Teaching Assistantship applications are due by January 15, as part of the admission process. The application for the Teaching Assistantship is included in the online application for general admissions, and requires the following materials:

Teaching Assistantship Letter 

In approximately 250-500 words, your Teaching Assistantship Letter should address your reasons, preparation, and objectives for teaching English courses at the college level. This letter should be well-developed and concise and is Part B of the your general Teaching Assistantship Letter. See the English Admissions Page.

If you are a student already in the English graduate program and wish to apply for an assistantship, you need to submit the Teaching Assistantship Letter on its own.

Expository Writing Sample

MFA applicants must include a relevant expository or argumentative writing sample of 10-15 pages, including appropriate and consistent documentation style. This additional writing sample can be uploaded along with your other writing samples included for general admission within the 'Writing Sample' section of the online application. 

If you are an MA or PhD applicant and submitted an expository or argumentative writing sample along with your general application, you are not required to submit an additional sample of expository writing with your Assistantship application.

Letters of Recommendation

If you are applying for an assistantship, two of the three letters of recommendation required for your admission to an English graduate program should address your potential as a teacher. If two of your three academic recommenders cannot speak to your potential as a teacher, you may include additional professional references instead. The department will accept up to a maximum of five letters of recommendation.

If you are a student already in the English graduate program and wish to apply for an assistantship, you need to submit two letters of recommendation that address your potential as a teacher.

Graduate Assistantships

The English department also offers several Graduate Assistantships, some with a course release, others with extra pay, and all offering the chance to gain valuable experience in research, administration, and teaching within and outside of the Core Writing program. The department’s standing GAships are listed below, but note that each year opportunities are available subject to funding and departmental need.

In addition to the list below, GAships and readerships may be created to support the research and teaching of individual faculty, special projects, and departmental initiatives. English graduate students also often find GAships in other departments and programs such as CAPS, the Anderson School of Management, the Feminist Research Institute, Women Studies, the Health, Medicine and Human Values Program, and others.

Standing Departmental and Affiliate Program GAships

Rhetoric and WritingCore Writing Coordinator Position
Textbook Editors
Creative WritingBlue Mesa Review Editor
Academic ProgramsEnglish Department GA
Medieval StudiesMedieval Outreach Fellow
Medieval Scholar Support (Spring Only)

Assistantship Policies

Students applying for Assistantships should be aware of the following policies. All policies and other information concerning Assistantships in English of all types can be found in the Graduate Handbook.

Assistantship Reappointments

By definition, assistantships are term appointments. Students should not assume that they will be reappointed merely because notification of termination at the end of the appointment period has not been received. Reappointments are contingent upon the continuing availability of funds, satisfactory performance of the assistantship recipient, relevant departmental policies and academic eligibility.

Termination of Assistantship Before End of Appointment Period

The graduate unit will make notification of termination to the student and forward a copy of this notification to the Dean of Graduate Studies. In the case of students who are placed on academic probation, Graduate Studies will terminate the contract and notify the appropriate graduate unit and the student. The stipend for assignments that are terminated before the end of the appointment will be prorated for the period during which the assistant was employed.

Medical Leave While Holding an Assistantship

Assistantship recipients who suffer a serious medical condition requiring absence from assigned duties for two consecutive weeks may be granted, upon written request to the head of the graduate unit, a two-week sick leave without loss of stipend. After this leave, the student will be paid only for the time the assistantship responsibilities were fulfilled. The graduate unit must notify the Graduate Studies office whenever it grants an assistant a two-week sick leave, as well as the date that the assistant returns to his/her position.

Absence without Leave

Individuals who are awarded a contract and receive payment from the University of New Mexico, but who do not attend or are absent without leave will be required to repay any stipend collected from UNM.

Grievance Procedures for Students Holding Assistantships

Student who hold assistantships and are seeking direction for submitting a formal grievance related to the assistantship are referred to the section on Academic Freedom of Graduate, Teaching, Research and Special Assistants in the UNM Faculty Handbook.

Department of English Language and Literature
Humanities Building, Second Floor
MSC03 2170
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

Phone: (505) 277-6347
Fax: (505) 277-0021