Supervising Teaching Assistants - The Essentials

Graduate students are a crucial part of the higher education workforce. They teach courses, conduct sections, read and grade papers, evaluate exams, and perform other duties in support of undergraduate instruction. UC academic student employees are represented by the Association of Student Employees, a union affiliated with the United Auto Workers. At UC Santa Cruz, the UAW represents Teaching Assistants (“TAs”), Associates Ins, Teaching Fellows, Readers, and Tutors. Faculty are responsible for supervising TAs in accordance with the union contract and UC policy. This includes assigning appropriate duties, monitoring the workload, and managing performance. This site summarizes some of the important terms and conditions of employment essential to hiring and supervising TAs.


TA opportunities are announced on departmental websites and on the Graduate Division's website. While faculty supervisors may recommend the hire of a particular graduate student, a job offer is not official until an appointment letter is issued by the dean or department chair, and accepted by the student. Contact your department for more information regarding TA appointment procedures.


TAs are typically hired at 50% time for a quarter. Faculty supervisors must not assign more work than can reasonably be completed in 220 hours, with an average of 20 hours per week. TAs must not be assigned to work more than 8 hours per day. If a TA notifies the faculty supervisor that s/he may exceed these maximum hours, the faculty supervisor must discuss the work assignment with the TA in a timely manner and must modify the assignments or increase the TA’s appointment percent time. Modifying the assignment may include adjustments to expectations, mentoring/ advising on proper time management, or allocation of other types of course support (e.g., Reader). Increasing the TA’s appointment percent time and/or allocation of additional resources must first be discussed with your department chair as these involve additional budgetary resources. Faculty supervisors need to document steps taken to address workload concerns, complete a revised “Description of Duties” form (see below), if applicable, and inform the department chair of the workload issue.


An important part of managing the TA’s workload is defining and discussing the expectations of the job with the TA before the start of the appointment. Faculty are required to complete and/or review a “Description of Duties” form with the TA, which details the specific job requirements:

  • Instruct # sections/labs per week

  • Hold #  office hours per week

  • Attend lectures

  • Read/evaluate #  papers per student

  • Proctor #  exams

  • Undertake #  hours preparation

  • Maintain/submit student records (e.g., grades)

Contact your department to obtain the “Description of Duties” form.


If the TA has accepted a formal written offer, and the position is no longer available, the TA must be placed in another equivalent position or must receive equivalent compensation. Within the first 5 weeks of the quarter, a TA who becomes academically ineligible may be removed without pay from the appointment.


TAs may be eligible for paid and/or unpaid leaves of absence, including Pregnancy Disability Leave, Short- and Long-Term Medical and Family Leave, Bereavement Leave, Leave for Jury Duty, or other leaves. Depending upon the type of leave, TAs may be required to submit documentation.

Refer leave questions and requests to your department or division.


Regular feedback and communication with a TA is important. Faculty supervisors may give a TA a written assessment of the TA’s employment performance. Your department can advise you on the use of employment evaluations and can provide the proper template.

TAs may be disciplined or dismissed for just cause. Discuss performance or conduct concerns and issues with your department chair when they arise as providing timely feedback to employees on such matters is essential. Please contact the Labor Relations Office prior to imposing any discipline.


Labor Relations -

The Union Contract -

Graduate Studies Handbook -

Instructional Resources for TAs -

Academic Personnel Office -

University of California, Santa Cruz 2014-2015