Teaching Assistantships

  • A TA demonstrates a concept to a student using a computer simulation

    Master's student Laura Tinigin utilizes computer simulation software in her Earth Systems course to help students visualize the effects of erosion.

  • A TA demonstrates a scratch test

    Master's student Matthew Hemenway demonstrates how to perform the Mohs Hardness Test in his Physical Geology course.

Teaching assistantships (TAs) are awarded by the Department of Geosciences in order to financially support graduate students and provide professional development in the form of teaching and research assistance. The TA consists of a tuition waiver and accompanying salary. TAs in the Department of Geosciences are highly-competitive and awarded once per year. The specific terms of our TAs vary each year depending on university and department budgets and needs. For more detailed information regarding tax implications, privileges and benefits available to graduate appointees, please consult WMU’s Graduate Student Appointee Information.

The term for TAs in the Department of Geosciences is one academic year (fall semester and the following spring semester). New to the university graduate students who are offered a TA are guaranteed appointments for two academic years (master's) or four academic years (doctoral) from the date of enrollment in the program, pending satisfactory performance in teaching and satisfactory progress in their program of study. TAs beyond these time periods are neither promised nor guaranteed. While appointed, the student must enroll in at least six graduate credit hours (5000-level or above) per semester.

Eligibility

To be eligible for a TA in the Department of Geosciences, a student must first be formally accepted to either the M.S. or Ph.D. programs for the term(s) that the award is given.

Criteria for Initial Award

  • Program of study: Teaching assistantships are preferentially awarded to students enrolled in the Ph.D. and M.S. programs. M.A. students are not eligible.

  • Grade point average: Teaching assistantships are preferentially awarded to graduate students with a GPA of 3.25 or above.

  • Prior teaching experience: Teaching assistantships are preferentially awarded to students with prior experience teaching, especially positions in upper-level undergraduate courses.

Criteria for Continuation of Award

Satisfactory progress in the program of study: TA's must receive a “satisfactory” evaluation in their audit letter for each semester of study that they hold the position. If a TA receives a “mostly satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” audit, he or she will have one semester to attend to any outstanding items noted in the audit letter. Receiving a less than “satisfactory” evaluation in the audit letter for two consecutive semesters will be grounds for revoking the TA. The graduate advisor, Dr. Peter Voice, is responsible for auditing the progress of all students at the end of each semester. Both the student and his/her advisor will receive a copy of the audit letter.

Satisfactory performance in teaching. TAs must...

  • Adhere to all University policies, regulations, directives, guidelines and student codes.
  • Attend and participate in all course-related meetings, as required by the supervising course instructor and/or head TA.
  • Attend and assist with class sessions (beyond the assigned lab sections), as required by the supervising course instructor and/or head TA.
  • Communicate any absences to the supervising course instructor and/or head TA. If a class must be missed, the TA will arrange a substitute and complete the "Absence from Class" form.
  • Start and end all class sessions on time.
  • Interact with students in a positive, ethical, attentive and professional manner.
  • Grade student work consistently and fairly and return all work in a timely fashion.
  • Post office hours and be available to help students at the stated office hours.
  • Conduct end-of-semester WMU-ICES course evaluations; performance will be noted and taken into consideration in future awards.

The graduate adviser will be responsible for communicating with faculty, instructors and head TAs each semester to find out if these performance criteria have been met. TAs will receive a letter evaluating teaching performance on the grounds stated above. TAs must receive a “satisfactory” or better teaching evaluation letter for each semester of study for which the student is a TA. They will have one semester to attend to any outstanding items as noted in the teaching evaluation letter. Receiving a less than “satisfactory” rating in the teaching evaluation letter for two consecutive semesters will be grounds for revoking the TA.

Apply for a Teaching Assistantship

While the Department of Geosciences has rolling admissions for all of its graduate programs, students who wish to be considered for a teaching assistantship must be formally accepted by the Feb. 15 deadline. See below for more information about the application process.

  • Prospective students: Prospective graduate students applying to the M.S. and Ph.D. programs must fulfill the following two requirements no later than Feb. 15 in order to be considered for a teaching assistantship: 1) Applicants must be formally accepted into their program, and 2) Applicants must submit the application form to Kathy Wright. All prospective students who wish to be considered for a teaching assistantship are required to have their application complete at least 4-6 weeks ahead of the Feb. 15 deadline in order to give the Graduate Admissions Committee sufficient time to evaluate each candidate’s qualifications and reach a decision. Completing your application means that all required documents (GRE scores, transcripts, recommendations, etc.) have not just been ordered but have been received, processed and uploaded to your electronic application; this process can take several weeks. As such, prospective graduate students should begin the application process at least 2-3 months ahead of the Feb. 15 deadline in order to ensure consideration. Students who do not complete their application in the specified time-frame will not be considered and must wait until the following year to apply again.
    *Prospective M.A. students are not eligible for teaching assistantships.

  • Current students: Current graduate students in the M.S. and Ph.D. programs may apply for a teaching assistantship by completing the application form and submitting it to Kathy Wright no later than Feb. 15.
    *M.A. students are not eligible for teaching assistantships.

Additional Funding Options