About Your Application for an Undergraduate/Postbac TAship

Thank you for applying for a Spring TAship in the Department of Psychology.
(If you haven't yet applied, or if you would like to submit a revised application, you'll find the form here.)

Before I get into the administrative details, I should mention the ONE THING you might want to do while you are still on campus: Speak to one or more of the professors for whose courses you have applied to TA. Let them know that you've submitted an application and are interested in TAing for their course if a position becomes available.

On this page you'll be able to learn more about:

How Undergraduate TA Assignments are Made

As you have probably noticed, all psychology lecture and lab courses have TAs.

The TA assignment table shows the kind of mix of graduate and undergraduate TAs in our courses this year.
As of October there were still numerous unfilled positions for undergraduates or full-time postbacs.

Before we can officially assign undergraduate TAs to our Spring courses, we need to know several things, including:

  1. How many TAs a course will need, which depends on course enrollment
  2. How many graduate students are available to fill those spots
  3. Whether the professor approves of a particular undergraduate for an open spot

Re (1), November preregistration provides preliminary enrollment information from which we can estimate the minimum number of TAs that will be needed in most upcoming courses. In the case of courses that are very near the enrollment threshold for yet another TA, we may need to wait until the first week of classes to know whether or not that threshold will be crossed. Last-minute adjustments in TA assignments of both graduate students and undergraduates are made at the start of every term.

Re (2), all graduate students have tentative assignments, as shown in the assignment table. In some cases these assignments may shift after we've had a chance to study preregistration enrollments. In other cases they may shift because of changes in a graduate student's availability.

Re (3), the assignment table shows the number of undergrad/postbac TA positions that are likely to be needed in each course. We have encouraged faculty to seek TAs from among students who did well in their courses in recent years. You can assist in this process by contacting the professor of any course for which you would like to TA, describing your qualifications. In addition to directly contacting the professor, please complete an application form so that we'll have your information in the system.

So all of the above are factors that will effect the likelihood that you will be appointed to a classroom TAship next Spring. In addition, your chances are affected by the number of other students who have applied for the same course(s) that you have. Already there are quite a few applicants for 1001 and for 1010, but relatively few for the 2000-level courses. Other things being equal, faculty prefer students who have previously taken the course and done well in it, and they prefer postbacs to seniors and seniors to juniors.

Note: You must be registered for at least 12 credits in the term in which you are appointed to a TAship.

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A Rough Timeline of the Appointment Process

Spring TAships

(1) October-November: Contact professors of courses for which you have applied and are particularly well-qualified to TA (i.e., you've taken the course and received at least an A) to let them know of your interest and so that they can evaluate your suitability. If you and a professor reach mutual agreement regarding a TAship, you should immediately notify Lois Putnam <lep1> and Andres Torres <aft2109>.

(2) November-December: Andres will then send the chosen TA an email with instructions regarding the paperwork required for the appointment, and other administrative details, and will add the TA's name to the aforementioned assignments table. (The table will show a question mark after any appointment we're not sure about; most cases of uncertainty are due to enrollments that are not yet sufficient to justify the appointment.)

(3) December-January: In the email mentioned in section (2) above, Andres will announce the January deadline for submission of all paperwork for confirmed appointments. Missing this deadline will delay receipt of your first paycheck. All paperwork -- including those tentative appointments still awaiting course enrollment information -- should be completed by the end of the first week of classes.

(4) An Orientation for Spring TAs will be held during the first or second week of classes. Attendance is required unless you have a class meeting at that time. We'll announce the time and place once it has been determined. Please notify the undergraduate curriculum assistant <uca> if you are not able to attend.

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Your stipend as an undergrad or postbac TA

The stipend for a full-time TAship is $2100 per term (approx. $11.67 per hour for 12 hrs per week for 15 weeks.) This stipend does not come out of work-study funds but it may affect how many hours you can put into a work-study (or other) job. Columbia will not employ full-time undergraduates for more than 20 hours per week, and does not allow students to hold more than one TAship in any given term.

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Your duties as a psychology TA

The time commitment is a total of 180 hours. This works out to an average of 12 hours per week for 15 weeks, but some weeks will be lighter and some heavier than this. To get a general idea of the kinds of things TAs are expected to do, see the section on "Duties" in the Graduate Student Teaching Guidelines. A more detailed list is provided in the TA Orientation Outline. Your specific responsibilities will be defined by the particular instructor and course you're TAing for, so be sure to contact the instructor prior to the start of the term in order to be well-prepared for the first week of classes.

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Again, what you can do right now is to meet with professors of courses for which you have applied and are particularly well-qualified to TA, to let them know that you've submitted an application. This contact is particularly useful in cases where the professor does not know you or where you will not be available to meet with the professor over the summer.

Thanks again for your application,

Prof. Lois Putnam <lep1>
Director of Undergraduate Programs
Director of Graduate Student Teaching
Department of Psychology

















last modified by lep1 on November 8, 2012