Teaching Assistantships (PhDs and Creative Writing MAs)

You must apply for teaching assistantships in the spring for both summer and fall and winter term appointments; you must also re-apply each year. You most likely will not receive your assignment until early September, and possibly not until the semester has begun; don’t worry if you haven’t heard before then. Once you have obtained your first assignment, the collective agreement stipulates that you are entitled to three more successive assignments. In the past, students have often received more than the mandatory four. See the Collective Agreement (between the university and CUPE 3902), section 16:03 for more information about hiring criteria. Summer TAships don’t count toward your allotment of four, so do apply (although they are in much shorter supply).

There are two kinds of TAships:

  • Tutorials: These allow you to help design and teach a literature course, and offer the best teaching experience. Only a few positions, all much sought after, are available.  Tutorials are generally offered to third-year PhDs and above.
  • Marking: These involve grading papers and exams for a professor teaching an undergraduate literature (or film) course. There is generally an opportunity to deliver a lecture.

You may be assigned a TAship at any of the three university campuses (St. George, Mississauga, or Scarborough). See Getting Around for tips on commuting between campuses.

As a TA, you will be paid once a month (on the 28th, or, if the 28th happens to fall on a weekend, on the Friday before) for the duration of your contract. You will receive a form with your letter of offer which will allow you to set up direct deposit of your wages. You only need to fill this form out once–if you have already set up direct deposit with U of T, they will  have your information on record. However, if anything has changed, you will need to fill the form out again. If, on the other hand, you prefer to receive your wages by cheque, it will be mailed to you around the 28th of the month. If you elect to be paid in this manner, please make sure that your mailing address is up to date on ROSI.


As a TA, you will be required to undergo three hours of paid training run by the Department. These sessions are mandatory for new TAs only. The dates for Fall 2012 are September 25th, 3pm-6pm and September 28th, 1-4pm. Both sessions will take place in Room 718 of the Jackman Humanities Building.

If you would like to pursue additional training opportunities, you can register for a number of (free!) programs through the Teaching Assistants Training Program run by the University’s Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation. Consult CUPE’s website for information on how to submit a claim to be paid for these sessions.


As a TA, you are automatically a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (local 3902) – and while this does mean you accrue all the benefits of the latest Collective Agreements, you can’t vote at General Membership Meetings until you sign your union card.  The union can help you with any problems or grievances pertaining to your TAship employment, or with general information on job requirements and so on. The names and contact details of the English department stewards for 2012-2013 will be posted on the bulletin board near the multi-purpose room once these stewards are elected at the first GEA meeting.

The CUPE 3902 website has  information on a wide range of TA and union-related issues, including the Collective Agreement.

For information on CUPE health and dental benefits, click here.