31 General Policies

All new and returning graduate assistants are required to attend orientation before classes begin for the fall semester.

Within the department graduate assistants are designated by the following titles:

Graduate Assistant (GA): the general title for an M.A. or Ph.D.-level student who is awarded an assistantship, including the following categories employed by the department:

  • Writing Assistant (WA): a graduate assistant who is assigned to work in the University Writing Center.
  • Teaching Assistant (TA): a graduate assistant who is assigned to teach departmental courses, usually English 1010 or 1020, though Ph.D. students may be able to teach ENGL 2020 or 2030.
  • Mentored Teaching Assistants (MTA): a graduate assistant who is assigned to be individually mentored by a professor in a class that the MTA is preparing to teach.
  • Research Assistant (RA): a graduate assistant who is assigned to work closely with a particular professor on research project(s) of the professor’s choice.
  • Program Assistant (PA): a graduate assistant who is assigned to work as mentor and facilitator for teaching, professional development, and assessment activities for the General Education or Graduate Programs.

Graduate assistants are assigned the equivalent of 20 hours of departmental work per week. Teaching assignments are based on departmental needs, and teaching assistants are sometimes assigned a split workload that includes teaching one English General Education class (ENGL 1010, 1020, or 2020/2030) plus 10 hours as a RA, PA, MTA, or WA in the University Writing Center (UWC).  Graduate assistants are not permitted to hold any other paid positions at the university.

All GAs with assignments as research assistant or program assistants are required to complete timesheets recording their weekly hours devoted to their RA or PA assignments. The timesheets are a means of insuring that students are not spending more than 10 hours (in a split assignment) or 20 hours (in a single assignment) on their work in each week. Supervisors are not permitted to require RAs or PAs to “bank” hours in order to work more than their assigned number of hours in any given week.

Until they have completed 18 hours of graduate-level course work in English, which is required by the university’s accrediting agency before an instructor can be placed in the college classroom, M.A.-level GAs are generally assigned as writing assistants in the UWC for 20 hours a week; occasionally they may be assigned as UWC writing assistants for 10 hours per week and as research assistants or MTAs for particular professors for another 10 hours per week. Once students have completed 18 hours of coursework, they may be assigned to serve as teaching assistants, under the guidance of the department’s General Education English Co-Directors. Before their first time teaching, teaching assistants are required to enroll in the Seminar in Teaching Composition (English 6821/7821), which is usually offered in the Fall semester. After their first year as TAs or WAs, graduate assistants may apply to serve as Program Assistants (peer advisors or program assistants) for the UWC, the General Education English program, or the Graduate Program, based on a record of excellence in tutoring and departmental service.

Ph.D.-level graduate assistants may be given teaching assistantships their first year if they have significant previous teaching experience and are enrolled in the Seminar in Teaching Composition (ENGL 7821). Those Ph.D.-level graduate assistants who have minimal or no tutoring or teaching experience will usually be assigned to the University Writing Center as writing assistants in their first semester. On rare occasions first-year Ph.D.-level graduate assistants may be assigned to a 20-hour per week research assistantship, depending on the needs of the department. Ph.D.-level teaching assistants may also be given the opportunity to teach English 1020, the second-semester freshman composition course. After one year in the GTA program, Ph.D.-level TAs may choose to be mentored by experienced faculty and develop their own general education literature course in order to be eligible to teach either ENGL 2020 or 2030. Alternatively, if they have completed ENGL 7881 with a grade of B or better, Ph.D.-level TAs may also qualify to teach 2020 or 2030, depending on departmental need. As the opportunity affords, Ph.D.-level TAs may also be mentored by experienced professors in an upper-level undergraduate course in their field of specialization. All mentoring opportunities are dependent upon the availability of willing faculty members.


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MTSU Graduate Student Handbook Copyright © by englishgraddirector is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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