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Graduate Teaching Assistantships
The Department of English at the University of North Dakota is authorized by the administration to fill a number of Graduate Teaching Assistantships each year. The normal “half-time” Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) teaches two composition courses or their equivalent while pursuing the M.A. or Ph.D. in English. “Quarter-time” appointments which offer a reduced stipend and involve teaching only one course are also available.
The annual stipend for graduate teaching (half-time) varies according to the degree sought:
- $14,623 for M.A. students
- $17,103 for Ph.D. students
Customarily, these stipends are slightly augmented each year. Tuition waivers are awarded independently of teaching assistantships.
The Graduate Teaching Assistantship in English serves three purposes: it provides financial support for graduate students, allowing them to pursue their studies; it provides teaching experience for graduate students, under supervision; and, finally, it provides a service for the University and Department of English, since about half of the sections of composition are taught by GTAs each semester. Appointments to Graduate Teaching Assistantships are made by the Graduate Dean upon the recommendation of the Department and approval of the Dean of Arts and Sciences. The Director of Graduate Studies makes the recommendation. Prior to appointment the student must be admitted to the graduate program as a bona fide candidate for either the M.A. or Ph.D.
Another important requisite for appointment to an assistantship is a sincere interest in teaching English studies—composition, language, and literature. Since the advance degrees offered by the English Department are professional degrees, the Department expects applicants to be primarily interested in teaching English as a profession, but graduate degrees in English and experience in English teaching may well be appropriate preparation for other professions. Other criteria considered in the appointment of Graduate Teaching Assistants include preparation and previous experience. In recent years about one-third of our GTAs have been Ph.D. candidates.
Because it is expected that Graduate Teaching Assistants will work steadily toward a degree, the Department and the School of Graduate Studies place limitations on the number of years that a person may be appointed to an assistantship. An M.A. candidate may be appointed to an assistantship for two years; a Ph.D. candidate may hold an assistantship for three years. One who undertakes the M. A. and Ph.D. at UND may be appointed for a total of five years. Under extenuating circumstances a candidate may petition the Director of Graduate Studies of the Department for one additional semester or year. If satisfactory progress has been made, extensions may be granted.
All Graduate Teaching Assistantships are awarded on an annual basis. The GTA who has not used the maximum appointment years may expect to be reappointed if he or she has satisfied the following requirements: 1) made satisfactory progress toward the degree for which he or she is a candidate; 2) fulfilled his or her teaching duties; 3) functioned as a responsible member of the Department of English and of its profession. “Satisfactory progress toward the degree” is defined as follows: 1) the completion of at least twelve semester hours of graduate courses or 2) the fulfillment of the scholarly tools requirements for the Ph.D., or 3) the satisfactory completion of the Ph.D. comprehensive examinations, or 4) satisfactory progress on the dissertation (attested by the candidate’s advisor), or (5) a reasonable combination of the above, to be determined by the candidate’s advisory committee and the Director of Graduate Studies.
The Director of Composition and the Teaching Assistant’s supervising professor will assess his or her performance as a teacher and make appropriate recommendations to the Director of Graduate Studies. Each spring the Director of Graduate Studies will ask the current GTAs whether they are eligible for and wish to be considered for reappointment. The Department will ordinarily notify applicants of appointments by April 15, but applicants should feel free to inquire about their status at any time.
The Graduate Teaching Assistant has all the duties and responsibilities and many of the privileges that regular members of the Department have and enjoy. The English Department assumes that GTAs will take an interest in all the work and programs of the Department and in all of its activities. It is also assumed that Teaching Assistants will be willing to accept appointments or election to departmental committees and will, whenever possible, attend departmental meetings. Of course, all members of the Department including Teaching Assistants, are expected to keep current in new developments in teaching and in the subject matter of their courses. The Department realizes the difficulties GTAs face in performing the dual roles of teacher and student and, accordingly, does not overburden them with duties other than teaching.
As untenured teachers, GTAs should expect some supervision and evaluation from the Department. It is not the intention to burden the Teaching Assistant with supervision, but the University expects the Department to perform certain kinds of supervisory activity and to report annually on the effectiveness of GTAs.