Teaching Assistant (TA) Positions

One way that students gain experience in teaching is serving as TAs for either undergraduate or graduate courses.  The call for TA applications goes out either in mid-Spring (for TA positions the following Fall) or mid-Fall (for TA positions the following Spring).  There are also a much more limited number of summer TA positions (the summer TA call also goes out in mid-Spring).  Students should absolutely discuss their long-term teaching goals with their advisor (and potentially also the Graduate/Undergraduate Program Coordinators) and thus what types of TA positions they might want to target throughout their time in the graduate program.  While the department can’t guarantee that a given student will be selected to TA a particular course, ensuring that one’s mentor, as well as the Graduate/Undergraduate Program Coordinators, know the student’s long-term goals increases the likelihood of their being selected as a TA for their top-priority courses.  See below for the priorities and standards for appointment as a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Psychology.

Priorities and standards for appointment as a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Psychology


Psychology Ph.D. students in Years 1-5 of the program and in good standing are given first priority for assignment as TAs in the Psychology Department.

Psychology Ph.D. students beyond Year 5 may serve as TAs, but appointment is not guaranteed.

When deciding on TA appointments for students who are not in Years 1-5 of the Psychology Ph.D. program, the Psychology Department considers a combination of factors, including:  training in Psychology, expertise in course content, evidence of past excellence in teaching appointments, and instructor preference.


We expect TAs to act professionally and adhere to all university policies as they perform TA duties in the Department of Psychology.

Professional behavior includes, but is not limited to:

  • Participating in required TA trainings.
  • Being open to constructive feedback on performance and demonstrating any needed improvement in teaching over time.
  • Treating students, instructors, staff, and other TAs with respect.
  •  Behaving without bias or harassment of any kind — toward students, instructors, staff, or other TAs.

Students who violate these professional standards will not be eligible for re-appointment as a TA in the Department (even if they are in Years 1-5 of the program).


Selection as a TA/Confirming a TA Position – Important Timeline Information 

Students who apply for a TA position, but who ultimately decide they do not need a position, should inform our undergraduate program coordinator of their decision to retract their TA application/assignment as soon as possible.

However, there is a point at which students cannot change their minds about serving as a TA without causing serious problems for our curriculum. This date is August 1 for fall TA-ships; December 14 for spring TA-ships; and 3 weeks prior to the start of the summer term for summer TA-ships.

Students who pull out of their TA assignments on or after the dates listed above (because of a change in funding for the upcoming term) will be low priority for assignment as a TA in the Psychology Department in future semesters.


Teaching Opportunities – Being an Instructor of Record

Another way that (advanced) students gain experience is by serving as the instructor of record in an undergraduate course. The most typical type of course taught by Graduate Students are senior-level capstone courses.  These are small (<25 student) courses on a reasonably specific topic that aligns with the expertise of the instructor.  However, graduate students do sometimes also have the opportunity to teach at other levels of the department curriculum.  Whether there are any such teaching opportunities available for graduate students depends entirely on the semester-to-semester departmental needs.  However, again, for students whose most likely career path involves college-level teaching, they should absolutely discuss their long-term teaching goals with their advisor as well as the Undergraduate Program Coordinator.


Training in Teaching

There are many resources on campus to gain training in teaching, including the Delta Program – https://delta.wisc.edu