Graduate Teaching Assistantship Hiring Process

Orientation for new graduate students

All graduate students are encouraged to acquire teaching experience. The duties and responsibilities of GTAs are defined in the Graduate Calendar. Students are encouraged to inform their Advisor(s) of their intentions to accept a GTA. A GTA appointment usually spans 14 weeks 12 weeks of classes plus preparation and examination working time.

At the beginning of each semester a GTA has been awarded, the awardee will meet with the faculty/individual(s) responsible for the course/service(s) to complete an Assignment of Work Agreement form outlining the expected distribution of effort. The selection and appointment of GTAs will follow the procedures outlined in the agreement with CUPE 3913, Unit 1.

The salary of GTAs includes a 4% payment in lieu of vacation time. Other leaves of absence from GTA positions are described in the agreement with CUPE 3913, Unit 1.

Please refer to the University's Academic Staff Work Assignments page for more information about the GTA process and a listing of current GTA job postings.

Graduate Teaching Assistant Hiring Process

Guiding principles

  • The allocation process must comply with the constraints laid out in the currently prevailing Collective Agreement between the University of Guelph and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3913, Unit 1.
  • Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) allocation is a complex process, primarily because of the relatively large size of our graduate program. The most reasonable way to proceed (in terms of both fairness and efficiency) is to organize the applicant pool into a principled hierarchy of groups (which includes departmental commitments as outlined in student admission offers) and then work through these groups in order while also taking student preferences into consideration.

Consequences of the guiding principles

  • Graduate students need to apply for GTA positions using the TA/Sessional hiring website ( Only students who apply will be considered for a GTA: it is a requirement of the Collective Agreement between CUPE and the University, it informs us about the times the student is available and their preferences, and it ensures that students are not missed by mistake. Students who are guaranteed a GTA (Level 1) for a particular year and/or semester are required to apply in that semester.
  • Graduate students should consult their class (and other) schedules, or what they intend to be their schedule, before making their applications. In general, the student is responsible for ensuring that they will be available to TA for the course sections listed in their preferences for the full duration of the contract as indicated in the posting. Note that GTA duties for a course will typically include invigilating final exams, as well as giving labs, seminars, grading, etc.; students should therefore not normally apply to TA for a course the labs/seminars and final exam for which they cannot attend.
  • Graduate students should make multiple selections in their applications for a GTA as it is not always possible to assign students to their top choice. We need as much information as possible about grad student preferences and availability. Students are encouraged to append as many preferences as they wish to the standard Application Form.
  • In the event of a discrepancy between this document and the Collective Agreement, the Collective Agreement shall be considered the final authority.


The allocation process

The allocation of Graduate Teaching Assistantships is completely primarily according to the following Levels of Consideration. Positions are offered to students in each level before moving to subsequent levels.

Level 1

Positions are assigned to SES students within their “Job Security Period” (guaranteed as part of the Offer of Admission).

Level 2

Positions are offered to SES students who have completed their job security period and are within their prescribed program period (6 semesters for Master’s, 12 semesters for PhD). 

Level 3

Positions are offered to SES students who are outside their prescribed program period.

Level 4

Positions are offered to SES students who have already been assigned 140 hours in a semester. 

Level 5

Positions are offered to students outside of SES


Within each of the Levels of Consideration, the department considers the following:

  • Qualifications, competence, capability, skill and prior experience;
  • Class schedule and availability;
  • Requirement to meet Job Security Period obligations and coverage of all available work assignments; and,
  • Preferences expressed during the application process each semester.


Assignment of Work Assignments

The committee assigns GTA positions working through the assignments in reverse order of course level. GTAs for fourth-year courses are assigned first, first-year courses last.

Level 1 students are assigned first in working through all available assignments.  No assignment is made to a GTA who lacks the posted minimum qualifications. 

The committee must assume that all assignments will be accepted, and so will not assign more than 1.0 GTA to any one student.

The committee prioritizes ensuring that all Level 1 guarantees are assigned a GTA.

The committee next considers relevant qualifications in terms of subject-matter expertise, which can be demonstrated through a relevant undergraduate major or course works, or through a relevant thesis project. 

Once work assignments have been allocated in Level of Consideration 1, any remaining work assignments are subject to open competition. For each remaining work assignment, applicants are considered by Level of Consideration (candidates in Level 2 are considered, then Level 3 and so forth). Within a level of consideration, applicants are scored against the posted criteria. Where applicants are demonstrably equal, the applicant with the most seniority points is successful.

Composition of the GTA Allocation Committee

This committee will be composed of the Department Director and/or Associate Director, and two of the Graduate Coordinator, Graduate Program Assistant, Assistant to the Director and the Administrative Officer. At least one of the members of the committee must be a designated group member (ie member of an equity-seeking group which may include women, racialized people, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer communities, aboriginal people or persons with disabilities).

Distribution of Teaching Assistant Resources to Course Sections

The School of Environmental Sciences (SES) is committed to ensuring that our students are provided with a high standard of teaching excellence. Part of this commitment is the distribution of Teaching Assistant resources to course sections in a fair and transparent manner. Resources within SES will be distributed in a fair manner that takes into consideration:

  • Level of course;
  • Pedagogical requirements of the course including use of seminars, tutorials, and laboratories;
  • Delivery method and requirements (e.g., Distance education vs. in-class course formats);
  • Number of students;
  • Workload considerations (including the overall workload of instructor); 
  • Department and College norms; and,
  • Budgetary constraints.

It is expected that the number of teaching assistants assigned to courses may vary from offering to offering based on the above factors.

Distribution of teaching assistant resources is determined by the Director. Requests for teaching assistant resources should be made as soon as practicable