Teaching Assistantships

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Typically, full-time in-time PNB graduate students hold two Teaching Assistantships (TAs) per calendar year. Most often, one TAship will be scheduled in the fall term and one will be scheduled in the winter term. The time commitment for each TA is 100 hours per term, or 200 hours per year. Graduate student TAs at McMaster University are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3906.

TA Responsibilities and Hours of Work form


The course instructor will be your main point of contact regarding TA responsibilities throughout the term. All students who are working as TAs must complete the TA Hours and Work Form at the beginning of the term of each TAship. Consult with the instructor of the course to complete the TA HOURS OF WORK FORM and submit it to the PNB Graduate Administrative Assistant, Nancy Riddell. This form will provide an outline for the types of duties you are expected to perform over the course of the term, and an estimate of how your 100 working hours (per term) will be allocated. TA duties can vary widely depending on the course, but generally include: attending lectures, leading tutorials, marking assignments, holding office hours, answering emails, monitoring and contributing to online discussions, supervising labs, and invigilating exams. It is important that this form is filled out with adequate detail to avoid ambiguity. The majority of TA disputes are avoided by having a satisfactory Hours of Work form. It is a good practice to keep a log of your hours worked as the term progresses. If you believe you might be on track to exceed 100 hours of work, contact the course instructor immediately.

TA Rights and Conflict Resolution

If you have a conflict or a concern that you have not been able to resolve directly with your TA supervisor, CUPE will work to mediate the conflict on your behalf. If you are unsure of who to contact, the department has union stewards that can direct you to the appropriate person.

TA Income and Benefits

PNB graduate students typically TA two courses per year, one in fall term and one in the winter term, involving a minimum of 200 hours of work over the academic year. The 2018/19 hourly rate of pay for graduate student TAs is $43.63 per hour and therefore the Teaching Assistantship, prior to any deductions, is valued at a minimum of $8,726.

CHECK: This salary is distributed over 8 biweekly payments during the semesters you are working as a TA. It is worth noting that scholarship salary payment is evenly distributed throughout the year. As a result, your total income will fluctuate throughout the year, and is likely to be significantly lower in the summer. The payment schedule can be viewed on the CUPE website or on your Mosaic account.

Graduate students who TA for at least 130 hours/year will receive dental benefits through CUPE. This plan provides a maximum of $1000 of coverage ($2000 for family coverage) for dental services (e.g. cleanings and fillings) per calendar year. For major restorative work such as a crown or a bridge, get your dentist to submit an estimate to the insurance company to check against your coverage before paying anything. Other benefits provided by CUPE are a health care spending account, which has a maximum entitlement of $250 per twenty four month period. This coverage primarily covers vision care. Students who do not TA for at least 130 hours per academic year (including those who have been bought out of their TA) do not qualify for the CUPE dental plan, and are covered by the GSA dental plan instead (which offers $750 of coverage per year).

TAship Resources

Resources for Graduate Student TAs (Unit 1) - Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3906 [1]
CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Collective Agreement [2]
CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Health Benefits [3]
CUPE 3906 Unit 1 Dental Plan [4]
GSA Dental Plan [5]