General information

Graduate students play an important role in the teaching of undergraduate students in the Biology Program at UBC. Not only do TAs participate in delivering quality undergraduate Biology education, they also gain valuable professional development.

To find general information about how to become a Teaching Assistant in the Biology Program, please visit the UBC Biology Program website and select “Teaching Assistants” from the header.

As a TA at the University, you will be part of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 2278. Details of the Collective Agreement between the Union and the University can be found on the CUPE 2278 website.

A conversation with your research supervisor

Before applying for a TA position

Your supervisor is the key person in shaping your graduate degree program. In addition to providing guidance on required course work, conference participation and research project work, the supervisor is the best judge of the time necessary to dedicate to your academic work and whether it is appropriate for you to also be a teaching assistant.

In conversation with your research supervisor consider:

How will your teaching assistant (TA) duties fit in with your graduate program work? Getting teaching experience is an important part of your professional development.

Will you have sufficient time to devote to a TAship (average 12 hours per week) considering your graduate work?  Will you be required to take graduate level courses or need to be dedicated to running experiments or collecting data?

Will there be any conflicts with schedules (research work or conferences) which will preclude your ability to perform TA duties for a term? The work in some courses is required during specific periods in the term, rather than throughout the term.  Discuss these options with your research supervisor.

Will you be required to TA to cover the cost of the guaranteed stipend? Your research supervisor will be able to judge whether you will have sufficient support through scholarships or research grants. Note that your academic work and financial support will shift over the course of your graduate program.  Even if you do not need to TA in the first year of your graduate program, you may need to (or want to) TA in subsequent years.

Each year before you apply for a TA position, have this conversation with your research supervisor and determine what is best for your graduate program.