Teaching Assistant Appointments in L&S

This document provides guidance related to Teaching Assistant appointments and workloads in L&S.

Teaching Assistant (TA) positions are governed by the Graduate Assistantship Policies and Procedures (GAPP), which states “This title is appropriate for graduate students enrolled at UW-Madison who have been assigned teaching or curriculum development responsibilities in an instructional department under supervision of an academic staff or faculty member as defined in s 36.05(8) Wis. Stats who has instructional responsibilities for the course.”

This KB focuses on standard TA positions and workloads. If you have an unusual or emergent situation you would like to discuss, please contact L&S Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Academic Affairs, Lynne Prost.

If a department/program has been unable to fill a Teaching Assistant position with a graduate student alternatives include:

Hiring Procedures

Per GAPP, departments should notify TAs of tentative course assignments, if known, no later than August 1 for Fall semester courses and December 1 for Spring semester courses. Extending offers to students as soon as possible makes planning easier for both the students and the department.

To process TA hires, work with your department’s HR Business Partner for STS/SA. The appointment letter template can be found here: https://kb.wisc.edu/ls/22288 

Standard rates for student assistants in L&S are listed on the following KB page: L&S Standard Rates for Short-term Staff and Student Assistants

Typical TA Duties

Typical TA duties include, but are not limited to: 

  • Training and orientation. Note that training is required per GAPP for new TAs.
  • Preparation for teaching
  • Teaching time (i.e. leading discussion or lab)
  • Lecture attendance
  • Office hours 
  • Grading
  • Course instructional team meetings
  • Course administration
  • Email time
  • Coverage of sick time for other TAs

Inappropriate duties for a TA might include:

  • Lecturing for a faculty member who cannot attend class. If a graduate student is covering lecture for an extended period of time, It may be more appropriate to hire the student as an LSA.

  • A TA position consisting exclusively of grading. It may be more appropriate to hire the student as a PA-Reader/Grader.

  • Independently teaching a lecture or seminar. It may be more appropriate to hire the student as an LSA.

If you are unsure whether the intended duties are appropriate for a TA, please contact L&S Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Academic Affairs, Lynne Prost.

Drafting TA Workloads

A workload is a document that outlines the duties associated with a specific TA appointment (e.g., "Dinosaur Studies 101 TA workload”), and an approximation of the hours required to complete those duties. Departments are required to provide workloads to TAs per GAPP.

The workload should clearly state the department, course number, and the general structure of the TA appointment (i.e. number of discussions/labs taught by the TA, and the maximum enrollment per discussion/lab). 

Step 1: Identify the required duties

The department and supervising staff member(s) establish the required duties of the employee. For reference, see above for a list of common TA duties, and see below for sample workloads.

Step 2: Determine the number of hours normally associated with each duty

  • Consider such factors as: 
    • type of instruction
    • types of assignments (e.g., a workload in a homework-intensive class might include more time for grading than a course with less homework)
    • number of students enrolled
  • Some suggestions and advice were provided at the March 24, 2022 presentation on workloads (see "Additional Resources" below).

  • Present the number of hours expected for each duty over the entire appointment. You may also provide an approximation of hours per week, but make it clear that exact hours will likely fluctuate from week to week for many duties.

Sample Workloads & Additional Resources

Hours & Appointment Levels

The appointment level is based on the department’s determination of the total hours it should normally take to perform the assigned duties over eighteen weeks.

Per GAPP, satisfactory performance of duties shall not require an effort exceeding: 

  • three hundred and sixty (360) hours per semester for a halftime (50%) academic year pay basis appointment; 

  • or a proportional number of hours for other durations or percentages of appointment.

Additional appointment level considerations:

  • In order to qualify for benefits and tuition remission, TAs must be appointed at a minimum of 33.4%. Appointments lower than 33.4% will need to be approved by Lynne Prost.

  • International students may not work more than 50% during Fall and Spring academic sessions.

Communicating with TAs About Workloads

Per GAPP, each department shall provide the employee and their supervisor with the workload document at least three days before the signed workload is to be returned to the department, before each term.

The supervising faculty/staff member(s) should thoroughly discuss the workload document with the TA at the beginning of the appointment period.

Supervisors should make it clear that TAs are engaged in professional activities, and the precise number of hours associated with specific tasks can vary from one TA to another. Fluctuations above and below the hours reflected in the appointment level are expected, corresponding to individual distinctions such as experience. Employees are encouraged to discuss duties with the supervising staff member at the outset of the appointment and as questions arise.

TA Workload Disputes

An employee who finds that the assigned duties appear to require more time than is allocated should immediately notify, and consult with, the supervisor or Department Chair (or designee), who will examine the factors used to determine the amount of time expected. The supervisor and the department may direct either an adjustment in the duties or, pending approval of funding, an adjustment in the appointment level.

Informal discussion between a supervisor and an employee is likely to be the most effective way to resolve problems in assignment of duties. 

If a workload issue is not resolved by informal discussion, please contact L&S Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Academic Affairs, Lynne Prost for assistance.

Departments are encouraged to establish workload committees consisting of faculty, staff and graduate students who are current or former Teaching Assistants or Project Assistants to review new and existing workloads for Teaching and Project Assistants annually, identify persistent workload problems and recommend remedies to the department. If a workload committee does not exist, one may be established at the request of a majority of the Departmental Teaching and Project Assistants.

TA Position Approvals

Annual Planning Process

Each winter, L&S Teaching & Learning Administration conducts planning exercises covering several aspects of instruction for the following academic year, including TA planning. Departments will receive information directly from TLA on how to submit their annual plans. 

After your plans are reviewed, you will receive approval and information about any additional steps related to hiring TAs for the next academic year.

Outside of the annual exercise, communicate the following changes via the Instructional Staffing Request form (Instructions):

  • Adding new TA positions:

    • Adding a TA to a new course

    • Adding a TA to an existing course that has not previously had TAs

    • Creating a one-time TA position, e.g., course development

  • Changing existing TA positions

    • Change the appointment % of an existing TA position

    • Change the structure of an existing TA position

Departments/programs do not need to use this form if changing the number of TAs approved during the annual planning exercise. 


Summer term TAs are requested as part of a department's summer budget proposal. Changes related to summer TAs may be communicated through Instructional Staffing Request form (Instructions).

Appointment details for summer TAs are listed on the Expense Details report in Box ("48-#### Summer").

TA Budget/Funding

Academic Year TAs

The funding for most 101 funded TAs and graders during the academic year: 101-A48##71, where '##' is the department number from your unit's UDDS.

  • All 101-funded TA expenditures will be charged to the department’s TA budget sheet at the end of the fiscal year. Any overspending on that budget sheet will result in a one-time charge to the department’s tally sheet.

  • Recognizing that departments have received ongoing tally sheet credits intended to help cover the costs of enrollment expansion, we anticipate that some of these credits will be shifted to the TA budget sheet to offset permanent increases in TA spending.

  • The TA budget sheet on the BSR includes itemized credits for one-time support from sources such as FIGs, Honors, Other Schools/Colleges, etc. You are strongly encouraged to review your TA budget sheet to understand the fiscal implications of your TA plans. Please contact Assistant Dean Mary Beth Roberts with questions regarding your TA budget sheet on the BSR.

Summer TAs

The funding line for most TAs during Summer Term: 131-2 A48##93, where '##' is the department number from your unit's UDDS.

Summer TA positions are included on the Expense Details report in Box ("48-#### Summer"). This report lists the exact funding string for each TA.

Curricular Updates

The Course Guide entries must match your planning for enrollment limits and the structure and number of lab/discussion sections. Departments need to carefully monitor enrollments, both during the priority registration periods for the fall and spring semesters but also during the summer and January SOAR sessions.

 L&S Contacts

KeywordsTAs, Teaching Assistants, Teaching Assistant, workloads, employment, appointment, graduate assistant   Doc ID95768
OwnerLynne P.GroupL&S KB
Created2019-11-12 15:56:26Updated2023-11-30 11:22:46
SitesL&S KB
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