Teaching Assistants

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA) Program

An Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA) in the Department of Biology is a junior or senior who assists faculty, laboratory coordinators, and Associate Instructors (AIs) with the teaching mission. Various kinds of UTA positions exist, including some positions involving work with collaborative learning groups in large enrollment lecture courses, such as L112 Biological Mechanisms, L211 Molecular Biology, L111 Evolution and Diversity, and L311 Genetics. In these courses, UTAs help to create a small class atmosphere inside a large course.

In addition to course-specific duties, UTAs may be required to perform a service function for the Department of Biology such as proctoring an exam in a course other than the one to which the UTA is assigned.

FAQs about becoming a UTA

Teaching is an invaluable experience. It develops communication and leadership skills and provides an opportunity to better understand how people learn. These skills will prove beneficial even outside the classroom.

“Interaction with study groups has helped me to retain subject matter. I now have greater insight into course materials and find that less memorization is required. Through my experience as a teaching assistant, I've acquired leadership skills and have learned to be more assertive. Being a UTAhas given me the unique experience of seeing L211 from the other side of the desk!”–former UTA

Experience as a UTA is particularly helpful for students who are considering graduate studies—teaching is as much a part of graduate school as are classes and research. Close involvement with Associate Instructors (AIs) provides an opportunity to observe graduate student life. Faculty can write recommendation letters with specific examples of the positive attributes of UTAs after working with them.

Acceptance into the UTA program is an award and should be noted as such on resumes and other program applications.

Applicants indicate their preferred course assignment(s) on the application form. UTA candidates send their application directly to the supervising professor along with an unofficial copy of their transcript. Applications may be sent to several professors at once. Professors select UTAs for each course according to their qualifications.

It is recommended that you seek out the professor who will be teaching the course you are applying to, in order to introduce yourself and discuss your potential duties. Some faculty conduct interviews in selecting their UTAs; others do not.

  • Class Standing: UTAs should have at least junior class standing by the time the appointment begins. However, exceptional sophomores may also be considered.
  • GPA: Candidates must have an overall GPA of 3.25. That is, only applicants with a GPA of 3.25 or higher will be considered for UTA positions.
  • Specific Grades: You must have earned an A- or better in the course for which you are applying to assist. You must also have earned excellent grades in related classes. You will need to submit a copy of your unofficial IU transcript with your application.
  • Written Statement: This is a very important part of the application. When candidates for a position are relatively equal in the above areas, the statement can make the difference. Be sure to proofread your statement.

Students entering the Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA) program for the first time are required to register for BIOL-X 371, Internship in Biology Instruction. After successful completion of the first semester of the internship X371, returning UTAs are eligible to either take X371 for credit again or to receive $15/hour for an average of 6 hours/week, paid biweekly.

  • X371 is a three-credit course, graded S/F, which may be taken twice for credit (only 3 hours may count toward the biology major; additional credit hours count as electives). UTAs are responsible for three hours of tuition associated with X371 registration. A grade of S or F in X371 will be assigned, on the basis of UTA performance, at the end of the semester by the professor in charge of the course to which the UTA is assigned. Note: The UTA is responsible for registering for X371 credit once they are authorized.
  • Paycheck allotment: UTAs will receive $15/hour for an average of 6 hours/week, paid biweekly. Note: In order to select this option you must have a checking and/or savings account, and UTAs must be enrolled in at least 6 credit hours to be considered for a paid UTA position.

A complete UTA application includes:

  1. A completed application form (Adobe Acrobat Pro is required to save the application in an electronic form. See iuware.iu.edu for the software.)
  2. A brief statement (50-150 words), addressing:
    • Why you’re interested in becoming a Teaching Assistant
    • Your areas of interest and your tentative plans following graduation
    • Your expected fall course enrollment

Submit your completed application package via email or hard copy directly to the faculty member listed as the instructor for the course in which you are interested in a UTA position.

All applicants will be notified of their acceptance directly by faculty via email or a letter mailed to their local address.

UTAs must accept their positions by directly contacting the faculty and by sending an acceptance email to the UTA coordinator. Once the coordinator receives your acceptance email, you will be given online permission to register for BIOL-X371 or notify payroll of your appointment. Payroll UTAs will receive an informational email approximately 2-3 weeks prior to the first day of classes.