Teaching assistantships are awarded by the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Western Michigan University in order to financially support graduate students and provide professional development in the form of teaching and research assistance. The T.A. consists of a tuition waiver and accompanying salary. T.A.s in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences are highly-competitive and awarded once per year. The specific terms of our T.A.'s vary each year depending on university and department budgets and needs. For more detailed information regarding tax implications, privileges and benefits available to graduate appointees, please consult WMU’s Graduate Student Appointee Information.
The term for T.A.s in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences is one academic year (fall semester and the following spring semester). New to the university graduate students who are offered a T.A. are guaranteed appointments for two academic years (master's) or four academic years (doctoral) from the date of enrollment in the program, pending satisfactory performance in teaching and satisfactory progress in their program of study. T.A.s beyond these time periods are neither promised nor guaranteed. While appointed, the student must enroll in at least six graduate credit hours (5000 level or above) per semester.
To be eligible for a T.A. in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, a student must first be formally accepted to either the Ph.D. in geosciences or the M.S. in geosciences program for the term(s) that the award is given.
Criteria for initial award
Program of study: Teaching assistantships are preferentially awarded to students enrolled in the Ph.D. in geosciences and M.S. in geosciences programs. M.S. in earth science (non-thesis) students are not eligible.
Grade point average: Teaching assistantships are preferentially awarded to graduate students with a GPA of 3.25 or above.
Prior teaching experience: Teaching assistantships are preferentially awarded to students with prior experience teaching, especially positions in upper-level undergraduate courses.
Criteria for continuation of award
Satisfactory progress in the program of study: T.A.s must receive a “satisfactory” evaluation in their audit letter for each semester of study that they hold the position. If a T.A. receives a “mostly satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” audit, he or she will have one semester to attend to any outstanding items noted in the audit letter. Receiving a less than “satisfactory” evaluation in the audit letter for two consecutive semesters will be grounds for revoking the T.A. The graduate advisor, Dr. Peter Voice, is responsible for auditing the progress of all students at the end of each semester. Both the student and his/her advisor will receive a copy of the audit letter.
Satisfactory performance in teaching. T.A.s must:
- Adhere to all University policies, regulations, directives, guidelines and student codes.
- Attend and participate in all course-related meetings, as required by the supervising course instructor and/or head T.A.
- Attend and assist with class sessions (beyond the assigned lab sections), as required by the supervising course instructor and/or head T.A.
- Communicate any absences to the supervising course instructor and/or head T.A. If a class must be missed, the T.A. will arrange a substitute and complete the "Absence from Class" form.
- Start and end all class sessions on time.
- Interact with students in a positive, ethical, attentive and professional manner.
- Grade student work consistently and fairly and return all work in a timely fashion.
- Post office hours and be available to help students at the stated office hours.
- Conduct end-of-semester WMU-ICES course evaluations; performance will be noted and taken into consideration in future awards.
The graduate advisor will be responsible for communicating with faculty, instructors and head T.A.s each semester to find out if these performance criteria have been met. T.A.s will receive a letter evaluating teaching performance on the grounds stated above. T.A.s must receive a “satisfactory” or better teaching evaluation letter for each semester of study for which the student is a T.A. They will have one semester to attend to any outstanding items as noted in the teaching evaluation letter. Receiving a less than “satisfactory” rating in the teaching evaluation letter for two consecutive semesters will be grounds for revoking the T.A.
Apply for a teaching assistantship
Application deadline: While the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences has rolling admissions for all of its graduate programs, students who wish to be considered for a teaching assistantship must be formally accepted by the Feb. 15 deadline. See below for more information about the application process.
Prospective students: Prospective graduate students applying to the M.S. and Ph.D. programs must fulfill the following two requirements no later than Feb. 15 in order to be considered for a teaching assistantship: 1) Applicants must be formally accepted into their program, and 2) Applicants must submit the application form to Kathy Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org). All prospective students who wish to be considered for a teaching assistantship are required to have their application complete at least four to six weeks ahead of the Feb. 15 deadline in order to give the Graduate Admissions Committee sufficient time to evaluate each candidate’s qualifications and reach a decision. Completing your application means that all required documents (GRE scores, transcripts, recommendations, etc.) have not just been ordered but have been received, processed and uploaded to your electronic application; this process can take several weeks. As such, prospective graduate students should begin the application process at least two to three months ahead of the Feb. 15 deadline in order to ensure consideration. Students who do not complete their application in the specified time-frame will not be considered and must wait until the following year to apply again. *Prospective M.S. in earth science (non-thesis) students are not eligible for teaching assistantships.
Current students: Current graduate students in the Ph.D. in geosciences or M.S. in geosciences programs may apply for a teaching assistantship by completing the application form and submitting it to Kathy Wright (email@example.com) no later than Feb. 15.
*M.S. in earth science (non-thesis) students are not eligible for teaching assistantships.