Being a Teaching Assistant

You can learn a lot and gain valuable professional experience from being a Teaching Assistant.  For example you will learn how a class works ‘behind the scenes’ and develop valuable skills such as working with others, participating in meetings, meeting deadlines, organization and time management, and clear communication.  Teaching Assistants may do a variety of tasks depending on the needs of the class and the faculty member they are assisting.  Some examples include helping with grading assignments, tutoring students individually or in groups, attending lectures and taking notes, keeping class attendance records, or monitoring social media posts.  You will work hard and in the end you will have gained a relationship with a faculty member or graduate students and skills that will help you in many occupations and in life!

You can find the department’s criteria for being a Teaching Assistant below.  To learn more about opportunities to be a Teaching Assistant you can contact a faculty member whose class you enjoyed. You can also learn about Teaching Assistant by contacting the Sociology advisors and by looking for e-mail announcements from the Sociology majors/minors listserv.  These are e-mails from .  Your Sociology advisor can help you complete the necessary form.

Guidelines For Teaching Assistants

Successful Applicants Must Have Met The Minimum Qualifications:

  1. Completed the assigned course in a previous semester and earned a grade of a B+ or above.
  2. Completed 48 college credit hours (4th semester standing) for 400-level courses.
  3. Completed 32 college credit hours (3rd semester standing) for introductory level courses.
  4. Have an overall GPA of 3.2 or above.
  5. Received an invitation from the instructor to serve as the undergraduate teaching assistant.

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Proposal Form

Expectations For Undergraduate TAs include:

  1. Prospective TAs are expected to use the appropriate mechanism to receive TA credit. CRIM 298 and SOC 300 are the only courses that can be used for this purpose. TA candidates must receive an invitation from the instructor and complete the required form to initiate the review process for receiving credit. The form must be turned in to 211 Oswald Tower prior to end of the first week of the semester for processing. Students will be notified within several business days if their request has been approved. Thus, students who do not receive notification should inquire about the status of their request with the instructor, an adviser, or a designated staff member.
  2. No more than three credits per semester or more than six credits in total can be received for TAing, regardless of the mechanism used to receive credit [i.e., CRIM 298 and SOC 300 are considered equivalent --- a student cannot receive three credits for CRIM 298 and six credits of SOC 300].
  3. TAs are expected to treat all students in the course with dignity and respect, as outlined in The Penn State Principles and in Penn State's written policies on sexual harassment.
  4. TAs are expected to treat all grades, content of tests, and content of student assignments as confidential.
  5. TAs are expected to complete all assigned course readings and attend class regularly.
  6. TAs are expected to complete assigned duties in a responsible and timely fashion.

The specific duties of undergraduate teaching assistants might include leading discussions, grading assignments (e.g., short answers, multiple choice exams, or weekly homework), holding office hours, and performing errands related to the course (e.g., taking attendance or keeping records).  The instructor will assign specific duties at the beginning of the semester.