7.1 Teaching Assistantships (TA)

The Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is committed to involving graduate students as teaching assistants during their graduate studies. This mechanism is in place for the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences to deliver the undergraduate program, and at the same time to provide graduate students with valuable teaching experience. It is important that the TA duties complement the research project of the student so that their thesis work is not significantly hindered while they obtain important teaching experience.

Teaching assistantship duties will vary depending on the course, but some examples include: teaching or assisting with one or more sections of a course; setting up/running of laboratory sessions; grading assignments or exams; or, invigilating exams.

The Collective Agreement Governing the Academic Employment of Graduate Students provides guidance for employing graduate students as a TA, including limitations on the amount of TA commitment by a graduate student, remuneration for TA duties, and general expectations of a TA. Within the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the graduate student’s supervisor must authorize (sign) for their approval of any TA contract. Students are strongly encouraged to work with their supervisor(s) in planning TA duties. This ensures that the TA commitment does not conflict with the graduate student’s research project, which has priority.

The following provides further details and additional expectations of TAs within the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

  • When to take on TA duties (and when not to)
    • 1st year: It is recommended that graduate students in their first year of studies have minimal TA commitments.  This is to ensure that they acclimatize to their research environment effectively, and to allow enough time to do well in coursework.
    • Middle years: During second year of an MSc program and second to fourth year of a PhD program, students may increase the quantity of TA duties. These duties should not interfere with research, courses, and other requirements to graduate (Section 2).
    • Final year: TA duties should be minimized so that the student can focus on finishing final experiments, complete their thesis, and prepare for their final oral examination.
  • Remuneration (Salary) for TAs
    • The Collective Agreement Governing the Academic Employment of Graduate Students establishes the minimum hourly rate for TA salaries. This agreement is revised regularly, usually on an annual basis, and is based on negotiations between the Graduate Students’ Association and University of Alberta Board of Governors.
    • The salary for an individual TA depends on the student’s program (MSc or PhD), seniority, and previous experience as a TA.
  • Course Assignment Process
    • Course Coordinators submit a Request for Graduate Teaching Assistance form in the summer. This form describes the activities or tasks to be performed by the TA, the number of TAs and an estimated number of hours to complete the activity or task. It is expected that courses requiring laboratory-based instruction and courses with low student-to-instructor ratios will require significantly more teaching assistantship hours compared to courses that require exam invigilation only.
    • Graduate students are invited to submit an Application for Graduate Teaching Assistantship in the summer. The Graduate Studies Coordinator emails this form to all graduate students.
    • The Director of Graduate Studies, Pharmaceutical Sciences Division or the Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies matches graduate students with course TA requests during mid-summer. Matching is based on: 1) the training and experience required for the teaching duties; 2) requests by Course Coordinators for specific graduate students; and, 3) requests by graduate students for particular courses. Graduate student requests for significant TA hours are also considered while keeping within the limits set in the Collective Agreement (e.g., not exceed an average of 12 hours per week and a total of 192 work yours over a four-month term for full-time graduate students).
    • A Letter of Appointment will be issued to each graduate student with a TA appointment once the matching process is completed. This document is issued in accordance with the Collective Agreement and provides details on the teaching duties (listed according to undergraduate course) and remuneration. Graduate students will need to meet with each Course Coordinator to verify the expected duties and collect their signature. Once all Course Coordinator signatures are collected, the graduate student must verify they have read and understand the conditions of the TA assignments and sign the form. The graduate student’s supervisor must also sign this form to ensure they are aware of the teaching duties. The Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies is the final person to sign the contract.
    • In cases where casual teaching assistantships are necessary (e.g., ad hoc invigilation), students are compensated on an hourly basis (determined in the Collective Agreement).
  • Expectations of TAs.
    • Specific duties will vary depending on the particular needs of each course. Course Coordinators are responsible for defining the expectations for the TA duties. Where possible, the expectations (e.g., date, time, and location for examination invigilation) will be provided in the Letter of Appointment.
    • Graduate students are expected to collect signatures from all course coordinators listed in their Letter of Appointment as well as their supervisor’s signature.
    • Graduate students are expected to be familiar with all the duties they have been assigned. If the graduate student is unable to fulfill an obligation, they   are responsible for finding someone to fulfill their duty. Failure to perform the agreed-upon duties can jeopardize future assistantship offers.
    • The salary described in the Letter of Appointment is treated as income and subject to Income Tax, Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance deductions. If the graduate student is not a Canadian citizen, the TA appointment is expressly contingent upon the student meeting and continuing to meet eligibility requirements for employment in Canada.