The Department of Computer Science employs both graduate teaching assistants (TAs) and hourly course assistants (CAs) to help support our faculty and the infrastructure of the courses that we offer.
Graduate Teaching Assistants (TAs)
The Department of Computer Science typically employs nearly three dozen graduate TAs each semester. We fill these positions with full-time PhD students. This employment is part of their overall support package and is considered their full-time job (the assumption is that PhDs spend approximately 20 hours/week on their own coursework and research duties, and 20 hours/week on their TA assignments).
Information for current TAs:
- You can find a copy of this year’s TA handbook here.
- A copy of this year’s TA and RA Agreement contract is coming soon.
Undergraduate Course Assistants (CAs)
The Tufts CS department, like many CS departments across the country, has seen a significant increase in enrollments over the past five years or more. Critical to helping us keep up with this demand is an army of talented undergraduate course assistants. These students work on an hourly basis to grade assignments and tests, lead labs and recitations, and hold office hours. The exact breakdown of a CA’s responsibility will be worked out by the instructor for the course. We also occasionally hire Master’s or certificate students on an hourly basis to help cover the load.
We try to make the CA experience as positive as possible, both for the students who work as CAs and for the students who take our classes. To this end, we offer CS 04: “Teaching Computer Science” as a course meant for new undergrad CAs. It is required for new undergrad CAs who will be working for our two largest classes, CS 11 and CS 15. We consider this to be a good investment for the department and a professional development opportunity for our CAs. See below for more information about CS 04.
Information for current undergraduate CAs:
- You can find more information about the CS department’s policies for hourly CA workers and documentation on how to use our payroll system here.
- You can find a copy of this year’s CA handbook here.
CS 04: “Teaching Computer Science”
This course is a four-part seminar taught primarily by a cohort of our most experienced undergraduate CAs. It is intended as a pre-req for CA’ing either of our two main introductory classes, CS 11 and CS 15. However, it can also be taken as a co-rec. Each seminar will cover a particular facet of being a successful CA. Topics include office hours, recitation leading, grading policies, and inclusivity, among others.
How to Become an Undergraduate CA
If you are interested in a job with us, we would love to talk with you about it! Many students approach the professor of the course that they would like to CA for, or consult with the current CAs for that course. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with general queries about how to get started.
We are looking for two main qualities in applicants. The first is proficiency in and a passion for the course material. This does not necessarily mean that you received straight A’s when you took the course. Students who struggled a bit on their way to mastering the material often make for outstanding CAs. Second, we are looking for applicants who can make any student feel welcome, competent, and supported. Students who communicate well with their peers during office hours and labs stand out as strong applicants.
Each semester, students can apply to be a CA through our online system. An announcement will be posted when this system is online, which will typically be around the final third of the semester. The timeline of hiring decisions will depend on the individual courses.
*** The CA application site is currently live and can be found here.
Please be advised that if you haven’t worked for CS before, it can take us a little time to get you set up in the system. It can take longer if you’ve never worked at Tufts. And if you are an international student and you have never worked in the U.S. before, you will need to apply for a Social Security number before you can work for us.
Our department has over 1,000 students, nearly 200 CAs, and dozens of faculty in any given semester. With so many people, there will sometimes be difficulties or conflict. The CA ombudsman is here to help mediate conflicts that arise involving CAs. Specifically, the CA ombudsperson/liaison will help with the following situations:
- A student having a problem with a CA
- A CA having a problem with a student
- A CA having a problem with another CA
- A CA having a problem with an instructor
If you are involved in or aware of such an issue, please contact the CA ombudsperson, Associate Teaching Professor Mark Sheldon, at email@example.com. If you are one of Mark’s students or CAs and are not comfortable discussing the issue with him, please contact the backup CA ombudsperson, Associate Teaching Professor Karen Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org.