Teaching Assistantships

The Department of Communication is proud to offer the opportunity to our graduates to teach courses.

This unique experience is open to all applying and current students. These positions are hand picked by our graduate committee and factor a number of qualifications in the selection process. In general, offers of graduate assistantships are accompanied with a full tuition waiver (excluding student fees). Funded assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis to students who begin their studies in the Fall semester. Completed applications to the program must be received by January 15th (Ph.D. applicants) or March 15th (MA applicants) for consideration for assistantships. View more information and possible restrictions on these positions.

M.A. assistantships are offered for 2 years, or four consecutive regular semesters (Fall, Spring). Ph.D. assistantships are offered for a period of 4 years, or eight consecutive regular semesters (Fall, Spring). Summer teaching is typically available but is not guaranteed in the offer of assistance.

Students who accept and hold funded assistantships must:

  • Be enrolled full-time in 9 hours of coursework a semester
  • Make adequate progress toward the degree
  • Complete course work with a 3.0 grade average or better
  • Participate in teacher training provided by the department
  • Be observed in the classroom by a faculty supervisor responsible for a yearly written evaluation

In addition to these funded assistantships, the department also frequently employs students for funded research in the university and community. These funds, however, are difficult to anticipate in advance and cannot be guaranteed for the full tenure of a student's studies.

Graduate Teaching Assistantship FAQ:

 Is there a funding application? What is the deadline to request an assistantship?

There is not a separate application for graduate teaching assistantships. If you wish to be considered for an assistantship, please email the Academic Program Specialist to confirm your interest by deadline below.

Funding Notice Deadlines:
  Ph.D.  M.A.
Fall Admission February 15th March 15th
Spring Admission N/A Not offered for Spring applicants.

Do applicants need prior teaching experience to be considered for assistantships?

Graduate teaching assistantships are awarded to our most qualified applicants. While we note the teaching experience detailed on applicant's curriculum vitae, teaching assignments are not made on the basis of past teaching experience. Ample opportunities for teacher training are provided to all students who are awarded teaching assistantships.

What opportunities are available to prepare me to teach?

All graduate students on teaching assistantships who are assigned to teach SPC 2608, Public Speaking, participate in a series of teaching workshops throughout the fall semester.

The Office of Graduate Studies requires TA Training for all TAs before they can teach, involving both a face-to-face one-day event and an online training. All Graders, Teaching Assistants, and Instructors of Record have the same training requirements. Those who have taught at USF before are exempted from the requirement.
(Please note: International applicants will need to take additional international teaching assistant training, as well.)

Lastly, the Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning (CITL) provides new teaching assistants with instructional tools and services. Innovative Education offers certification and training for online instruction. a wide variety of courses, workshops, and services designed to enhance teaching effectiveness. In addition, a 12-hour graduate certificate in College Teaching is administered through the College of Education.

Does the department offer summer teaching?

The department does its best to offer opportunities for summer teaching; however, these placements are contingent on available funding. Students who are on assistantships and are assigned summer teaching are required to enroll in summer coursework; tuition waivers are included in summer teaching compensation.

If I am offered an assistantship, how many courses will I be teaching? What types of courses will I be able to teach during my studies?

Graduate students on teaching assistantships teach two courses per semester (two in fall and two in spring).

New PhD students teach two sections of SPC 2608, Public Speaking.

MA students must complete 18 hours of graduate study before they are assigned to teach SPC 2608. As such, MA students assist faculty in delivering courses including:

  • COM 2000 - Introduction to Communication
  • SPC 3710 - Communication and Diversity

Advanced PhD students may have opportunities to teach courses in their areas of expertise, including:

  • ORI 3004 - Communication as Performance
  • SPC 3544 - Persuasion & Media
  • SPC 3301 - Interpersonal Communication
  • COM 3014 - Communication, Gender, and Identity
  • COM 3120 - Organizational Communication
  • COM 4022 - Health Communication
  • COM 4030 - Women and Communication
  • SPC 4714 - Communication, Culture, and Community

How is financial support from the department determined?

We offer assistantships, which include a tuition waiver (students are responsible for fees and health insurance premiums), to entice our top-ranked applicants to join our graduate program. Funding availability varies from year to year and we are only able to make funding offers to six to eight of our top-ranked applicants each year (though our top-ranked list is usually twice this long). We wish we could support all of our graduate students with funding, but we cannot.

What does the assistantship provide financially?

PhD graduate students on teaching assistantships receive a stipend paid over nine months (end of August through mid-May). MA graduate students on teaching assistantships receive a stipend paid over nine months. All teaching assistantships include a tuition waiver. Students are responsible for fees. Graduate students on teaching assistantships are also able to purchase student health insurance at a significantly reduced rate.

Are there additional requirements for international applicants to be eligible? 

International students from countries where English is not the official language who want to be considered for a teaching assistantship must show proficiency in spoken English. They need a minimum score of 26 on the spoken portion of the Internet-based TOEFL (iBT) or 160 on the spoken portion of the TOEIC test administered by ETS. The Office of Graduate Studies will consider these scores valid for up to 5 years after administration, so long as the student has dated supporting/official documentation.

At this point USF is not accepting equivalencies with the IELTS test for establishing English proficiency.

In addition, all international applicants must take International Teaching Assistant Training. You can view the International Teaching Assistant Handbook here.