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MFA | Teaching Resources


SEE ALSO — Instructional Technologies

Teaching Opportunities

Teaching Assistantships

Apprentice teaching is an integral part of the MFA curriculum. MFA students are expected to earn a minimum of 4 units of course credit by working as teaching assistants. The duties of a TA include attending course lectures, grading papers and examinations, meeting with the supervising professor to discuss the progress of the course, conducting discussion sections, and holding office hours.

Fulltime MFA students in good standing are eligible to apply for teaching assistantships during the 2-3 years of their program. Most TAships are at 25-50% time (about 10-20 hours per week) and offer 2-4 units of course credit. The maximum academic employment appointment a student may accept is 50%. Anything over that must be petitioned as an exception, and then only up to 75% time. International students are not eligible for employment above 50% time.

The Literature Department has a limited number of TAships, which it awards at its discretion. New MFA students may be invited to TA at 25% time for Literature's LTWR 8 lower-division creative writing series. Continuing students are expected to apply for and obtain 50% TAships with one of the six college writing programs. Both entering and continuing students may apply for TAships with academic programs outside of Literature and the six colleges. Refer to employment opportunities below and the MFA Support page for more information.

Academic Student Employment Opportunities

UAW Representation

Academic Student Employees are represented by the United Auto Workers union. The contract between UCSD and the UAW can be found at http://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/labor/bargaining-units/bx/index.html. ASEs must attend a UAW orientation on campus during their first quarter of employment.

Summer Teaching & Academic Connections

The prospects for summer TAships are slim. There are few positions available and doctoral students are usually more competitive than masters students. MFA students who would like to teach during the summer should check out Academic Connections.

Academic Connections hires UCSD graduate students to teach three-week courses for high achieving high school students during the month of July. Instructors propose and develop their own courses. Course proposals are solicited during Fall quarter of the current year for courses to be taught next year. Note that these temporary instructor positions are very different from ASE positions. They operate by a different rules regarding pay, course cancelation, employment rights and responsibilities, and so forth.

Teaching Instruction

Mandatory TA Training


New TA Orientation

At the campuswide annual TA orientation in Fall quarter, new teaching assistants participate in presentations and discussions about how to be a successful TA, with opportunities to meet and hear from graduate students, faculty and staff from across campus who are ready to support new TAs as they face the challenges of helping students learn.

Literature Department Training

Students who TA for Literature are mentored by the MFA Program Director and course instructors. Learning is experiential. Instructor differ in how closely they supervise their TAs. Most provide guidelines and encourage TAs to collaborate with each other but allow each TA a lot of latitude regarding how to conduct their discussion section. TAs who desire more guidance are expected to take the initiative and ask their instructor and/or the MFA Program Director for additional mentoring.

Writing Programs Training

Students who TA for one of the college writing programs attend their program's 1-2 day orientation in Fall quarter, plus weekly hour-long program meetings and regular meetings with course instructors.


Optional Learning Opportunities


Center for Engaged Teaching (Teaching + Learning Commons)

The Center for Engaged Teaching offers resources for TAs and provides instructional development for graduate students who are preparing for a teaching career at the university level. MFA students may sign up for workshops and training. CET training cannot be credit toward the MFA degree.

UCSD Extension

UCSD's continuing education division offers an online certificate program in teaching adult learners. The program might be of interest to students who plan to teach at the community college level after they complete their degree. MFA students can apply for complimentary Extension vouchers to help pay for the courses. NOTE: Extension courses are not treated as equivalents to graduate level courses; the course credit does not appear on the MFA student's UCSD transcript and cannot be transferred and used for the MFA degree.