Do I have to be a student to be a TA at U of T?

Welcome to ASK a TA! This installment discusses who can be a TA at the University of Toronto.

Dear ASK a TA,

I am a recent graduate from undergrad and want to be a TA. Do you have to be a graduate student to TA? If not how do I go about applying?

Recently Graduated


Dear Recently Graduated,

Thank you for your question! Not all TAs are graduate students (some undergraduate students also TA), but all TAs at the University are students. So in your case, you would have to re-enroll at the University of Toronto to be able to work as a TA at the University.

Nevertheless, I will talk a bit about the broad strokes for finding TA employment at the University. There is no centralized TA hiring process across the University of Toronto. Instead, it happens through individual departments and divisions. Since TA hiring practices can vary widely from department to department, I will give the most common practices for TA hiring, but bear in mind this may differ significantly between departments. You can also visit our previous blog post Becoming a TA at the University of Toronto for some key considerations about becoming a TA at the University.

Hiring Decisions. TA employment happens either 1) as part of graduate student funding packages or 2) on an individual basis. If TA work is part of your funding package, the department will contact you to arrange your TA work for the year. If you are out of the funding cohort or your department does not offer TA opportunities, then you’ll need to look to other departments for TA work.

Very rarely, there might be positions similar to TAships that are available to non-students: these positions are called Sessional Instructional Assistants (SIAs). Not all departments have SIAs (especially those with a lot of graduate students, as unit 1 members have priority for this sort of work. For details on SIAs, see the Unit 3 Collective Agreement: Art.15, esp. 15:02). However, if your department does have SIA-ships available, these positions will be listed on the department hiring webpage, and you can submit an application to the pool.

Start your search at your home department. Most TAs at the University work in their home department or the equivalent department on another U of T campus. For example, if your home department is Geography and Planning on the St. George campus, you might find a TAship in Geography at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. So your first step could be to talk to the undergraduate administrator in your department. They will know what TAs are needed for the upcoming term or other TA opportunities that might come out later.

Hiring periods vary. The bulk of TA hiring occurs in advance of September. Students who TA as part of their funding packages will likely be notified over the summer. But hiring can happen at other times of the year. For example, TAs can be hired in the month or so leading up to each term (Fall, Winter, or Summer) and can be hired at any time through an emergency posting.

Know your rights and responsibilities are a public employee. When looking for a TAship, students should know their rights and responsibilities. At the University of Toronto, TA work is governed by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3902 and through the collective agreement (CA). The CA shows the agreement that the union and the University have come about hiring practices, safe work environments, and the limits of contractual work. When checking in with the union or the collective agreement, you’ll need to know what unit of CUPE 3902 you belong to. All TAs are part of Unit 1.

I hope that this addresses your question! Feel free to write us back if it doesn’t and good luck with your future TA endeavors!