TA Frequently Asked Questions

Department-Specific information

Many of the questions that TAs have have answers specific to the department that hires the TA.  For answers to these questions (and more), please see the Departmental Information page, which has answers from Academic Coordinators. 

How do I get to be a TA?

There are a variety of ways that TAs are appointed.  In some departments and for some programs, students are required to serve as a TA for at least one term.  In those departments, often Academic Coordinators work with faculty and students to determine which student will serve as a TA for which course.  In other departments, faculty are responsible for finding their own TAs, so they may solicit those who have taken their course in previous terms, or they may send requests out on a student listserv, for example.  Some departments also maintain a list of potential TAs, so that they can help match faculty and qualified students. 

How much do TA's get paid?

This depends on the department, and the specific TA role.  For more information, see the Departmental Information pages.

What does a TA do?

TAs serve many functions in a course.  Here are a few of the more common responsibilities:
  • Grading (most TA's are involved in grading in some way)
  • Facilitating discussions (online or face-to-face)
  • Answering student questions
  • Coordinating guest speakers
  • Costing course materials on the CoursePlus or Online Course System site
  • Beta-testing exams

Some TA's may be more involved in teaching responsibilities, leadership or course design.  For example, you could be asked to:

  • Help compose (or provide feedback on) exam questions
  • Present a mini-lecture
  • Facilitate a LiveTalk (online classes)
  • Conduct Office Hours
  • Manage/Coordinate a team of TAs

These are not comprehensive lists of tasks.  An extremely important step when becoming a TA is to sit down with your faculty and discuss (and write down!) exactly what the faculty expect of you as a TA.  Different courses and different faculty will have a variety of requirements for TAs and it's important to make sure everyone is clear on those expectations before the term starts.

How much time does it take to be a TA?

This will depend based on the department, course and role, but many TA roles often require 5-10 hours  per week and may require additional effort before and after the term.  This is an important question to ask your faculty member when discussing the specific TA assignment.

What skills/training do I need to be a TA?

The Center for Teaching and Learning offers a training course for new TAs.  It is not required by all departments, but it is available to any student who wishes to be a TA.  To determine if the course is required in your department, and to enroll in the course, contact your Academic Coordinator. 

Do I have to be a TA?

That depends on your department and degree program.  Refer to your student handbook, your department's information page on this site, or contact your Academic Coordinator for more details.

Do online courses have TAs?

Yes!  TAs are extremely important in online courses.  TAs are often responsible for communicating with students, managing the BBS (and alerting faculty to interesting posts), grading, and updating the course website, with the direction of the faculty. 

What are the requirements to be a TA?  What if I'm an international student?

You have to be an enrolled student at Johns Hopkins (JHSPH, SON, or SOM) in order to serve as a Teaching Assistant.  International Students can be TA's but must meet certain requirements.  See your department's page, or your Academic Coordinator for more details on International Student requirements to be a TA.

Do TA's at JHSPH ever teach an entire course?

No.  Unlike many institutions, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has faculty instructors for all courses.  Teaching Assistants will never be asked to teach an entire course.  For students who have an interest in pursuing a teaching career, some faculty will allow a supervised lecture or course session led by a TA so that the TA can gain teaching experience in a supervised environment in which they can also receive feedback.

Where do I go for help?

If you need assistance with CoursePlus, contact CTL (CTLhelp@jhu.edu).

If you need help with Multimedia, submit a Multimedia Request Form.

If you need help with Classroom Logistics, scheduling, food service, etc go to the Classroom Logistics page for more information. 

For information on email addresses and other course-specific technology considerations, please see the Toolkit's Technical Logistics page. 

If you have been asked to do something outside of the scope of your TA assignment, or you feel uncomfortable with a situation that has arisen during your assignment, contact your Academic Coordinator, your department's Faculty Academic Chair or Associate Chair (or equivalent), or see if there is an alternative contact listed on your department's information page

Additional Questions

If you have a question that is not answered on this page, or a departmental information page, please submit it in the comments below, and we will address it as soon as possible.