FAQ
ta.cs.columbia.edu

General
TA Application
MSTA Fellowship Application
Payment Issues
Office Hours
TA Room

General

Q: How is a TA assigned for a course?
All students interested in being a TA must fill out an application. TAs are then assigned based on the preferences of the instructor. If the instructor does not specify any preference, then several factors such as past TA experience at Columbia University and other schools and letter grades in the course are considered. Assignments are made by the TA czar. Although many classes have TAs assigned to them before the start of the semester, some courses (especially introductory level) will have additional TAs assigned during the first two weeks of classes.

Q: How do I know if I have been selected as a TA?
You will receive an email from Prof. Tal Malkin (TA Czar) confirming your appointment as a TA.

Q: I am confused about the TA units. Can  you explain?
A TA unit is loosely defined as being a TA for 20-25 students (depending on the course). Unless your TA appointment email (which comes from MICE) explicitly says that you are a TA for 2 units, you should assume that you are a TA for one unit. If still in doubt, please send an email to taczar [at] cs.columbia.edu.

Q: My courses has registered CVN (Columbia Video Network) students. Have I been assigned as a TA for them also?
If the course to which you have been assigned as a TA has registered CVN students and there are more than one assigned TAs for that course then the course instructor will decide which TA will be responsible for CVN students.

Q: How many hours per week I am supposed to work?
You are obliged to work 10 hours per week for ONE teaching unit and no more. If you are asked to do more by the instructor then you should first take it up with the instructor first. If that does not work then take it up with the taczar.

Q: Will I be paid for helping students who are NOT taking the course?
You are NOT paid to service the students who audit the course. This means that you don't have to grade auditors work (hw, exams, etc) and you don't have to spend office hours (or other time) helping auditors. If you do help auditors, it's on your own time.

Q: How do I get added to Courseworks for the course I am TAing?
The instructor of the class should be able to add you. Please contact him/her.

Q: I worked hard during the semester as a TA. Is there a best TA award?
Yes, there is a best TA award with a cash prize of $500. Students nominate their respective TAs for the best TA award during course evaluations.

Q: I may need extra printing quotas. Can I get a quote upgrades from the department?
TAs in the CS department are designated as Student Officers by CUIT and are granted additional printing quotes. This requires no additional actions from the incoming TA.

TA Application

Q: I do not have a MICE account. Whom should I contact?
Please contact Janine Maslov at jnmaslov@cs.columbia.edu

Q: I am a MS student and I did not take all the import classes. Can I still apply?
Yes, you are eligible to apply.

Q: I am off-campus. How do I access my MICE account?
Please follow instructions here.

Q: I have applied to be a TA weeks ago but I have not received any news regarding the TA assignment. Am I still being considered for a TA position?
You will not receive an acknowledgement for your TA application, unless you are actually assigned (in which case you have to follow the link in that email to accept or reject the assignment).

Q: Do I need letters of recommendations to apply for a TA grader position?
No.

MSTA Fellowship Application

Q: I am an incoming MS student starting my first semester. Am I eligible for MSTA fellowship.
If you are an incoming MS student starting your first semester, you are NOT eligible for MSTA fellowship, unless you were a student at Columbia before (eg as an undergrad). You ARE, however, eligible for a grader position, and can apply on MICE as usual.

Q: Must the two letters of recommendation be from Columbia instructors? I have taught previously in my other university. Can I ask the instructors from my previous university for letters?
For those eligible and applying to MSTA, the recommendation letters need to be from Columbia instructors. If you were a TA here before (eg as a grader), the instructor(s) you TAed for must be among your references. Otherwise, you can ask for a recommendation from an instructor whose course you took. Note that those who have not been TAs before have a lower priority at receiving the MSTA fellowship.

Payment Issues

Q: How much I will be paid as a TA?

  • Undergraduate Grader: $2500
  • MS Grader: $2500
  • MSTA Fellow: 12 credits of tuition + $3000
  • PhD add-comp: $2500
  • PhD Teaching Fellow: See TAing for PhD Students for more information
  • PhD Requirements: See TAing for PhD Students for more information

Q: When will I get paid?
You will be paid semi-monthly. The payments will be on the 15th and the last day of each month.

Exception: Work Study students - Please contact the Financial Manager for the pay schedule.

Q: I had already applied and paid for a CS account before I was assigned as a TA? How do I get refunded?
If you have already paid for a CS account by credit card, you will be refunded only if you apply for a refund request within 30 days of your payment.

The CS account credit card payments are processed by www.kagi.com. To apply for a refund request send an email to refund@kagi.com . Also send a separate email to tacoord@cs.columbia.edu and cc it to crf@cs.columbia.edu with the subject 'TA: CS Account Refund Request'.

Kagi Refund / Return Policy

You can request a refund within 30 days of the purchase by sending an email to refund@kagi.com. Please include the transaction information in the email and explain why you are requesting a refund. When we initiate a refund, we will send an email to both you and the product supplier. We notify the product supplier to give the supplier the opportunity to resolve the reason for your refund request. Refund requests that have not been resolved within 2 weeks are processed and, for credit card purchases, the refund should then appear on your credit card statement.

Q: I am a CVN (Columbia Video Network) TA. How do I get paid?
The CVN TAs are not paid by the CS department. The CVN TA payment has to be arranged by the instructor. You should request your instructor to send an email to CVN. This email will explain that you will be a TA for CVN students for that course.

Q: I was a TA last semester and will be a TA during current semester. Do I need to complete any paper work?
Generally, you do not need to complete any paper work.

Office Hours

Q: Where should I hold my office hours?
If you are an undergrad or MS student, you should hold your office hours ONLY in the TA room. If you are a Ph.D. student you may hold your office hours in your office or in your research lab.

Q: How many hours of OHs shall I hold every week?
For each TA unit, you should hold two hours of office hours every week.

Q: Am I supposed to hold OHs during the first week of classes?
Yes.

Q: Am I supposed to hold OHs during the last week of classes?
Yes.

Q: Am I supposed to hold OHs during reading days?
Yes.

TA Room

Q: It has been one week since I was appointed as a TA. I don't have swipe access to TA room. What should I do? 
Incoming TAs are granted swipe access to the TA room, but the requests are sent to the Public Safety department in batches. These requests typically take about a week. Please send an email to the TA Coordinators (tacoord[at]cs.columbia.edu) if you are still not able to access the TA room after more than 1.5 week since you are appointed as a TA. If you need access to the TA room urgently during this time, you can arrange with the TA Coordinators too.

Q: The printer in the TA room is not working. What should I do?
Send an email to crf[at]cs.columbia.edu.


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