Adjunct Teaching

A primer on terminology and systems
Getting started
Frequently asked questions
Academic dishonesty

A primer on terminology and systems

UNIA unique Columbia-wide ID that is based on your initials and random numbers and used to access Courseworks, salary payment, ID card, swipe access, etc.

Courseworks (also called Canvas) – Columbia University’s online course system for managing course materials, class meetings, assignments, and student collaborations. This single website, which you access with your UNI, is accessible to both faculty and students.

Computing Research Facilities (CRF) – The computer operations staff for the CS Department. From the CRF site, you can obtain VPN access, get swipe access into CS offices and rooms, and request help with software and hardware issues.

MICE – The CS Department’s internal system for sharing information and record keeping.

Piazza – A private-company Web tool for communicating with students. Though more limited than Courseworks–Piazza does not post homework or test grades, for example–some professors prefer for it for communicating with students, who can post questions anonymously and where all students can see discussions.

Student Services Online (SSOL) – A web-based, multi-purpose tool used mostly by students to register for classes, view bills, and update addresses. Adjuncts use SSOL to check who is registered in their classes and currently on a waitlist and also use it to post grades at the end of the class.

Getting started

Those looking to teach as an adjunct professor within Columbia’s Computer Science Department must first be recommended to the Department Chair by a faculty member who will serve as a sponsor.

Adjuncts who have been notified by the department chair or a sponsor to apply must follow the steps outlined below. Allow at least one month for the employment process; if a J1 Visa is required, allow at least three months.

Send your CV to After your CV is reviewed, you will be directed to complete the Instructor Online Form, which prompts you for the name of your sponsor, the name of the class, the class size, and other information, including a preferred time and day of the week for holding the class. Before doing so, it may be helpful to check the academic calendar (be sure to select the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the correct semester).

Upon completion of the form, you will be contacted for your date of birth and use this information to assign you a UNI.

Once your UNI has been assigned, activate it from the UNI activation screen. This sets up your Columbia email, which follows the form <your-uni>  Email aliases can be obtained to make your email more user-friendly.

Contact Justin Merced at the Office of the University Registrar (1 212 854 3238 or to have your UNI posted to the university-wide Student Information Systems and to request a classroom (you will again be asked for your date of birth).

Notify Stephen Edwards that you’ve been approved and have a UNI, and he will confirm the class time.

The class, once registered, will be listed in the SSOL class scheduling system, which you can access using your UNI to find out the classroom. Note that classes are also listed, with some delay possible, in Courseworks and also in Piazza.

Once the class is registered and posted, Ruth Torres will incorporate the class title, the start and end times, and the class caps into the formal offer letter. The offer letter will be sent out by along with other hiring documents. Sign and return as promptly as you can.

Meanwhile, obtain the necessary access and accounts and post textbook information as follows:

Get a Columbia ID card at 210 Kent. You will need to bring a photo ID.

Apply for a CS account using the Account creation/extension form. (Also available from the CS department website by opening the General menu->Computing ->CS accounts page ->Apply for a CS account.)

Enter information as prompted, and fill in the following as shown here:

Account type: Adjuncts
Sponsor: Choose the appropriate faculty member from the dropdown list
user-ID: [make up your own unique user-ID] password: [read section below] Payment: others (NO PAYMENT). Please do not pay for your account.

Password/RSA key
Important. Choose a password that is longer than 10 chars with a combination of upper-case, lower-case, numbers, and special chars. Do not include dictionary words. Columbia does not have a firewall, making your password the only protection on your account. Better yet, use a public/private key instead of a password.

When your CS account is created, a MICE account is also created for you (the password will be the same as the CS account password).

You will also be given swipe access to all entrance doors of the CS Department (CSB and CEPSR). If you have problems with access to these sites, contact Public Safety. Separately you will need to apply for swipe access to individual classrooms and labs as described in the next step. For a key to the Adjunct Office (CEPSR 7LW1A), contact Elias Tesfaye.

Set up Duo multi-factor authentication for logging into MICE. Visit this website and log in with your Columbia UNI. (For more information on installing and using Duo, go here.)

Apply for swipe access for individual offices and labs. Log into MICE, and under Facilities, select the option for Card Access –> Request. If you have any problems, contact Elias Tesfaye.

Apply for VPN remote access (optional). From the CS website, open the General menu and select Computing. The option for VPN is listed under General Information.

Post textbook information online, allowing enough time so students can get the textbooks needed for the course. To do so, log into Courseworks, which provides a tool for this purpose.

Note that Federal law requires that the university provide students with information on the textbooks their instructors expect or recommend that they purchase.

Apply for teaching (or course) assistants for your class. Log into MICE, and from the Students menu, select IA requests to see students applying to be TAs. Select the student you want. If you need help, contact the TA coordinator (Tal Malkin). Classes with at least 25 students will be assigned a teaching assistant; smaller classes can share an assistant.


Final grades are uploaded to SSOL. All grades must be official (no interim grades, for example) and must conform to the grading schema of the student’s school, which can differ slightly. SEAS, for example, allows Pass/D/Fail or P/F while other undergraduate schools do not. For more on grading, see the Web Grading Guide or refer to the legend on the SSOL Web Grading page.

Note that once grades are formally submitted, it is not easy to change them.

You can enter grades directly into SSOL, or you can upload them in one of two ways.

Directly from the grade sheet maintained in Courseworks

Uploading grades directly from within Courseworks/Canvas assigns equal weight to all exams and homework assignments. To assign varying weights, you must explicitly set the number of points in each case.

1. Log into SSOL with your UNI and select Web Grading (under Faculty Services) near the bottom of the option list.
2. Click “Upload File.”
3. Click “Import Grades from Courseworks” for the course you are grading.

Be sure the numerical grades in Courseworks are translated to letter grades as intended. It is very difficult to change a grade once it is submitted.

Upload your own file

1. Log into SSOL with your UNI and select Web Grading (under Faculty Services) near the bottom of the option list.
2. Click “Upload File” and follow the instructions provided.

Frequently asked questions

For answers to questions not listed here, contact Dan Rubenstein, who is faculty liaison to adjuncts.

Where is my office?
Adjunct professors have an Adjunct Office (CEPSR 7LW1A). For a key, contact Elias Tesfaye.

Is parking available on the days I teach?
Yes. Contact

How do I find out where finals for my class will be held?
Depending on scheduling, finals are sometimes held in classrooms other than the ones the class is being held. Classroom assignments are listed in SSOL. Log in with your UNI and locate your class by name (use the alphabetical letters at the top of the screen to list classes).

When, how, and how much will I be paid?
Salary is payable at the end of the month and is divided up into equal monthly installments; it is either directly transmitted to the bank via the direct deposit form or via a check delivered to the Department. The amount is dependent on many factors, including the size of the class. Contact for more information.

How do I set up Direct Deposit?
Access the account with your UNI and UNI password to set up the direct deposit through that site. Contact if you have questions. Direct deposit is highly recommended, as check pickup is available only on Wednesdays (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) and Fridays (1 p.m. – 4 p.m.).

Who do I contact for administrative/payroll questions not covered here?

How do I cancel classes in case of an emergency or inclement weather?
Send an email to students that the class will be rescheduled for another time or made up by extending the regular class by 15 minutes.

What if I have questions about computing services?
Contact CRF.

How do I see who is registered for my class?
Log into either SSOL or Courseworks with your UNI. Note that SSOL updates more quickly than Courseworks.

I need an assistant or to change the one I have. Who should I contact?
Classes with at least 25 students will be assigned a teaching assistant. Smaller classes may share a teaching assistant with another class. The TA coordinator coordinates TA assignments based on current enrollment information and history.

What is the Change of Program Period?
It is the first two weeks of the semester, during which students can add/drop courses without financial penalty. Expect to see more students attending your class than what the roster says.

I have a waiting list for my course in SSOL, but a student asked me to sign an add/drop form. Should I sign?
If your class has a waiting list in SSOL, do NOT sign the add/drop form without discussing it with CS Advising. By signing the add/drop form, you are allowing the student to bypass the waiting period.

Note that the wait list operates in two modes: by default automatic, where people from the wait list get automatically added to the class as others drop, and in manual mode, where you explicitly promote selected people from the waitlist. The manual mode is often used to give priority to people about to graduate.

The last day to drop classes is listed under Upcoming Events on the CS website and on the academic calendar.

Students say they cannot register for the course as the course is restricted/blocked. What does this mean?
Some courses are reserved for CS students only, and that is the most likely reason those students cannot register for the course. Contact CS Advising for more info.

I have serious issues with the assigned classroom. What can I do?
Contact the Registrar’s Office.

A student is requesting to drop a class after the drop date.
Registration issues such as this (or whether to allow an incomplete) are under the control of the dean of the individual school. Contact the relevant individual.

Should I allow students to audit the class?
It is up to you. To discuss the implications, contact CS Advising.

Who do I contact with questions about different grading options (e.g., difference between CP/IN)?
CS Advising

I have general questions about academic policy. Who should I contact?

CS Advising

Academic dishonesty

It is highly recommended that you discuss general and your own additional academic integrity policy in the first class. This will provide an opportunity for students to ask questions and for you to clarify expectations. If you have questions, contact the Associate Director of Academic Administration and CS Advising or your faculty sponsor.

When you suspect an academic honesty policy violation, contact the chair of the CS Academic Committee, Jae Woo Lee.

Updated 10/10/23