GTA Hiring Process | College of Arts

GTA Hiring Process

Graduate Teaching Assistant Hiring Process

Guiding principles

  • The allocation process complies with the currently prevailing Collective Agreement between the University of Guelph and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3913, Unit 1. In the event of a discrepancy between this document and the Collective Agreement, the Collective Agreement shall be considered the final authority.
  • Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) allocation is a complex and dynamic process, primarily because of the relatively large size of our graduate program. The most reasonable way to proceed (in terms of both fairness and efficiency) is to organize the applicant pool into a principled hierarchy of groups and then work through these groups in order.
  • The Department strives to ensure the best fit between GTA qualifications and the pedagogical needs of the course and/or operational needs of the Department. At the same time, the Department strives to maximize preference-satisfaction of applicants.

Consequences of the guiding principles

  • Graduate students need to apply for GTA positions using the TA/Sessional hiring website ( Only students who apply will be considered. Complete applications inform the selection committee about the times the student is available and the student's preferences, and ensure that students are not missed by mistake. Students who are guaranteed a GTA (Level of Consideration 1) for a particular semester are required to apply to at least one posting in the applicable semester AND identify themselves as Level 1.
  • In order for the selection comittee to make the best assessment of fit between qualifications and requirements, applicants must clearly highlight in their application how they meet the specific requirements of each posting to which they apply. Applicants can also customize each application to ensure they have highlighted how they meet the specific requirements of each posting.
  • Graduate students should consult their class (and other) schedules, or what they intend to be their schedule, before making their applications. In general, the student is responsible for ensuring that they will be available to TA for the course sections listed in their preferences. GTA duties for a course will typically include attending class lectures and invigilating final exams, as well as giving tutorials, grading, etc.; students should therefore not normally apply to TA for a course the lectures and final exam for which they cannot be in attendance.
  • Graduate students should make multiple selections in their GTA applications. The selection committee needs as much information as possible about applicant qualifications, preferences, and availability.
  • Students are encouraged to append as many preferences as they wish to the standard Application Form.
  • While applicant preference is always a consideration, it is not always possible to assign applicants to their first choice.
  • Faculty or graduate student preferences are taken into consideration in so far as they do not violate the process described below.

The assignment process

The assignment of Graduate Teaching Assistantships is primarily according to the following Levels of Consideration. Work is assigned to students in each level before moving to subsequent levels.

Level 1
Work is assigned to Philosophy students within their Job Security Period (guaranteed as part of the Offer of Admission).
Note: if a student has secured external funding for a semester, and that funding suffices to satisfy the level of funding which they were guaranteed, then that student is not considered within their Job Security Period for the purpose of GTA assignment. Such a student is in Level 2 for the purpose of GTA assignment.
Level 2
Work is assigned to Philosophy students who are within their prescribed program period (6 semesters for Master’s, 12 semesters for PhD) to a maximum of 140 hours per semester.
Level 3
Work is assigned to Philosophy students who are outside their prescribed program period to a maximum of 140 hours per semester.
Level 4
Work is assigned to Philosophy students who have already been assigned 140 hours in a semester (select “consider me for more than one assignment” when applying to qualify).
Level 5
Work is assigned to students outside of Philosophy.

Because the primary consideration is to ensure the best fit between applicant qualifications and the pedagogical needs of the course and/or operational needs of the Department, the Department considers the following within each level of consideration:

  • Qualifications, competence, capability, skill and prior experience;
  • Coverage of all available work assignments;
  • Class schedule and availability;
  • Applicant preferences expressed during the application process each semster, and
  • Seniority (when all else is equal).

Assignment of Work Assignments in Level of Consideration 1

In assigning Level of Consideration 1 work assignments, the Department considers individuals in the following order:

1a  Students in the first year of the PhD program;

1b  Students in the first year of the MA program;

1c  Students in the second or later year of the PhD program; then,

1d  Students in the second or later year of the MA program.

There is no algorithm for doing this, but in general the selection committee considers the qualifications of members of the group one by one, listed according to their seniority points, and assigns them a GTA position as high up their preference listing as possible. In the event that none of a student’s preferences are available, the committee normally assigns a GTA position that is as close as possible to one of those in that student’s preference list, in terms of schedule and content. As each student is considered in turn, the committee looks at assignments that have already been made within the group and considers whether changing these assignments could result in an overall set of assignments that better maximizes preference satisfaction. Where there is a conflict between two candidates for a single work assignment, preference is given to candidates with higher seniority. The committee must also ensure effective delivery of all courses with attention to providing a high-quality experience for our undergraduates. This may, on occasion, affect the assignment of GTA positions. 

Two points follow from this process that are worth making explicit:

  • For the purposes of applying the Collective Agreement to Level of Consideration 1 work assignments in the Department of Philosophy, first year applicants in the same group are considered to be equally qualified.
  • Seniority considerations enter this process in the initial ordering of students within each group. Only where all other considerations are equal would a particular work assignment be assigned to the applicant with more seniority points.

Rationale for this process:

The ordering of 1a-d is not specified by the Collective Agreement, but does not violate it. It is necessary to divide up the group of students guaranteed a GTA work assignment, as otherwise the size of the group is too unwieldy to pursue preference-maximization; a four-fold division is roughly optimal for our size of graduate program.

The principle for the division among 1a-d is:

  • That it is fairest to offer first year students their preference of GTA work assignment whenever possible, as they are the most vulnerable constituency: our aim is to give them the most positive experience possible in their first one or two GTA assignments. Note that only students in their first year who have a guarantee of financial support for the relevant semester are eligible for membership in levels 1a or 1b.
  • After applying this principle, doctoral students are typically placed on a higher level of consideration because of their presumed slightly higher qualifications and/or level of experience.

The principle for the intra-group assignment process is that the Department has chosen to aim, in general, for preference-maximization across the group of applicants as a whole. In effect, the Department offers graduate students themselves the option to decide what work will be the best fit with their background aims, and to express this decision in their preference list. 

Assignment of Work in Levels of Consideration 2–5

Once work assignments have been assigned to students in Level of Consideration 1, any remaining work assignments are subject to open competition. For each remaining work assignment, applicants are considered by Level of Consideration (candidates in Level 2 are considered, then Level 3 and so forth). A rubric is used to evaluate applicant qualifications against the posted criteria. The principle of preference-maximization is central in the selection commitee's deliberations. Where applicants are demonstrably equal, the applicant with more seniority points is awarded the work assignment.

Composition of the GTA Assignment Selection Committee

This selection committee in the Department of Philosophy is typically composed of the Department Chair, Graduate Coordinator, Graduate Program Assistant, and Administrative Assistant. At least one of the four members of the committee must be a designated group member (women, racialized people, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer communities, aboriginal people or persons with disabilities).

This written statement of the process governing the assignment of GTAs is provided for all graduate students entering the program and is publicly available on the Department website. All faculty and GTAs are encouraged to contact the Chair of the Department with any questions about this process.

Approved by Office of Faculty and Academic Staff Relations, March 2019.