Department ofComputer Science

Guidelines for Teaching and Research Assistants


Teaching Assistant (TA) activities involve grading assignments and exams, running conferences and help sessions, helping the instructor in the preparation of course material, holding office hours, and any other activity that the instructor believes will help in teaching and administering the course.

Research Assistant (RA) activities involve software design/development, surveying literature, writing technical documents, and any other activity that the faculty researcher believes will help in performing the research.

All graduate students, especially those supported, are expected to attend the department's colloquia.

It is expected that TA/RA work will average 20 hours per week. Conflicts between TA/RA duties and academic responsibilities (e.g., exams or project deadlines) should be negotiated with the instructor of the course to which the student is assigned, or the faculty researcher. Problems that arise between the student and the faculty member which cannot be resolved should be taken to the

TA contracts are made with a duration of one academic year, with subsequent years of support based on the student's ability to effectively carry out his/her duties. MS students who demonstrate good performance in both their TA duties as well as their academic studies are able to receive departmental support for up to four semesters. Students will be notified if, at any time, it is believed that they are not adequately performing their duties. Students will have one term to resolve the problems or justify the behavior.

RA contracts vary with the duration of the grant and may include some support during the summer. Continuation of support is also dependent on the student effectively performing his/her duties.

Academic Standards

As defined in the Graduate Catalog, supported students must maintain at least a 3.0 CQPA for the duration of their support. Failure to meet this standard is grounds for loss of that support. TAs or RAs having academic difficulty should discuss the problem with their academic advisor as soon as possible.


TA/RA employment normally runs from August 15 to May 15 (9 months), and every TA/RA is expected to be on campus during this time period, except during scheduled WPI vacations. TAs are expected to be available for help with any appropriate work such as preparing course material for the next term. The RA employment period and duties may vary depending on the terms of the grant that is providing funding.

To assure adequate availability, the assistantship contract prohibits students from seeking any additional employment during the academic year, and failure to abide by this rule is grounds for the department to withdraw support. Under extenuating circumstances permission to obtain additional employment may be granted by the department head.

Trips or other absences of any significant duration should be approved by the instructor/researcher under whom the student is working and by the Computer Science Graduate Committee in the case of TAs.

Academic Program

Full-time Graduate students in the MS program who are funded by the CS Department or WPI with a Research Assistantship (RA), Teaching Assistantship (TA), or a Fellowship, are required to select the thesis option.

If evidence exists that a student is not working towards the thesis option while being supported then the department may take steps to have his/her support removed.