Assistantships & Instructorships


Financial assistance for graduate study in the Department of Economics primarily takes the form of graduate teaching assistantships (GTAs). In addition, qualified advanced PhD students may have the opportunity to teach their own classes as Special Instructors; information about this possibility is provided at the end of this section.

Application for GTA positions

Applications for financial assistance can be made at the time of admission by filing form GS4B, though domestic applicants are automatically considered for assistantships as part of the admission process. Most international students (with first language other than English) do not qualify, since the duties require native or near-native fluency in spoken English, as a basis for effective classroom teaching. International students who believe they meet this high standard and who wish to be considered for a GTA should contact the Coordinator of Graduate Studies to discuss how to provide suitable evidence.

Students already admitted to the program who have not previously received funding, but wish to be considered for funding in an upcoming semester, should inform the Coordinator of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Secretary of this desire in writing by February 1 of spring semester and October 1 of fall semester.

Occasional summer positions will be announced by the Department if and when they become available. Procedures for applying for these positions will be part of the announcement.

Criteria for GTA Selection

Funding decisions are made by the Chair with the advice of the Coordinator of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Program Committee. Funding decisions are made on the basis of academic merit (GPA, GRE scores, qualifying examination passes) and evidence of fluency in the English language, subject to guidelines for satisfactory progress and the financial constraints of the Department. In particular, because the Department budget is set annually (July 1 - June 30), there can be no guarantee of funding beyond the current fiscal year. However, subject to budget limitations, it is the policy of the Department to continue to fund students who are making satisfactory progress. See Guidelines for Satisfactory Progress.

GTA Stipends

GTAs are normally half-time appointments (20 hours per week) for the nine-month academic year. The nine-month stipend is paid over ten months with one-half month stipend paid in the first and tenth month. These appointments include payment of tuition, but normally for domestic students the Department will pay out-of-state tuition for the first year only. Students should take steps to establish in-state residency immediately upon arrival in Colorado and before the first day of the semester.

GTA Duties

Most GTAs will assist a faculty member in one of the large sections of "Economics of Social Issues," "Principles of Macroeconomics" or "Principles of Microeconomics" courses. The position is officially half-time. Primary responsibilities include teaching discussion sections, tutoring, and preparing, proctoring, and grading examinations. All new GTAs enroll for one semester in Econ 784, Supervised College Teaching, a seminar in which GTAs discuss teaching methods and techniques.

As a graduate student acquires teaching experience and proves his or her competence in the classroom, opportunities to teach classes independently may become available.

GTA Assignments

The Coordinator of Graduate Studies assigns GTAs who are assisting instructors as recitation leaders or graders. Assignments must take account of possible schedule conflicts with GTAs' own course registrations. If you have a request for a specific GTA duty assignment, please let the Coordinator of Graduate Studies know well in advance.

The Chair makes assignments in the case of GTAs teaching their own classes. Fall assignments often are not established until Summer, when the Department's budget becomes final. Spring assignments are made as early in the Fall semester as budget information and planning will allow. If you have a specific request regarding your assignment, be sure to discuss it with the Chair.

Evaluation of Teaching Responsibilities

Instructors supervising GTAs are required to submit a narrative evaluation of the GTA to the Chair in writing at the end of the semester. They are asked to base their evaluations on the information from the Office of Instructional Services teaching evaluation forms completed by the students in the course, personal observation, and any other pertinent information. Instructors should sit in on at least two recitation sections conducted by a GTA, preferably one near the beginning of the semester and one near the end. GTAs must sign this evaluation acknowledging that they have seen it. GTAs may attach a comment to the evaluation if they wish.

A GTA who falls out of compliance with the standards for Satisfactory Performance and Progress is subject to cancellation of the assistantship.

Special Instructors

Ph.D. students who are beyond the normal duration of assistantship funding allowed by the satisfactory progress guidelines, or who are otherwise unfunded, can apply to be Special Instructors. Each spring, when the possibility of openings materializes for the following academic year, the Department issues a position announcement that is circulated in the Department as well as being published publicly. The announcement states the relevant deadline and required application materials. Special Instructors are appointed by the Chair on the basis of the teaching needs of the Department. Evidence of teaching ability and suitable background for the teaching of certain specific courses are frequent determining factors in these appointments. Students must have successfully completed the Qualifying Exam and the relevant field courses to serve as a Special Instructor.