Graduate Teaching Assistantships

About the Award Winning Basic Course Program

The Department of Communication Studies Graduate Teaching Assistantship program is open to qualified M.A. and Ph.D. students and is part of our nationally-recognized Basic Course, which is responsible for teaching SPCM 200: Public Speaking. In November 2015, the National Communication Association honored SPCM 200 with its “Program of Distinction Award.” Our GTAs are the backbone of what is now considered one of the most outstanding introductory communication courses nationwide and a model in communication education for other institutions in the United States.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) serve two important purposes. First, students selected for a GTA position receive award-winning training in the art of teaching at colleges and universities—a vital skill set for an array of professional positions and for those interested in an academic career. Second, GTA positions defray the costs of graduate education, making access to graduate school possible for people from all backgrounds.

What will I teach?

First year GTAs teach one section of SPCM 200: Public Speaking in the Fall and two sections of SPCM 200 in the Spring. In subsequent years, GTAs may continue teaching SPCM 200, or may teach a wide array of classes offered by the department either on their own or under the mentorships of other department faculty members.

How does your GTA program compare to others?

While many graduate programs in Communication Studies across the country also offer Graduate Teaching Assistantships, we believe our program is unique and exceptional because:

  • Our faculty share a deep and enthusiastic commitment to teaching as a primary dimension of any academic career
  • Our faculty mentors are themselves highly-regarded teachers, having won accolades at the university, local, regional, and national levels
  • Colorado State University has recognized SPCM 200 as a “model program” in GTA Training and Preparation within the university and is being replicated by other departments
  • SPCM 200 was awarded the 2015 Program of Distinction Award from the Basic Course Division of the National Communication Association
  • Our M.A. program was recognized with the 2014 Outstanding Master’s Degree Program Award from the Master’s Education Section of the National Communication Association
  • All graduate students are required to produce a Teaching Portfolio as a requirement of graduation to document their skill in university teaching
  • Most of our graduate students earn a Graduate Teaching Certificate from The Institute for Learning and Teaching, in conjunction with their graduate degrees in Communication Studies
  • When possible, we offer students extra-department teaching opportunities, such as, paid guest lecture opportunities across campus and consulting and employment opportunities with The Institute of Learning and Teaching (TILT).

What is required of me as a GTA?

Students awarded Graduate Teaching Assistantships are required to participate in an extensive training program to prepare them for excellence in the classroom as professional educators.

GTAs participate in a three-part approach to teacher training:

  1. Pre-Semester GTA Orientation: Each Fall, new GTAs arrive on campus for a week of intensive GTA training prior to the first day of class. The goals of this training are to provide GTAs all the necessary knowledge, skills, and answers to succeed during their first week as a university instructor in SPCM 200. In total, GTAs average more than 22 hours of training prior to stepping into the classroom as instructors.
  2. Coursework in Communication Pedagogy: During their first semester, all GTAs are required to enroll in SPCM 675: Speech Communication Pedagogy. This class builds upon the pre-semester training to give GTAs advanced coursework in how to succeed as an instructor, in general, and a Communication Studies instructor, in particular.
  3. Ongoing Mentoring in Teaching: GTAs are mentored on an ongoing basis in all facets of university teaching beyond their first semester. This mentorship with our award-winning faculty takes many forms, such as:
  • annual observations by distinguished faculty;
  • written assessments of teaching strengths and weaknesses;
  • one-on-one conversations in teaching with class-specific faculty; and,
  • access to university teaching resources through The Institute for Teaching and Learning.

In addition to extensive teacher training, GTAs are also regularly assessed on their teaching skills. This assessment includes:

  1. Annual class visits and observations by department faculty
  2. Assessment of student course evaluation data
  3. Assessment of grade distribution data
  4. Completion of a Teaching Portfolio as a department graduation requirement

What is the stipend and are benefits included?

All GTAs receive full tuition remission, pending a positive annual review and successful progress toward their degree. In addition, GTAs receive a monthly stipend to defray cost of housing, fees, books, etc. The 2017-18 stipend for M.A. students is $1,584/month for 9 months, or $14,256 for the year. The stipend for Ph.D. students is $2,120/month for 9 months, or $19,083 for the year. (Note: funding is not provided during the summer; however, the department also offers modest Research Assistant stipends to graduate students on a competitive basis.)

In addition to tuition remission, a stipend, and free copies of the textbook and coursebook for SPCM 200: Public Speaking, all graduate students are entitled to the many benefits that come with student status at Colorado State University, including free membership at our national award winning recreational facilities, free travel on all city buses and the MAX Rapid Transit Service with their RamCard, discounts at the university bookstore and select city businesses, and eligibility to enroll in university health, dental, and vision insurance, among others.

What is the TILT Teaching Certificate?

Graduate students may also elect to participate in additional teacher trainings so they can graduate with a Graduate Teaching Certificate, offered by The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) at Colorado State University. The certificate program expands and enhances department opportunities for graduate students interested in pursuing teaching as a professional career and recognizes this accomplishment at graduation and on university transcripts. Historically, graduate students in the Department of Communication Studies have been among the most engaged participants in this program and report the certificate has been invaluable in securing teaching positions after graduation.

What is the application and selection process?

All applicants to the graduate program (M.A. Track A, M.A. Track B, and Ph.D.) are automatically considered for Graduate Teaching Assistantships. This makes the selection process quite competitive. Therefore, to receive full consideration for graduate teaching assistantships, applicants should be sure all required application materials are complete and submitted on time. Applicants with previous teaching experience or expertise should be sure to emphasize those details in their application materials.