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Teaching Associate (TA) Program

The Teaching Associate Program in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies (RWS) offers exciting opportunities for financial support and teaching experience to graduate students across the disciplines. Teaching Associates are hired to teach one or two lower division general education writing classes (RWS 100 or 200). All of these writing classes are designed to help SDSU undergraduates undertake writing projects that have the depth and complexity of university work. They teach students how to address complex arguments effectively, use source materials responsibly and make sound decisions about audience, context, structure, and purpose.

The goal of the Teaching Associate Program in Rhetoric and Writing Studies is to train first-rate teachers who offer excellent instruction in undergraduate writing and reading. The program provides ongoing professional training and support for TAs, who are encouraged to discover and articulate links among their graduate studies, their own literacy practices, and their teaching of writing and reading. Graduate students in the program therefore have an opportunity not only to teach writing to a diverse student body, but to learn and practice effective pedagogies and to experience the "rhetorical turn," the attention to the workings of discourse that is now prominent throughout humanistic studies.


"I came to SDSU and the RWS department to further my career as an educator, but also to answer fundamental questions of language, thought, and identity that had nagged at me for years but that I did not have the language to articulate.  Rhetoric taught me how to think about the world as constructed, how to understand my life as shaped by language, thought, and social interaction.  RWS gave me a career, but also a voice to speak my mind and better understand myself.  Every time I walk into a classroom, I am motivated by the passion to share with my students the empowering and provocative point of view of the world from the Rhetorical Perspective, a way of seeing life that has served them well and has made my life more meaningful.  This department gave me a voice, a fresh start, and a career.  More than that, the support of the department, the faculty, my professors, and even my students have made me a more thoughtful, compassionate, and effective educator (and person)."

Nick Schuur, Professor at Olympic College in Washington

The Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies invites applications from qualified graduate students across the disciplines. Candidates who are in the process of applying to an SDSU graduate program may also apply; their applications will be considered when they are accepted into a graduate program. See the criteria for appointment  section below for more information.

Application forms are available through the RWS office in Storm Hall West 141. You may visit, write or telephone the office (619-594-6514), or send email to [email protected] to request an application form and instructions for applying. The form is also available for direct download.

Application materials include:

  • An application form 
  • Transcripts
  • Three current letters of recommendation (ask the person writing the letter to send it directly to the Department of Rhetoric & Writing Studies, Storm Hall West 141, MC 4452).
  • A statement of purpose
  • A writing sample of about five pages of expository prose

Completed application materials can be sent by email or delivered to the RWS office.

  • If you are submitting your application by email, please email it to [email protected].
  • If you are submitting your application in print form, please post or hand-deliver your materials to:

    TA/GA Coordinator 
    Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies 
    San Diego State University 
    5500 Campanile Drive 
    San Diego, CA 92182-4452

Application Deadlines

Applications are accepted each semester. The following application dates apply for each semester:

October 26 (to apply to teach in Spring)
March 15 (to apply to teach in Fall)

Applications from graduate students in RWS are reviewed by a committee of faculty from RWS. Applications from graduate students in English are reviewed by a joint committee of faculty from RWS and English. Applicants are notified before the end of the semester in which they apply about whether they will receive a contract.

The best applications show excellent writing skills, intellectual work that is compatible with graduate study, and a commitment to and knowledge about teaching writing. Applicants should also demonstrate some familiarity with our Lower Division Writing Program.  In order to be qualified for this appointment, applicants must have successfully completed RWS 609 or an equivalent course.  If you are currently enrolled in RWS 609 and are offered an appointment, that appointment would be conditional on successful completion of the course. Currently enrolled graduate students must have a gradepoint average of 3.0 both overall and in their program classes. Preference will be given to applicants who have tutored for RWS or who have equivalent tutoring or teaching experience.

You must also be available to attend a 2-3 day orientation the week before classes start, and come to the weekly internship meetings. The internship meetings are held Wednesdays 1.00 – 1.50, and constitute a class you will need to register for. The class name is RWS 796A, Teaching Internship. One of the requirements for the first-semester teaching associates in the Rhetoric and Writing Studies Department is registration and participation in RWS 796A, Teaching Internship. This is an important class in which new teachers learn about department policies and best practices, the student learning goals and outcomes of the courses you will be teaching, as well as receive support in handling student issues, designing classroom activities, and professional development.

Teaching Associates have a unique status as enrolled graduate students, as employees of the university, and as members of a training program. The Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies is committed to the academic success of TAs. The department therefore provides a required sequenced program of teaching and training activities designed to improve teaching, to enrich graduate study and to broaden the range of experiences that graduates will bring to interviews, advanced graduate study and employment. Key elements of the sequence are:

  • Teaching one or two writing classes for which the Teaching Associate is fully responsible, and for which RWS provides avenues of friendly support
  • A two-day orientation to the program before the first week of teaching
  • A series of weekly meetings called "Issues in Teaching Composition" during the first semester of teaching
  • A conference on the teaching of writing during the first week of the fall semester (the week before classes begin)

Be sure to let the graduate adviser in your department know of your interest in applying. For more information, please contact:

Janet Tempelton
Teaching Associate Program Director
Phone: (619) 594-5238
Email: [email protected]