Teaching Requirement

Each graduate student admitted to the PhD program in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology is mandated to serve as a teaching assistant (TA) for at least two quarters.

A typical teaching assistantship is 110 hours/quarter (25% load, 2 units of BNFO 500); however, this varies by class. Students are strongly encouraged to do only 25% teaching assistantships, due to the impact on the time available for coursework and research. If you are considering a 50% position, please check if it can be split into two 25% positions. Please submit a petition to the BISB Curriculum Committee for any position with a load above 25%.

Students should enroll in BNFO 500 (Teaching Experience) or equivalent course code in another department, during each quarter in which they are a teaching assistant. They should also contact the BISB graduate coordinator in advance of each teaching assistantship to complete required paperwork and other administrative arrangements.

Bioinformatics graduate students will also participate in additional TA training provided by the Graduate Division through the Teaching + Learning Commons (TLC) and its Engaged Teaching Hub.

Students should attend the Teaching + Learning Commons / Engaged Teaching Hub Fall TA training (scheduled shortly before fall quarter begins) if they will be doing their first TAship any time that school year. Students doing TAships in other departments should check if the other department has a department-specific TA training program.

UCSD requires that all TAs receive training in teaching. Most departments use the Teaching Assistant Development Program at TLC to provide some or all of their training. Typically, training consists of a combination of workshops, observations, and consultations designed to provide an opportunity for graduate students, TAs, and postdocs to explore many of the issues involved in college and university teaching and develop the competencies required of effective college instructors. TLC also offers weekly workshops for some quarters. Check the TLC and Engaged Teaching Hub websites for further information, particularly these pages:


What classes are eligible for TAships?
We allow 25% TAship positions for UCSD undergraduate or UCSD graduate courses in any department; they do not have to be classes on the BISB Graduate Program or Bioinformatics Undergraduate Program curriculum. We also allow TAships for the BISB bootcamp. Please submit a petition to the BISB Curriculum Committee for any position with a load above 25% (see above).

Can I TA during the summer?
Students should notify the BISB Graduate Coordinator about all of their TAships to ensure they are properly recorded and because administrative support may be required, but there is an additional issue in the summer. During the school year, students receive credit on their transcript for TAships by enrolling in BNFO 500 or an equivalent code in another department. However, for TAships done in the summer when the student is not registered, the TAship will not show as BNFO 500 credit; they must contact the BISB Graduate Coordinator to ensure their TAship is recorded in the program's records.

Can the TAship use a TA course code other than BNFO 500?
BISB is an interdisciplinary program and most TAship opportunities are in courses offered by other departments, rather than BNFO course codes. The other department may prefer or require that TAs for their courses use the other department's TAship course code in place of BNFO 500, and we allow that. The TAship course codes include BENG 501, BGGN 500, CHEM 500, CSE 500, and MATH 500; these are the most common for BISB students, but this is not a comprehensive list (most main campus departments have a similar course code) and students may do TAships in other departments.