School of Nursing: Standard On Teaching Assistants


School of Nursing: Standard On Teaching Assistants

Unit Standard



Clarifies terminology, requirements, training, and supervision of those who assist faculty in the performance of teaching responsibilities.

Scope of Applicability

Applies to supervising UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing (SON) faculty as well as to those who assist in the teaching mission.


Teaching Assistants, Teaching Associates, and Teaching Fellows are graduate students who perform a variety of roles related to teaching in classroom or clinical laboratory settings. With accompanying training, these roles constitute an apprenticeship in teaching. During the course of their graduate education, students in these roles should progress from closely supervised work to less closely supervised assignments in the instructional program. Some highly qualified graduate students may serve as Teaching Fellows and assume full responsibility for their own course. SON Faculty are encouraged whenever possible to provide graduate students with incremental experiences in teaching as they progress through their graduate program.

Graduate students normally do not teach other graduate students from the same program. Curricula, departments, or schools may apply for exceptions to this policy on a case-by-case basis by submitting a request to the Graduate School for evaluation. In such cases, a full-time SON faculty member must be designated as the graduate student's teaching supervisor and the instructor of record. Teaching Assistants, Teaching Associates, or Teaching Fellows who are directly involved in teaching nursing content to unlicensed undergraduate students in classroom and/or laboratory settings are required to hold a valid unrestricted Registered Nurse License recognized by North Carolina, and to meet applicable nurse faculty qualifications as cited for faculty in Approval of Nursing Programs and Clinical Facilities: Process and Standards of the North Carolina Board of Nursing (NCBON).

Below are the various types of TAs.

Teaching Assistants

Teaching Assistants (TAs) are graduate students who are primarily involved in assisting a faculty member with a course. In this capacity, the assistant rarely gives a formal presentation to a class, although some tutoring or assessment work with exams and required papers may be performed, the faculty member has the responsibility for assigning grades.

Teaching Associates

Teaching Associates are graduate students have greater depth of clinical experience and are involved in some classroom, recitation, or laboratory teaching, but do not have full responsibility of a class nor do they give a final course grade as do Teaching Fellows.

Teaching Fellows

Teaching Fellows manages a clinical group or a section of a multi-section course. Teaching Fellows may have primary responsibility for teaching a course for credit and/or for assigning final grades. Senior Teaching Fellows are TFs who have taught previously either in the SON or elsewhere. They have full responsibility for a course, including curricular design and may coordinate TA activities.

Selection and Assignment

In order to ensure that graduate students are qualified for their roles as TAs, the following minimum guidelines are provided:

  1. Only enrolled graduate students who are in good academic standing are eligible for teaching assistantships;
  2. Only enrolled graduate students who demonstrate oral proficiency in English are eligible for appointment as a Teaching Assistant, Teaching Associate, or a Teaching Fellow;
  3. Teaching Fellows must have earned at least 18 graduate semester hours in their teaching discipline prior to their appointment.
  4. Where applicable, enrolled graduate students must hold a valid unrestricted Registered Nurse License recognized by North Carolina and meet other applicable NCBON requirements for faculty.

Exceptions may be made only in individual cases based on criteria such as outstanding professional experience, commensurate work experience, and demonstrated contributions to the teaching discipline presented in lieu of formal academic preparation. Such exceptions must be documented. No exception will be made for RN licensure or other applicable NCBON requirements for faculty.

Clear procedures for the selection and assignment of graduate students as TAs prevent misunderstandings about and inequities in the allocation of School resources to graduate students. Written guidelines must be made available to graduate students for the selection and assignment of teaching assistants that are consistent and fair. To ensure a common understanding of responsibilities, the School will offer each TA a contract at the time of assignment that clearly specifies the expectations of the position the graduate student will fill.


Because teaching expertise represents a set of skills and attitudes acquired through training and experience, preparation for and practice in teaching are the core of a responsible professional development program for TAs. Training is provided for Teaching Assistants and Associates to ensure that they are adequately prepared for their responsibilities as teaching assistants. For Teaching Fellows, this training includes a systematic preparation for full course responsibility, covering course design and planning, instructional methods, evaluation, and grading, offered either prior to or concurrent with their appointment. The Center for Faculty Excellence may assist the School with developing training programs.

Supervision and Evaluation

To enhance the training and teaching experience provided by the School, the School assigns all TAs a faculty member who provides ongoing supervision and mentoring during their appointment. A procedure for providing feedback to TAs on their teaching is also implemented. The procedure includes at least one observation of, and a follow-up consultation with all students in these roles during each semester of their appointment. All first-time Teaching Assistants, Teaching Associates and Teaching Fellows will have at least two (2) such observations and follow-up consultations.

Further, all Teaching Assistants, Teaching Associates, and Teaching Fellows are evaluated by their students each semester they teach.



Related Requirements

Contact Information

Primary Contact

Peggy Wilmoth, Associate Dean Academic Affairs

Other Contacts


Important Dates

  • Effective Date and title of Approver: Approved 6/26/2001 by the Executive Group

Approved by:

Peggy Wilmoth

Associate Dean Academic Affairs


Article ID: 132425
Thu 4/8/21 9:31 PM
Tue 10/31/23 1:20 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
02/23/2021 10:01 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
02/23/2021 10:01 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
02/23/2021 10:01 AM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
02/23/2023 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
06/26/2001 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
School of Nursing