The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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For Instructors

Teaching Associate Employment

Current graduate students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and those applying to graduate school here are welcome to apply to be a Teaching Associate (TO) with the Writing Program. We have a long-standing relationship with the UMass Amherst English Department, and most of our Teaching Associates are MFA and MA/PhD students in English. We do occasionally offer teaching positions to MA/PhD students in other graduate programs at UMass Amherst. 

A full TOship in the Writing Program typically involves teaching three (3) sections of College Writing or Writing, Power, and Identity over the course of the academic year (usually 2 sections one semester and 1 section the other). Each section has no more than fifteen students. TOs participate in extensive formal professional development before and during their first year, then into their second year of employment with us.

Application Process

The application process for TOships is competitive: each year, in consultation with the relevant Graduate Program Directors, we hire 25-35 new TOs, and typically receive three to four times that number of applications. Initial offers for new TOships for the following academic year are usually made before the April 15 deadline for acceptance to graduate study at UMass Amherst. (Applicants who do not receive a TOship from the Writing Program but decide to come study at the University anyway are welcome to apply again the following year, though there is no guarantee that a TOship will be offered then.)

Applicants must provide

  • A curriculum vitae of their academic and employment history
  • Letters of recommendation
  • An expository writing sample
  • A short answer to a question about effective teaching
  • A response to a sample student essay

Applicants who are accepted into their graduate program and who are deemed acceptable by the Writing Program are then interviewed, either in person or by telephone.

Applications are judged on the following criteria:

  • interest in and commitment to the teaching of writing and to our students’ development as writers;
  • knowledge of and compatibility with the Writing Program’s philosophy of writing instruction — or indications of a philosophy of teaching and writing which complements that of the Writing Program;
  • openness and adaptability towards the Writing Program curriculum and different styles of teaching and learning;
  • insight into the writing process — ability to articulate both the complexity and the excitement of writing;
  • professionalism — indications of maturity (ability to handle a class), reliability, collegiality, responsibility; and
  • experience — teaching, tutoring, and/or experience working with diverse populations, including L2 writers and students with disabilities.


Applications for Writing Program TOships are due by December 15 of each year for the following academic year’s employment.

For Prospective TOs who are not currently enrolled

Prospective TOs can download the application in Word format or in PDF format, and upload the completed application to the "Add Materials" tab in the Graduate Admissions Portal. Applicants must submit this application alongside their application to Graduate School.

For UMass Graduate Students who are currently enrolled

UMass Graduate Students who are currently enrolled may download the application in Word format or in PDF format, and email their completed application to Heidi Terault.