Becoming an AI
So, you want to become an AI (associate instructor). Here is what you need to know.
What is an AI?
At Indiana University, graduate students who assist with the teaching and administration of courses are called associate instructors (or AIs). At other universities, this position is often referred to as a teaching assistant.
Associate instructors have many roles that include, but are not limited to the following: Teach labs, take attendance, conduct office hours, manage classroom, proctor exams, prepare prep questions, print course material and assist the course instructor, as needed. For a more comprehensive list of tasks, see our list of AI responsibilities.
How do I become an AI?
Most of our AI positions are filled by our PhD students, most of whom are provided with an AI position as part of their funding package. A smaller number of our MS students are also provided with AI positions as part of their funding. If you have been offered an AI position, you should already be aware of this fact, as you would have been notified in your acceptance package.
We do have a small number of AI positions that are open to students who have not been provided with these positions as part of their funding packages. This would include many of our MS students. These open AI positions are hourly positions. They do not provide fee remission or health benefits. They are, however, an excellent opportunity to interact with other students and faculty, to develop your teaching and communication skills, and to get paid while doing so.
If you are interested in an AI position, you can apply online. Once you have completed the online application, you will be considered for open positions in all of the SICE divisions: Informatics, Computer Science, Information Science, Engineering, and Library Science. We will match applicants with courses based on their skills, experience, academic performance, and other relevant selection criteria.
Once you have applied online, there's no need to take any further action. If positions are available for which you are a good fit, we will contact you. There is no need to contact any of the divisions or faculty directly. In fact, doing so would be counter-productive.
Please note that we generally have many more applicants than we have open positions. Filling out the online application is a necessary step towards being awarded a position, but it doe not guarantee you a position.
Things to consider before you apply
Our associate instructors are a key element in the success of our undergraduate programs, and we take the hiring and training of our AIs very seriously. There are a couple of key requirements that we demand of our AIs. If you are unable or unwilling to meet any of these requirements, it is in your best interest not to apply at all. Having an AI quit or be dismissed from their position mid-semester is an enormous disruption to the learning environment.
So, before you apply for a position, be sure that you can fulfill the following requirements:
- If you are not a native English speaker, you must pass an English language proficiency exam. This is a requirement of both the state of Indiana and Indiana University, and is non-negotiable. There are several ways to demonstrate proficiency, the most typical being the TEPAIC (Test of English Proficiency for International Associate Instructor Candidates) exam. You can find out more information about the TEPAIC at the Department of Second Language Studies.
- You must be eligible for employment in the United States. This is true for most US citizens as well as most international students, but you will want to verify this and be prepared with the appropriate documents. More information can be found at our employment checklist page.
- You must be willing and able to fulfill all of the responsibilities of an AI. We expect our AIs to be available for the entire semester, with the exception of emergencies, and to perform their duties in a timely, honest, and diligent fashion.
- Additionally, if you have not previously taken an approved pedagogy class, you will be required to complete the AI Training Program. This consists of in-house and Center for Innovation Teaching and Learning (CITL) workshops scheduled throughout the first two semester of teaching. See details at the link provided.
Assuming that you can agree to the criteria listed above, you may be eligible for an AI position. There are inevitably more applicants than there are AI positions; however, there is no guarantee that you will be awarded a position or, if awarded a position for one semester, will necessarily be hired again in the following semester. That being said, if you are interested in an AI position, be persistent and apply every semester. Our courses, enrollments, and AI needs are constantly evolving, and although you did not receive an appointment this semester, for the next semester you might be our perfect candidate.
In general, we make AI appointments well in advance of the start of the semester. The following are some rough guidelines for the time frame of the application, planning, and assignment process.
- June: the application system opens for the fall semester
- July: enrollments stabilize, and planning for the fall begins
- late July, early August: tentative assignments are made, and faculty notified
- early August: students are notified of their final assignments
- late August: new AIs arrive for orientation and the semester begins
- October: the application system opens for the spring semester
- November: enrollments stabilize, and planning for the spring begins
- early December: tentative assignments are made, and faculty notified
- late December: students are notified of their final assignments
- January: the spring semester begins
We do have a limited number of AI positions available for the summer, but these AIs will be chosen directly by the faculty instructors. If you do a good job with your regular semester AI assignments and/or perform well in class, you may be asked to be an AI. There is no formal application procedure for the summer.
A note about undergraduates
For some of our courses, we do appoint undergraduate instructors (UIs) to assist with lab sections and grading. These UIs are selected directly by the instructors, typically based on previous performance in the course. There are separate application procedures and training sessions for UIs.