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IV. GSI Appointments

Updated: March 26th, 2014

The term Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) is synonymous with Teaching Assistant (TA) at other universities. A GSI serves as an apprentice under the active supervision of the faculty member who is the Instructor of Record for the course. GSI appointments are for one academic year or less, and reappointment is not automatic. If you are appointed at half time, you can be expected to work 16–20 hours per week, during instructional and examination periods, including time spent in preparation, classroom and laboratory teaching, office consultation, and reading student papers. ASEs are obligated to inform their supervisor when they first perceive that their assignments might exceed the assigned workload maximum for their appointments. ASEs must obtain express advance written permission from their supervisors before working beyond the number of hours defined for their appointments. At no time should an ASE continue to work beyond eight hours in a day, or forty hours in a week.

A. General GSI Qualifications

  1. Academic Standing: GSIs must be in good academic standing (i.e., must not be on academic probation or have had their degree candidacy lapse), have a minimum 3.0 grade-point average, and have no more than two Incomplete grades in upper division and graduate courses on the transcript.
  2. Registration and Enrollment: Appointees must be UC students who are registered and enrolled in a least twelve units of course work, unless already advanced to doctoral candidacy, during the semester in which they are serving as a GSI.
  3. Graduate Standing: Appointees must be UC graduate students. Only under very exceptional circumstances may a UC Berkeley undergraduate student be appointed to serve as a GSI, and advance approval of the appointment by the cognizant Associate Dean of the Graduate Division is required in each case. UC Hastings College of the Law students may not be appointed as GSIs.
  4. Disciplinary Probation: Appointees must be clear of certain disciplinary probations based on the Code of Student Conduct.
  5. Oral English Proficiency: Students who do not speak English as a native language and do not hold a Bachelor’s degree from an institution in the United States must demonstrate oral English proficiency to be appointed as a GSI. In those countries where the iBT TOEFL has been introduced, English language proficiency is determined by the speaking section score of the iBT TOEFL. In those countries where the new iBT TOEFL has not yet been introduced, students can demonstrate their proficiency by taking and passing the Test of Spoken English (TSE) before enrolling in Berkeley or the SPEAK test offered on the Berkeley campus. Information on passing scores, testing options, and language courses can be found on the GSI Teaching and Resource Center’s Language Proficiency Web pages.
  6. New ASE Orientation: All individuals whose GSI appointment is also their first ASE assignment must attend a New ASE Orientation sponsored by the Office of Labor Relations for the semester they have been appointed. If there is a failure to attend, individuals will not be eligible for ASE appointments in subsequent terms until they have attended this orientation. See ASE Orientation dates.
  7. 300-level Seminar: All students appointed as GSIs must enroll in a 300-level seminar on teaching offered by the department in which they are teaching either concurrent with or prior to their first appointment as a GSI at Berkeley. These courses provide unit credit for preparation for teaching.
  8. Teaching Conference: First-time GSIs must attend the Teaching Conference for new GSIs, offered by the GSI Teaching and Resource Center each semester before classes begin. International GSIs appointed for the first time must also attend the teaching conference for new international GSIs, offered in the fall semester before classes begin. Pedagogy is the focus of the conferences.
  9. Online Course: First-time GSIs must successfully complete the GSI Professional Standards and Ethics Online Course by the end of the second week of classes. To enroll in the online course, please go to the Enrollment Instructions for the Online Course Professional Standards and Ethics for Graduate Student Instructors web page. The full text of the Graduate Council’s Policy on Appointments and Mentoring of GSIs can be found on the Web.

B. Step-Specific Qualifications

In addition to the general qualifications listed above, each step in the GSI series has a specific set of qualifications as outlined below. Experience associated with teaching through Summer Sessions, either at UC Berkeley or elsewhere, and at University Extension or its equivalent at other institutions, is not counted for advancement in the GSI series. Experience is counted based on the semester system. Teaching credit accrues on a semester basis regardless of the number of courses taught during the semester. When credit is requested, by exception, for post-baccalaureate teaching at institutions of higher education operating on the quarter system, the experience is not counted on a one-for-one basis (i.e., a quarter is not considered equivalent to a semester).

To advance to GSI Steps II, III or IV, a student must have completed a master’s degree or the equivalent. Equivalency is defined as completion of twenty-four units of upper division or graduate work in a doctoral degree program. Students who are currently in master’s degree programs are not eligible for advancement. Exceptions to this policy based on special circumstances may be submitted to Associate Dean Susan J. Muller for consideration. Advancement in the GSI series is not automatic. Once a student has been approved to advance to a higher step, he or she may not be moved to a lower level when subsequent teaching assignments are made. This does not, however, apply to step decisions made by Summer Sessions. If Summer Sessions appoints a student at a step higher or lower than the student would be eligible for under Graduate Division rules, the next appointment during the regular academic year is made at the appropriate level based on the step-specific criteria and other relevant qualifications.

  • Step I: The student has no post-baccalaureate level experience teaching as a GSI at UC Berkeley or has completed one or more semesters of teaching as a GSI at UC Berkeley.
  • Step II: If a student has completed at least four semesters of post-baccalaureate teaching experience as a GSI at UC Berkeley, a department has the discretion to appoint the GSI at Step II. Earlier advancement to Step II must be approved in advance by the Head Graduate Adviser of the student’s academic department. Consideration will be given to a combination of post-baccalaureate teaching experience at UC Berkeley and other institutions of higher education, a combination of extraordinary merit and teaching experience, or exceptional merit alone.
  • Step III: If a student has completed at least six semesters of post-baccalaureate teaching experience as a GSI or as an AI-GS at UC Berkeley, a department has the discretion to appoint the GSI at Step III. Earlier advancement to Step III must be approved in advance by the Head Graduate Adviser of the student’s academic department. Consideration will be given to a combination of post-baccalaureate teaching experience at UC Berkeley and other institutions of higher education, a combination of extraordinary merit and teaching experience, or exceptional merit alone.
  • Step IV: Appointments at this level must be approved in advance by Associate Dean Susan J. Muller. The student must: 1) be advanced to candidacy at the doctoral level; 2) have additional duties and responsibilities, beyond those normally assigned to a GSI, during the semester in which the advancement to this step would take place; 3) show exceptional promise as a teacher and scholar; and 4) have completed at least eight semesters of post-baccalaureate teaching as a GSI or Acting Instructor (AI-GS) at UC Berkeley.

C. GSI Duties

Departments must assign duties for a particular course at or below the level of a GSI’s experience and qualifications, as classified by his or her step level. A GSI who is at the Step I level in experience (less than four semesters of teaching) cannot be assigned responsibilities beyond what is allowed for that step.

Step I duties entail leading discussion sections or labs or instruction of prescribed course content, under the active direction and supervision of a faculty member who has final responsibility for the course’s entire instruction and for the performance of GSIs. The appointee is not solely responsible for instructional content of the course, selection of assignments, planning of exams, or for determination of course grades, but may assist in these tasks in collaboration with the instructor of record who has final authority. Other course support duties may include, but are not limited to, holding office hours, grading, and participation in development of quizzes.

Under the appropriate supervision of faculty, GSIs qualified for classification at higher steps may be assigned Step 1 duties or additional responsibilities.

Additional information on GSI duties and responsibilities can be found in the revised March 5, 2012 Policy on Appointments and Mentoring of Graduate Student Instructors.

D. Restrictions

  1. Students on Filing Fee status may not be appointed as GSIs.
  2. Students may not be appointed as GSIs during the period of in absentia registration status.
  3. Students must be registered in a state-supported degree program.  (Students registered in self-supporting degree programs are ineligible for fee remission per UCOP policy)
  4. Students may not be enrolled in the course for which they are appointed.
  5. Students may not simultaneously serve as a GSI and a Reader or a Tutor for the same course.
  6. During the academic year, graduate students with appointments may not exceed half time, nor may such appointments, in combination with other University appointments, exceed half time. For more information about this restriction, see the topic titled “The 50 Percent Rule” under the “General Policies On Academic Appointments” section in this document.
  7. Graduate students are limited to four years of service in any one teaching title, or any combination of teaching titles (GSI, Acting Instructor-Graduate Student, TA, Associate, or Teaching Fellow titles). Requests for exception to this policy for a ninth or tenth semester of teaching may be approved by the Head Graduate Adviser in the student’s academic department. Requests for exception to the policy for an eleventh or twelfth semester of teaching must be approved in advance by Associate Dean Susan J. Muller. The maximum number of years of service on the Berkeley campus is six (twelve semesters), which is an absolute limit established by UC’s Office of the President (UCOP) and cannot be exceeded even by exception (please refer to APM 410-17 Term of Appointments).
  8. Students may normally be assigned to perform the duties of a GSI only for undergraduate courses. Under very exceptional circumstances, a department may appoint a graduate student who has been advanced to candidacy at the doctoral level for a graduate course. However, for a graduate student who has not yet been advanced to doctoral candidacy, appointment as a GSI for a graduate course always requires advance approval by the Head Graduate Adviser of the student’s academic department.

E. GSI Salaries

The GSI salary chart is available on the campus Labor Relations website.


See All Topics in the Category: What You Need to Know About Being a GSI, GSR, Reader, or Tutor