Teaching and Readerships

It is the expectation of the department that each student in the Ph.D. program will have the opportunity to serve at least two years as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI). Typically, students begin teaching in the third year, following successful completion of course and language requirements, and first serve leading weekly discussion sections for larger lecture courses taught by department faculty members. Once students have passed the qualifying exam they become eligible for appointments teaching Reading and Compostition.

Graduate students may also be employed as Readers for several of the department's larger undergraduate classes. Readers grade papers and exams and hold office hours to confer with students.

Students who are appointed as GSIs and Readers receive partial in-state fee remission.

Teaching Appointments

The Graduate Division, in accordance with a contract negotiated with the United Auto Workers, administers all general policies and practices regarding Academic Student Employees (ASEs), including Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and Readers. All ASEs are represented by contract with the UAW (http://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/labor/bargaining-units/bx/contract.html). For more information about general employment policies and practices, including the labor agreement, see the Graduate Division's web site at https://grad.berkeley.edu/financial/appointments/or go to the office of Graduate Services, 318 Sproul Hall.

To be eligible for academic student employment, as a GSI, GSR (research assistant), or Reader, students must meet the requirements listed by the Graduate Division.

All Academic Student Employees working 25% time or more are eligible for in-state fee remissions in addition to their pay. For more information regarding fee remissions and current pay rates for ASEs, please see the Graduate Division’s Appointments Guide.

Graduate Student Instructors

The Department of English employs Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) in two basic capacities.  Students in the earlier stages of the program who have not yet passed the qualifying exam and advanced to candidacy lead discussion sections in larger lecture courses taught by faculty members (with preference given to one of the department’s English 45 courses).  Advanced graduate students typically teach their own sections of English 1A/B Reading and Composition, but may also lead discussion sections in larger upper-division literature courses.

In February, students expecting to teach in the following year fill out the Funding Review and Teaching Preferences form online, ranking their teaching preferences for each semester.  The department uses this information to help plan our staffing for the upcoming year.  The Graduate Chair makes teaching assignments in consultation with the Graduate Student Affairs Officer. Appointments are assigned considering departmental need, student preference, academic record, teaching performance, progress toward the degree, and any prior teaching experience. Typically, all eligible students who are in good standing will receive a teaching appointment.

To be appointed to teach Reading and Composition, GSIs must first pass their qualifying examination and advance to doctoral candidacy. Students who have not yet taken orals at the time of application may still apply but appointments will be for the semester following the exam and contingent upon passing.

The Department follows the general regulation of the Graduate Division, which limits graduate student instructor appointments to eight semesters (excluding summer appointments). Students teaching in their 9th or 10th semester will require an official exception to the limiting rule, approved by the Graduate Chair. Based on departmental scheduling needs, students may thus be appointed as instructors for up to five years, with a sixth possible only by special exception from the Graduate Division. By system-wide university rule, the Graduate Division cannot approve exceptions beyond six years of teaching.

Summer Teaching

The application for teaching during the summer will generally be available in September for the following summer.  To be eligible to teach an R&C course, you must be advanced to candidacy before the appointment date. Graduate students who have completed the prospectus are invited to propose courses other than R1A and R1B as well.  Summer GSI appointments are based on the step of the student’s previous appointment. Salary steps do not advance during the summer.  Summer Sessions reserves the right to cancel courses that enroll fewer than 6 students.


Graduate students in English may be employed to read papers and exams in several of the Department's larger undergraduate courses. A Reader is responsible for the work of at least forty students throughout the term. Pay is based on an hourly rate, covering time spent in class and in holding office hours, plus a quantity of grading time per student Readers can expect the course instructor to provide a workload worksheet outlining how much time is assigned to each task required for the course.

A Reader enrolled in the Ph.D. program may also receive academic credit for his or her work in the following manner. With the consent of the undergraduate course instructor in charge of the readership, the Reader may enroll in 4 units of English 298 (Independent Study), to be directed by that instructor and covering the course topic. In addition to normal readership duties, the Reader will write a substantial paper and will receive a letter grade from the instructor. Only one such "Readership 298" may be used to fulfill part of the Ph.D. course requirement. With the graduate adviser's consent, this course may be included as one of the twelve (non-teaching) courses (see Requirement 1, page 1).

Graduate Division Policy on GSI Absences from Teaching

Source: https://grad.berkeley.edu/financial/appointments/handbook/#absencesleaves

Employees are responsible for reporting absences from campus and any missed work assignments to the Chair of the Reading and Composition Committee or to the Graduate Adviser. If an absence is unexpected (i.e., due to a sudden illness or accident) or will be for an extended period the Department Manager must be notified in a timely manner so that alternate arrangements can be made to limit impact.

ASEs may also be eligible for various paid and unpaid leaves, including military leave, short-term family-related leaves, long-term family-related leaves, bereavement, and jury duty. Please refer to the UC-UAW Agreement.