Columbia Computer Science Instructional Assistant Page

Thank you for your interest in an Instructional Assistant position. Please refer to FAQ for answers to frequently asked questions.


Last updated: 01/14/2019

TA/CA Application for Spring 2019

IA applications are open and assignments are underway. You are notified only when you are assigned.

Courses Seeking TA/CAs

Last updated: 03/06/2019

If interested and qualified, please apply on MICE. Contact the instructor for any questions.

CS 6998 (Topics In Computer Science, I)

In this course, fundamental theoretical concepts of quantum computation and quantum information will be covered. In addition, hands-on development and experimentation of quantum algorithms will be demonstrated upon actual quantum devices. Special consideration will be given to realization of limitations of current, non-fault tolerant quantum systems, as well as means to mitigate them when possible.

Specifically, the course will address the following topics:

COMS 6180: Modeling & Performance Evaluation

The TA should have a background in probability (taken at least an introductory class in probability and statistics and received A- or above). Knowledge of queueing theory and Markov Chains is preferred but not a requirement. Responsibilities would include grading of homework problems and holding office hours. Solutions will be provided for the homeworks.

Instructors: Vishal Misra

COMS 6698-7: Empirical Methods of Data Science

Prerequisites: COMS 4705 (NLP) preferred and one statistics course required.

Instructors: Michelle Levine

APMA E4990-1: Modeling Social Data

Grader Position - Compensation $3k

Skills needed in decreasing order of usefulness: R, Bash, General compute familiarity

Please contact instructors for more information.

Course Description

APMA E4990-2: Introduction to Data Science Industry

Grader Position - Compensation $3k

Skills needed in decreasing order of usefulness: Python, Statistics

Please contact instructors for more information.

Course Description

COMS 4419: Internet Technology, Economics and Policy

See for more information.

Desirable background: introductory networking class such as COMS 4119. A background in economics or law is *not* required.

Instructors: Henning Schulzrinne


A CA (course assistant) is an undergraduate or MS student who helps the instructor and students with tasks such as grading, office hours, proctoring, webpage maintenance, etc (this may differ depending on class needs). However, CAs do not perform any teaching duties. We also have a small number of CA fellowship positions for MS students who have proven themselves to be exceptional and needed to help for classes. More details on that below. Students can hold a CA position for at most two semesters, in order to allow more students the opportunity to CA.

A TA (teaching assistant) is typically a PhD student TA, although we also have a limited number of TAIII positions for undergrads who have proven themselves to be exceptional assistants (as CAs or TAIII in previous semesters) and are required for large classes. TAs can be assigned some teaching responsibilities in addition to other tasks.

We sometimes collectively refer to all types of CA/TA as "instructional assistants" (IA).


The Computer Science Department requires that you:

  1. Are a currently registered student at Columbia University
  2. Are in good academic and conduct standing with the University (For more information, refer to Columbia Engineering Policy on Conduct and Discipline and Columbia University Policies and Regulations)

Please note that by submitting your IA application, you grant permission to the Computer Science Department to inquire about your disciplinary and conduct history and also grant permission to the Graduate Student Affairs Office/the Office of Judicial Affairs to release relevant information.


Typically, compensation is $2500 per unit for the semester. The only exceptions are PhD students who are TAing towards their requirement, and those MS students who are assigned as CA fellows (see below).

Note that if an instructional assistant (of any type) is appointed late or submits their required paperwork late, their compensation will be prorated accordingly.

Application Process

You apply for an Instructional Assistant position using the Computer Science Department's MICE system. If you do not have a MICE account, please email Please go to the Instructional Assistant menu and select "Instructional Assistant Application" to start the application process.

You may update your application and change your class preferences at any time (including after the deadline), and only the last version will be kept. However, this risks removing a class where an instructor had already rated you, or not being seen by instructors of new classes you just added (if those already rated their applicants). Since most assignments are based on instructor requests, I recommend completing your application by the soft deadline, and then changing only if you have a good reason to. We will maintain information on our webpage, including advertising classes where we are missing qualified applicants.

All assignments are done in "units", depending on class enrollment and needs. Each unit is up to 10 hours of work/week on average. Students will not be assigned for more than 2 units a semester, except under exceptional circumstances.

If you are selected to be an Instructional Assistant, you will receive an email from the MICE system. Please note that while most of the Instructional Assistant assignments are completed by the first week of classes, the selection process may continue until 2 to 3 weeks into the semester.

Anyone can apply, but all else being equal, we will give priority to students (grads and undergrads from CC, SEAS, GS, Barnard) who are majoring in CS or CE, over students from other departments.

Appointment Process

You will be notified by email when you are selected for an Instructional Assistant position. Once you accept the appointment, below are the forms you will have to fill out, depending of your hire/rehire status:

    1. If you are a new hire and never worked at the university before, or are an employee of Barnard College or Teachers College, you must complete an I-9 regardless of citizenship or visa status before the start of classes or within 3 days within 3 business days or prior to the beginning of the semester. The official start date to provide the I-9 Processing Center is the date you complete your I-9 form or the beginning of the month (Sept 1st or January 1st). You cannot start working without completing the I-9 process.
    2. If you do not yet have a Social Security Number, please come to CS457 as soon as you complete step a (I-9 verification at 210 Kent Hall) for further instruction.
    3. Below you will find the employment packets- please print out (single sided) and fill in the corresponding packet and bring it with you to CS478.
      1. CA
      2. CA Fellow
      3. TAIII
      4. Payroll Casual Calendar and Timesheets- Summer 19 (for CA and CA Fellows ONLY)
    1. If you have previously worked in the Computer Science Department as a CA or CA Fellow please click here for reactivation forms
    2. If you were previously a TA III no additional paperwork is necessary unless your I-20 has expired. If your I-20 has expired, take your updated I-20, I-94, visa and passport to the I-9 Processing Center to update your I-9. Bring the updated I-9, I-20, I-94, visa and passport to Jack Tomaselli ( so your personnel record can be updated. You cannot be placed on payroll without completing this process.

    Failure to complete the I-9 process within 3 days of accepting the position in MICE will result in a delay of the position and pay. Submission of employment paperwork is required before you begin your work.

    PAPERWORK PROCESS : Jack Tomaselli and Vincci Ho will be assisting with collecting and guiding you through the hiring process. Below are the steps:

    1. Access and fill out the appropriate employment package - (See above - PRINT SINGLE SIDED ONLY)
    2. Please contact Jack Tomaselli or Vincci Ho ( to make an appointment to submit paperwork.
    3. Please make sure you have your I-9 and your SSN receipt - if needed and also bring all your documentation (Passport, Visa, I-94, I-20 and all other employment forms)
    4. For additional questions concerning the hiring documents or process please email Jack or Vincci at
  3. GRA's who also TA
    Students completing PhD teaching requirements do not have to complete any paperwork but are required to accept the position in MICE. All currently funded GRAs who will be paid for TA duties as add-comp must accept the position in MICE and complete the Add Comp Authorization form click here. Upon completion you must forward the form, via email attachment, it to your faculty advisor for electronic approval. The completed form with your faculty's approval must then be emailed to the Department Chair for approval. Please copy Maria Joanta ( on all Add Comp approval requests emails sent to faculty.


There are three different types of Instructional Assistant positions: Teaching Assistant, TAIII, and Course Assistant.

Teaching Assistants are mostly doctoral students. For a few first- and second-year undergraduate courses with large enrollments, high-achieving undergraduate students who have performed well in these courses may serve as Teaching Assistants (TAIII) for several semesters. Primary responsibilities include:

Course Assistants are high-achieving MS and advanced UG students who have performed well in the course or a course with similar content. Primary responsibilities are:

Course Assistants do not hold recitation sections or to give lectures. Specific duties may vary based on class and instructor requirements. Course Assistants are assigned as CAs for one or at most two semesters.

Code of Conduct

As an Instructional Assistant, you play a valuable and integral role in shaping the ethical direction of our students. You are ambassadors and role models. As such, the following four principles must be adhered to: respect, trustworthiness, fairness, and responsibility. An Instructional Assistant treats others with respect: An Instructional Assistant acts in a trustworthy manner: An Instructional Assistant treats students fairly: An Instructional Assistant acts in a responsible manner:


If you have any questions please contact me at and the IA coordinators at