My TA letter indicates 90 hours working. However, I worked for 120 hours due to the volume of the students. Now my work is finished I want to let them know by writing an email to the professor. I want to be nice and thankful for the given position.

Note, my goal is to get paid for these 30 hours. I had already raised the issue with the professor before doing the work, and was told to do the work, record my hours, and then the professor would follow up with the head of department.

  • For general advice on communicating with professors, see academia.stackexchange.com/questions/90725/… – Nate Eldredge Jan 1 '19 at 4:26
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    By some norms of terminology, the stipend and workload for a teaching assistant are fixed at the start of the semester and are non-negotiable. You are considered a salaried employee, and "overtime" is therefore not to be given any additional compensation. By comparison, a grader may be hired on a fixed contract to be paid hourly. In this case, you are to do the equivalent of punching a time clock. This means, you are record and report your hours routinely, perhaps weekly or bi-weekly. Overtime may or may not have been allowed as part of the contract for a grader. – Jeffrey J Weimer Jan 1 '19 at 14:25
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    While I agree (and indeed said the same thing in my answer), OP has now clarified that she had raised the issue with the professor and gotten approval. – cag51 Jan 2 '19 at 1:02

Your letter seems perfectly polite. My one critique is that I'm not clear what you're asking for. Just to get your record updated? A larger assignment going forward? More money for the hours you put in already? I assume the last one (getting paid for those 30 hours), but I'm not sure. If you're struggling for words, you could call this a "stipend adjustment" or something like that.

It is good that you got approval before working these hours. If you had not (as the comments and other answers have noted), you would have very little chance of getting retroactively compensated. Hopefully you got a clear commitment in writing: there is still a chance this will be messy if the professor does not or cannot follow through on their promise to find extra funding for you.

  • For the first part of your statement: I want more money for the hours I put in already. For the second part of your statement: I have already talked to the instructor about putting an extra 30 hours. She told me work first and write down your extra working hours after completing the work we will communicate with the head of the department. It was weird for me. However, this is something that the professor wanted me to do. – nikki Jan 1 '19 at 5:10
  • Great! If the professor has already agreed to try to get more funds for you, there shouldn't be an issue (and my second paragraph does not apply). It might be worth updating your mail to reflect this: "As we discussed, I exceeded my 90 hour teaching quota by 30 hours due to the volume of students; I'd appreciate if you could adjust my stipend accordingly...happy to provide more details, etc. – cag51 Jan 1 '19 at 6:49
  • I was wondering if you could edit my post. Then others also might use this. Thank you. – nikki Jan 1 '19 at 6:56
  • I think you can edit your post directly (the "edit" button below the text)...but sure, I added this extra information to your post as requested. – cag51 Jan 2 '19 at 1:00
  • It is good that you got approval before working these hours. I think you’re misreading what OP wrote - sadly, it doesn’t sound like she “got approval” in any meaningful sense. What I’m getting from OP’s comment is “I got manipulated by the prof, who has no authority to approve anything, to work more hours than my contract demands.” The chances that the department head will (or even can) approve an increase after the fact seem very slim to me. But it’s worth a shot; certainly OP should ask the professor to follow up on her promise. – Dan Romik Jan 2 '19 at 2:20

If I were the professor (or TA manager) I would read your letter as saying, "Please reward me for being an inefficient, slow grader." And I would be very put off.

I could be that at your university, there is a problem with over-working TA's and graders. In this case, you might complain through proper channels that you don't think the published hours are accurate. If enough graders to that, the department might re-think their standards and adjust the workloads. (Perhaps the registrar has been slowing increasing course enrollments and the department needs to be aware that courses that used to be capped at 80 are now capped at 120 and the graders now have 50% more work to do.)

But the most you can hope for here is such an adjustment of policy. You won't ever be paid for the extra hours you put in. Welcome to salaried life.


The correct way would be ahead of time. If they really want the extra work, they can pay for it ahead of time.

In all likelihood, they DON'T want to pay extra for extra hours. So what you need to do is just spend LESS time and do an less good job. And concentrate on your research and your own degree.

Sorry if this seems blunt but it is the way of the world. Jam through the grading very fast. Don't do any extras. Just make sure all the forms are filled out and the like so nobody can yell at you.

Again...this is the real deal. Oh...and if you can get by with less than 90 hours and get paid for 90 without anyone noticing, that's good too. Look at it as an intellectual challenge.

Note: I'm not completely cynical. If you have to spend X amount of time (e.g. doing a lecture) than that time is sunk. So try your best, do your best in that time. But DO NOT PRIORITIZE TA WORK over your own research!

  • While I don't disagree, I'm not sure this answers the question. OP clarified in the comments that she did get approval ahead of time, and there's no indication that she prioritized TA work over other work. – cag51 Jan 2 '19 at 1:11
  • Based on the situation, it is not clear to me that there was a serious commitment. There is a big difference between a firm commitment that will be delivered on and a "yeah, yeah, we will take care of you". – guest Jan 7 '19 at 19:15

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