These two names - RA and TA are more popular for the students who apply for a postgraduate program. My question is: what is the difference between TA and RA? Are these TA and RA facilities only available in US universities or others? Finally, what should a student seek for as either a TA or RA in their postgraduate studies or PhD?

  • IITs also has RA and TA duties. – Ébe Isaac Oct 3 '15 at 5:09

At my university, RAs are paid for 20 hours of nominal work a week, usually through grant funds, to work on a research proejct. TAs are paid for 10 hours per week per course with departmental or university funds to assist the professor of a course. Their duties may include: teaching so-called recitation sections of the course where the week's lecture materials might be reviewed or homework questions discussed or clarified, holding office hours where students can come to ask questions about material they do not understand or get guidance on homework, and marking homework problem sets. TAships generally do not involve doing research with a prof, though students with a TAship may transition to an RA with a professor if they sufficiently impress one during their TAship. The level of pay and benefits is the same (per hour) at my university. Both TAs and RAs are generally restricted to 20 hour per week of nominal work, and health insurance benefits don't kick in until they reach that level.

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    I think most of my department's TAs (officially called GSIs = graduate student instructors) are appointed for 20 hours per week. That includes the time they spend teaching (often their own sections of calculus or precalculus) plus office hours plus grading plus preparation plus required meetings with faculty in charge of the course. I'm not sure their duties actually take 20 hours per week, but we pay them for 20 hours per week. – Andreas Blass Oct 2 '15 at 20:18
  • At my dept., there is this thing called 1/2 TA + 1/2 RA. Graduate students in that category spend 10 hours per week TA-ing, and the rest doing research. Usually, I noticed that most of the TAs if not all are pursuing graduate degrees (Master or PhD) here, and are associated with some professor. In terms of pay, there is little difference between a 20 hour TA, (10-hr-RA + 10-hr-TA) and 20 hour RA. But as far as I know, in some schools, RAs are also paid on an hourly basis, and their pay is usually less than a 20-hr-RA. – Sayan Oct 2 '15 at 20:48
  • I think that both of these combinations are, more or less, available at my university. I certainly saw the 1/2 TA + 1/2 RA in my lab. – Bill Barth Oct 2 '15 at 21:23

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