To be eligible for a graduate student assistantship, students must have an undergraduate degree or its equivalent, be admitted to a graduate program, and be prepared to devote full-time efforts toward the degree. Students seeking Graduate Student Appointments to serve as classroom instructors or in other roles that require communicating with students in English (primarily Teaching Assistants or Teaching Fellows) must meet one of the following requirements before teaching begins:
- Completion of baccalaureate degree requirements at a regionally accredited U.S. institution or an institution in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, or the United Kingdom at which English is the medium of instruction.
- There are three ways to demonstrate proficiency in the English language: Test of Spoken English (TSE) (passing score of 50); Spoken Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) Test (passing score of 50); or the internet Based Test (iBT) (passing score of 25). The TSE is administered at TOEFL test centers on TOEFL test dates. The SPEAK Test administration may be arranged with the UH Testing Center.
- Provide evidence of spoken English language proficiency using an alternate method to satisfy spoken English fluency requirements. Departments and colleges are permitted to develop alternative methods to assess spoken English language ability for those who do not pass the SPEAK test. Alternative methods must be approved by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies prior to implementation. The college of Natural Science and Mathematics currently has an approved alternative procedure to verify spoken English fluency. Please refer to policies and procedures developed by NSM for more details.
Students scoring below the required minimums should enroll in LCC 6034, English for International Teaching Assistants and Faculty. This semester-long, noncredit course, offered through the Language and Culture Center, focuses on English pronunciation, including individual sounds, stress, intonation, fluency, and overall comprehensibility; orientation to U.S. academic culture; and teaching skills, including non-verbal communication, explaining, presenting, fielding questions, and leading a discussion. Students will sit for the SPEAK examination at the conclusion of the course and the same minimum score as above (50) will be required to meet the English language proficiency requirement at that time.
As it is not always possible for an applicant to demonstrate proficiency in English prior to arriving on campus, conditional appointment as a graduate student assistant may be extended to allow demonstration of proficiency upon arrival. Such authorization requires the written consent and support of the student’s academic advisor and approval by the dean of the college of the student’s major as well as the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies. Until proof of proficiency is presented, the student may not be assigned to an instructional role.