Graduate Assistant: A general name for any Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, or Project Assistant at UWM. All Graduate Assistants must be enrolled for a minimum number of credits at UWM during the semester when they are employed. They are teachers or researchers in training.

Graduate Program Representative: The leader of a graduate program, and usually a faculty member who reports directly to another faculty unit leader, such as a department chair. The “Grad Rep” is responsible for day-to-day operations of the graduate program, including the hiring of Graduate Assistants in that program. Questions that a Graduate Assistant’s supervisor cannot answer, or that the assistant has reason to direct to someone other than the supervisor, will often go to the Grad Rep. The Graduate School maintains an updated list of Graduate Representatives.

Instructor: Any teacher in a course, including the Instructor of Record who leads the course, any academic staff who teach in the course, and any Teaching Assistants who also offer instruction in it. The term “instructor” is a general one referring to any person in an official role teaching a course.

Instructor of Record: The instructor in a course who has overall responsibility for developing the course syllabus, managing the delivery of course material, ensuring that learning outcomes are met, and issuing final grades. Teaching Assistants sometimes assist a faculty or academic staff member who is the instructor of record, and sometimes serve as the instructor of record themselves.

Major Professor: The academic advisor of a master’s or doctoral student, in a role that involves the graduate student’s own research and studies. However, the Major Professor directing a doctoral student’s dissertation is also often the supervisor of the same student’s work as a Graduate Assistant. These roles overlap, and are sometimes hard to distinguish, especially for Research Assistants, but are not the same.

Project Assistant: Sometimes called a “Program Assistant,” a graduate student enrolled in the University of Wisconsin System who is assigned to conduct training, administrative responsibilities or other academic or academic support projects or programs, except regular preparation of instructional materials for courses or manual or clerical assignments, under the supervision of a member of the faculty or academic staff, primarily for the benefit of the university, faculty or academic staff supervisor or a granting agency. Project Assistants are often employed in clerical, support or administrative functions that do not directly involve teaching or research.

Research Assistant: A graduate student enrolled in the University of Wisconsin System who is assigned to conduct research that is for the benefit of the student’s own learning and research and for the benefit of the university, faculty or academic staff supervisor or granting agency. This title does not include students provided fellowships, scholarships, or traineeships, which are distributed through other titles such as fellow, scholar, or trainee.

Student Hourly Employee: Student hourly employees are enrolled students who perform part-time and sometimes temporary administrative, clerical, technical, or manual work on behalf of the university.

Supervisor: All Graduate Assistants are employees, so have an official supervisor responsible for assessing their performance and providing feedback and guidance. Supervisors can occupy a wide range of other positions. For example, the supervisor of a Teaching Assistant leading a discussion section in a large lecture course is likely the faculty instructor of record for the course; however, the supervisor of a Teaching Assistant who is the instructor of record might be the department chair, graduate program representative, or a staff member charged with supervising teaching assistants. Similarly, supervisors can delegate some of their duties to others. A Research Assistant in a lab will usually be supervised by the faculty member who directs the lab and serves as the Principal Investigator on the project. However, that supervisor might delegate some duties to others, such as a staff lab manager who will also have some authority to direct the work of those in the lab.

Teaching Assistant: A graduate student enrolled in the University of Wisconsin System who is regularly assigned teaching and related responsibilities (other than manual or clerical responsibilities) under the supervision of a member of the faculty. Teaching Assistants do various kinds of instruction in different programs, from leading small breakout discussion sections to running entire sections of their own. In all cases, TAs are instructors in training, and should consider their TA experience as part of their own education.