Graduate Student Instructorships

Download GSI Application HERE

University Definitions and Restrictions:

A Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) is a trainee student teacher appointed temporarily by an instructional department. Appointment as a Graduate Student Instructor or in combination with any other University employment may not exceed half-time.

1)    Qualifications:

All Graduate Student Instructors must be registered graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley. They must maintain a GPA of 3.1 or higher, carry a minimum load of 8 units; have no more than two “Incompletes”, and make continuous and satisfactory progress toward the degree — within the normative time guidelines established for the degree sought.

All first time Graduate Student Instructors who are not native speakers of English must attain a level of English proficiency sufficient to carry out their teaching duties, as shown by acceptable scores in either the Test of Spoken English (TSE) or the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK). The exam is available by the Graduate Division during the first two weeks of the semester. Only non-native speakers of English who have received their B.A., B.S. degree from an institution in the United States are exempted from this requirement.

2)    Salary:

The current stipend for one academic year is $17,655 and will be paid in ten (10) equal installments. One-semester appointments are compensated at 50% of this salary and paid in five (5) equal monthly installments.

3)    Restrictions:

A.    Four Year Limit:

Service as a GSI in the UC System (regardless of campus or combination of campuses) is normally restricted to FOUR years. In exceptional/extenuating circumstances, the Graduate Dean will consider an extension of eligibility. An absolute maximum of six (6) years is enforced in any event. Formal request for extension of appointment beyond four (4) years must be made by the appointing department and must be justified by the student’s graduate advisor or thesis director as well as by the departmental Director of Lower Division Courses. The letters from the graduate advisor/thesis director must: 1) explain the circumstances that may have delayed the student’s progress; 2) project completion dates for each of the remaining degree requirements (i.e. qualifying examination, filing of dissertation); and 3) emphasize the student’s scholarly merits. The letter from the Department Director of Lower Division Courses should support the request for an extension in terms of the student’s value and merits as an instructor and should include a discussion of the student’s teaching performance, special assignments, achievements, or special recognitions.

B. 50% Time Employment Restriction:

Graduate Student Instructorships in the Department are defined by the University as 50%-Time employments and imply that no other appointments in the University or elsewhere may be accepted concurrently with such an Instructorship. Rare exceptions to the rule are allowed, but only by approval of the Associate Dean of the Graduate Division and require, if approved, an 8.95% contribution to FICA taxes on the part of the student.

International graduate student instructors are limited to a maximum of 50% appointment per year. No exceptions.

For information on Unions, Bargaining Agreements, and Labor Relations, please visit their web site at:

Disability Resolution.

The campus offers many different resources for graduate students with disabilities. The purpose of an academic accommodation is to offer the graduate student an equal opportunity to meet the department‚s academic standards and requirements. The Disabled Students Program at (510) 642-0518 serves graduate students with disabilities (who complete the process for establishing eligibility) by authorizing academic accommodations. Disabled Access Services at (510) 643-6473 or 643-6456 can usually assist with accommodations to extra-curricular events. Most physical access issues are addressed in the Campus Access Guide. Finally, problems with accommodations may be reported to the campus Disability Resolution Officer at (510) 642-2795.

Graduate Student Instructorship in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese

In the Department a Graduate Student Instructor (a.k.a. Teaching Assistant) is normally assigned to sections of the Department’s Lower Division language courses, under the supervision of the faculty Director of Lower Division Courses and the Assistant Directors. GSIs are expected to assist with classroom teaching of one section per term (five hours per week), language laboratory duties, and all other duties connected with the proper functioning of the assigned section, as established by the Director of Lower Division Courses. Fulfillment of these duties and responsibilities will require an average of twenty hours per week (17 weeks = 340 hours).

All graduate students seeking an initial appointment in the Department—for any part of the academic year—-are required to attend the Department’s orientation program and to enroll, during or prior to initial appointment, in the Department’s methodology course (Spanish 375—-Teaching Spanish in College), both of which are offered only in the fall semester of each year. Students who have completed similar courses or programs at another institutions are NOT exempt from these requirements. Students entering a graduate program in mid-year or wishing to begin teaching in the spring semester must make special arrangements for the completion of the requirements with the Director of Lower Division Courses. GSIs are expected to be available for duty the first day of the semester through the time that final grades have been computed and turned in to the supervisor in charge.

Appointments are for one semester or for one year and are self-terminating. Reappointment is contingent upon: a) continued eligibility as per the qualifications stated above; b) satisfactory teaching performance in the Department, as measured by faculty and student evaluations.

Under exceptional circumstances, upon special recommendation by the Department and with the approval of the Graduate Council, a GSI may assist with a section of an Upper Division course.

The Committee on Teaching of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate administers an “Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award Program” for the purpose of recognizing, upon recommendation by their respective departments, the noteworthy contributions of Graduate Student Instructors. Receipt of the award is recognition and evidence of the instructor’s exemplary performance, based on criteria that involve teaching effectiveness, command of the subject, skills in preparing and teaching classes, ability to motivate students, and contributions to the course, as evaluated by departmental supervisors. Recipients are presented with certificates of distinction at special ceremonies.

Applications for Graduate Student Instructorship:


  • New Applicants due: December 15.
  • Reappointments due: January 30.

Applications for Graduate Student Instructorships for the teaching of Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan are accepted from applicants newly seeking admission to a graduate program as well as from continuing graduate students. Formal appointment for students new to the University cannot be accomplished, however, until confirmation of admission is received from the Graduate Division.

Applications are reviewed and evaluated by a departmental committee according to the following criteria: 1) the quality of the student’s academic record; 2) the quality of the student’s previous training or abilities with Spanish, Portuguese, or Catalan as languages, as evidenced in part by a submitted tape of a set reading passage (see below); and 3) the quality of the student’s previous record (if any) of teaching any of those three languages at the college level, as reflected both in student and supervisor evaluations.

Applicants are ranked by the same departmental committee recognizing priority, ceteris paribus, of students in the Department (A), followed by students in other Departments with Hispanic field focused programs (B), and students in other fields (C).

A. Students in the department:

  • 1.1 First-year students with no fellowship support.
  • 1.2 Continuing students with no fellowship support.
  • 1.3 Students who have already taught 4/5 years (in this order), depending on progress toward degree.
  • 1.4 First-year/continuing (in this order) students with fellowship support.

B. Related field students from other departments. Comparative Literature and Latin-American studies:

  • 2.1 Continuing students with no fellowship support.
  • 2.2 Students who have already taught 4/5 years (in this order), depending upon progress toward degree.

C. Students in other fields:

  • 3.1 Continuing students with no fellowship support.
  • 3.2 Students who have already taught 4/5 years (in this order), depending upon progress toward degree.

Application Procedure:

1) First-time applications:

A. Students who are seeking admission to a graduate degree program in the Department must provide the following materials in addition to those required for the general applications for admission:

  1. The specific Application for a Graduate Student Instructorship (see above).
  2. A recording with the information and reading passage given on the following pages.

B. Students who are seeking admission to a graduate degree program in a Department other than Spanish and Portuguese must provide the above items listed in “A” and:

  1. Copies of all academic transcripts.
  2. Letters of recommendation from three professors who know the applicant’s academic work and/or qualifications for the teaching of Spanish, Portuguese, or Catalan.

C. Continuing Graduate Students at Berkeley applying to the Department for the first time must provide the cassette records and the materials listed in “B”, as well as the general Application for a Graduate Student Instructorship.

2) Reappointment Applications

Students applying for reappointment must file, with the special “Graduate Student Instructor Application for Continuing Students”, available from the Graduate Assistant, and an updated “Biography for Academic Personnel”.

Reading passages to be recorded

Please do not record in stereo. First time applicants may submit individual recordings for any or all of the three languages taught in the Department. Include the material for both Part I and Part II on each recording.

Part I:

Give the date, identify yourself; speak for 3–5 minutes in the language in question about yourself, your studies, the places where you have lived, your plans for the future and then record the appropriate passage as given below.

Part II:

  • Spanish Passage

Hubo, en época muy remota de ésta en que vivimos, un poderoso rey, amado con extremo de sus vasallos y poseedor de un fertilísimo, dilatado y populoso reino, allá en las regiones de Oriente. Tenía este rey inmensos tesoros y daba fiestas espléndidas. Asistían en su corte las más gentiles damas y los más discretos y valientes caballeros que entonces había en el mundo. Su ejército era numeroso y aguerrido. Sus naves recorrían como en triunfo el océano. Los parques y jardines, donde solía cazar y holgarse, eran maravillosos por su grandeza y frondosidad y por la copia de alimañas y de aves que en ellos se alimentaban y vivían.

  •  Portuguese Passage

Atirei os pés incertos para o soalho. Mergulhei na algibeira uma escova de dentes; topando nos móveis, procurei as chinelas que embrulhei num número da Nação. Sem reparo, agarrei dentre as malas um caizote com bandas de ferro; e em ponta de botins desci a escada da Titi, encolhido a rasteiro como um cão tinhoso vexado da sua tinha.

Mal transpus o pátio, a Vicência, cumprindo as ordens sanhudas da Titi, bateu-me nas costas com o portao chapeado de ferro — desprezivelmente e para sempre!

Estava só na rua e na vida! À luz dos frios astros contei na palma o meu dinheiro. Tinha duas libras, dezoito tostões, um duro espanhol e cobres . . . E então descrobri que a caixa, apanhada tontamente entre as malas, era a das relíquias menores. Complicado sarcasmo do destino! Para cobrir meu corpo desabrigado — nada mais tinha que tabuinhas aplainadas por São José, e cacos de barro do cântaro da Virgem! Meti no bolso o embrulho das chinelas; e, sem voltar os olhos turvos a casa de minha tia, marchei a pé com o caixote às costas, na noite cheia de silêncio e de estrelas, para Baixa, para o Hotel de Pomba de Ouro.

  •  Catalan Passage

Entre les coses de la nostra època que no lliguen, n’hi ha dues que entren juntes a la meva vida quotidiana. Una d’elles és el problema de la incomunicació, i l’altra les parets primes de les construccions modernes.

La incomunicació — referida al contacte humà—és evident. A la casa on visc fa més de quinze anys, hi ha vint-i-vuit famílies, allò que a l’antigor en deien focs. De mitjana, fent un capmàs, crec que som uns, vuitanta veïns, que ens veiem i ens saludem sobretot a l’ascensor, la cabina del qual pot traginar tres-cents quilos. Persones o una impedimenta de pes equivalent. Si es tracta de persones, una plaqueta d’alumini amb inscripcions adverteix que no poden passar de quatre adults. Si es tracta de maletes o embalums de mena variada, la cosa és més aleatòria i ho han de deixar al cop d’ull dels usuaris.