Terms of Assistantship - Department of Computer Science - Purdue University Skip to main content

Terms of Assistantship


Graduate teaching assistants will probably be involved in one or more of the following: teaching, grading, course administration, and related activities.

The assistant to the head normally assigns graduate assistants to courses, not to particular sections. The course supervisor, consulting with the course staff, makes the assignments to particular sections. It is your responsibility to contact the assistant to the head to learn your course assignment and to report to your supervisor.

Teaching assistants whose native language is not English must provide an official Test of Spoken English (TSE) score of at least 50 or pass Purdue's Oral English Proficiency Test (OEPT).


The supervisor is responsible for the conduct of the course and in particular for guiding the staff to achieve some measure of uniformity. This normally involves conducting weekly staff meetings to discuss progress, design assignments and tests, etc.

Course Sections

Most CS courses have three 50-minute lectures or two 75-minute lectures per week. The courses may also have subsidiary parts (subparts): recitations (50-minutes once a week), laboratories (110 minutes once a week), PSOs (usually 110, occasionally 50, minutes, once a week).

"PSO" stands for "Practice/Study/Observation". Since students get no credit for them, PSOs must not be used to cover new material. You might think of them as group office hours or as help sessions in which students may do their homework or work on projects and get help readily. They usually meet in a laboratory room.

Course lectures and their subparts are divided into divisions, and divisions into sections. Different divisions usually meet at different times. All sections of a division meet at the same time.

Literal suffixes are often used to identify different parts of a course. For example, "CS 110L" denotes a laboratory session of CS 110. The lecture is denoted by "CS 110". "CS 180J" denotes a recitation of CS 180. These suffixes are explained  in the schedule available through our website (CS homepage / Courses/ Time).

Last Updated: Mar 27, 2017 2:23 PM

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