The Graduate Student Association-University of Waterloo (GSA-UW) is dedicated to the advocacy and representation of graduate students in all capacities at the University of Waterloo. Graduate student labour rights and responsibilities are key principles and points of advocacy. Graduate students play a critical role as workers to advance the research and educational interests of UWaterloo. 

It is essential for graduate student workers to have the knowledge and tools to effectively advocate for their rights as workers in order to ensure a fair, safe and optimal work environment. This page offers important resources for better acquainting yourself with the graduate student worker position. 

What is a Graduate Student Worker?

Graduate student workers are critical participants in creating, managing, and facilitating both research and education at UWaterloo. For many graduate students, funding packages and program admissions are contingent on student-related employment in the form of a teaching assistantship (TA), a research assistantship (RA), or as a sessional instructor:

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant (TA): held by a graduate student to assist a faculty member with instructional responsibilities

  • Graduate Research Assistant (RA): held by a graduate student to perform a designated list of research duties under the supervision of one or more faculty members

  • Sessional Instructor: academic workers with contracts less than one year in duration to deliver teaching responsibilities (i.e., adjunct professors; research fellows; definite-term lecturers) 

These positions are integral to the educational programming offered to undergraduate and graduate students at UWaterloo. They offer critical professional development opportunities that can support the academic and professional career goals of graduate students.

For more information, read about:

Learning Modules: Managing Workplace Conflict

This series of learning modules aims to help graduate students better understand conflict, and provide students with tools and resources to help respond professionally and effectively when tension arises in work or academic relationships.


Please don’t hesitate to meet with the GSA-UW’s Labour Coordinator to discuss your experience, questions, concerns, or clarifications as a student worker (whether you are teaching assistant, research assistant or sessional instructor). You can also get advice for addressing challenges or share issues that can help the GSA better advocate on the student body’s behalf. 

Last Updated: November 29, 2023

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