Undergraduate Instructional Apprentices/Undergraduate Tutors

The Division of Biological Sciences affords undergraduates the opportunity to experience an introduction to science teaching at the collegiate level through supervised experiences as Undergraduate Instructional Apprentices (UGIAs) and Undergraduate Tutors.

Undergraduate Instructional Apprentices (UGIAs) – In addition to practical classroom experience under the direct supervision of a biology course instructor, UGIAs will enroll in BISP 195 where they will also benefit from the instruction of a teaching faculty member, learning the fundamentals of instruction in a collegiate level science course.  UGIAs who successfully complete this experience earn four units of academic credit (BISP 195).

Undergraduate Tutors – Students with prior experience as an Undergraduate Instructional Apprentice (via passing grade in BISP 195 or CHEM 195) are eligible to apply for Undergraduate Tutor (Tutor serving as a Teaching Apprentice) positions.

Minimum eligibility requirements for all UGIAs/Tutors:

  • Prior completion of the same or equivalent course of the UGIA/Tutor assignment. Instructor may require completion of certain courses with stipulated grades (often a grade of A- or higher is expected).
  • A cumulative 3.000 UC GPA at the time of application.
  • A minimum of 90 units completed or transferred into UC San Diego at the time of application.
  • Registered UC San Diego undergraduate with fees paid in the quarter of assignment.

Restrictions for UGIAs/Tutors:

  • Students may NOT assist in more than one course per quarter at UC San Diego.
  • Students may NOT assist in the same course more than once for academic credit (BISP 195).
  • Students may assist twice as a UGIA for academic credit (in different courses), but only one quarter of BISP 195 can be applied toward an upper division biology elective for biology majors.

Application Process

  • Students apply in late July/early August for positions in Fall quarter.  Students apply during weeks 4-6 of the preceding quarter for positions in Winter and Spring quarters.
  • Students list, as preferences, courses to which they would like to be assigned. Eligible applicants will have demonstrated proficiency in the course content, usually by completing the course with a grade of A- or better. Exceptions may apply for lower-division courses. For example, students with appropriate AP or transfer credit could be considered for BILD 1, 2, 3. Students with credit for an upper-division course similar in content to a BILD course for non-majors could be considered for that course. (Example: A student who has successfully completed BIPN 100 could list BILD 26 as a preference.)
  • Instructors have a period of time, typically 10-14 days, to review applications. While an instructor may prefer a student as a UGIA/Tutor, such a preference does not guarantee placement, nor does it constitute an offer of apprenticeship or employment.
  • Assigned applicants for Fall quarter will be notified in late August, prior to the Fall term.  Assigned applicants for Winter or Spring quarters will be notified by week 9 of the preceding quarter.
  • A student’s @ucsd email address is the official means of communication regarding assignments.

BISP 195

BISP 195 is a weekly seminar course in which students enroll when assigned as an Undergraduate Instructional Apprentice (UGIA).  BISP 195 grades are based upon both weekly seminar and practicum (instructional apprentice duties) participation.

  • Four-unit course
  • Pass/No Pass
  • May fulfill an upper-division biology elective requirement
  • Assigned UGIAs are responsible to enroll in and attend one section of BISP 195

UGIA/Tutor Performance Expectations

Actual duties for a particular course may vary and will be defined by the supervising instructor. Typical duties may include:

  • Attend lectures
  • Lead discussion or lab section, using written content generated by the instructor or graduate IA
  • Hold office hours
  • Provide feedback to instructors on exam drafts
  • Proctor and grade exams
  • Meet regularly with the instructor
  • Other applicable duties as assigned by the instructor
  • 10 hours per week (average)

Performance Evaluations and Standards - UGIAs and Tutors are evaluated by the instructor of the course and by the students enrolled in the course via online evaluation surveys conducted at the end of the quarter.

UGIA/Tutor Workload

UGIAs and Undergraduate Tutors typically commit an average of 10 hours per week to their assignment (110 total hours in the quarter). Most of the hours are accrued during the 10-week quarter and finals week.  If required, instructors will inform UGIAs/Tutors of the need to assist in the pre-quarter week.


All students enrolled in BISP 195 attend a weekly seminar.  BISP 195 grades are based upon both weekly seminar and practicum (instructional apprentice duties) participation.  Students assisting for the first time in a lower-division lab course must also attend a one-time Safety Training for Laboratory Instructional Assistants and complete other online safety training requirements.

Employment Information - Undergraduate Tutors only

  • A Division of Biological Sciences’ Payroll Specialist will contact you by email if you must attend an employee sign-up session.
  • Undergraduate Tutors employed in title code 2860 are covered by a collective bargaining agreement between UC San Diego and the ASE/UAW. 
  • Undergraduate Tutors are paid biweekly and must submit timesheets. A payroll specialist will provide information on pay dates and timesheet submission.
  • Names and addresses of all Academic Student Employees (ASE) are released to the UAW each quarter as a condition of employment in title code 2860.
  • ASE/UAW membership dues or agency fees (for those who choose not to become ASE/UAW members) will be deducted from the paycheck.
  • See the Graduate Division website for additional information concerning Academic Student Employment (ASE).


Apply here for Spring 2018 Qtr

Questions? Send them to biota@ucsd.edu