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Undergraduate Instructional Apprentices

The School of Biological Sciences affords undergraduates the opportunity to participate in an introduction to science teaching at the collegiate level through supervised experiences as Undergraduate Instructional Apprentices (UGIAs).

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).

Minimum Eligibility Requirements

  • Prior completion of the same or equivalent course of the UGIA assignment. Instructor may require completion of certain courses with stipulated grades (often a grade of A or B expected). See also, Alternative Qualifying Courses
  • A cumulative 3.000 UC GPA at the time of application and during the quarter of assignment.
  • 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.


  • Students may NOT assist in more than one course per quarter at UC San Diego.
  • Students may assist once as a UGIA for academic credit in the School of Biological Sciences.

For more information on Summer Session opportunities, please visit the Summer Session IA page.

Application Process

Application Periods and Deadlines

For participation in: Application Opens Applicants Notified of Decision
Fall May August, prior to the Fall term
Winter Weeks 1 - 4 of the preceding quarter By week 8 of the preceding Fall quarter
Spring Weeks 1 - 4 of the preceding quarter By week 8 of the preceding Winter quarter
Summer Late Winter / Early Spring Quarter By week 8 of the preceding Spring quarter

*approximate timeline. Actual dates may vary. 

BISP 195

BISP 195 is a weekly seminar course in which students enroll when assigned as an Undergraduate Instructional Apprentice (UGIA) via the application process. BISP 195 grades are based upon both weekly seminar and practicum (instructional apprentice duties) participation. Therefore, it is not possible to enroll in BISP 195 without a concurrent Undergraduate Instructional Apprentice assignment.

  • 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 Performance Expectations

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

  • Attend lectures
  • Participate in review/group sessions (in person or remote)
  • Hold office hours
  • Answer student questions
  • 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 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 Time Expectations

UGIAs 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 of the need to assist in the pre-quarter week.

Note that IAs are not expected to reply to electronic inquiries from students at all hours or to spend excessive amounts of time in replying to email. IAs should work with the supervising instructor to budget time for tasks accordingly, and feel free to refer students with extensive questions to office hours and/or section time.


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.

FAQs for Assigned UGIAs

Enrollment and Eligibility

Students must be registered and enrolled as a student in the quarter of service to be eligible to hold this assignment. Part time enrollment does qualify for undergraduates.

Enrolling in BISP 195

Pre-authorization to enroll in BISP 195 is provided prior to the start of the quarter, with instructions sent to @ucsd email. Please enroll through WebReg. BISP 195 is a required course, and UGIAs must plan to enroll in and attend one section during Weeks 1-5.

IA Resources

The IA Resource page includes information about office hours, make-up sections, review sessions, technology, etc.

Dr. Stanley Lo is the Faculty Advisor for Instructional Assistants. The Faculty Advisor is a point of initial contact for inquiries related to professional development as an IA, science of teaching, classroom effectiveness, or other questions and concerns related to ethics, behavior, or academic integrity.

Expected duties are noted in the "Performance Expectations" drawer on this page.

Application Status Listed as "Pending" Approval

UGIA application status will likely appear as "pending" until Week 1 of the quarter of service. Please be aware that applications were pre-screened for eligibility, and in Biology, faculty have already reviewed the majority of student applications. Biological Sciences only forwards applications for which approval is anticipated. Assigned students who maintain academic eligibility (minimum 90 units complete and minimum 3.000 GPA) can plan and proceed as if the assignment is confirmed.

Contacting the Supervising Instructor

IAs may or may not receive direction from the supervising instructor prior to the start of the quarter. If the instructor does not reach out prior to the quarter, IAs should feel free to contact the supervising instructor via email, or to simply attend the first class meeting. Specific discussion section attendance, if applicable, is coordinated directly with the supervising instructor.

Fall 2024 application closed June 2nd, 2024

Questions? Send to