Calculus Course Assistants

Calculus Course Assistant Overview
All of Harvard’s calculus classes (Math Ma, Mb, 1a, 1b, 18a, 19a, 18b/19b, 21a, 21b) are taught in small sections of around 20-30 students. Each section meets three times a week (on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), taught by an instructor called a Teaching Fellow (TF), who is either a faculty member or graduate student in the math department. Each Course Assistant (CA) is associated with one calculus section and is responsible for working with the TF to ensure the success of the section and its students.

Job Responsibilities
Course Assistants have five main responsibilities:

  1. CAs attend all of their section’s classes in order to collect p-sets and return graded work, see what is being taught by the TF, proactively help students work through the new material being taught, and note the topics which are difficult for students.
  2. CAs do all of the homework grading for their section during the semester – students typically turn in a problem set each class period, and CAs are normally expected to grade the work and get it back to the students at the next class meeting. CAs maintain the grade book, and make a weekly report of the grades and any common mistakes to the TF.
  3. CAs work in the Math Question Center (MQC) one evening per week for a two-hour shift. The MQC is a community where calculus students can get math help from CAs and each other. The MQC is held in the Science Center, and is open on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays 7:30-10:30pm, and on Mondays and Wednesdays 8:30-10:30pm. (Due to the current remote learning environment, some CAs will instead be asked to hold 1-2 office hours each week. The times of these office hours will depend on your schedule and the course’s needs.)
  4. CAs attend a weekly meeting with their TF to check in and set goals and expectations, as well as to discuss their students’ performance. CAs also attend a larger weekly meeting with a course administrator to stay informed on course content, problem sessions, and workshops.
  5. Some CAs for 21a and 21b run a weekly 60-minute problem session. In some cases, the problem sessions are used to go over homework problems and other topics which might have come up during the week. In other cases, at least part of each problem session is taken up by a quiz, which you would then go over before taking questions on other topics. Some CAs for M and 1a run a weekly 90-minute workshop, in which students actively practice course material and prepare for exams.

CAs are expected to adequately prepare for all of the responsibilities listed above ahead of time. CAs are also expected to keep regular communication with the calculus CA coordinators and other math department faculty. However, CAs are NOT expected to perform the duties of a TF, such as leading section, making copies of section worksheets, writing homework solutions, writing exam problems, grading exams, etc.

The CA position is a great job for those people who want to get involved in teaching math, and in interacting with students to help them learn. It is also a real responsibility – this is a professional job, and we expect that CAs will meet all of the requirements during the semester and not let down either their TFs or the students in their sections. Students in calculus classes really count on the CAs to help them out – quite a number of students find it easier to relate to the CAs in their courses than their TFs, and often cite their CAs as a primary reason for their success in the class.

Pay Scale
For a full-time calculus CA, the job usually takes about 15 hours per week on average. The pay rate for a full-time CA is $22 per hour. CAs are paid on a weekly basis.

All calculus course assistants must be current Harvard University undergraduate students who are enrolled in courses full-time, either on campus or remotely. CAs must have completed at least two full semesters at the university. We do not hire first-year undergraduates as CAs, since we want to encourage first-year students to focus on their studies and acclimating to life at Harvard before taking on such a large responsibility. Also, all CAs must be in good standing with the college, academically and otherwise, with a GPA of at least 3.0. Lastly, all CAs must have satisfactorily taken at least Math 21a or an equivalent course (such as Math 18a, 19a, or 18b/19b), or a higher-numbered course such as Math 22, Math 25, Math 55, or Math 101.

How To Apply
We are no longer accepting applications for the Fall 2022 semester. If you are interested in becoming a CA, please check back here in November, when our application for the Spring 2023 semester will be available. If you have any questions about the job, please contact Amadeus Martin at