We are striving to make your arrival and first few weeks at Syracuse University as smooth and enjoyable as possible. It is essential that you read all this information very carefully to ensure that you make all preliminary preparations and bring all the pertinent materials with you when you come to the University.


August 2019 TA Orientation



August 12-13. This time will be devoted exclusively to the needs of our new international teaching assistants (ITAs). Day 1 will consist of programming and small-group discussion. Day 2 will be devoted to English language proficiency assessment (this will require 30 minutes of your time) and optional activities. You will have an opportunity to meet other graduate students and become familiar with University resources and the community. Please note that ITAs who have previously studied for at least a year in the United States and/or have excellent English proficiency, may apply for exemption from one or both days of the ITA orientation.

August 14-16. The general portion of the orientation program offers a mix of concurrent and large-group sessions on various topics designed to prepare graduate students for their roles as teaching assistants (TAs). ITAs attend this portion of the program as well.  Please register for the orientation.

The Slutzker Center for International Services (SCIS) will host an orientation for incoming international graduate students on Friday August 16, 2019. ITAs who are new to the university should plan to attend the Teaching Assistant Orientation on this day, rather than the SCIS orientation.

August 19-23 Departmental orientations occur within this time frame.


Arriving in Syracuse

If you arrive by:

AIRPLANE: Syracuse Hancock International Airport is about a 15-minute drive from campus.

TRAIN or BUS: The William F. Walsh Regional Transportation Center (RTC) is served by Amtrak, Greyhound, Trailways, and Megabus. The RTC is about a 10-minute drive from campus. Centro buses (city bus) run from the RTC to campus on a regular basis.

COMMUTERS: Information about parking permits may be found at Parking and Transit Services website. All permits are issued at Parking Services located at 621 Skytop Office Building on South Campus and require a valid driver’s license, car registration, your SU ID number and your appointment letter.

Please note that there will be limited bus transportation between Main Campus and South Campus before the start of classes. Specific times and locations will be available at orientation registration. Please consult the 2019 Summer Shuttle Schedules.

To help you navigate campus, please download our Campus Map. There are also numerous map signs located around campus. Additional campus maps can be found on the Syracuse University Maps Page.


Identification and Health Records

Slutzker Center for International Services (SCIS)
Please read through the information found on the Slutzker Center’s Graduate Pre-Arrival page. As soon as you arrive on campus, you should go to the Slutzker Center, located at 310 Walnut Place, with your passport, visa, I-20 or  DS-2019, and I-94.

Health History and Immunization

Go to the patient portal and submit your health history, upload your immunization record and complete your tuberculosis screening form. If this is not completed and uploaded to the patient portal prior to your arrival on campus, a hold will be placed on your MySlice account and you will be ineligible to register for a second semester.

If you need further information, contact:

Syracuse University Health Services
111 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York 13244-2320

You may also find useful information on the Health Services website.



Finding Housing
Because there is very little time during the orientation, you should plan to allocate two or three days BEFORE the orientation to find a suitable residence for the 2019-20 academic year. The Syracuse University Off-Campus Housing Finder is a great resource for student looking for a place to live while outside the Syracuse area.

Contact the office below for more information about apartment options both on South Campus and off campus.

Temporary TA Orientation Housing
By the start of the orientation, you should be established in your housing unit for the year. Should you need temporary housing during the TA orientation, please complete the ITA Housing Request. The TA Program will pay for your temporary housing at Shaw Hall on August 10 and August 11 only. Housing DURING the orientation will be at your own expense. The room fee is estimated at $47.00 per night plus a one time $12.55 linen charge. If you need new linens you will be charged an additional $12.55 each time you request them. These fees may change.

Please check out of Shaw Hall once you have obtained housing for the year and give your new address information to your department.


The TA Orientation Program

Teaching Mentors
A team of experienced teaching assistants, selected on the basis of their outstanding performance in the classroom, have been designated Teaching Mentors and will serve as the program’s core instructional staff. Each new TA will be assigned to a small discussion group led by a Teaching Mentor.

All TA Orientation participants will be expected to make a brief presentation to other TAs in their small group. This presentation will be recorded, after which you will have the opportunity to receive helpful and constructive feedback from your peers and Teaching Mentors. Video of your microteaching presentation will also serve as a basis for discussion during your English language proficiency assessment interview (see below).

ITAs will perform this exercise in both the international and general portions of the program.

To prepare for microteaching, please do the following before you arrive:

  • Pick a topic that would normally be discussed in an introductory course in your discipline. Assume that you will have a general audience who knows very little about your subject.
  • Next, prepare a 5-minute presentation on this topic. You might explain a basic concept, illustrate the application of a concept, or define a problem. Whiteboards and computers/video projectors will be available for your use.
  • For more information about microteaching, please view this short video that have we produced as an introduction to the exercise.


English Language Proficiency Assessment

Day 2 of the ITA Orientation (August 13) is reserved for language assessment. The assessment will consist of an interview (less than half an hour) with a panel comprising a representative of the Graduate School, an English to Speakers of Others Languages (ESOL) instructor, a faculty member in your program, and a current Syracuse University undergraduate student. If you participate in Day 1 of the ITA Orientation, your microteaching video will serve as the basis of discussion for part of the interview. The assessment will focus on overall communication skills in instructional contexts typical of TA assignments.

Following the interview, you will receive a rating on the Graduate School’s 4-point scale of English proficiency . The purpose of the assessment is to identify ITAs who would benefit from the Graduate School’s English Language Proficiency Services, such as one of three free courses designed specifically for ITAs, an English conversation partner, or the ITA Accent Addition program.

Please note that your graduate assistantship is not contingent on “passing” the language assessment. You have already received and accepted the offer of a TA appointment prior to registering for the TA Orientation. In some cases departments may choose to modify a TA assignment (e.g., assigning two 10-hour graderships instead of 20 hours leading discussion sections) or defer TA duties in favor of another form of assistantship, but this will not affect your funding.


Exemption from Language Assessment and/or the International TA Orientation Program

Because we recognize that some activities during the international portion of the orientation will not be applicable to all ITAs, we offer exemption options for those who meet certain criteria, as follows.

  1. ITAs may be exempted from the English Language Proficiency assessment (scheduled for Tuesday, August 13) if they speak English as a native language OR demonstrate excellent oral English proficiency as judged by a Syracuse University language specialist.
  2. ITAs may be exempted from the cultural programming portions of the orientation (August 12) if they have lived in the United States and studied for a minimum of one year in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at an American college or university.

If you believe you qualify and would like to apply for exemption, please complete the Language Assessment/ITA Orientation Exemption Request Form as soon as possible, but no later than July 20, 2019.

Note: The exemption option is available ONLY for the international portion of the TA Orientation Program. All TAs are required to attend the general portion of the orientation, August 14-16.


As outlined in your assistantship offer letter, completion of the TA orientation program is required of all first-time teaching assistants.