Teaching Requirements

Teaching Requirements
Teaching Pay and Fellowship Compensation

Planning Your Teaching Schedule
Application Procedures
Advanced Opportunities

Teaching experience is a vital part of the professional training for the PhD, for university and other kinds of teaching, and also for developing communication skills that will be helpful in other humanist careers. It is therefore University policy that students admitted under the Graduate Aid Initiative (GAI) fulfill teaching and mentoring obligations to their departments and to undergraduates in the College. Students admitted with external awards are not required to fulfill the GAI schedule to maintain their funding, but are still expected to fulfil the same number of teaching units to meet the requirements of academic employment. In order to allow sufficient time for course and dissertation work, the Department and the Division strongly recommend that all doctoral candidates build their teaching skills by following the same schedule laid down here for students with internal fellowships.

GAI Teaching requirements

Students are required to complete five units of teaching in five years, but will normally undertake this work in the third, fourth and fifth years. These teaching units may be earned by serving in a variety of positions, beginning with introductory assignments and proceeding to more advanced ones but are to be undertaken on the Chicago campus, while the student is in scholastic residence:

Introductory teaching assignments (normally 3 out of the 5 required units)

  • writing internships in the Humanities Core, supervised by the Writing Program (1 unit)
  • course assistantships working with a professor in Comparative Lit or other department (1 unit)
  • writing internships in non-Core courses (1 unit)
  • language assistants and drill instructors in language courses (0.5 units)

Advanced teaching  (4 and 5 of the required five; possibly additional units)

  • BA preceptor supervising Honors essays by Comparative Literature majors in theeir 4th year
  • lectors in Advanced Academic and Professional Writing through the Writing Program (1 unit)
  • lectureships teaching free-standing courses of the candidate’s devising (subject to approval by the Department and the Humanities Collegiate Dean)  (2 units)
  •  MAPH preceptor in the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (1 unit per quarter)

Positions as workshop coordinators, research assistants, center administrators, etc., do not qualify, even if they involve contact with students. Enrollment in a training program or seminar designed to prepare a student to take up teaching responsibilities is a necessary step toward teaching but does not qualify as the teaching requirement.

Teaching Pay and Fellowship Compensation

Students are paid for their teaching duties, but because teaching is part of the requirements for fellowship aid, that pay is offset by equivalent reductions in the stipend, until the five-unit teaching requirement is fulfilled. It is university policy to adjust the stipends of students with service obligations according to a standard schedule: the equivalent of the pay from one course assistant/writing intern position in the third year, two in the fourth year, and two in the fifth year. Accordingly, in the third year stipend support is reduced by the level of teaching-assistant compensation then current for one course (currently $3,000) and in the fourth and fifth years by the level of compensation for two courses, up to the point at which the teaching requirement of five units has been fulfilled.

These reductions in the stipend are made regardless of whether the student actually takes equivalent assignments in a given year. A student may choose, for example, to take no course assistant/writing intern/lector position in the third year, two such positions in the fourth year, and three such positions in the fifth year, but the fellowship stipend will be reduced on the specified schedule of 1-2-2 over those years. Because mismatch between payout and teaching schedules could create financial difficulties for the unwary, students are strongly urged to carefully monitor their income from fellowship and teaching compensation to avoid this sort of mess.

Planning Your Teaching Schedule

Students with service obligations need to apply for teaching positions at the appropriate time in the academic year preceding the year in which the service will be performed, and all students seeking teaching should be thinking ahead in this way. Given the Divisional reductions in stipends, the easiest schedule to follow for fulfilling the teaching requirement is the 1-2-2 schedule, beginning in year three. This is also the schedule recommended by the Department.

Normally, for Comparative Literature students, this means serving for three quarters total in years three and four in either or both of the following sets of options:

  • a writing intern in the Core, a lector in the writing program, or a course assistant in a undergraduate humanities course. These options are grouped together because, even though instructors do note always require that CAs take prior training in writing pedagogy, this training is required for writing positions and highly recommended for course CAs as well since their duties will include helping undergrads with their papers
  • as a language assistant or drill instructor in two language courses.

The Department strongly encourages students to seek out the opportunity to teach in a foreign language course, not only because such teaching is helpful in deepening knowledge of that language, but because Comparative Literature students competing on the job market for positions in national literature departments need to be able to demonstrate foreign language teaching competency.

In year five, students may continue to serve as interns, lectors, course assistants and language course assistants/drill instructors, but are encouraged to apply (in year four) for opportunities in their fifth year to teach freestanding courses or serve as preceptors.

For directions for applications and, equally important for required pedagogical courses for writing and language teaching, see below under Application Procedures.

For guidelines on particular teaching skills and on-site help with teaching from basic course assistant preparation to advanced course design, students should use the resources of the Chicago Center for Teaching.


Application Procedures for Writing Interns, Lectors, and Language Assistants/Drill Instructors

In order to be eligible to apply for a writing internship or a lectorship students must first complete the Writing Program's training course. Students are strongly advised to apply to the Writing Program and to take the training course in spring or summer of second year. Applications are normally due in January or February of winter quarter.

For more information, see the Writing Program's website.

Training is also a prerequisite for language teaching positions at the University. Requirements vary substantially from department to department, however, so students are advised to contact departmental administrators who supervise teaching in their primary language to ascertain what the requirements are and how they may be fulfilled, and/or contact the Chicago Language Center.

Course assistantships may be available in courses taught by Comparative Literature faculty. Openings normally are announced in January winter quarter for the succeeding year, with applications handled by the Director of Graduate Studies.   While not a prerequisite for CA ships, the Writing Program training course will greatly assist CAs in working with students on their papers, which is a fundamental part of their work as CAs.

Deadlines for submission of requests varies from year to year but will be in the winter quarter before the year of teaching. In order to be considered for available positions, students must begin by submitting the teaching questionnaire to the department administrator. Download the form as TXT file or PDF.

Lecturers, Preceptors, and Other Opportunities for Advanced Candidates

1. The Department will also take applications from advanced PhD students who have passed the oral exam and completed at least three GAI units to design and teach their own undergraduate courses for the departmental curriculum. These positions are contingent upon negotiated funding from the Humanities Division of the College and are not guaranteed. Applications, including a detailed syllabus, are due in January. Students should take the Chicago Center of Teaching’s workshop on course design before the application if possible.

They are also strongly advised to make full use of other CCT workshops before and during the teaching quarter: http://teaching.uchicago.edu/workshops-seminars/

2. The Department has one position per year available within the Department to work as a preceptor for three quarters running a BA Workshop for undergraduate Comparative Literature majors. Only students who have passed the oral exam and who have completed at least three GAI points are eligible. The deadline for applying for this position is normally mid-February; the department will send out an announcement with the exact deadline several weeks before the applications are due.

3. The Humanities Collegiate Division at the University of Chicago sponsors seven prize seminars (five Stuart Tave Teaching Fellowships and two Whiting Undergraduate Teaching Fellowships) for freestanding courses designed by graduate students. Courses must appeal to a wide variety of College students and thus should not merely duplicate the candidate’s research interests

The Department nominates students to the Humanities Collegiate Division for these awards but decisions are made by t Humanities Collegiate committee. See the Humanities Division website for details.

4. The Center for Gender Studies also offers teaching opportunities to advanced graduate students with demonstrated expertise in Gender Studies, in both their core courses and in free-standing courses. Students applying to teach in a Gender Studies core in the fall must have passed their preliminary examinations by June 30 of the previous year (winter, by October 1; spring, by January 30. Applications are generally due in March for the following year's free-standing courses. See the Center for Gender Studies webpage.

5. The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture also offers teaching opportunities to advanced graduate students with demonstrated expertise in the comparative study of race and ethnicity. Applications are generally due in March for the following year's free-standing courses. See the CSRPC website.

6. Advanced graduate students (ABD with at least one approved dissertation chapter) may apply to teach as lecturers in the Core. These positions are handled by the Writing Program and will only be given to candidates who have already served as writing interns, ideally with experience in more than sequence of the Humanities Core.

7. In addition to the above undergraduate teaching options, the Masters of Arts in the Humanities (MAPH) program hires advanced PhD students as course assistants and as preceptors in MAPH.

A) Course assistantships are available only to PhD students with a minimum of three GAI credits and previous experience teaching undergraduate humanities courses. Preference will go to students who have completed their oral exam requirements. These positions are always contingent on sufficient MAPH enrollment in the relevant course and can therefore be finalized only at the end of week one of the course in question

B) Preceptorships are available only to PhD students who have been admitted to candidacy and have completed a minimum of three GAI credits. Preceptors meet with a group of 12-14 master's students throughout the academic year; the preceptor's responsibilities include academic advising and program approval, running weekly discussion groups, grading in connection with the required MAPH Colloquium and Core Course in the autumn quarter, and directing thesis writing workshops during the winter and spring quarters.

Together with the rest of the MAPH staff, the preceptors help more than a hundred new graduate students through an intensive year to a master's degree in June. Calls for applications go out at the beginning of April, when application materials are available electronically from the MAPH office.  Applicants should check the MAPH webpage for the appropriate staff contact.

All candidates for teaching positions, including those that require outside applications should submit the teaching questionnaire so that the department can keep track of past and present positions as well as those you wish to apply for.


Teaching Questionnaire Form (TXT) (PDF)