PhD Student Teaching

PhD Student Teaching

Pedagogical training is a vital part of the educational experience of doctoral students.  Students typically fulfill the teaching requirement during the third through fifth years in the program, though in some departments students teach in the second year.  Students receive pedagogical training through their department and/or the Chicago Center for Teaching, as well as by the Writing Program. Doctoral students are strongly encouraged to seek a range of teaching experiences during their graduate career. This page lists some of the University positions available to Humanities doctoral students.

Course Assistants

Graduate students serving as course assistants are expected to aid faculty members in courses in which the undergraduate enrollment is too large for faculty to effectively perform all aspects of instruction. Course assistants may be expected to attend class, read all assigned materials, hold office hours with students, lead a discussion regularly, review and comment on student assignments, and recommend grades. Requirements, training, and application procedures vary by department. Please check with your department for more information.

Language Assistants

Language Assistants (formerly Drill Instructors and Lectors) are considered to be in the first steps of their pedagogical training and they are supervised by language coordinators. Each language assistant is responsible for up to 12 total students and works a maximum of 10 hours per week for an 11-week quarter. This may include:
1. Up to 10 hours per week in group drills and/or private conversation drills.
2. Up to 4 hours per week in homework checking, assisting the lecturer in class.
3. Language assistants may check and grade homework assignments, but may not check and grade examinations.
4. In cooperation with the class lecturer, language assistants may help with class prep (photocopying, etc.) class AV, cultural programming, and field trips, though it is very highly recommended that the majority of the Language Assistant’s time be spent with students.

Teaching Assistants

Teaching assistants are similar to course assistants in other departments but have more limited duties. For example, they do not assist with grading. Studio assistants are primarily responsible for preparing class supplies including working materials and readings, setting up AV equipment, and researching exhibitions for field trips.


Lecturers teach stand alone courses, including elementary language courses, generally in the College. They are often in charge of every aspect of the teaching experience, including proposing the course, designing the syllabus, devising appropriate evaluation and testing methods, guiding discussion, meeting with students regularly, and recording and reporting grades. Having served one or more quarters as a course assistant for a particular Civilization Studies or Humanities Core sequence may be a prerequisite to being appointed to lecturer in that sequence.
Advanced graduate students can apply to teach in the Humanities Collegiate Division General Education (Core) sequences.  University of Chicago graduate student applicants for these positions must have attained ABD status no later than the end of the Spring quarter prior to the academic year in which they will teach. More information on the application process may be found here.  Advanced graduate students may also apply for Stuart Tave Teaching Fellowships in the College.


Some departments hire advanced graduate students as preceptors to help students in the College who are in the process of developing, researching, and writing their B.A. thesis. Preceptors generally work with a group of undergraduate concentrators during a nine-month period - three quarters. The first set of duties of a preceptor may be helping students decide on a topic, working with students to develop a reasonable research strategy, and reviewing early outlines of the proposed thesis. Some preceptors also hold seminar sessions and workshops on topics such as methodology, research design, and writing. As graduating seniors progress in their research, preceptors are expected to read and comment on numerous drafts of the thesis. Please check with your department for further information on how to apply.

Preceptors in MAPH

The Master of Arts Program in the Humanities hires preceptors for ten-month appointments (September 1 through June 15). Applicants should be advanced graduate students, preferably those already admitted to PhD candidacy, from any discipline in the Division of Humanities. MAPH looks for applicants who have the accomplishment, energy, and flexibility to work well with first-year graduate students in MAPH's active multidisciplinary community. Together with the MAPH faculty and staff, each preceptor guides a group of twelve to fourteen students throughout the academic year. Responsibilities include academic advising and program approval, weekly discussion groups and grading in connection with the required MAPH colloquium and core course in autumn quarter, serving on the MAPH admissions committee and thesis writing workshops during the winter and spring quarters.  Calls for applications go out at the beginning of April, when application materials are available electronically from the MAPH office. Applications are generally due in mid- to late April.

Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality

Graduate students can apply to co-teach in the Gender Studies Core, serve as BA preceptors, or propose a course of their own design through the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.

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