GSAS Teaching Scholars Program

The GSAS Teaching Scholars Program is a professional and academic development initiative that affords advanced doctoral students in many Arts & Sciences programs the funded opportunity to design and teach an undergraduate course in their area of expertise during the academic year in preparation for the job market.

In considering whether to apply for the GSAS Teaching Scholars Program, students should consult their director of graduate studies.

“The Teaching Scholars Program has been fantastic for the doctoral students in our department, giving them a leg up on the job market and the rare chance to teach a specialized course. The undergraduate students have also greatly appreciated the lively topics and strong teaching of those selected for the program.”
—Ellie M. Hisama, Professor of Music (Music Theory and Historical Musicology)

Program Policies and Eligibility Requirements
  • Doctoral students must be in an Arts & Sciences program, be in good standing, and have fulfilled all MPhil degree requirements and passed their prospectus defense by the time they would begin their appointment as Teaching Scholars.
  • Students may not apply to be a Teaching Scholar for the year in which they are first eligible to receive their Dissertation Fellowship. That is, students may not postpone a Dissertation Fellowship to be a Teaching Scholar.
  • Students must be within the seven-year limit for GSAS funding during their term of service.
  • Courses taught by Teaching Scholars will have an enrollment limit of fifteen students, with the minimum enrollment prescribed by each department for course viability.
  • As instructors of record, Teaching Scholars are expected to make their course a pedagogical priority, and should not take on additional instructional activities during the term in which they teach their course. The expected time commitment for these duties can average about fifteen hours per week, but per university policy may not exceed twenty hours per week.
  • No student may be designated a Teaching Scholar more than once in his or her graduate career.
  • The Teaching Scholars Program allows graduate students the opportunity to design and teach as sole instructor a course on their dissertation topic; therefore, courses may not be team-taught.
  • The supervising faculty sponsor or DGS will commit to visiting the class at least once during the semester and will meet with the student afterwards to offer guidance and feedback on pedagogical performance.
  • Teaching Scholar appointments may not be deferred to a later year.


  • GSAS will provide to each department an allocation based on a proportion of their post-MPhil population currently in years 4-6.
 Directors of Graduate Studies and their faculty selection committee will advance to GSAS that number of proposals.
  • Departments make the final selections of the Teaching Scholar proposal/s they wish to present for consideration. Proposals are first evaluated and ranked within the department.
  • GSAS subsequently submits all of the endorsed proposals to the undergraduate COI for final review. The expectation of GSAS and the COI is that once any additional COI feedback is incorporated, all courses will be approved to be offered in the coming year.
  • Departments must consider their nominations for Teaching Scholars in the context of their overall Teaching Fellow needs. In other words, a department may not request additional Teaching Fellow appointments from GSAS in order to engage at incremental cost other PhD students to cover needs created by its Teaching Scholar nominations.

Students are encouraged to work with the Center for Teaching and Learning to craft the proposal and syllabus before submitting.


For the year in which they teach, students will receive an appointment as a Teaching Scholar in one semester and as a Teaching Fellow in the other; this appointment for the academic year will include tuition, a combination of stipend and salary ($30,232 for the 2019-20 academic year), as well as facilities and health fees—in other words, the standard Teaching Fellow appointment package. If received during a student’s guaranteed funding years, this yearlong fellowship may not be banked.   


Monday, January 25, 2021 – Deadline to submit your proposal for a 2021-22 academic year course to your DGS.

Monday, February 1, 2021 – Deadline for DGSs and DAAFs to submit departmental selections to GSAS.

How to Apply

A complete application includes the following:

1. A completed application form, which must be reviewed and signed by the advisor and the director of graduate studies, in that order

A. Proposed course summary, which includes the following:

  • Course title
  • A one-paragraph course description, suitable for the course bulletin, including any prerequisites
  • Rationale for proposed course and its role in the departmental curriculum, with emphasis on innovative aspects of the course

B. Proposed course details, including the following:

  • Full course description, including designation of main topics, themes, sections of the course
  • Top course learning objectives, specifying skills and expertise that students will gain
  • Identification of any unique resources (at Columbia or elsewhere) engaged by the course

C. Applicant teaching profile, which includes the following:

  • List of teaching experience, both formal and informal, to date
  • Description of teaching development activities at Columbia and elsewhere
  • Description of your teaching strengths, strategies, style – anchored by example(s) or representative anecdote(s)
  • Brief indication of the relation of proposed course to your research

2. Syllabus, to include:

  • All the components required by the Committee on Instruction, described here

3. Representative sample of recent evaluations of your teaching, if available 

4. A course approval form, completed by the course instructor with assistance from the department, if necessary. Note: Signatures on this form are not required. The purpose of this form is to assist with the departmental submission process (described below).

Departmental Submission Process

Departmental selections must be forwarded by DAAFs to gsas-studentaffairs [at] in a single PDF.

Once the course is reviewed and approved by the CC-GS COI, the department enters the course information into Course Management in order for the course to appear in the Directory of Classes.

Selection Criteria

Proposals for the academic year are evaluated by the respective departments, using the following criteria:

  • Fit of the course with department's curriculum and programmatic needs
  • Quality of the student's previous teaching performance
  • Overall intellectual quality of proposal
  • Quality of course content, student learning activities, and assessment of student learning
  • Proposer's ability (based on his or her academic track-record) to deliver the proposed course while continuing to make satisfactory academic progress toward the degree

Successful proposals are submitted by departments to GSAS in a single PDF. GSAS then forwards all of these proposals to the undergraduate COI for final review. Confirmation of Teaching Scholars will be completed by end of March of each year for the following academic year.