Teaching Requirements

The Philosophy Department views the development of teaching competence as an integral part of its overall Ph.D. program and takes various steps to train its doctoral students to become excellent teachers of philosophy. It offers different types of teaching opportunities, which gradually prepare its students to teach their own classes.  These opportunities are enhanced by the department's pedagogical support through individual faculty mentorship and year round discipline-specific pedagogical events offered through its pedagogy program. The first teaching opportunities come in the form of course assistantships. The professor responsible for the course in which a doctoral student serves as an assistant is also responsible for monitoring the doctoral student's teaching progress in that course and preparing a written report of her teaching performance therein. Once a doctoral student has proven herself as a teaching assistant, she is permitted to do stand-alone teaching. In these cases, too, however, the design of the syllabus of the course is developed in consultation with a member of the faculty. Here, too, that faculty member is responsible for further monitoring the doctoral student's teaching progress over the duration of the stand-alone course and preparing a written report of her teaching performance as a solo instructor.
The initial guaranteed funding for five years awarded to students admitted to the program includes a teaching obligation. That obligation standardly takes the form of the student serving four times as an instructor -- usually three times as a course assistant and once as an instructor of a stand-alone course. Normally, students complete one teaching assistantship in their third year, after completion of the Preliminary Essay, and two in their fourth year.  Normally, students give their stand-alone course in the fifth year.  These first four teaching stints are not further compensated: they are owed to the Division of Humanities in return for the initial five-year aid package. This four-time teaching obligation is a requirement of the Department of Philosophy's Ph.D. program.
These first four teaching opportunities are built into the basic requirements of the Ph.D. program in order to ensure that students in the program acquire a certain minimum degree of teaching competence. However, the Department views the teaching obligation as a bare minimum with regard to teaching preparation. Doctoral students in the program are encouraged to do more teaching than this.
The Department's first responsibility with respect to doctoral students is to support their work toward the doctoral degree.  Teaching preparation is a crucial aspect of that, but additional teaching must be consistent with timely progress toward the doctoral degree.  Accordingly, the policy on teaching beyond the departmental teaching obligation is as follows:

1. In Years 1 & 2, when doctoral students are expected to satisfy their course and logic requirements as well as to formulate topics, find readers, and begin research toward their Preliminary Essays, doctoral students are not given departmental teaching and will not be permitted to accept extra-departmental teaching.  The students may, however, complete the Training Course for Writing Interns and Lectors offered by the University of Chicago Writing Program before Autumn of Year 3.

2. In Years 3-5, students may petition the DGS for permission to apply for extra teaching.  If, and only if, the following conditions are met, the Department (normally through the DGS) may petition the DOS and the Master of the HCD to allow the student to apply for extra-departmental teaching:

a. The student is making exemplary progress toward the degree in Philosophy (that is, the student has met every deadline set in the time to degree expectations and the students' work toward the degree is strong).
b. There is a sound pedagogic reason to allow the student to seek extra teaching.

3. Students must make their petitions to the DGS by the second week of the term prior to the term in which they hope for extra-GAI teaching.  The Department must make its petition to the DOS and Master of the HCD by the end of the third week of the term prior to the term in which students seek extra-GAI teaching.

4. If the DOS and the HCD approve the Department's petition, and if the students are offered extra teaching appointments, funding for these positions cannot be drawn from the students' fellowship teaching obligation monies.

5. Extra teaching permissions may be withdrawn if students cease to make exemplary progress toward their degrees.

Petitions to the DOS and Master of the HCD will attest to the students' progress and provide the rationale for allowing these students to seek teaching beyond the departmental teaching obligation.

Students do not need departmental permission to seek extra teaching assignments after their fifth year of residence.

For a bit more information about the sorts of additional teaching opportunities that are available for doctoral students in our program, click here.

Over the course of a doctoral student's career, that student together with the Department builds a teaching dossier, containing the syllabuses of the courses that she has taught, written reports by faculty teaching mentors on those courses, and last but not least, undergraduate evaluations of those courses. When doctoral students prepare to go on the job market, the Department sees to it that one member of the faculty undertakes the responsibility of writing a teaching letter for the student that documents and surveys the highlights of her teaching career at the University of Chicago.

The Department of Philosophy offers a non-credit and not required Pedagogy Program for PhD students. For more information, click here.

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