Teaching Fellowships

Students should read carefully and understand policies and procedures as they apply to Teaching Fellows as outlined below.

Teaching is a formal requirement in many GSAS departments and strongly encouraged in others. Specific departmental requirements are stated clearly in each department’s section of Chapter VI.

For information about teaching evaluation and recognition, as well as additional teaching opportunities, visit the teaching section of the GSAS website.

Policy Regarding Appointments

TFs must:

  • be proficient in English;
  • be registered as full-time resident students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS);
  • demonstrate satisfactory progress toward their degrees;
  • register for a total of four half-courses (or the equivalent) in each term and are charged the appropriate resident tuition rate (full tuition, reduced tuition, or facilities fee).

Stipend Rate

Teaching fellowship stipends are based on the annual salaries of full-time junior or senior lecturers. TFs in their first two years of study receive the junior rate; a TF will receive the senior rate of pay if:

  • The student has two years of Harvard resident academic credit or has credit for work done elsewhere which, when combined with Harvard academic credit, totals 16 half courses. This credit must be recorded with the FAS registrar and appear on the transcript, or
  • The student has passed generals by October of the fall term or by February of the spring term of the year they will be a TF.

A TF appointed to four sections a year is teaching two-fifths of a lecturer’s full-time appointment and paid two-fifths of that annual salary. For academic year 2016–2017, TFs qualified for the senior rate receive $21,200 (two-fifths of $53,000) and those at the junior rate receive $18,800 (two-fifths of $47,000).

Some departments offer teaching as part of students’ financial aid packages.

Pay Schedule

TF appointments are made for the fall term, spring term, or academic year, with one-term appointments receiving five paychecks. Stipends are disbursed on the 15th of each month; if the 15th falls on a weekend, pay is distributed on the Friday before.

If you would like to receive your pay by direct deposit, provide your bank information in the Benefits and Payroll section of PeopleSoft, the employee self-service website, accessed through the HARVie intranet, or download a direct deposit form.

Summer School appointments are not included in an academic year commitment.

Income Taxes

TF stipends are taxable at the federal and state level. Harvard University Student Financial Services provides information about state and federal tax policies.

Rules Governing Eligibility, Workload, and Duration of Appointments

The rules below apply to the administration of teaching fellowships by GSAS and select departments. Petitions for exceptions to these policies should be addressed to the dean for admissions and financial aid in the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center, Suite 350.

(1) All new international PhD students in GSAS are required to demonstrate a specific level of proficiency in the English language in order to participate successfully in the various activities that comprise a graduate education, including teaching. Specifically, GSAS requires that, prior to serving as TFs, all incoming PhD students who are non-native English speakers and who have received their undergraduate degrees from non-English speaking institutions demonstrate oral English language proficiency based on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) internet-based test (iBT) speaking score. See "Oral English Language Requirement," Chapter VI.

Those students who have not met the language requirement must enroll in “Classroom Communication Skills for International TFs” at the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning (bokcenter.harvard.edu, under programs for graduate students). After completing a course, students must be rescreened at the Bok Center to determine if they have met GSAS standards. Students must meet the requirement within their first two years. However, they are encouraged to complete this requirement within the first year or, at least, two semesters before they expect to teach. For more information, please contact the GSAS Student Affairs Office by e-mail at studaff@fas.harvard.edu or by calling 617-495-1814.

(2) Graduate students shall normally be given the opportunity to teach at least 16 “term fifths” during their degree programs. (A “fifth” is a fraction of time that represents 20 percent of a full-time workload; ordinarily this is the equivalent of teaching one section in a lecture course.) As a general rule, TFs should expect to spend roughly 10 hours per week teaching, preparing, and correcting classwork and providing counseling for every “fifth’’ assigned. Many departments require teaching as a part of the graduate degree program. Such requirements are stated clearly in each department’s description in the GSAS Programs of Study and in Chapter VI of the GSAS Handbook.

(3) Usually, no graduate student may hold a teaching fellowship for more than four academic years, regardless of whether the appointment is for one or two terms within the same year. Students who teach 3/5 each year for four years may accumulate as many as 24 “term fifths.” Students who have taught fewer than 16 “term fifths” in four years will be permitted to teach a fifth and sixth year up to the total of 16 “term fifths.”

(4) In general, these time limits apply to any combination of teaching at Harvard and outside the University. Students are expected to use good judgment in accepting additional employment that might delay their academic progress.

(5) Graduate students receiving PhD dissertation completion fellowships are prohibited from holding teaching fellowships and other forms of concurrent employment. For details on dissertation completion fellowship awards, visit the Fellowships website.

(6) First-year graduate students are not ordinarily eligible for appointments as TFs. Exceptions may be granted to students who are certified as proficient in English and registered in certain natural science departments that have traditionally used TFs in their first year of graduate study.

(7) Preference for TF appointments will be given to students offered a guarantee of teaching at admission (see item 11 below); teaching preference is also given to students prior to the fifth year of residency.

(8) After students expected to teach as part of their funding packages have been accommodated, departments and course heads are expected to consider and prioritize all other qualified applicants from within GSAS; special attention will be paid to qualified applicants in their third or fourth year of residency from related departments and disciplines.

(9) PhD candidates in the humanities and social sciences receive stipend support in the first two years of study to facilitate the successful completion of course requirements for the degree and ordinarily do not teach in their second (G2) year. Second-year students in the humanities and social sciences interested in teaching should not commit to an appointment without first requesting approval from the dean for admissions and financial aid; requests must describe the academic basis for an exception and be accompanied by an advisor’s endorsement. If approved, second year students will be limited to 1/5 teaching per term or 2/5 in one term with no teaching in the other term of the academic year. Second-year students in the natural sciences should refer to their program’s teaching policy and consult their primary advisor to confirm if they are eligible to accept a teaching position.

(10) After the second year, graduate students:

a) who have completed both their academic residence requirements and passed their departmental PhD qualifying examinations may hold up to a maximum of a 6/5 time teaching fellowship for the academic year. Students may not hold more than a 4/5 time appointment in any one term;

b) who have not completed their academic residence requirements (a minimum of two years of full-time study in residence) and who have not passed their departmental PhD qualifying examinations may hold up to a maximum of a 2/5 time teaching fellowship. Students who have not met these criteria may not average teaching fellowship fractions over the academic year.

Those awarded terminal degrees in November and March will normally become teaching assistants for the term in which the degree is awarded.

(11) At admission, PhD candidates in the humanities and social sciences are guaranteed assignment of two sections of teaching each term by their departments in their third and fourth years of residency as part of their funding packages. GSAS regards the meeting of that guarantee as a cooperative endeavor between the student and the department. Students whose financial aid packages include teaching should consult their departments if assistance in securing a TF position is needed.

(12) TFs cannot teach more than 6/5 during the academic year; students teaching more than 6/5 are considered teaching assistants and must register as on Leave of Absence rather than In Residence.

(13) Certain awards from GSAS, the US government, and other outside sources impose more stringent limits on TFs’ commitments. Students are responsible for observing the terms of such awards and should consult with their financial aid officer for more information.

(14) Immigration regulations limit international student employment to 20 hours per week, or .57 time per term. International students with questions regarding this regulation should consult with their financial aid officer for further information.

(15) Graduate TFs may not receive course credit for the time they devote to teaching. However, at the discretion of their department, students may have their teaching efforts recognized—and recorded—by signing up for “TIME-T” on their study cards. (See “Course Load of Teaching Fellows and Research Assistants” section below for more details). Graduate students receive credit for teaching in the sense that TIME-T activities appear on their GSAS transcripts; these entries, however, are not graded.

Course Load of Teaching Fellows and Research Assistants

Students holding teaching fellowships or research assistantships should consider their course load carefully in consultation with their advisors. The four-course registration requirement must be made up of formal courses and scholarly work, which is given the designation TIME. There are three categories of TIME:

  • TIME-C—independent study
  • TIME-R—research
  • TIME-T—teaching

At the discretion of departments, students register for TIME-T while serving as TFs to indicate that appropriate independent work is replacing numbered courses. TIME or the appropriate dissertation-level course is undertaken with a faculty advisor who must sign a study card. One unit of TIME is the equivalent of one half-course and may serve to indicate that a student is engaged in full-time study even though the total of numbered courses enrolled for is fewer than four. Experience has shown that TFs whose course loads exceed these limits frequently encounter academic difficulties.

Teaching Fellows Appeals Procedure

If, as a TF, you believe that you are spending more of your professional time on teaching than you are being compensated for, that the work required is unrelated to the course, or that you feel victimized by the course administration in some fashion, you should discuss the matter with the head tutor, director of graduate studies, or other appropriate officer in the department where the appointment is held.

If the difficulty is not resolved after such conversations, you can contact the GSAS dean for student affairs at 617-495-1814. The dean can help advise you on further steps, which might include a written appeal to the Administrative Board of the Graduate School.