Graduate Teaching

Teaching Fellow Levels


There are five primary levels of TFs at Yale. They are distinguished from one another by several considerations, including the kind or kinds of activity required, the approximate hours per week, and the number of students taught. For example, courses in which TFs are expected to provide frequent and intensive writing criticism, to grade problem sets or vocabulary tests frequently, or to prepare especially complicated visual or laboratory materials may be accorded a higher-level teaching fellowship than courses that do not carry such an expectation. A graduate student’s teaching assignment is measured in terms of teaching fellow units (one unit for a term as TF 1, two units for a term as TF 2, and so on).

Teaching Fellow 1:

 The responsibilities of a TF 1 are primarily (a) grading, (b) a combination of the following: attending class, reading, advising undergraduates, offering an occasional discussion section, helping to set up a lab, or assisting in the administrative details of the course, (c) in nonlanguage courses providing Language-across-the-Curriculum one-on-one language tutoring, or (d) in language courses providing one-on-one tutoring sessions. A TF 1 does not engage in regular classroom teaching. Approximate weekly effort, 5 hours.

Teaching Fellow 2:

A TF 2 typically leads and grades one discussion or laboratory section of up to 20 students in courses in the natural sciences and some social sciences, tutors in language courses, or combines responsibilities (a) and (b) as described under TF1. A TF2 also may lead a Language-across-the-Curriculum session for courses with fewer than 30 students and no other sections. Approximate weekly effort, 10 hours.

Teaching Fellow 3:

Depending on department policy, the duties of a TF 3 may include leading and grading one or two lab or discussion sections, as in Chemistry. Alternatively, a TF 3 may be appropriate for a combination of duties that might include attending lectures, office hours and consultations, and grading, as in Psychology. Approximate weekly effort, 15 hours.

Teaching Fellow 3.5:

This appointment is appropriate for TFs who lead and grade one section in English, History of Art, or the Literature major; in any literature course in the national language departments that may conform to the same mode of teaching; in courses double-titled with these departments and programs; and in a few designated courses. Discussion section leaders are appointed for lecture courses with 30 or more students; a section size is expected not to exceed 18 students, with 20 the absolute maximum and six the minimum. This appointment is also used for Writing Requirement TFs and Language-across-the-Curriculum section leaders. Approximate weekly effort, 17.5 hours.

Teaching Fellow 4:

This appointment is appropriate for TFs in humanities and social science departments in which teaching fellows usually lead and grade two sections. Discussion section leaders are appointed for lecture courses with 30 or more students; a section size is expected not to exceed 18 students, with 20 the absolute maximum and six the minimum. Approximate weekly effort, 20 hours. The 2011–2012 teaching fellowship is $9,860 per term.

Part-Time Acting Instructors:

Graduate students appointed as part-time acting instructors (PTAIs) conduct sections of introductory courses or advanced seminars, normally seminars in their special fields. Even in the case of seminars, PTAIs are supervised by faculty. In the case of multisection introductory courses, this may include the use of a common syllabus and examinations. No student should teach more than one PTAI course per term. PTAIs who teach advanced seminars must have satisfied all predissertation requirements (including the dissertation prospectus) and must be registered full-time to be eligible for the appointment. Hours of effort for PTAIs will vary from one individual to another.


Teaching Responsibilities


Faculty Responsibilities:

 The faculty member is responsible for preparing course syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, problem sets and examinations as well as maintaining websites, reserving and printing course materials and obtaining audiovisual equipment. As the instructors of record, faculty members keeps an ongoing record of grades and report grades at the end of term to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar. If a faculty member is unable to attend class, the class should be rescheduled or a faculty colleague may substitute, but teaching fellows must not be asked to give lectures. Faculty must administer their own examinations rather than turning them over to teaching assistants. The exception to these guidelines is the Associates in Teaching program. Associates in Teaching participate in all aspects of the course and may independently teach some classes or give lectures, but teaching fellows must not be asked to give lectures in the absence of the faculty member.

In lecture courses with 30 or more students the faculty members are expected to lead one discussion section unless the course has four or more teaching fellows or the instructor is teaching a new lecture course or when discussion sections are in addition to a full, 150-minute weekly lecture schedule. In short, under most circumstances, the faculty member will meet a section. Faculty members should grade all exams of graduate students that lead directly to the final grade in a course. Teaching fellows may evaluate homework submitted by graduate students as long as grades are assigned by a faculty member.


Teaching Fellow Responsibilities:

Obligations of teaching fellows vary widely with the nature of the course, but will include a subset of the following: lead discussion and review sections, supervise laboratories and grade homework, lab reports and examinations. Materials for these activities should be provided by or prepared in conjunction with the faculty. Graduate students may not teach a lecture course independently or supervise teaching fellows. To prepare for these duties teaching fellows are advised to read “Becoming Teachers” and to attend seminars and workshops at the Graduate Teaching Center directed by Bill Rando ( or


Shared Responsibilities:

 Teaching fellows may help to prepare some class materials and give a lecture, if this is done with the faculty member as a learning experience with an evaluation. Teaching Fellows are expected to return graded materials to students in a timely fashion, as determined in collaboration with the faculty member.



At least once early in the semester faculty members are expected to visit a section led by each Teaching Fellow and to offer helpful suggestions. Faculty members are expected to meet their Teaching Fellows at a regular time each week to coordinate class activities and help Teaching Fellows learn to teach undergraduate courses, prepare for sections and grade exams.


Questions or Concerns about Teaching Fellow Levels or Teaching Responsibilities


If you have any questions or concerns about teaching fellow levels or teaching responsibilities, you should talk to the instructor in charge of the course, for which you have been assigned. Alternatively, please feel free to get in touch with Judith Hackman or Howard El-Yasin from the Teaching Fellow Program. Their office is located in the Hall of Graduate Studies, Room 139, and their phone number is 203-432-2757.  


Difficulties Finding a Teaching Position in Your Department


If you have difficulties finding a teaching position in your department, the following list contains some suggestions that may help you:

  • Make a suggestion to a faculty member to co-teach a class as part of the “Associates in Teaching” program.
  • Approach other departments that are related to your field of study and ask their Graduate Registrar about open teaching positions.
  • Contact the Assistant Deans of the Graduate School.
  • Contact academic institutions other than Yale and inquire about positions as an instructor and/or as a Teaching Fellow.
In case of any questions or concerns with regard to the content of this page, please email the Chair of the Academics and Professional Development Committee Caitlin Verboon.