All first-year graduate students in the PhD program spend their first year on a non-teaching fellowship that offers the opportunity to become acclimated to graduate study without the pressure of learning to teach. During the Spring of their first year, PhD students take Seminar in Pedagogy, a graduate course designed to introduce them to teaching strategies and philosophies relevant to all four programs in the department. Seminar in Pedagogy promotes graduate students’ development as educators, from daily instruction in the classroom to thinking broadly about higher education and curriculum development. This course is usually team-taught with TS faculty in the Composition Program and a AS/TS faculty member in a different program.

PhD students begin their teaching assistantships in their 2nd year by teaching a section of Seminar in Composition, an introductory composition course that fills a requirement for undergraduates in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. During this initial year of teaching, TAs work from a common syllabus and sequence of assignments and are supported by a summer training program and two graduate courses: Writing Pedagogy I and II. They also participate in a series of colloquia and class observations organized by faculty and graduate-student mentors. After working with the standard syllabus, TAs may propose their own syllabus and sequence of assignments for Seminar in Composition.

After their initial appointment in Seminar in Composition, graduate students have the opportunity to teach a wide range of courses in composition, literature, film, or creative writing. Students coordinate their teaching assignment with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in their program. They may also choose to tutor in the Writing Center in place of teaching a course; to serve as a mentor for first-year TAs; or to serve in an administrative capacity as an assistant to the Composition Program.