Mentored Teaching Experience Requirement

Each student must have a “Sequence Teaching Experience”

  • Intern in the Core, or
  • TA for at least two different departmental courses (Intro Course, upper level undergrad course, and/or graduate course)

Each student must have one “Capstone Teaching Experience”

  • Core Lectureship for one quarter
  • Lead instructor in a departmental course for one quarter
  • Lead instructor in a UChicago Center course for one quarter
  • Co-teach with a faculty member for a one quarter course

With the approval of the DGS, a BA Preceptorship or second time through the “Sequence Teaching Experience” can count for the “Capstone Teaching Experience.” 

For mentored teaching experiences in the department, students will apply in the Spring Quarter of each year for the next academic year. The department’s graduate affairs committee will make the recommendations. For a mentored teaching experience in the Core or Centers, students will apply directly to those program as they require. Normally, students will not have any mentored teaching experiences until their third year.

Teaching Assistantships and Internships

Teaching assistants and interns work with an instructor to gain experience in leading discussion sections, grading papers and exams, and in some courses, training in pedagogical methods. Students serve as teaching assistants in political science undergraduate lecture courses and in the department's methodology sequence, where they are given responsibility for leading discussion sections and grading written assignments. Students serve as interns in the college Core or Civilization courses; the primary purpose of internships, unlike teaching assistantships, is to prepare students to serve as Lecturers in a given Core or Civilization course. 

Department Courses

The department announces its teaching assistant needs in the spring quarter for the following academic year. Students apply and a faculty committee makes the appointments. Unexpected needs frequently arise at the beginning of each quarter and the department announces and makes appointments at the last minute. The Division, as a practice, does not allow first and second year students to serve as teaching assistants although the department can make exceptions for second year students.

Social Sciences Core Sequences

Teaching interns are needed for five Social Sciences core sequences: "Power, Identity, and Resistance" concentrates on various aspects of power in the modern world; "Self, Culture, and Society" studies theories of political economy, the individual and society, and cultural interpretations; "Social Science Inquiry" examines the public role of empirical social science; "Mind" draws from psychology, anthropology and philosophy to consider the functioning of the human mind; and "Classics of Social and Political Thought" investigates criteria for understanding and judging political, social, and economic institutions. Core chairs, in consultation with other members of the faculty, appoint interns from among those who apply. Interns attend weekly staff meetings.

Civilization Sequences

The civilization sequences, part of the general education requirement of the College curriculum, introduce undergraduates to primary sources and significant documents in one of the world's civilizations. There are about a dozen civilization sequences in which Political Science students may be qualified to teach: Africa; American; Ancient Mediterranean; East Asia; Europe; Islam; Judaism; Latin America; Near East; Russia; and Science, Culture, and Society; South Asia. The College does not offer all sequences every year.

College Writing Programs Interns and Tutors

A writing intern is a graduate student who provides a writing instruction component in one of the year-long humanities common core courses. A thorough and well-organized teacher-training is required before interning. 

The Writing Program also helps to hire and provides training for the Writing Tutors who work in Harper Library and in some dorms during the evenings. Tutors do not work in a course; instead, they hold office hours and work with undergraduate students seeking help on a paper draft or an outline. Contact the Writing Program for details on salary and training.

Foreign Language Teaching

If you possess fluency in a Romance, Germanic, Middle Eastern, East Asian, or South Asian language, you may find opportunities to TA or teach; pedagogic training in language acquisition may be a prerequisite before entering the class room. Check with specific departments for details.

Grodzins Prize Lectureships

Advanced graduate students in political science, selected as Grodzins Prize Lecturers, offer their own undergraduate courses. Course proposals should be aimed at the educational objectives of the undergraduate majors—not as specialized as a dissertation, but rather designed to introduce students to some of the conceptual problems and empirical underpinnings of the field. Some recent Grodzins Prize course offerings include "Violence and Development in Africa," "Political Economy of Inequality," "Interpreting Contemporary Unrest," and "Experiments in American Politics and Policy." 

College Core and Civilization Lectureships

Lecturers teach, guide discussion, and grade papers and exams. The Core and Civilization sequences generally follow a set syllabus. The College appoints advanced graduate students to teach their own sections of Core or Civilization courses. To be eligible to apply, students must have interned in the Core or Civilization courses and have had their dissertation proposals approved prior to the application deadline. In general, the selection committee gives preference to students who have completed a substantial portion of their doctoral dissertation. Students appointed as Lecturers will receive advance guidance in the teaching of these courses and concurrent guidance through close association with the staff of the courses during the year.

Other Lectureships

Programs such as International Studies, Public Policy, Gender Studies, and Human Rights sponsor lectureships from time to time. You can contact these departments directly or look for announcements over the polsall listserv.

UChicago's Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies often seeks lecturers to teach in its Noncredit Professional Development Certificate Programs and Master's programs. 

The department frequently receives notice of openings for full and part-time teaching positions at area universities and colleges. 


Preceptors guide upper-level undergraduates or students in one-year master's programs who are writing bachelor's or master's theses. Preceptors often lead an advanced colloquium and offer guidance throughout the academic year to a small group of students in planning their program of study. Preceptors may have weekly staff meetings with faculty, program administrators, and other preceptors. These positions usually require a nine-month commitment and offer students an opportunity to become deeply engaged in the workings of an undergraduate major or master's program. Generally, ABD status is required before serving as a preceptor. 

Political Science BA Preceptorships

The department requires some undergraduate political science majors to participate in the BA Colloquium (PLSC 29800) beginning in the spring quarter of their junior year and continues through their senior year. The department has designed the colloquium, usually organized along methodological or field lines, to help students carry out their BA thesis research. It meets weekly in the spring quarter and bi-weekly in the autumn and winter quarter with individual advising in the final spring quarter. The department will appoint at least four advanced (beyond the MA) graduate students to act as preceptors who will direct the colloquium and to help students organize their papers and comment on drafts. Faculty members will be responsible for the final grading of the papers although the preceptors make recommendations regarding honors designation.

Gender Studies, Environmental Studies, Human Rights, International Studies, and Public Policy are just a few of the majors that also appoint graduate students as BA Preceptors. 

MAPSS and CIR Preceptorships

The Committee on International Relations (CIR) and the Master's of Arts Programs in Social Sciences (MAPSS) depend on preceptors to guide students through their one-year programs. Duties are extensive, and may include advising master's students on their plan of study, teaching a fundamentals course, supervising master's theses, reading admissions files, and recruiting new students.

Chicago Center for Teaching

The Chicago Center for Teaching provides support to graduate students, postdocs, and faculty through workshops, seminars, and conferences. These include the Workshop on Teaching in the College, a two-day orientation for new teaching assistants and instructors at the start of autumn quarter; the Fundamentals of Teaching Workshop, and Preparing Future Faculty Series. The Center's College Teaching Certificate documents graduate students' professional development through the process of critically reflecting on university teaching in general and their own practices in particular.