The University of Colorado Boulder considers the employment and training of graduate teachers to be a professional apprenticeship that shapes the professoriate of the future. To recognize graduate teachers who devote time to improve their teaching, the Center for Teaching & Learning, in collaboration with the Graduate School, offers the Certificate in College Teaching (CCT). This certificate requires no coursework, and is free to obtain.
Although such certificate programs are not accredited, nearly all institutions with graduate programs offer similar certificates to graduate students. Moreover, those who have earned the CCT report that it is an asset to those seeking faculty, instructor, adjunct, visiting assistant professor and postdoctoral scholar appointments.
The Certificate in College Teaching may be awarded to all graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty who complete the requirements and evaluation successfully. Requirements include classroom teaching, participation in CTL workshops and discipline-specific activities, video teacher consultations, a faculty observation, and completing a teaching portfolio.
As learning to teach effectively is a developmental process, we suggest that all participants complete the requirements over a minimum of two academic years, although it is possible to finish all requirements in a single academic year.
To qualify for the Certificate in College Teaching, instructors must teach on the CU Boulder campus for two full semesters with their own students. This teaching may involve courses, recitations, or laboratories.
Participants must attend 20 workshops offered by the Center for Teaching & Learning or approved collaborators. Workshops address the needs of beginning and experienced graduate teaching assistants and instructors. Participants are encouraged to choose activities and workshops that are appropriate for their personal level of experience and interest. Workshops cover topics from the following areas:
- General pedagogy (beginning and advanced)
- Inclusive practices
- Issues in teaching and course design
- Academic policies (discrimination and harassment, academic ethics)
- Assessment and evaluation (self, course, and student)
- Preparation of teaching portfolios
- Technology and teaching
- Scholarship of teaching and learning and teaching as research
- Personal and professional development
All instructors pursuing certification are required to complete a minimum of 20 real-time hours of teacher training in their discipline.
Departmental activities include:
- courses on teaching;
- departmental or institute workshops or discussion groups; and
- regular meetings with the faculty supervisor, faculty mentor, or with the CTL Lead Graduate Fellow.
If you are teaching your own course as instructor of record/graduate part-time instructor (GPTI), you are eligible to count this work towards the required 20 hours of discipline specific credits.
If the department does not provide 20 real-time hours of discipline-specific training, participants can substitute attendance at additional Center for Teaching & Learning workshops. However, the inverse does not apply – departmental activities may not replace CTL workshop credit.
Two video consultations (based on recitation sections, laboratory sections, or courses the instructor is teaching for a full semester) are required for certification. The instructor, in consultation with a CTL staff consultant or CTL Lead Graduate Fellow, first schedules a time for the process to occur and then develops a plan for improvement based on video self-assessment. The first videotape consultation should be completed early in the program; the second in a subsequent semester. Consultations are confidential and non-evaluative. Reach out to your current department Lead to schedule a consultation. If you have any questions about this process, please contact CTL@colorado.edu.
Please note: Public speaking engagements, talks in colloquia, or single lectures given in the place of a faculty member may not be used to complete the first video consultation portion of the Certificate in College Teaching. If you have taught for more than two semesters and would like to use one of the above as your second VTC, please contact the CTL for authorization.
A faculty member (tenured, tenure-track, or senior instructor rank) must observe and evaluate each candidate for certification during a regular class, recitation, or lab session. To qualify, candidates must meet departmental standards for proficiency in teaching.
The faculty member may decide to recommend the instructor for certification or may request that the instructor attain a higher level of proficiency and undergo a follow-up evaluation prior to certification. Faculty may use any format they choose or respond to the questions listed on the Faculty Observation and Evaluation form.
A written observation and evaluation report by the faculty member must be sent to the Center for Teaching & Learning office:
- Email: CTL@colorado.edu
- Mail: Center for Teaching & Learning Certification, 200 UCB
Upon submission, the CTL Director reviews each candidate's file and portfolio and decides if the candidate is approved for certification.
The candidate then completes an online CTL Exit Survey prior to receiving the signed certificate.
The candidate should notify the CTL upon completion of the Exit Survey by sending an email to CTL@colorado.edu.
Completion of the certificate will be noted on the student’s transcript. If you have not yet finished your degree, your certificate will not appear until your degree is awarded. According to the Registrar's office, Office of the Registrar staff won't process the certificate for degree-seeking students until after their degrees have posted to their transcripts.
Please note: To ensure your certificate is added to your final transcript, the portfolio should be turned in to CTL for review at least two weeks prior to the end of your final semester.
If you have any questions regarding certificates, please email the CTL at CTL@colorado.edu.
For graduate students who will TA for one or fewer semesters, we recommend that you look at the Pursuing Excellence in College Teaching Credential or the Future Faculty Development Certificate. Neither of those options require teaching, and can demonstrate your investment in and progress toward becoming a better educator.
The CCT is designed to be achievable for Master's degree students who will complete their program in as little as two years. See below for a sample timeline demonstrating certificate completion over two years.
For PhD students, if you are teaching only in your first year, we recommend that you complete your VTCs and classroom observations over the course of that year. Workshops and trainings can then be spread out over your remaining time on campus, or you can finalize your certificate within the first two years and merely make adjustments to your portfolio as you approach graduation.
Attend the CTL's Fall Intensive, offered annually in the week before fall semester courses begin, and obtain a foundational understanding of teaching in a college setting. Join up to six workshops over the course of the Intensive, which are complementary to your own departmental orientation and acclimatization to graduate life. Look for those in your department who are focused on teaching and make connections with them. In particular, reach out to your department's Lead Graduate Teaching Fellow. Fellows liase between departments and the CTL and can bring discipline-specific knowledge of teaching and learning to 46 departments across campus.
Continue to visit the CTL website and look for opportunities to build on your teaching skills and meet others throughout the semester by attending four to five additional workshops and events.
While teaching in your first semester, reach out to your departmental Lead Graduate Teaching Fellow and schedule your first of two Video Teacher Consultations (VTC). These are non-evaluative, peer consultations that help you learn self-reflection techniques that you will utilize throughout your teaching career. Your Lead will reach out to you through their weekly email regarding CTL events, but feel free to contact them directly.
Attend four to five additional CTL workshops. Schedule your second VTC, a required component of the CCT, and reach out to your advisor, TA coordinator or a member of your committee to come observe your class. This is not only a requirement for the CCT, but also an opportunity for a potential letter of recommendation writer to see you teach. That way, they can speak to all aspects of your academic career as they craft your letter, whether you are continuing your education or looking for academic positions.
Attend your remaining CTL workshops (check your progress at gtp.colorado.edu) and submit your discipline-specific hours to the CTL.
Discipline-specific hours can include hours spent:
- Teaching your own course as Instructor of Record (as a graduate part-time instructor, or GPTI);
- Attending weekly TA meetings;
- Discussing teaching or professional development subjects (not research) with your advisor;
- Attending workshops/trainings led by your department or your department's Lead Graduate Teaching Fellow on teaching and learning;
- Taking a pedagogy course; or
- Attending additional CTL workshops beyond the required 20.
Finally, draft, revise, review and submit your CCT Portfolio to the CTL for final approval. The CTL staff are available to review and help you revise your portfolio. The CTL can also provide sample portfolios, and frequently offers workshops covering teaching statements, diversity statements, and teaching portfolios.
Finish your thesis, defend, and get the job of your dreams!
Examples of successful portfolios from a variety of disciplines are available below as PDFs.