During approximately three years of the Ph.D. program, each student is required to serve as a graduate assistant (GA), usually as a teaching assistant for two courses in Religion annually. Teaching assistant work normally requires
- Attending all class lectures and official events (examinations, review sessions, field trips, etc.)
- Leading three 50-minute discussion sections per week
- Holding regular office hours
- Meeting weekly with the course professor
- Undertaking small amounts of clerical work in support of the course (for example, copying, grade recording, AV set-up, course site set-up)
Assignments are based on a combination of departmental need and student preference. Students are urged to communicate with the department chair early in spring quarter about limitations that research travel, course conflicts, etc. suggest for the following year.
When circumstances permit, students are encouraged to do at least some of their GA work in other departments. Students who wish to do so should speak with the department chair in winter or very early spring quarter of the year before they wish to teach. If course staffing demands permit, advanced graduate students may also be asked to fulfill their GA responsibilities by teaching courses or serving as research assistants. Students who win internal or external fellowships for dissertation work are excused from GA work during the year the fellowship is in effect.
Other teaching opportunities
The Department recognizes that graduate students should have opportunities to develop their skills as teachers, and must gain teaching experience that can be listed on the curriculum vitae. Teaching assistantships cannot normally be used for this purpose, and students who are receiving fellowships or GA stipends typically are not permitted to take on other significant paid work. Instead, Religious Studies students typically take advantage of intensive teaching workshops and programs run by the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence, one of which culminates in teaching an independent undergraduate course.