Carnegie Mellon University

Graduate Student Teaching Award Nomination Process

Carnegie Mellon's Graduate Student Teaching Award is given annually to a graduate student who has demonstrated teaching excellence at the undergraduate and/or graduate level at the university. The award is intended to foster a culture of teaching excellence among graduate teaching assistants and instructors.

Examples of teaching excellence can include but are not limited to:

  • outstanding teaching in the classroom, laboratory or studio
  • creation or use of new and innovative teaching methods and course materials
  • effectiveness in feedback, review sessions or one-on-one instruction
  • creation of challenging and innovative courses
  • creation or use of inclusive teaching practices that support all students
All current graduate students at the university who have demonstrated substantial effectiveness in teaching are eligible to be nominated for the award. Students who have been nominated or received honorable mention in the past may be nominated again. However, previous winners of the award are ineligible for nomination.

The award selection committee consists of:

  • three faculty members
  • three graduate students (including the most recent recipient of the Graduate Student Teaching Award, if available)
  • two undergraduate students
  • the chairperson of the committee (a representative for the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, a non-voting member)

The selection committee adopts its own rules of procedure.

Nomination packages may be submitted by any member of the university community and should describe the qualities and activities of the nominee that make him or her an excellent candidate for the award.

Packages must include:

  • a nomination letter addressed to the selection committee summarizing the individual's teaching accomplishments
  • additional recommendation letters from faculty, current and former students and other colleagues who have substantive knowledge of the nominee's teaching activities
  • a statement of teaching philosophy from the candidate
  • a brief C.V. (two to four pages) by the nominee
  • a summary of the courses for which the nominee has served as a teaching assistant or instructor at Carnegie Mellon, including short descriptions of responsibilities in each course
  • additional supporting materials that represent the quality of a nominee's teaching accomplishments and provide evidence of the nominee's teaching excellence

Letters of Recommendation

Recommendation letters from students should be solicited from a sizable sample, preferably representing different courses and/or diverse pedagogical methods (e.g., discussions, lectures, group projects). Both formal letters and emails are acceptable. Students should be asked to comment, among other things, on the following questions:

  • How accessible and supportive was the nominee?
  • What types of learning activities and teaching strategies did the nominee use that were particularly effective?
  • How well organized were the individual class sessions of the nominee?
  • Does the nominee create a learning atmosphere in which all students feel respected, welcomed and supported?

Recommendation letters from faculty and other colleagues, including other graduate students, should be written by individuals who have supervised or taught with the nominee or who have observed the nominee's teaching in person.
The maximum number of recommendation letters that can be submitted is 30.

Additional Supporting Materials

When available, the Faculty Course Evaluation scores or other systematic student evaluations of teaching should be supplied for all courses that the nominee has taught at Carnegie Mellon. The evaluation scores should be supplemented with information on the number of students enrolled in each course, whether the students were majors or non-majors, and whether the nominee served as instructor or teaching assistant for the course. If qualitative comments are also included, please provide an explanation of how they were selected (e.g., all available comments, representative comments).
Additional evidence of the nominee's contributions may include but are not limited to:

  • examples of outstanding teaching materials created by the nominee, such as assignment guidelines, solution sets for homework, handouts, syllabi or samples of the nominee's feedback on student work
  • descriptions of the nominee's contributions to the teaching development of peers, such as contributions to course-level TA meetings, department-level TA training or other types of helpful feedback on teaching to peers
  • descriptions of the nominee's contributions to his or her department's educational programs, such as serving on teaching-related committees, supervising or mentoring undergraduate students, presenting papers or writing articles about teaching or organizing educational or professional development opportunities for other students

The maximum number of pages of additional supporting materials that can be submitted is 30. Videos should not be submitted.

A single PDF file of the complete nomination package must be submitted by midnight on the second Sunday in February to  The file name and subject line of the email should be: SERVICE AWARD NOMINATION Nominee First Name, Nominee Last Name.  Questions should also be directed to

Both the Graduate Student Teaching and Service Awards will be be recognized at the Celebration of Education event in the spring. The recipients will receive a monetary award and have their names displayed on a plaque in the Cohon University Center.