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Teaching is a formal requirement for the degree in many academic programs and strongly encouraged in others. Students should review their departmental requirements for details.

Teaching fellow (TF) appointments in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) are made first to students who are invoking their guarantee of teaching offered at the time of admission (see Financial Support for Teaching for more information).


Students who have completed both their academic residence requirements and passed their departmental PhD qualifying examinations may serve as a TF for a maximum of six standard sections for the academic year, not to exceed four standard section appointments in any one term. A standard section of teaching is defined as a section compensated using teaching rate B (formerly referred to as .2 FTE; see page 36 of the HGSU-UAW collective bargaining agreement). Students teaching more than six standard sections are considered teaching assistants and must register as on leave of absence rather than in residence.

Students who have NOT completed their academic residence requirements and who have not passed their departmental PhD qualifying examinations may serve as TFs for up to a maximum of a two standard sections in any given term. Please note:

  • Ordinarily, no graduate student may hold a teaching fellowship for more than four academic years, regardless of whether the appointment is for one or two terms within the same year; students who have taught fewer than 16 standard sections in four years will be permitted to teach a fifth and sixth year up to the total of 16 standard sections.
  • In general, these time limits apply to any combination of teaching at Harvard and outside the University. Students are expected to use good judgment in accepting additional employment that might delay their academic progress.
  • With the exception of certain natural science departments, first- and second-year students are not ordinarily permitted to teach.

To teach, TFs must:

Students may NOT teach if they:

  • are receiving a PhD dissertation completion fellowship.
  • are first-year graduate students. Exceptions may be granted to students who are certified as proficient in English and registered in certain natural science programs that traditionally use first-year students as TFs.


  • Assuming no other work commitments, and consistent with visa limitations, international students may be hired to teach three standard sections, as long as at least two of the sections are in the same course.
  • Certain awards from GSAS, the US government, and other outside sources impose more stringent limits on TF commitments. Students are responsible for observing the terms of such awards and should consult with their financial aid officer for more information.
  • Students awarded terminal degrees in November and March are normally appointed teaching assistants for the term in which the degree is awarded, rather than teaching fellows.

Exceptions to the Policies


Students with extenuating circumstances should contact their financial aid officer to determine if petitioning for a special exception may be appropriate. Financial aid officers can work with students to initiate exception requests as needed.

Teaching Fellow Pay Schedule

TF appointments are made for the fall term (August through December), spring term (January through May), or academic year, with one-term appointments receiving five paychecks. Pay is disbursed on the 15th of each month; if the 15th falls on a weekend, pay is distributed on the Friday before.

TF disbursals are taxable at the federal and state level. Harvard University Student Financial Services provides information about state and federal tax policies.

If you would like to receive your pay by direct deposit, provide your bank information in the Benefits and Payroll section of PeopleSoft, the employee self-service website, accessed through the HARVie intranet.

Other Terms and Conditions of Employment

Other terms and conditions related to appointment as a teaching fellow can be found in the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the University and the Harvard Graduate Student Union (HGSU-UAW).


Laura Pascale
Laura Pascale
Teaching Fellows Coordinator

Policy Forms

Exception Request Form