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Certificate of Completion in Teaching College/University

Binghamton University's Graduate School was one of the first in the U.S. to offer a university-wide Certificate of Completion in College/University Teaching, preparing graduate students for higher education teaching.

The program, approved by the Graduate Council in May 1996, may be integrated into academic studies at any point in a current degree-seeking graduate student's academic career at Binghamton University.

What is the value of earning such a certificate? It helps you organize your teaching credentials and portfolio, articulate your teaching philosophy, and demonstrate your teaching experiences and abilities when pursuing teaching opportunities.


The "add-on" Certificate recognizes work performed by teaching graduate students over the course of their graduate careers as they prepare for class, develop assignments, evaluate student work, and reflect on their teaching experiences. In addition, students complete four types of activities:

  1. University-wide workshops. This includes Teaching Assistant Orientation events and online modules, workshops organized by the Writing Center, Graduate Community of Scholars (GCOS), and the Center for Learning and Teaching. Completion of 12 hours of participation in teaching workshops, conferences, and teaching alliance discussions. Documentation is required.
  2. Discipline-specific activities. This includes courses on teaching, teaching practicum activities, colloquia gatherings of teaching staffs in large courses, and professional development meetings for graduate student teachers organized by graduate programs.
  3. Guided teaching. The experience of teaching, together with the varieties of evaluation (observation and guidance by a faculty supervisor and student evaluations) that make teachers into reflective practitioners. Recipients of the Certificate will have demonstrated teaching and presentational skills. They may have taught as TAs, GAs, RAs, adjuncts, or in any other capacity.
  4. Teaching portfolio. As a capstone activity, the preparation of a teaching portfolio allows advanced graduate teachers to draw together their experiences and to reflect on their philosophies of teaching. The portfolio communicates a teacher's goals and accomplishments. It may include student evaluations, syllabi, individual lesson plans and assignments, evaluated student work, handouts, and a statement of the candidate's teaching goals and philosophy.

How to Apply

Develop a Learning Contract: Your Learning Contract will be a proposal (no longer than a page or two) documenting how and when you intend to accomplish the requirements for the teaching certificate. You will work closely with your graduate director to create this document and to plan ways of fulfilling the requirements which meet the general rubric of the certificate's specifications. There may be various ways and combinations of fulfilling the requirements, and your plan might be individualized for your own course of study; the Learning Contract is a way to develop a plan that is meaningful and appropriate for you. Once you've written your Learning Contract, you'll need to submit a copy to both your graduate director and the Graduate School (, so that both parties will be made aware of your intent to pursue the certificate.

Upon Completing Your Requirements: When you have completed your requirements, including the compilation of your teaching portfolio, you should submit the final document to your graduate director, so she or he can confirm your successful completion of all items. Please also submit an electronic copy of your teaching portfolio to the Graduate School.  Once your department has verified your completion, be sure to pay your $100 Graduate Certificate Fee to the Graduate School before the Degree Completion deadline has passed. Please also have your department submit written notification, signed by the graduate director, to the Graduate School Degree Completion Assistant formally verifying that all required courses have been taken and passed for the completion of the certificate.

Note: As you progress with your fulfillment of certificate requirements, be sure to document and make duplicate copies of all your activities related to your progress. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact The Graduate School's Associate Dean, Sarah Lam (

Additional Details

Departments may offer some courses in college teaching and need to supervise their TAs or instructor of records (IORs) to facilitate their graduate student teachers' ability to complete the Certificate. Departments should provide some guidance for the development of a teaching portfolio by graduate students. The national initiative on Preparing Future Faculty encourages this kind of training and recommends the following courses, sequence and portfolio description.


Complete a 500-level Issues in Teaching College and a 500-level Practicum in Teaching, or The Community College (GRD 676) course.

  1. A 500-level Issues in Teaching College for 1-2 credits. Philosophical issues in teaching < discipline > in college settings. Practical issues involving curriculum and course design, methods and materials for presenting < discipline > in the classroom, and evaluation and improvement of one's own teaching may also be arranged with a faculty mentor. A maximum of 2 credits is allowed toward the degree and/or applied to tuition scholarship.
  2. A 500-level Practicum in Teaching for 1-4 credits. A typical description of this course is: Individual supervision of beginning teachers. It includes regular observation and evaluation of student's teaching by a faculty mentor. Student must arrange for this with a faculty mentor. Satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading only. A maximum of 2 credits is allowed toward the degree and/or applied to tuition scholarship.
  3. The Community College (GRD 676) - 4 credits. This course covers mission of community college, type of governance, financial structure, challenges for community college, student needs, learning styles, developing a learning environment, supplementary support for students, role of advising and related topics. Prerequisites: BA/BS degree.

Teaching Experience

Stage I. Assist faculty instructor at 100-level, either in large lecture class with discussion sections or medium-sized course. In either case, the instructor should provide the graduate student with some opportunity for teaching experience, either in the form of leading discussion sections or giving guest lectures.

Stage II. After the completion of at least one semester's experience at Stage I, students may register for the 500-level courses on college teaching. Occasionally, and with the permission of the instructor, students who have not had Stage I experience may be allowed to enroll. Students who have not completed Stage II may not proceed to Stage III.

Stage III. Students who have completed the two courses are eligible to teach as Instructor of Record in one of the department's courses, with the permission and assignment by the Chair of the department. Please note that a department cannot guarantee an instructor-of-record opportunity nor are there any entitlements to these positions.

It is expected that IORs within the department's regular curriculum will have assisted in those courses prior to teaching them. Graduate IORs work with a faculty mentor to develop course syllabi and design their courses. Faculty mentors agree to assist in this process and to be available for consultations as appropriate. Faculty mentors will also review the student's teaching portfolio, if appropriate, and recommend certification to the Graduate Committee.

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Last Updated: 12/27/13