2023-2024 Graduate Teaching Awards

To highlight and honor the University’s graduate students for their commitment to and excellence in undergraduate instruction, the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs is soliciting nominations for the 2023-2024 Graduate Teaching Awards. 

Supported since 1990 by the Provost and the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs, the Graduate Teaching Awards considers all forms of teaching conducted by graduate students, whether it occurs in a classroom, a laboratory, or a studio.  Any currently enrolled graduate student who has served as a GTA or as instructor of record for at least two semesters, including but not limited to fall 2023 and spring 2024, is eligible to be nominated.  The nomination process will allow at least one nomination from each department or school that employs GTAs.  The deadline for submission of nominations for the 2023-2024 Graduate Teaching Awards is Monday, February 12, 2024.

Please note the preference for a first-hand teaching observation conducted by a faculty member. Observations may be conducted online (e.g. via Zoom) or in person.  If a first-hand observation is not available and will not be possible, departments may substitute an additional letter from a faculty member who has worked directly with the student in their teaching activities (preferably as an instructor of record/supervisor). 

Nomination and Selection Process

The number of nominees a department or school may submit is based upon the number of active GTAs in the unit during either the fall 2023 or spring 2024 semesters (whichever is greater).  Each department with at least one GTA (in either semester) is permitted to put forward at least one nominee.  Departments with greater numbers of GTAs are permitted to submit additional nominees, as follows: 

  • Between 1 and 15 GTAs: 1 nominee
  • Between 16 and 30 GTAs: 2 nominees
  • 31 GTAs or more:  3 nominees


From among all nominations, a multidisciplinary faculty selection committee will determine the recipients of the following 15 awards:  

  • Ten All-University Graduate Teaching Awards, each of which carries a $500 award and a certificate in honor of the achievement
  • Three Distinguished Graduate Teaching Awards, conferred to the top graduate instructors in the following areas.  Each of the three Distinguished Graduate Teaching Awards includes a $1,000 award and a certificate in honor of the achievement
    • one from arts and humanities disciplines, including architecture
    • one from social science disciplines, including education
    • one from science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines
  • One award of the Frank Finger Graduate Fellowship for Teaching.  The Frank Finger award is offered to a student in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences in recognition of stimulating and organized classroom/ lab instruction.  The awardee will receive a $2,000 award, and a certificate in honor of their achievement. 
  • One award of the Class of 1985 Fellowship for Creative Teaching.  The Fellowship is offered to the candidate who best demonstrates exceptional creativity in teaching activities.  The awardee will receive an award of $5,000 and a certificate in honor of their achievement.

All awards will be announced no later than Monday, April 8.

Required Materials and Submission Process

All departmental/school nominations will be submitted online by the department DGS or other administrator/designee through the nomination upload form referenced below

All materials required for nomination must be submitted no later than 5:00 PM on Monday, February 12, 2024.  

Nomination packets must include the following materials as a single PDF, in the order below, and are limited to no more than 10 pages in length, using no smaller than 12-point font:   

  1. A letter of nomination provided by the department (2-page limit) that summarizes the reasons for the nomination and provides a job description: In what capacities has the graduate student taught and/or contributed to the learning of undergraduate students and in what types of environments?  How much freedom for innovation was there? What constitutes the most effective teaching in this situation?  
  2. A reflective teaching statement (2-page limit). In the reflective teaching statement, nominees should articulate their beliefs about and commitment to teaching and learning. The statement should describe the nominee’s overall goals for student learning, the ways the nominee assesses learning, how the nominee engages students in and out of the classroom, and how the nominee purposefully attends to creating equitable and inclusive learning environments. The most compelling statements provide clear examples supporting these aspects of their teaching.

  3. A first-hand teaching observation completed by a faculty member (2-page limit). The report may refer to teaching completed in a classroom, a lab, a studio, or an alternate environment, but should address the techniques employed by the graduate student to positively affect learning outcomes.  Should a first-hand observation not be possible, a letter from a faculty supervisor that addresses these points may be substituted.  Teaching observation reports may describe the following elements of a GTA nominee’s teaching, among others: preparedness for class; organization and clarity of instruction; modes of engagement (the teaching strategies and activities the nominee implements); course materials the nominee created for the class session; and students’ forms and levels of engagement in the class, with the nominee, and with their classmates. These suggestions are not exhaustive and do not constitute a checklist or set of requirements for the content of an observation report. Rather, they aim to provide some guidelines to give faculty some ideas about how to observe and what they may choose to include in their reports.                      
  4. A quantitative and qualitative synthesis of student evaluations that makes clear the graduate student's impact on undergraduate learning.


Nomination packets will be assessed by the committee on the basis of the following criteria: innovation and creativity; quality of the teaching statement; evidence for the quality of instruction; and the demonstrated impact of the graduate student on undergraduate learning and success.  

Submission Links

Click here to access the nomination upload form. 


Please feel free to direct questions to:
Amy Garrou, ags8d@virginia.edu, (434) 243-0807
Phil Trella, trella@virginia.edu, (434) 243-2018