Teaching Excellence Award

Award Submission Deadlines:

Term No later than
Fall Semester No later than November 15
Spring Semester No later than April 1
Summer Semester No later than July 1

All nominations can be submitted online by designated faculty members or department staff. Follow the selection process for your department/program. Submissions by students are not allowed.

Award Distribution

Letters, certificates, and honor cords will be distributed to Departments during Dead Week. If the student is graduating in a future semester, it will be the student’s responsibility to keep the honor cord and wear it during his/her graduation ceremony.

Purpose of Program

The purpose of these awards is to recognize and encourage outstanding achievement by graduate students in teaching. The intent is to recognize up to 10% of the graduate students involved in teaching each year. D epartments can choose to be more restrictive in the number of awards they give out, according to their criteria and policies.

To calculate your department’s maximum entitlement for Teaching Excellence Awards, multiply the number of students who are teaching assistants by .10. This will give you the number of entitlements you have during the year. Example: Department A has 25 students who are TAs during the year, either fall semester or spring semester or both, the yearly entitlement for Teaching Excellence Awards would be 2.5. Round up if it is .5 or higher, otherwise round down. Each student is just counted once per year, so if the same students are TA in the Fall and Spring, Dept. A would still have 25 students for the year, not 50. If you need to have a special request, check the special request box on the application. A department may have up to one special request per academic year (summer, fall, spring).

Description of Awards

Each Teaching Excellence Award consists of a letter of commendation from the ISU President, a certificate of achievement signed by the ISU President and the Graduate Dean, and an honor cord to be worn at graduation. Probably many teaching excellence winners will not be graduating at the time these awards are given. Regardless, recipients should wear the honor cord at the time of their graduation, and a citation will be listed by their name in the ISU Commencement Program. The award will also be noted on the student's transcript. Funding is not available through this program to offer cash prizes. However, departments are encouraged to use their own funds for this purpose whenever possible. Any cash prize should be handled directly by the department.


Any graduate student with teaching responsibilities, and who has been on a teaching appointment for at least two terms (including summer sessions), is eligible for an award. Student names submitted do not necessarily need to be on a C-base appointment, but must be at Iowa State primarily to work on a graduate degree. Recipients of these awards must be enrolled at ISU at the time the awards are given; students who have already graduated are not eligible. A student is eligible for only one Teaching Excellence Award per degree; however, it is possible to grant a student both a Teaching and a Research Excellence Award for the same degree during his/her academic career. Examples of teaching duties include:

  1. serving as the sole instructor for one or more sections of a course;
  2. making frequent classroom presentations while not solely responsible for the instruction;
  3. serving as discussion leader for a recitation section;
  4. serving as laboratory instructor presenting new material or experiments not covered in the lecture section;
  5. serving as laboratory instructor reviewing homework assignments and/or answering questions
  6. assisting with setting up experiments, preparing and/or cleaning up before and after class or lab;
  7. tutoring students;or staffing a help room and/or assisting students in a lab;
  8. proctoring exams, grading homework and/or lab. reports; working on course web pages, or projects
  9. performing other teaching related duties unique to the department.

It is expected that those nominated for a Teaching Excellence award would be involved primarily with teaching duties like those described in items 1-5, although additional involvement in items 6-9 is possible.

Award Procedure

The process of selection will be the responsibility of each department or interdepartmental program. We encourage departments/programs to establish criteria and the selection process for their area. The Graduate College sets the maximum percentage of recipients and will provide an award for the names you submit. Departments can be more restrictive according to their own criteria and policies.

Department selections are submitted online and can be submitted only by staff or faculty. Submissions by students are not allowed. After the name is submitted, you can check the running list of names available on the Teaching Excellence Awards website.

Selection Process

The process of selection will be the responsibility of each department or interdepartmental program. In cases where departments hire students from other departments to teach courses for them, the hiring or employing department is responsible for recommending these students for awards (i.e. the department that organizes and supervises the courses to be taught).

Departments/interdepartmental programs are encouraged to develop a procedure for evaluating teaching performance (if not already in place). For programs wishing to establish a formal review process, the following ideas are offered:

Award Method

Letters, certificates, and honor cords will be mailed to departments at the end of each semester during Dead Week. Departments will be responsible for presenting the awards and will have the opportunity to supplement the award with a cash prize at that time. Each name submitted will be given an award and it will be the responsibility of each department to monitor the submission and accuracy of the awards. The honor cords should be kept by the student and worn during their graduation ceremony.

The Graduate College will notify the Registrar’s Office and the Commencement Office so that the award appears on the student’s transcript and in the Commencement program.

Awards will not be given after the student has graduated, so please check your nominations and records to make sure they are correct. Any corrections or adjustments should be settled BEFORE the student graduates.

If you have any questions about this program, please call Charlene Shaw in the Graduate College: 294-4531, or e-mail .