Teaching Excellence Award

Award Submission Deadlines:

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

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. Up to three reminders will be sent to departments in the weeks leading up to the deadlines. Please be mindful of the deadlines and adhere to them.

Purpose of Program

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

Description of Awards

Each Teaching Excellence Award consists of:

Many Teaching Excellence Award winners will not be graduating at the time they receive their award. Recipients should keep their honor cord and wear the cord at the time of their graduation. A citation will be listed by their name in the ISU Commencement Program. 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. Students 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 Process

Deadlines for the Teaching Excellence Awards are posted on the website. Up to three reminders will be sent to departments in the weeks leading up to the deadlines. Please be mindful of the deadlines and adhere to them. 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 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 Graduate College offers the following ideas:

Completing the award form

Department selections are submitted online and can be submitted only by authorized staff or faculty. Submissions by students are not allowed.

  1. The recipient needs to be a current student. Students do not have to be graduating in the semester they receive these awards. However, they cannot receive the awards after they have graduated.
  2. Do not use all caps when filling out this form.
  3. Required: Check with the student and find out exactly how they would like their name listed on the certificate and in the letter. We cannot guarantee reprints if a name is incorrect after you have made the final check. (i.e. Joe Smith entered; student wanted Joseph E. Smith.)
  4. Identify who will be responsible for verification and distribution of the awards.
  5. Identify people who would like to be notified “FYI” when the awards are submitted.

After the form has been submitted

  1. Upon completion of the nomination form, the submitter (and others indicated as FYI) will receive an automatic e-mail stating that information for the Teaching Excellence Award has been submitted.
  2. Following the deadline, the person identified for verification and distribution will receive an e-mail to respond whether “no edits are needed” or “edits needed.” It is very important that someone respond to this email, and that the student’s name is listed exactly how they want it on their certificate. We cannot guarantee reprints if a name is incorrect after the final check.
  3. The person identified for verification and distribution will also verify how the award letter, certificate, and honor cord will be distributed (campus mail or pick up), and verify name and address for delivery.
  4. After the name is submitted, you can check the running list of names available on the Teaching Excellence Awards website. Click here to view all Teaching Excellence Award nominees

Award Distribution

Letters, certificates, and honor cords will be distributed to departments (the person/address indicated on nomination form) no later than Dead Week at the end of each semester. If a student is not graduating that semester, it will be the student’s responsibility to keep the honor cord and wear it during his/her graduation ceremony.

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 student 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 for the award to appear 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 email the Graduate College: .