Department of Astronomy graduate students are required to teach for two semesters. First-year students do not usually teach, so students normally satisfy the teaching requirement during their second year.
A student's teaching will be evaluated by the course head. Students who are not proficient in the English language are required to demonstrate to the course head their proficiency before they are allowed to teach. Various routes to improving English communication skills are available through the University; the department will help students achieve the necessary proficiency. The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning offers activities and services to aid those who teach, and is especially useful for new teaching fellows or those who are unfamiliar with teaching in the American classroom setting.
Many students wish to teach more than the minimum two semesters. The department believes that students should have this opportunity, provided they are making good progress toward their degree. Students who wish to teach additional courses should obtain the consent of their advisors and, by University rules, must be in good academic standing. It is the responsibility of the student and their advisor to ensure that additional teaching (beyond the two required semesters) does not slow progress toward completion of academic/degree requirements. Students may not teach more than one course per semester without the consent of the Committee on Academic Studies.
The first two semesters of a student's teaching are part of their compensation package from the department. Students who undertake additional teaching will normally keep half of their teaching stipend if sufficient research funds are available. If a student has received an outside fellowship that fully covers their tuition and stipend, and permits additional support, they may keep the entire stipend from teaching on top of the fellowship.