Graduate students

Teaching opportunities

Critical Writing Teaching Fellowship

The Critical Writing Teaching Fellowship is a highly competitive award designed to support advanced graduate students in their professional development as teachers and writers. Fellows teach one Critical Writing seminar each semester drawing upon their particular interests and discipline. Seminars are capped at 16 students.


Open to Penn graduate students in the Arts and Sciences currently enrolled in their fourth or fifth year of doctoral study.

To qualify for the Critical Writing Fellowship, applicants must be graduate students in good standing and nominated or endorsed by their graduate group. They must have completed all coursework and passed their preliminary examinations. Fellowships will not be awarded to students beyond their sixth year of studies.

Fellows must be able to attend all training sessions. Finalists will not be allowed to teach if they do not attend and complete training.


  • Teach one writing seminar each semester, in accordance with the mission and policies of the Critical Writing Program
  • Attend training sessions, orientations, meetings, and portfolio assessment sessions as required
  • Submit materials (e.g., samples of student writing, comments on writing, training assignments) and be observed by the Director of Critical Writing and other training staff of the Critical Writing program

Training schedule

One week of training (approximately six hours per day) in late spring and late summer, along with weekly one-hour meetings in September, October, and November. For specific dates, visit the Critical Writing Program calendar.


Compensation includes a teaching stipend (based on current graduate student funding in SAS), a $1500 training stipend, tuition reimbursement, and benefits.

How to apply

Candidates must be included on their department’s graduate group endorsement form. To apply, submit:

  • a letter of interest
  • your current CV
  • a writing sample (3-5 page excerpt from a recent seminar paper, essay, report or other academic writing)
  • brief course proposal (150 words maximum) similar to those offered by others in our program
  • a list of 3-5 readings you might assign in your proposed course
  • two letters (which can be emails) from referees
  • completed coversheet

Mail materials to:

Dr. Patrick Wehner, Associate Director
The Critical Writing Program
Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing
University of Pennsylvania
3808 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6121


Applications must be received by January 15, 2013

Grateful acknowledgement is made to Nicholas E. Chimicles for his support of the Critical Writing Teaching Fellowships.

Teaching Mentors

Teaching Mentors provide additional support and training for new graduate student instructors.


  1. Individual and group meetings. In the first semester, you are responsible for scheduling one-hour meetings with your group, and 30-45 minute meetings with your individual instructors each week. In the second semester, you may reduce these to bi-monthly meetings.

    The structure of these meetings will vary depending upon the style of the Teaching Mentor and the group dynamic. The primary purpose of these meetings is to address the immediate problems and concerns of your instructors, providing them with support and a forum for exchanging knowledge and strategies for managing their class.

    You may also use these sessions to discuss, for example, handouts, class assignments, students, techniques, or theories of writing. You may wish to conduct some "workshop style" sessions, focusing on grammar or grading, or have your group read, grade, and discuss some student essays (their own or some you've collected). You may wish to read and explore short essays about writing pedagogy.

  2. Bi-Monthly Meeting with the Director and Associate Director of Critical Writing to communicate the issues and concerns of new instructors as well as mentors face, and to insure that our instructors and mentors get the support and advice they need to be effective.
  3. Classroom Observation: You will observe your instructors at least twice each semester, meeting with them afterward to discuss your observations. You will also insure that all of your instructors observe each other's classes (as well as your own, if you are teaching). Each observation should include a detailed transcript of the classroom session, as well as comments about what worked especially well and what might have been improved.
  4. Office Hours: You should hold office hours (2-3) each week for instructor drop-in, as well as be available to meet your instructors by appointment if needed. Office hours and location should be submitted to the Director of Critical Writing no later than the first day of classes.
  5. Letters of Recommendation: Instructors whom you mentor may ask you to write on their behalf; the Director of Critical Writing will also solicit comments from you to include in the teaching letter that is part of a job candidate's dossier.


  1. Recent Penn Ph.Ds or ABDs with dissertations well underway.
  2. Must have two or more years of demonstrated excellence as an instructor of writing, preferably at Penn.


Teaching Mentors receive a $3000 stipend for the academic year.

How to apply

Applicants must be endorsed by their home department. To apply, submit a letter of interest; your current CV; a writing sample (3-5 page excerpt from a recent seminar paper, essay, report or other academic writing); a letter of endorsement from your graduate chair; and two letters (which can be emails) from referees to:

Dr. Valerie Ross, Director
The Critical Writing Program
Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing
University of Pennsylvania
3808 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6121


Applications must be received by January 15, 2013.

Senior Tutors

Senior Tutors act as writing consultants for graduate students at Penn. For more information on this position, visit help with your writing.

Candidates for this position must have taught, or be currently teaching, a Critical Writing seminar, and have completed the full year of faculty training.

Qualified candidates should send a brief email of interest to