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Certificate in College Teaching

cctThe purpose of the Certificate in College Teaching (CiCT), co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching and the Graduate School, is to prepare participants for future careers in higher education teaching. The certificate is intended for Vanderbilt graduate students and postdocs whose goals are to become more effective educators and who wish to gain a clearer, deeper, more active approach to teaching and learning in higher education. As such, the certificate is most useful for those who will soon be applying for teaching positions at higher education institutions. The certificate program focuses on the research on learning and best teaching practices, and supports the university’s pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning. Upon completion of the CiCT, participants are eligible to specialize in specific areas in order to refine their foundational knowledge and skills within particular teaching contexts. The program only accepts applicants from Vanderbilt University.

Certificate in College Teaching Components

  • Seminar in College Teaching. A one-semester seminar that explores educational theory and practice designed to promote learning within a diverse student body across a variety of settings. Participants attend group sessions, develop a philosophy of teaching statement with feedback provided by a private 1:1 consultation, and create a course design checklist as a personal resource for future use.
  • Practicum in College Teaching. Upon completing the Seminar, participants can enroll in the one-semester Practicum in which they will learn practical tools for the classroom as well as habits of mind that will improve their skills as a college instructor. Participants attend group sessions and complete a unit (re)design, microteaching demonstration, and an observation of their classroom teaching.
  • Specializations. Upon completing the Practicum, participants can specialize in the following: a) Online Teaching, b) Humanities Teaching, and c) STEM Teaching. Each section is open to anyone who has completed the CiCT, regardless of their discipline, and allows participants to refine their teaching knowledge and skills within more specific teaching contexts. Participants are eligible to earn multiple specializations. Find more information and to sign up for the waitlist.

NOTE: The Seminar & Practicum may not be taken simultaneously, Seminar requirements must be completed to participate in the Practicum, and Practicum requirements must be completed to participate in the specialization sections. Participants can choose to leave the program having only completed the Seminar in College Teaching. Participants choosing this option will not receive a certificate. Additionally, if your department offers a disciplinary pedagogy course, please contact the CFT at to see if it counts as a substitute for the Seminar.

Seminar and Practicum Offerings

Most participants complete the Certificate during the academic year, and can start the program in the fall or the spring semester. For graduate students and postdocs who cannot attend the weekly fall and spring sessions, participants can enroll in the Summer Intensive Program which offers a condensed sequential Seminar and Practicum as well as specialization sections in May and June.

During the academic year, participants in the Seminar and Practicum meet for 8 weekly sessions lasting 75 minutes in length. When accepted, participants are asked to select which section they will attend and must plan to attend all 8 sessions to fulfill the requirements for completion. No more than 1 absence is allowed. Sign up for our CiCT waitlist.

During the Summer Intensive Program, participants in the Seminar meet for 2 weeks, followed by 2 weeks for the Practicum, with the specialization sections lasting for 2 weeks as well. You must commit to both Seminar and Practicum sessions to participate. Sign up for our Summer Intensive waitlist.

Note: Due to the Vanderbilt COVID-19 protocols, currently in place, future cohorts will be offered online, in a mix of asynchronous and synchronous activity.

NOTE: One important component of the CiCT experience is an observable teaching opportunity. This will continue to be a part of the Summer Intensive Program, but will likely have to be completed the following fall or spring semester, depending on your available teaching opportunities. In addition, participants can only enroll in specialization sections if they have completed all requirements for the CiCT Seminar and Practicum, with one exception. If participants only need to finish the teaching observation sequence of the Practicum in order to complete the certificate program, they are eligible to enroll in specialization sections.

Seminar in College Teaching

Seminar participants will explore and develop teaching skills that promote learning within a diverse student body across a variety of settings. Throughout the sessions, facilitators and participants will model a variety of active learning strategies (cooperative learning, problem-posing, case study, interactive lecturing, discussion, critical thinking, role-playing) and will explore educational theory and practice. All educational topics are considered through the lens of teaching as a scholarly practice.

As a result of completing the Seminar, participants will:

  • develop a basic fluency with core elements of teaching and learning.
  • develop a reflective and purposeful approach to teaching.
  • assemble a set of resources on teaching and learning that can assist with the creation of a syllabus, unit plan, and/or teaching portfolio.

Seminar Requirements

Participation in 8-weekly sessions, 75 minutes in length:

  • Session 1. Why We Teach – Developing a Teaching Philosophy
  • Session 2. Critically Reflective Teaching
  • Session 3. The Science of Learning
  • Session 4. Active Learning
  • Session 5. Diversity and Student Learning
  • Session 6. Assessing Teaching & Learning
  • Session 7. Peer Workshopping of Teaching Statements
  • Session 8. Continuing Professional Development

Development of a Philosophy of Teaching, including a one-on-one consultation to receive feedback, typically 1 hour.

Participation in the Seminar

Those interested in participating should:

  • Sign up for our waitlist.
  • Discuss their intent to participate in the program with their department chair, director of graduate studies, or mentor. In all, the commitment is for 11-13 hours.


Practicum in College Teaching

The Practicum in College Teaching is intended to provide participants with an opportunity to apply educational theory in the development of teaching materials and the practice of teaching. Participants will model effective teaching practices through a microteaching demonstration, classroom observation, and unit (re)design. Practicum participants will develop the knowledge and skills to enhance the effectiveness of their current teaching and assessment practices and to encourage the practices of others.

As a result of completing the Practicum, participants will:

  • develop an approach to their teaching that involves research, experimentation, reflection, and assessment.
  • develop course design experience based on sound pedagogical principles.

Practicum Requirements

Participation in 8-weekly sessions, 75 minutes in length:

  • Session 1. Course Introduction and Introduction to Team-based Learning
  • Session 2. Understanding by Design (UbD)
  • Session 3. Assessment of Learning through UbD
  • Session 4. Developing Learning Activities
  • Session 5. Creating Inclusive Classes
  • Session 6. Teaching in Times of Crisis
  • Session 7. Microteaching Demonstrations (must attend)
  • Session 8. Continuing Professional Development

Completion of ONE classroom observation sequence. Participants teach a class period that will be observed by a teaching consultant. Participants meet with their consultant before and after teaching to plan for and reflect on their teaching experience, typically one hour each in length. NOTE: The CFT does not arrange teaching opportunities for participants. This is the responsibility of the participant.

Participation in the Practicum

Those interested in participating should:

  • Have completed the Seminar portion of the program and have a teaching opportunity within the semester they are applying for the Practicum.
  • Contact the CFT at for registration information.
  • Discuss their intent to participate in the program with their department chair, director of graduate studies, or mentor. In all, the commitment is for 11-13 hours.


Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Can I complete the Seminar and Practicum in any order?

We ask that you complete the Seminar first and the Practicum second. It’s our intention that participants will build on knowledge and experiences from the Seminar (which will address many ‘basics’ and common concerns among TAs and future faculty) in the Practicum (which will allow one to receive feedback on their teaching skills and make refinements). If completed out of order, participants will miss out on that opportunity for growth.

Do I have to complete the Seminar and the Practicum in back-to-back semesters? Or can I take a break in between?

You do not have to complete the Seminar and the Practicum in consecutive semesters. You can complete the Seminar and then take all the time you’d like to before signing up for the Practicum.

How do I apply?

Sign up for the academic year waitlist and/or the Summer Intensive Program waitlist.

When is the “best time” to complete the certificate?

The “best time” to complete the certificate is up to you! Here are some common factors, though, that do help graduate students make up their mind about when to start:

  • When you will be on the job market. The CiCT is intended for participants who are soon applying to academic positions that require higher education teaching. We assume that participants will be putting together their job market materials, including their teaching philosophy statement, in the near future. Therefore, while those who may not be applying to jobs soon will find the topics covered useful, they may find the program more valuable if they take it closer to when they plan on hitting the job market.
  • The time commitment. Both pieces of the certificate require you to attend regularly scheduled 75-minute sessions (held at the CFT) and consultations. Taking an evaluative look at your schedule and determining if you have that time available is important. If you can’t commit to the sessions offered during the academic year, consider signing up for the Summer Intensive Program in May, which allows you to complete the Certificate in one week.
  • Available teaching opportunities. The Practicum does require participants to undergo one teaching observation. While we try to be flexible about what is “teaching”, typically participants are observed giving a lecture/presentation or leading a discussion/review group. For most, completing the Practicum during a semester that one is teaching or TAing (and thus has some access to classroom teaching) is ideal. For those whose TA duties don’t include teaching (or those who are not TAing at all), we suggest that you speak with others in your department and work out an arrangement to guest lecture before starting the Practicum.

I’m no longer a student at Vanderbilt. Can I still participate in either the Seminar or Practicum?

Sorry, this program is intended for those who are still a part of the teaching community at Vanderbilt.

I’m not a graduate student or a postdoc (instead a staff person, etc.). Can I still participate in either the Seminar or Practicum?

No, staff are not eligible to participate in the CiCT program. However, some research faculty may qualify. If you are in doubt, please contact .



How many sessions can I miss?

You are allowed to miss one session during both the Seminar and Practicum session. However, this absence cannot be during the microteaching week during the Practicum. All participants are required to attend the microteaching session meeting. If possible, you should arrange with your session leader to obtain or make up any material you miss on the day of your absence.

You cannot miss any sessions during the Summer Intensive Program.

Who should I notify if I need to miss a session?

You should notify your session facilitator via email and let them know that you will not be present.

For the Practicum sessions offered during the semester, can my excused absence be during the microteaching week?



Teaching Statement

Do I have to schedule a teaching statement consult?


Who will I meet with during my teaching statement consult?

You will meet with one of the Graduate Teaching Fellows.

Is it possible to schedule my teaching statement consult with a specific person?

Yes. However, Graduate Teaching Fellows have set schedules, so scheduling is based on their availability during a given week.

How should I prepare for the teaching statement consult?

It is often helpful to review the CFT’s teaching guide on teaching statements and try to prepare a few sentences or paragraphs. Bullet points are fine. So are full drafts. The point is to provide some points of discussion for you and the Graduate Teaching Fellow during your consultation.

What should I expect during my teaching statement consult?

This varies based on your needs. If you submit your teaching statement at least 48 hours in advance, your consultant will have prepared comments. If you bring your statement to the meeting, they will read it over and comment in real time. If you have bullet points, your consultant will help you flush out your thinking. In all cases, consultants will suggest resources that may be helpful for you in your writing process.

Do I need to complete my teaching consult before my seminar ends?

No. You should schedule your teaching consult before the end of the semester your Seminar session occurs. Some clients may benefit from scheduling a consult early in the Seminar to brainstorm ideas of what to include in their statement. Others might schedule a consult immediately before or after the Peer Workshopping of Teaching Statements session. Finally, some might prefer more time to edit their document following the Seminar, and thus might schedule their consult at the end of the semester.

What happens if I am a no-show for a consultation I scheduled?

If you have to miss a consultation, please notify the CFT in advance, if possible (615-322-7290). You may reschedule your consultation by contacting the CFT at Please know that consultation no-shows may jeopardize your ability to complete the CiCT Program.

When is the deadline to submit my teaching statement?

Please see the syllabus in the course management system or speak with your facilitator about deadlines for submission.

Where should I post my teaching statement at the end of the seminar?

Please see the syllabus or speak with your facilitator about submitting your document.



How should I prepare for my microteaching lesson?

You should begin by identifying a learning objective for the lesson and work backward to organize your presentation to include pedagogical choices that help participants reach the learning goal.

How many people will be in my microteaching group?

This depends on enrollment in your session, but there are typically five students in each group.

How long should my microteaching lesson be?

This depends on enrollment in your session but typically 5-10 minutes.

How will my microteaching be evaluated?

This presentation should primarily be about making effective pedagogical choices and not presenting the most exciting content. Your peers will be asked to evaluate how your choices helped them understand (or not) the concept you were trying to convey. This means you should feel free to select a simple topic and concentrate on making effective pedagogical choices.

Am I required to attend the microteaching meeting?


Is it possible to schedule an alternate date for my microteaching lesson?

If there is a non-negotiable conflict with the week of microteaching, please alert your session facilitator regarding the conflict at the very beginning of the semester. We will do our best to accommodate conflicts, but there is no guarantee of accommodation.


Classroom Observation

What is a classroom observation?

A classroom observation is when a Graduate Teaching Fellow observes you in a teaching opportunity and provides feedback on your teaching. The classroom observation is also part of a larger sequence, which includes a pre-observation consultation, the observation itself, and the post-observation consultation.

What if I can’t identify a teaching opportunity?

The CFT is unable to identify teaching opportunities for you. That responsibility lies with the participant. Therefore, one of the most important considerations when making the decision about when to begin the Practicum is determining when you’ll have teaching opportunities available to you. We suggest that you time your participation to coincide with a semester in which you’ll be TAing, teaching your own course, or will be working with another person in your department who is amiable to allowing you to guest lecture in their course. If you’re still unable to identify a teaching opportunity, then we ask that you complete only the Seminar portion of the certificate, which does not require any in-class observations.

How do I schedule my classroom observation?

To schedule a consultation email the CFT at or phone (615-322-7290).

What if I need to cancel my classroom observation? Who do I contact?

You should email the CFT at or phone (615-322-7290) as soon as possible.

What happens if I am a no-show for a consultation I scheduled?

If you have to miss a consultation, please notify the CFT in advance, if possible (615-322-7290). You may reschedule your consultation by contacting the CFT at Please know that consultation no-shows may jeopardize your ability to complete the CiCT Program.

How far in advance do I need to schedule my classroom observation?

Please schedule a classroom observation as soon as you have confirmed your teaching opportunity. This will best ensure the availability of a Graduate Teaching Fellow at your requested observation time. You must give at least a week’s notice to ensure that someone is available to do your observation. 2 weeks are preferable.

Who will conduct my classroom observation?

One of the Graduate Teaching Fellows will conduct your classroom observation.

When should my pre-observation consultation be scheduled?

Your pre-observation consultation should be scheduled at least one week prior to your scheduled teaching observation to allow time to incorporate suggestions that the Graduate Teaching Fellow provided you.

What should I bring to my pre-observation consultation?

You should bring any slides, handouts, lecture notes or lesson plans that you have prepared. If you have not prepared these materials, that is perfectly fine. In this case, you should come prepared with questions that will help the Graduate Teaching Fellow advise you on how to prepare.

What should I expect during my pre-observation consultation?

You will meet for thirty minutes with the Graduate Teaching Fellow who will observe your teaching. During this meeting, you will talk about your plans and different pedagogical choices you might make during the session. You will also discuss what aspects of your teaching you would like the Graduate Teaching Fellow to make note of during the observation. Finally, you will share the final details regarding the class location, time, etc.

What should I expect during my classroom observation?

Graduate Teaching Fellows typically sit in the back of the room in a non-assuming role. It is entirely up to you if you want to announce the Graduate Teaching Fellow’s purpose in being in the room.

What should I expect during my post-observation meeting?

In the post-observation meeting, you and the Graduate Teaching Fellow will talk about how you felt things went, what worked, what didn’t, and brainstorm different choices that you might make going forward.

What should I do if I am not TAing a class during the semester that I attend the CICT Practicum?

Consider asking your advisor if it would be possible to lead a session in their class. If that is not possible, consider reaching out to faculty in your department who may be traveling during the semester and ask if they would be willing to allow you in their classroom. You might also ask your advisor to reach out to a faculty member on your behalf. It is also possible to complete this requirement the following semester if it is impossible to find a teaching opportunity in the current semester you are taking the Practicum.

What if I teach off campus or outside of business hours?

If you can’t find a teaching opportunity on campus or during business hours, then you will need to make a recording of your teaching opportunity and you and the GTF will talk about it together in a consultation meeting. Contact Juliet Traub (615-322-7290) to check out the CFT’s video camera.

CFT Resources

Where can I find out about consultation services that the CFT offers?

See the full list of individual consultations offered by the CFT can be found.

Where can I find the teaching guides that have been developed by the Center for Teaching?

See the full list of teaching guides developed by the CFT can be found.



How do I sign up for the CiCT Program?

Sign up for our academic year waitlist here and our Summer Intensive Program waitlist here! Please contact the CFT at if you have questions about the program.

How long is the waitlist for the CiCT Program?

Currently, the waitlist for the CiCT Program is at least a semester long.

How will I be notified that I can enroll in the program?

You will be contacted via email by our program coordinator in either early August for the fall cohorts, mid-November for the spring cohorts, or early April for the summer cohorts, with a registration link for the available sessions.

I’m currently in the Seminar section, how do I register for the Practicum?

You will receive an email a few weeks after the end of the Seminar with a registration link for the Practicum. If you do not receive this email, please contact the CFT at

When will I find out which Seminar/Practicum session I am registered to attend during the academic year?

You will find out, via email, which session you are registered to attend about a week after you have indicated your session preferences. You will receive a reminder email regarding your session one week before the session begins.

What if I need to drop out of the Seminar/Practicum session mid-session, what should I do?

Please notify your session facilitator immediately and contact the CFT at for more information regarding enrollment in future sessions of the Seminar or Practicum.

Is it okay if I can’t complete the CICT program in two consecutive semesters?

You do not have to complete the Seminar and the Practicum in consecutive semesters. You can complete the Seminar and then take all the time you’d like to before signing up for the Practicum.

When/how will I receive my certificate after completing the Practicum?

You will receive your certificate at the end of the semester in which you complete the Practicum, which can be picked up at the CFT. For more information, please contact the CFT at




  • Talk to your department: Deciding when to take the CiCT Program often depends on the track of your graduate studies. Talking with your department’s Director of Graduate Studies or advisor early on in your graduate career will help clarify questions you may have about timing and professional development. This will help you to pinpoint when the best time will be to enroll in the CiCT Program. As a note, we typically recommend participants enroll in the program when they are closer to applying for academic positions, as the certificate is geared towards preparing future faculty.
  • Sign up for the waitlist! Due to its popularity, the CiCT Program has a waitlist, which right now is about a semester long. Once you have decided when to enroll, Sign up for the academic year waitlist and/or the Summer Intensive Program waitlist.
  • Pick a date and time. As you get closer to the start of the program being held during the academic year, you will receive a registration link via email for dates and times of the CiCT Seminar. Sessions are generally scheduled Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and/or Thursdays, and include morning and afternoon options. Look at your schedule and determine which date and time work best for you. Availability is based on a first come, first served basis.


Program Start

  • Getting set-up: About a week prior to the Program start date, you will receive an email from our program coordinator to confirm you are enrolled in the CiCT Seminar. You will be given the name of your facilitator and directions to the CFT, where you will attend your sessions. You will also receive a welcome email from your CiCT facilitator with any further information/instructions you will need in advance.
  • Log into the course management system. Your facilitator will provide you with a link to the course management system they are using for your cohort, i.e., Box, Brightspace, etc. There you will find course materials, discussion boards, and any reading assignments they would like you to complete before the start of class.



  • Sign up for a Teaching Statement consultation. As you dive into the Seminar, you’ll begin writing your statement of teaching philosophy, which will be one of your main deliverables at the end of the Seminar. Part of that process involves having a consultation with a CFT Graduate Teaching Fellow to get feedback on what you’ve written. We encourage you to schedule a consultation early on in the Seminar to ensure you get your preferred date and time. You can schedule a consultation at the beginning, middle, or end of the semester you are taking the Seminar, even if the Seminar has ended. To schedule a consultation, please contact the CFT at with your schedule preferences. Consultations are an important part of the CiCT Program, so if you have concerns about cancellations or scheduling, please see our FAQ.
  • Submitting your Teaching Statement. On your syllabus, you will see a date for when you should submit your Teaching Statement, which you will do via the course management system at the end of the Seminar. You will receive more specific instructions from your CiCT facilitator for that process. Delays in the submission of Teaching Statements may affect your ability to sign up for the CiCT Practicum.


  • Decide when you will be taking the CiCT Practicum. Some CiCT Program participants choose not to take the CiCT Seminar and Practicum in consecutive semesters, and that’s OK (just let us know of your decision)! The important things to take into consideration when enrolling for the CiCT Practicum are: schedule and a teaching opportunity. When you enroll, of course you’ll want to find a date and time that works for you, but you will also want to make sure you have a teaching opportunity lined up for the Practicum. Once you’ve decided, please contact the CFT at for more details on how/when to register.
  • Set up a teaching opportunity. Part of participation in the Practicum centers on observation of CiCT participants in an authentic teaching environment with actual students. What does a teaching opportunity look like? Check out our FAQ for more info. How do you find a teaching opportunity? Start with your department. Ask professors you know if you could guest lecture while they’re out of town. Perhaps you can be a TA for a professor or lead a discussion/lab section for a course or even be an instructor of record. These are all great opportunities.




  • Set up your Teaching Observation sequence. Once you have confirmed your teaching opportunity, set up an observation sequence with us. The observation sequence consists of a pre-observation consultation with a Graduate Teaching Fellow (GTF), the observation itself, and a post-observation consultation with the same GTF. The intention with the observation sequence is to help you implement what you learn in the CiCT into your teaching. Please contact the CFT at to schedule your observation sequence.
  • Microteaching. During the Practicum, your will develop a 5-10 minute microteaching session, upon which you will receive feedback from peers and the CiCT facilitator. We make this session mandatory because this is another fundamental component of the CiCT Program. Please plan ahead to make sure you don’t miss this session.



  • Getting your certificate. At the end of the semester, after completing your program requirements, you will be contacted by our coordinator to confirm the formatting of your name for your certificate. Once printed and signed by the Dean of the Graduate School, and the Director of the CFT, you will be contacted when to pick up your certificate. You will be contacted in early December in the fall, and late April in the spring.