Graduate Teaching and Fellowship

First-year fellowships, awarded to sequential students only, carry no service requirement. All M.Phil. students--who each year meet both academic and service requirements--receive funding for five years of study beyond the M.A. In year 4, students must either take the departmental fellowship research seminar OR apply for at least one external fellowship -- either one that replaces a year of funding, or is a smaller fellowship, such as those that support travel to an archive. In year 5, students must apply for a major outside fellowship that provides a full year of funding, or, with adviser approval, for a smaller fellowship. In year 6, students must apply for either a major dissertation completion fellowship or for a post-doctoral fellowship.

Students who are awarded external fellowships can choose whether to receive top-up funding from the Graduate School, or to extend their support from Columbia by an additional year. Students with substantial external funding should consult the Department Administrator to establish their funding level and service requirements. Each April, students must apply for renewal of fellowships. Offer letters come from GSAS; all enclosures should be read carefully and all deadlines respected.

  • FIRST YEAR. (M.A. year for sequential M.A./Ph.D. students). Fellowship without service requirements.
  • SECOND YEAR. As second-year Teaching Fellows, students assist professors who teach large lecture courses. They are expected to work no more than twenty hours per week, and most assignments average between ten and fifteen hours a week. They should make sure that their end-of-term travel plans do not take them off campus before final exams are graded. In the spring semester, all second-year students register for Teaching Writing (GR6913y), which must be completed satisfactorily for a teaching appointment and funding to be awarded. Students with compelling reasons for delaying training must speak to the DGS and the Director of the Undergraduate Writing Program in the fall.
  • THIRD YEAR. Teaching Fellows, teaching one undergraduate writing course each semester. New instructors in the Undergraduate Writing Program will be required to participate in peer-consulting meetings; times TBA.
  • FOURTH YEAR. Teaching Fellows, teaching one undergraduate writing course each semester.  Students are encouraged to apply for an external fellowship.
  • FIFTH YEAR. Students who complete a draft dissertation chapter by February 15 of the fourth year may elect to take a dissertation fellowship in the fifth year, without service requirements. All other students serve as Teaching Fellows, teaching one course each semester in the Undergraduate Writing Program or in another teaching assignment. Application to external sources for sixth-year funding. Applying for an external fellowship is required.
  • SIXTH YEAR. Students who received the fifth-year dissertation fellowship serve as Teaching Fellows (one course each semester in the Undergraduate Writing Program or in Literature Humanities or in another teaching assignment). Students who taught in their fifth year and have completed drafts (40 pages minimum) of at least two dissertation chapters receive fellowships without service requirements to complete the dissertation.
  • SEVENTH YEAR AND BEYOND. No departmental fellowships are available after the sixth year, though there may be teaching opportunities or extra-departmental dissertation awards.

External Fellowship Policy

Ph.D students in the Department of English and Comparative Literature who are awarded fellowships of $7,000 or more from sources outside Columbia University can choose whether they would prefer a "top-up" award from the Graduate School, with combined stipend of not more than $30,000 for the year, or whether they would prefer to defer one year of their Columbia Graduate School funding (in effect, extending their funding package by one year). For details, consult the GSAS webpage on the External Fellowship Policy:


Teaching Fellows are advised to ask their faculty advisers to observe their teaching each year, both for mentoring and for preparing to write letters of recommendation.

Second-year Teaching Fellows are monitored by the department's Committee on Graduate Education (CGE), following written faculty comments on responsibility, timeliness, and acceptable level of competence. Writing Program instructors are monitored and assessed by the Directors of the Undergraduate Writing Program. Humanities instructors are monitored by the Director of Humanities and the Associate Dean of the College. Students not performing adequately will receive mentoring, followed, if necessary, by a written warning; if no improvement is shown, the CGE may deny further funding.  

Research positions are available to students eligible for the Federal Work-Study Program.

Occasionally, students may be assigned to professors as research, rather than teaching, assistants.

Once all M.Phil requirements have been completed, students may apply to teach Literature Humanities (Lit Hum) or Contemporary Civilizations (CC) for the Columbia College Core Curriculum. 

Core instructors are expected to teach for two years. 

We recommend that students wait until their 5th year (usually spent on dissertation fellowship) to apply to teach in their 6th and 7th years.  Students who apply in their 4th year and are appointed to teach in the Core in their 5th and 6th years cannot take the dissertation fellowship in the 5th year; the fellowship will be put on hold and taken in the 7th year. Students who have not taken their dissertation fellowship by the end of the fifth year and begin to teach Lit Hum or CC in their sixth year gain an extra year of funding from their Core teaching in year seven, but they lose their dissertation fellowship because they cannot receive Columbia funding for an eighth year of registration.

All students are encouraged to apply for external awards; advice and applications are also available in 107 Low Library. Fellowship questions: Rebecca Hirade; (212) 854-6722; [email protected]. Questions regarding loans, work study, and external funding: Sandra Peters; (212) 854-3808; [email protected].

Whiting Fellowships are for the completion of the dissertation. Applicants must have submitted at least one chapter to their adviser at the time of application (early February). Whiting Fellowships are not external awards: the Department sends a ranked list of applicants to an interdepartmental committee. Absolutely no funding from departmental or GSAS sources is available after a Whiting Fellowship.

Summer Fellowships provide at least $3,000 towards travel and/or living expenses. Awards are given to all funded students who meet the department's progress milestones as outlined on this website.