Bok Center Teaching Certificate

The Bok Center's Teaching Certificate offers graduate students and teaching fellows a tangible marker of their ongoing commitment to developing as teachers in higher education. The Certificate is structured to give participants the opportunity to reflect critically upon their performance as teachers and to actively experiment with various modes of communication in lectures, seminars, labs, and across the academic profession.

Students may pursue a Certificate through a variety of different avenues, depending on the pedagogical training offered in their respective departments, their own specific skills and interests, and how these intersect with the Bok Center's own programming. In order to receive a Teaching Certificate, participants must fulfill the requirements in each of the following three areas: (1) Learn; (2) Practice; and (3) Reflect.


Take one seminar in the fundamentals of teaching. This may be satisfied by either:

  • A department's or program's pedagogy course (click here to see a PDF list); or
  • One of our core Bok Seminars in the Fundamentals of Teaching in the Humanities and Social Sciences or the Fundamentals of Teaching in STEM.

Take two additional electives on pedagogical topics of your choosing. These electives may be selected from:

NB: Bok Seminars are are tagged in five focus areas: Pedagogy, Course and Assignment Design, Professional Communication, Language and Culture of the Classroom, Assessment and Reflections on Teaching. Candidates for the Teaching Certificate should think carefully about how to assemble a meaningful program of electives which will allow them to tell a coherent story about their progress through the Certificate Program (see the third requirement below).


Demonstrate a commitment to practicing and experimenting with skills acquired through the program.

  • Ideally, this is demonstrated by signing up to have your course/section videotaped or observed by a member of the Bok staff. Your trained teaching consultant will help you to reflect on your preparation and your accomplishments in the class in question.
  • Students who are not teaching, are teaching a small tutorial, and/or do not expect to teach again before applying for the Teaching Certificate should consult directly with Pamela Pollock, Associate Director for Professional and Scholarly Development, about an alternative means of fulfilling this requirement. 

Create three products that capture critical reflections on teaching and learning:

  • A teaching statement similar to one which might be included in a Teaching Portfolio.
  • An original syllabus for a course you might propose to teach, whether at Harvard or at another university.
  • A reflective piece of approximately 1000 words which pulls together the things which the candidate has learned from the experience of pursuing the requirements of the teaching certificate.

NB: In addition to the guidance offered by our Online Resources, several of our Bok Seminars also provide a workshop environment in which you may create and refine these materials.

How to apply. Graduate Students interested in pursuing a Teaching Certificate should register on the Bok Center's Teaching Certificate Canvas site. The Teaching Certificate is awarded on a rolling basis, whenever a candidate has completed the required coursework, fulfilled the practice requirement, and submitted his/her reflection documents. NB: Typically, completing the requirements for a Teaching Certificate takes at least 2 semesters; there is no specified term in which the requirements must be completed.
Teaching Certificate

About the Focus Areas

The Teaching Certificate and associated seminars are based on the following focus areas:


Seminars on teaching and learning sit at the center of the program. Bok Center seminars that highlight this focus area are specifically designed to help TFs develop a wide range of classroom teaching skills. Departmental teaching practica also fulfill the pedagogy focus area requirement.

Professional Communication

Learning how to communicate articulately and powerfully, both with one’s voice and body, and through using different modes and media successfully, is essential for 21st century teaching. The Bok Center offers an extensive array of seminars that address various facets of professional communication.

Language and Culture of the Classroom

A large proportion of TFs at Harvard come from different language and cultural backgrounds. Seminars with an emphasis on this focus area specifically address issues (linguistic, cultural or pedagogical) that international TFs or others may face. This focus area also includes seminars that focus on handling diversity and cultural differences in the classroom.


It is critical for teachers to learn how to address both concrete challenges like grading and giving feedback on student work, to more complicated questions like how to assess how much students are learning. Seminars that highlight this focus area address different facets of assessment.

Reflections on Teaching

The best teachers are able to critically reflect on their own teaching practice. The Writing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy seminar is the main way we address this issue, though it is woven in to many of our seminars.

Course and Assignment Design

Designing effective assignments, as well as a full course, can be quite challenging. Seminars in this focus area offer tips and strategies for thinking about effective assignments as well as how to incorporate them into a coherent course.