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The Value of the Certificate in College Teaching

July 15, 2020

When The Graduate School launched the Certificate in College Teaching (CCT) program in Fall 2011, we hoped that enrollment numbers would reflect the demand we had heard from graduate students. As it turns out, they certainly did. The CCT program now has over 500 students enrolled, representing all academic divisions and almost every Ph.D. program, as well as Duke’s two M.F.A. programs.

Certificate in College Teaching enrollment chart, 2011-2020

Why do students enroll in the CCT? Some students seek additional support in their TA duties or hope to design courses that they might teach at Duke, and others want to develop their teaching skills for use outside a classroom. Many students in the program are interested in college faculty career paths, while others go on to explore a range of career options in which teaching and communication skills are valuable.

So, how has the CCT program contributed to graduates’ job searches and next professional stages? Each year, we ask students who are completing the program to reflect on its value. Here are a few of their answers:

Hugh Crumley, PhD, and students in a CCT courseIt helped me in developing my teaching portfolio, and came up in every one of my job interviews.  I was able to discuss my experiences in peer observation, discussions with other graduate students interested in teaching, and go in with a clear idea of my teaching philosophy.  I think it also helped convince prospective employers that despite coming from the research-oriented environment at Duke, I was serious about undergraduate teaching.

CCT was instrumental for me in that it helped me to develop the correct professional vocabulary for the academic job market.  It was also extremely useful to have completed the teaching portfolio before going on the market.

Having an online portfolio was incredibly helpful for the job hunt, and I applied for (and ended up receiving an offer for) a science writing position where they were very impressed by my writing samples that I included online (including my teaching statement).  They also were impressed by my analytical skills as demonstrated by my sample exams, which I designed during classes in CCT (specifically in developing a hypothetical online class).  The demonstration of additional skills outside of my research in essence made me a stronger applicant on the job market, not just for teaching but for other careers as well.

Students in a CCT courseCCT contributed a lot. The courses greatly helped me shape my teaching philosophy. I had a lot of course/teaching experience to include in my teaching statement and CV. I'd never develop a rich teaching portfolio if I were not in this program. The certificate itself was a big plus as well. Enrolling in the program encouraged me to prepare for a teaching career more seriously. Thank you a lot for providing this program!!

Thank you so much for everything! The College Teaching Certificate program and PFF were far and away my best professional experience at Duke. It gave me the hands on, tailored, and specific preparation I needed to move forward with confidence in my career as a teacher scholar. I can't thank you enough for all your hard work and dedication to graduate students!

If you are an M.F.A. or Ph.D. student interested in developing your pedagogical skills, you can apply to the CCT program anytime. I strongly recommend that you apply before your first teaching experience so that it can count toward the program requirements. The timeline to complete the program is flexible, and most students are able to complete the components in a few years. Make the most of your teaching experiences during graduate school by participating in CCT.


Hugh Crumley, Ph.D.

Hugh Crumley, Ph.D.

Assistant Dean, Academic Affairs

Since joining Duke in 2006, Hugh has been involved with multiple aspects of graduate education and currently provides leadership for all Graduate School teaching & teaching assistant (TA) programs, including directing and teaching in the Certificate in College Teaching, directing the Preparing Future Faculty program, and coordinating Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training for all 3800+ graduate students at Duke. 

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