The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu

Scholarship applications are now open for current UMass students. Apply today via AcademicWorks.


Professional Development

Our graduate students enjoy a wide variety of teaching and professional development opportunities.

  • The Writing Program - Graduate students in composition and rhetoric typically teach College Writing or Basic Writing in the UMass Writing Program, winner of the CCCC Program of Excellence Award (2009). Faculty rotate the directorship of the program; Rebecca Lorimer Leonard is the Program current director.
  • Western Massachusetts Writing Project (WMWP) - The English department maintains an active National Writing Project site (the Western Mass Writing Project). Charlie Moran was the founding site director in 1993; the current director is Anna Rita Napoleone. Graduate students have the option of taking courses that are part of the Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing (for an additional fee).
  • Undergraduate writing specializations - The undergraduate program in Professional Writing and Technical Communication, co-directed by Janine Solberg, offers teaching opportunities for one graduate student each year. Faculty (and occasionally advanced graduate students) teach courses in the undergraduate Study and Practice of Writing specialization.
  • The Writing Center - Faculty also direct the University Writing Center which currently employs over 40 tutors and offers over 5,000 sessions a year. Anna Rita Napoleone is the current director.
  • Summer Symposium - The Peter Elbow Symposium provides opportunities for graduate students to connect with visiting scholars.
  • First Year Seminars - Graduate students may apply to teach a topic-driven first year seminar.
  • Graduate School Office of Professional Development - Graduate students work as writing or pedagogy consultants or in administrative positions related to graduate student professional development.
  • Office of Academic Planning and Assessment - Graduate students work as paid graduate interns supporting campus-level quantitative and qualitative assessment projects.
  • Junior Year Writing Program - Departments from across campus, including Engineering and Computer Science, hire graduate students to teach their junior-level disciplinary writing courses.

Writing Program Graduate Assistant Directors

Graduate Assistant Directors for Teacher Training: Four veteran graduate instructors serve as mentors to new TOs and also work to enhance our teaching community. GADs for TT visit classes of new TOs, are involved in the planning and running of orientation, assist with the Resource Center online database, and attend meetings every other week. GADs for TT also teach College Writing. These positions last for one year. Any teacher in our program who has taught two semesters of College Writing is encouraged to apply.

Graduate Assistant Director of Assessment and Technology: As a member of the Resource Center Staff, the GAD for A&T will provide technology pedagogical support to the Writing Program teaching staff in the form of workshops and be available for one-on-one consultations. Like other members of the Resource Staff, the GAD for A&T is involved in the planning and running of orientation, assists with the online database, and attends meetings every other week. Any teacher in our program who has taught two semesters of College Writing is encouraged to apply.

Graduate Assistant Director of Professional Development and Placement: The GAD for PDP helps to provide training for teachers who have completed their first year in the Writing Program, including teachers new to Writing, Power, and Identity. The GAD for PDP may develop supplementary materials for the Writing, Power, and Identity curriculum; assist with the development and assessment of the placement questionnaire; co-lead summer placement consulting; and provide placement support (as needed) during the academic year. In addition to these responsibilities, this GAD teaches two sections of Writing, Power, and Identity or College Writing during the year for a full TO stipend; a stipend is also provided for work on orientation.

Placement Consultants: Placement consultants provide placement support to students during New Students Orientation in the summer.

Assistant Director of the Junior Year Writing Program

This is a half-time graduate Project Assistantship offers hands-on experience in writing program administration and an opportunity to support writing instruction in a variety of disciplines through long-term collaborative relationships.  Responsibilities include assisting the Faculty Senate’s University Writing Committee in planning and corresponding with faculty and departments about submitting materials for course reviews; preparing materials and minutes for the University Writing Committee, and attend monthly meetings (always on the first Fridays of the month at 1-2:15 pm); coordinating the Junior Year Writing Program’s reading process for the Charles Moran Best Text Contest; assisting Associate Directors with faculty consultations on teaching with writing; assisting in coordinating activities related to ongoing faculty development groups; working with Associate Directors to plan and facilitate 2-3 workshops for JYW instructors per semester and presenting at one or more workshops; and helping revise the content of the JYW pages on the Writing Program website and identify resources on writing pedagogy for instructors of JYW courses.

Social Justice Pedagogy Fellows and Technology Fellows

The Social Justice Fellows are graduate student TOs who want to explore issues of diversity as they relate to the teaching of composition. During their meetings, participants discuss relevant scholarship on the issues of diversity and pedagogy, identify areas in the Englwrit 111 or 112 curricula where discussion of diversity would be helpful, and develop an activity or approach related to diversity and to share this with fellow writing TOs.

Technology Fellows, or “Tech Fellows,” are graduate student TOs in the Writing Program who engage with questions of teaching writing with technology, both theoretically and practically, through reading, discussion, and hands-on play with technologies.Participation is open to any graduate instructor in the Writing Program regardless of technology experience. In fact, the Tech Fellows program provides a great opportunity for those less familiar with technology to explore the various ways technology can be incorporated into the writing classroom.

Fellows participate in meetings led by the Technology Coordinator during the spring semester. A call for applications will go out in the fall semester; a small stipend accompanies this fellowship.

Writing Center Positions

Writing Center Graduate Writing Tutors: Writing tutors work with writers in 45-minute tutorial sessions, engage in ongoing professional development about writing and writing education, and assist with campus outreach like faculty and instructor workshops.

Writing Center Assistant Director: This is a full-time assistantship that offers hands-on experience in writing program administration and is an opportunity to tutor student writers, provide support for a large staff of undergraduate and graduate student tutors, and participate in the Center's ongoing development. Responsibilities include tutoring student writers, mentoring writing tutors, coordinating the Center's daily activities, maintaining the Center's materials, and engaging in outreach activities.

Professional Writing and Technical Communication (PWTC)

PWTC instructor: This teaching assistantship offers an opportunity for one graduate student each year to teach an upper-level course in professional writing.

Western Massachusetts Writing Project (WMWP)

WMWP Assistantship: an opportunity to work closely with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project Director and Professional Development Coordinator in running the office and planning programming and publicity. Graduate students have the option of taking courses that are part of the Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing (for an additional fee).