Visiting Lecturers and Teaching Fellows FAQ
FAQs on ExCollege courses and application requirements
What are ExCollege courses like?
Successful courses engage Tufts undergraduates in an exploration of ideas applicable to the world today. Those that offer critical contexts for thinking about politics, popular culture, world religions, technology, law, communications, social issues, business, healthcare, and ethics have all been well received.
Visiting lecturer courses meet once a week in the evening for two and a half hours. Students are graded and receive 3 semester hour units (SHUs). Note: beginning in the Fall 2018 semester, Tufts will no longer use the "1.0 credit" designation for full-credit courses, and will instead use the credit hour system used by most universities.
Classes are purposely kept small, usually with no more than twenty students. As a result, courses are highly interactive and participatory. They are designed in a way that fosters group discussions and independent learning. Most importantly, we find that undergraduates enroll in ExCollege courses because of a genuine curiosity for a topic or subject matter they otherwise wouldn’t experience in the traditional curriculum.
How do I apply and what's required?
Applications must be submitted via Interfolio:
As part of the application process, you'll need to provide the following:
- a course description
- biographical information
- answers to questions about your approach to teaching
- a thirteen-week syllabus – including readings and assignments
- contact information for two references
We recommend that you check course listings in Tufts departments related to your topic to make sure your course doesn’t overlap with one already taught at Tufts. It is very unlikely that your course will be selected if it overlaps significantly with courses already taught at Tufts.
Your application will undergo an extensive review by Tufts faculty and students. The entire process takes just about two months, so please bear with us.
What is the best way to put together a syllabus?
Over the years, we have found that the most successful syllabi are built around a set of key questions rather than a series of blanket statements.
For example, the syllabus for a course called “Food, Culture, and Society” is centered around these questions: Where does our food come from? How does the study of food help us understand what we call "society," "culture," and "identity"?
Some common pitfalls when developing a syllabus include:
- Subjects that are too esoteric for a diverse undergraduate audience, such as a course on morphological parsing in Quashgar Uyghur
- Courses that are too broad or ambitious in scope, for example, a course on women throughout history
- Alternatively, courses that are too narrowly focused, such as a course on the portrayal of polytheistic religions in "Game of Thrones"
- Courses that are not academically rigorous enough, that is, do not challenge the students academically or intellectually
- Courses that overlap substantially with current course offerings in other Tufts departments
- Syllabi with an overreliance on traditional teaching methods like lecturing, quizzes and final exams. ExCollege courses frequently use interactive methods, group work, and projects instead.
Finally, according to Tufts University guidelines, for every hour spent in class, students should have two hours of work outside of class. Since your course will meet for 2.5 hours per week, plan to assign about 5 hours of work per week for your students to complete out of class (e.g. readings and reflection papers).