Distinguished Teaching Award

Purpose of the award

The Distinguished Teaching Award is intended to recognize individual faculty for sustained performance of excellence in teaching. Above and beyond an individual exemplary class, this kind of sustained excellence in teaching incites intellectual curiosity in students, inspires departmental colleagues, and makes students aware of significant relationships between the academy and the world at large.

Nature of the Award

Recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Award receive a cash award from the campus and recognition by the Academic Senate. They are honored at a public ceremony, and they are permanently indicated as Distinguished Teachers in the UC Berkeley catalog. Distinguished Teachers are frequently called upon by the campus to provide a voice in issues related to teaching. They serve on forums, panels, and committees involving teaching issues, and they are advocates for excellence in teaching at Berkeley.


All members of the Academic Senate and non-Senate faculty/instructors with continuing appointments are eligible. 

A. The intent of the Distinguished Teaching Award is to recognize faculty members who have established a sustained and varied record of teaching excellence. At minimum, nominees must have at least eight semesters in residence at the time of nomination. The current fall semester does not count towards this requirement. In general, it is expected that the nominee has taught at least six regularly scheduled courses (or at least four regularly scheduled courses in the case they fulfill a double course load within the department, e.g., some large enrollment courses) in the last eight semesters in residence. Less than six courses (or four double-load courses) during this period would not provide sufficient evidence for the Committee on Teaching (COT) to review in the selection process. However, if the nominee has been on Active Service-Modified Duties (ASMD) status in the last eight semesters in residence, the minimum number of courses could be met in a review period extended by the number of ASMD semesters. For example, if a nominee was on ASMD status for a year in the last eight semesters, the department could use ten semesters for the six courses (or four double-load courses) requirement. Evidence of accomplishment does not necessarily require long years of service, which in themselves would not be considered sufficient grounds for recognition.

B.  The Committee on Teaching believes that excellence in teaching and excellence in creative and scholarly work—both essential duties of Senate faculty members—go hand in hand. Therefore, Senate faculty members who are nominated will be those who have successfully united these two roles.

C.  Lecturers are judged on their excellence in teaching and their contributions to the teaching mission of the University.

D.  Part of the selection process involves classroom visits by members of the Committee on Teaching. Nominees who teach only in the fall semester or only in the spring semester should expect their classes to be observed during  the semester in which they are teaching. 

E.  Only one candidate should be nominated by a department in any year.

Selection criteria

The Committee on Teaching draws criteria from a number of sources, including but not limited to, the University of California Academic Personnel Manual, Section D, Criteria for Appointment, Promotion, and Appraisal, and the Committee on Teaching’s policy on the Evaluation of Teaching for Advancement and Promotion (Spring 1987). 

Criteria for Teaching Excellence 
(to be considered where applicable)

In general, Distinguished Teachers will excel in the following areas:

  • Effective design and redesign of courses.
  • Ability to engage and inspire in students independent and original thinking.
  • Enthusiasm and vitality in learning and teaching.
  • Active involvement in and guidance of student research projects, both undergraduate and graduate.
  • Advising students with attention and care.
  • Mentorship and supervision of Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) that facilitates effective teaching.
  • Creating inclusive classrooms and supportive environments for all students.

Nomination Process

The Committee seeks evidence from a wide variety of sources, detailed in sections on Stage One and Stage Two.

Since the nomination process can be time-consuming, the Committee has divided it into two stages. In the first stage, less information is required. Those candidates recommended for Stage Two will be asked to submit more substantial information.

Please note that it is the requirement of the Committee that a candidate not be informed of a Stage One nomination. The Committee wishes to minimize the number of candidates who pass nearly a whole academic year in anticipation of an award that may not be conferred. Only if a nominee is forwarded to Stage Two should the nominator inform the candidate.

While the nomination needs to be approved and submitted by the department chair, vice-chair for instruction, or other appropriate official, the nomination itself might be initiated by anyone in a department, including students.

In order to simplify the nomination process for both the department and the Committee, we have provided a number of forms which are to be used to provide the information requested. See the linked document for detailed guidelines and procedures to guide a department's nomination for the Distinguished Teaching Award: 2022 DTA Guidelines and Nomination Procedure.

Questions? Please contact teaching@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail) with "DTA" as the subject line.