Professionalization Requirements

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Assistantships

Diversity is not only an ideal towards which our University strives, but a core institutional value. We are dedicated to creating an environment where people of different backgrounds feel valued and where their ideas and contributions can flourish. Other academic and non academic institutions are similarly recognizing the fundamental importance of enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across all aspects of their missions.  Gaining experience in the DEI arena is thus a valuable form of professional training for PhD students. To recognize the importance of such training for any career path and the benefits of mentorship, either by professionals in the DEI field or by faculty or others who are knowledgeable in DEI, as well as the intrinsic value of DEI efforts, BSD is piloting a new ‘Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) assistantship’ program, or DA-ship, in the 2021/2022 academic year.

The DA-ship program, similar to the TA-ship program, is a mentored and evaluated experience for academic credit.  Effort is expected to be equivalent to a TA-ship (~100 hours total), although unlike a TA-ship the 100 hours may in some instances be completed over more than a single quarter.  Registration should be for the quarter in which the experience concludes.

Please note that, to meet their degree requirements, all BSD students must complete two terms of professional preparation, at least one of which must involve serving as a Teaching Assistant to a UChicago course. The second requirement may be met with a second TA-ship, a DA-ship, or by participating in the TA training course.

DA-ships may take a variety of forms, with the key attributes being:

  1. A valuable professional development opportunity in DEI issues and practices as applied to STEM that prepares the student for a spectrum of career opportunities.
  2. Mentorship by an individual or small team experienced in DEI issues and approaches. Mentors might be staff members in relevant University offices, faculty members with relevant expertise, or external professionals who are approved for this role by the standing DEI-ship Committee.
  3. Evaluation will be by the mentors and through self-evaluation, paralleling the TA-ship program. The evaluation package will be reviewed by the Dean for graduate affairs or their designate, who will serve as the instructor of record for the DAship program. 

FAQs for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Assistantships

Students who have not yet served as a TA, or who have only completed one TA-ship, are eligible to apply for an evaluated DA-ship. However, all BSD students are expected to serve as a TA at least once. Thus, if a student has completed the TA training course, or has been granted an exemption for a prior teaching experience, they must complete their professionalization requirement with a TA-ship.

There are three overarching types of DEI-assistantship projects: pre-designed, student-proposed, and pedagogical.  All three types of DA-ships must be mentored, evaluated, unpaid experiences in order to be eligible for the professionalization requirement.  The DEI-ship Committee must preapprove DA-ships before students register for credit.

Pre-designed projects will be developed by mentors and approved by the DEI-ship Committee before opening up for applications. There will be flexibility in the details of these projects, such that the DA will work with their mentor(s) to fully develop and define the details of the project at the start of their experience.  See the Call for Applications for Aut Qtr DA-ships for examples of pre-designed projects.

Student-proposed projects are developed by students, either based exclusively on their own independent ideas, or by building on broad-based concepts put forward by approved mentors.  In either instance, it will be necessary to identify an appropriate mentor(s).  Calls for short proposals will be used to allow the DEI-ship committee to select appropriate concepts for further development. See the Call for Applications for more details.  

Pedagogical DA-ships are experiences with a significant teaching component that occur outside our standard UChicago courses and enhance access to STEM.  These may include teaching on campus in summer courses for high school students or their teachers, teaching in local K12 schools that serve disadvantaged students, or teaching in other programs that have the goal of enhancing access to STEM.  Such experiences have previously been approved by the standing TA committee, but similar proposals will be evaluated by the DEI-assistantship Committee going forward. Note that paid experiences of this kind cannot meet the divisional professionalization requirement. Please contact Melissa Lindberg ( if you have a pedagogical DA-ship in mind.


Opportunities to participate in pre-designed projects will be announced at least 4 weeks ahead of the quarter.  Eligible students should follow the application guidance provided.  The relevant DA-ship mentor(s) will select candidates for interview and make a final selection ahead of the start of the quarter.

If you have an idea for a DEI Assistantship project, please complete the form at this link. Applications will be reviewed on a monthly basis by the DEI Assistantship Committee.

As the DEI Assistantship Committee works to define the process for this new program over the course of the 2021/2 academic year, we welcome short proposals putting forward ideas for new DA-ships.


  • Meet with your DA-mentors to begin putting together your DA-ship compact (hot link).  This document will detail the goals and deliverable of the experience and the expectations for both mentor and mentees
  • Attend a quarterly DA meeting, to be held in the first weeks of the quarter
  • Register for the DA-ship in the quarter in which it will conclude: BSDG 50800



You will need to complete your DA-ship self-evaluation, and your lead mentor will also need to evaluate you.  For DA-ships that extend over more than one quarter, formal evaluations will be completed at the end of the experience.  However, we will also reach out to you for an informal check in during the progress of your DA-ship.

For DA-ships with a pedagogical component, you or your mentor may also wish to seek student feedback to enhance your development as an instructor.

All evaluations will be reviewed by the Dean for Graduate Affairs before grades are posted. Mentor (and any student) evaluations will be made available to all DEI assistants.