Any UC Berkeley Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) teaching a section or course during the current academic year or summer session is eligible to apply. GSIs may receive no more than one grant per semester. Projects are eligible if they will take place during the GSI’s teaching assignment. GSIs may apply for funds in the semester before they teach or during their teaching appointment, but not during the project or after it has been undertaken.

Amount Awarded and Terms

The maximum amount awarded is $300, and full or partial funding may be provided. Funds are transferred to and administered by the department in which the course is being taught. Any items purchased through this program shall remain the property of the University, as stipulated in the award letter. Funds must be spent by the end of the semester in which the grant is awarded.

Application Process

To submit a proposal, you must complete an application form and submit it electronically to the GSI Teaching & Resource Center, gsi@berkeley.edu. The application must be accompanied by all documents relevant to the request, including a curriculum vitae or résumé for prospective speakers, a letter of support from the faculty member in charge of the course, and, when appropriate, a minimum of two estimates for any purchases over $100.

There is no deadline, but applications, letters of support, and any required documentation must be received no later than three weeks prior to the implementation of the proposed project. Applications are accepted year-round.

Download Course Improvement Grant application form (PDF)
Download Course Improvement Grant application checklist (PDF)

Examples of Projects that are Funded

Typical activities funded by GSI Course Improvement Grants include:

  • funding guest speakers ($75 maximum honorarium)
  • purchasing theater or museum tickets
  • renting or purchasing films and videos
  • developing or purchasing instructional materials that are not a standard part of the course (e.g., maps, charts, games, models)

Successful grant applications identify the learning outcomes anticipated through the activity, as well as the manner in which the GSI will evaluate the success of the project.

Please see the Past Recipients and Projects page for more specific examples.


These funds cannot be used to augment or provide normal departmental course support (e.g., duplicating of standard course materials or purchasing supplies).

Funds may be used by GSIs for expenses related to course improvement with the following exceptions:

  • Salaries (for example, for a GSI, GSR, or bibliographer)
  • Food or entertainment
  • Travel
  • Publication of class writing projects (for example, for class novels, anthologies, etc.)
  • Stipends for guest speakers exceeding $75 per person
  • More than three guest speakers in a given semester

Projects that impact an entire course being taught by a faculty member are under the faculty member’s purview, and funding should be sought through the UC Berkeley Center for Teaching and Learning.

Suggestions for Writing a Successful Proposal

  • Read the guidelines carefully.
  • Describe concrete, specific activities you will implement prior to and after the project to maximize student learning.
  • When requesting funds for a guest speaker, please list his/her qualifications and attach a résumé.
  • Make sure the faculty member writing your letter of support has read your proposal and can comment specifically on its merits in the support letter.
  • Contact the Media Resources Center in Moffitt Library to ensure materials are not already available on campus before requesting funds to purchase or rent DVDs and other media.
  • Consult with your department’s business officer or administrative assistant when filling out departmental account information.

Assistance in Developing a Proposal

Information and assistance in planning and developing your grant proposal are available from the GSI Teaching & Resource Center. Please email us at gsi@berkeley.edu if you wish to discuss your project with a consultant.

Criteria for Judging Proposals

  • Anticipated impact on student learning
  • Anticipated impact on teaching
  • Well-designed and pedagogically sound activities that prepare students for the project beforehand and integrate the project after its completion
  • Perceived potential of project to achieve stated goals
  • Clarity and specificity of proposal
  • Well designed evaluation
  • Project originality and innovation

Assessing Impact of Grant

Grant recipients will be sent a questionnaire with the award letter in which they will be asked to describe the results and impact of their projects. The questionnaire should be returned to the GSI Teaching & Resource Center as soon as the project is completed but no later than the end of the semester in which the grant has been awarded.

Download Course Improvement Grant application form (PDF)
Download Course Improvement Grant application checklist (PDF)