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Strategic Theme 2: Graduate Students

We will support efforts to promote deep understanding in core areas of graduate students’ disciplines while embracing an interdisciplinary perspective that can enhance the independent development of a creative and/or scholarly line of inquiry. Moreover, we will support professional development of our graduate students to prepare them to make impactful and lasting contributions to society from positions in higher education, industry and the public sector. Finally, we will seek novel approaches to obtain and deploy greater levels of support for graduate students to remain competitive with our peers.

Strategy 1 – Diversify and increase opportunities for graduate-level education
  1. Redesign graduate funding allocation strategies, based on faculty input and key program metrics, to target increases in number and stipend level for graduate teaching and research assistantships
  2. Work with units to determine their best combination of program size and support needed to attract the best and most diverse pool of graduate students
  3. Identify and implement strategies to increase the representation of historically underrepresented populations in our graduate programs, with a focus on expanding the applicant pool and engaging with national efforts to build a pipeline of diverse students (see College DEI Plan, Section IV)
  4. Increase departmental use of marketing tools and best practices to target prospective students with clear and compelling communications, providing College-level support to departments as needed
  5. Enhance traditional graduate programs through the development of accelerated tracks or other innovations in program design, while creating new accelerated and professional master’s degree and graduate certificate programs to attract top quality undergraduates and respond to workforce demand, partnering with KU Edwards and KU Medical Center when feasible to expand program reach
Strategy 2 – Support graduate students’ growth as scholars


  1. Develop and implement strategies to generate more research assistantships for graduate students, which can include both individual support as well as faculty-led institutional training program support
  2. Develop College-level support opportunities for graduate student research and creative works
  3. Support graduate student engagement in external grant activity, which may include facilitation of workshops and writing groups as well as financial support of time and research cost through College-level research funding
  4. Provide flexibility and support for students interested in expanding beyond their discipline with interdisciplinary training opportunities
Strategy 3 – Leverage training and tools to enhance advising and mentoring


  1. Improve tracking of student progress and milestones by creating new tools and practices that are responsive to the unique needs of graduate programs
  2. Establish clear expectations for graduate support services and provide training and professional development to enable staff to meet those expectations
  3. Leverage Office of Graduate Studies survey results to address student needs and challenges to productivity and morale and utilize College DEI Plan (see Sections I and V) to provide more extensive opportunities for graduate students to feel welcome at KU
  4. Encourage and incentivize units to develop and implement plans to reduce time to completion of comprehensive examination and overall time to degree for Ph.D. students
  5. Incorporate further attention to the unique needs of students seeking terminal master’s degrees in advising best practices at the unit and College level
  6. Improve graduate student progression and outcomes by offering support for the development of mentoring skills among graduate faculty
Strategy 4 – Expand professional development programming and resources


  1. Provide early professional development mentoring for students to support exploration of a range of career opportunities in academia, non-profits and industry (in line with current efforts underway with the NEH Next Generation Ph.D. Challenge Grant)
  2. Develop an online suite of graduate student professional development tools and resources
  3. Develop targeted professional development programs that respond to department needs and student interest
  4. Link with other Lawrence campus, KU Edwards and KU Medical Center units to create a network of graduate student professional development partners for the purposes of research collaboration, personal and social support, and sharing of best practices
  5. Provide more structured opportunities for pedagogic development and professionalization in the classroom through collaborations between faculty advisors, the College Office of Graduate Affairs and the Center for Teaching Excellence
  6. Provide graduate students with opportunities to support innovative teaching in their units, including course redesign efforts
  7. Increase opportunities for graduate students to develop leadership skills, through involvement in College governance and greater collaboration between College administration and leaders in student government and organizations

Accountability metrics

  • Increase in graduate student enrollment
  • Creation of a baseline measure of retention and improvement in retention rate
  • Decrease time to degree milestones (time to comprehensive exam, time to degree completion)
  • Improvement in student satisfaction on Office of Graduate Studies survey in key areas of support and services, including professional development, wellness and inclusion
  • Increase in graduate student participation in professional development opportunities
  • Creation of a baseline measure and increase in graduate student publications, creative works and grant applications
  • Increase in number of research assistantships
  • Evidence of pedagogical skill development from student evaluations and program evaluations of teaching
  • Increase in graduate fellowships (teaching and research) offering a competitive stipend, with increased availability of stipend support for top recruits
  • Increase in number of applications, admissions and matriculations from members of underrepresented populations