In its July edition, Diverse Issues in Higher Education ranked UGA 18th in the nation for doctoral degrees conferred upon African Americans, up from 21st in last year’s rankings.
The latest ranking from Diverse Issues reflects efforts by the Graduate School not only to recruit students, but also to retain and graduate them. Since 1999, when the Grad uate School began formalized inclusiveness programming, enrollment among African-American graduate students has consistently grown, increasing 3 percent in 2007 from 2006 alone, and representing roughly 10 percent of the total enrollment of graduate students.
Opportunities offered year-round by the Graduate School are designed to raise awareness among undergraduate students, particularly those from diverse populations, of the expectations of graduate scholarship.
One such opportunity that may reduce attrition among graduate students from historically underrepresented backgrounds is the Summer Undergraduate Research Program. The program recently wrapped up its ninth annual eight-week research experience open to undergraduates from across the country. Under the guidance of faculty mentors, 41 students, the majority of whom were African American and from Georgia, came to UGA to conduct graduate-level research. Admission to the program depends on several criteria, with an emphasis on academic accomplishment.
“For the first time in the history of SURP, we raised the bar on GPA requirements,” said Jessica Anderson, director of Graduate School Outreach and Diversity. “With an average GPA of 3.65, our students are not only academically prepared, but also very focused and professional.”
The program offers participants more than just a glimpse of the rigors of graduate education. The Graduate School also offers workshops that address preparing for the GRE, learning about the requirements of graduate scholarship and presenting research.
New this year were diversity workshops reflecting the varied backgrounds of participants, which ranged from first-generation college students to historically underrepresented students in particular fields of study. In addition, a writing coordinator was on hand to assist students in putting their best foot forward on paper.