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Graduate students are vital to the outstanding education UNC-Chapel Hill provides for undergraduate students, and are vital to service efforts that benefit North Carolina.

By Steve Matson, UNC Graduate School, Monday, April 1st, 2019

Many of us are surprised to learn that at least one of every four students at Carolina is a graduate student. They are an essential part of our University, providing the workforce behind a more than $1 billion research enterprise and teaching undergraduates with enthusiasm and creativity.

At the same time, graduate students are often the genesis of many of the most innovative ideas that emanate from a research university such as Carolina. Many of the engineering marvels and technologies we enjoy today began as an idea from an enterprising graduate student working to answer a basic research question. Think of your smartphone, your microwave oven, MRI technology and Google, to name just a few. What will graduate students think of next? Supporting our graduate students’ successful degree completion helps place their research skills and their new ideas to work on behalf of North Carolina, the nation and the world.

The Graduate School is focused on preparing the next generation of professionals for the opportunities ahead. For example, our doctoral alumni are just as likely to apply their knowledge in the private sector as within universities. The Graduate School offers professional development to all graduate students to complement the cutting-edge education they receive within their graduate programs. Workshops and courses designed to provide skills such as program management, leadership, financial accounting and communication are available to all graduate students, no matter what career they choose. Our relatively new Graduate Certificate in Business Fundamentals is offered in both residential and online formats, providing our students with additional skills that make them even more competitive in the job market.

Another essential part of the Graduate School’s mission is preparing the next generation of college faculty. Just over 100 research universities, including Carolina, are responsible for preparing over 80 percent of the college faculty in this country. Recently, we joined the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning to enhance the training we provide to the next generation of college faculty. Being a member of this national consortium allows UNC-Chapel Hill to share Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning’s innovative and inclusive teaching practices with students, to help inform their undergraduate teaching at Carolina and the remarkable contributions they will make within undergraduate teaching as future faculty members.

Supporting a diverse, inclusive and global student body has never been more important than it is today. We simply must have a diverse group of minds and approaches tackling our most important problems. Through our Diversity and Student Success program, the Graduate School encourages diversity, community and inclusion. We offer numerous opportunities, through five student initiatives, in which students can both find their community and experience the power of diversity.

We also work with faculty, staff and students campus-wide to welcome dozens of undergraduates nationwide to campus, where they will immerse themselves in summer research experiences. The culmination of this 10-week experience is a public research symposium, supported by the Summer Undergraduate Pipeline initiative in the Graduate School, in which these talented undergraduates present their research to members of the Carolina community. This summer experience is often the catalyst that convinces a student that they belong in graduate school. The more we can do to encourage undergraduates to pursue graduate education, the more we ensure a diverse workforce prepared to apply innovation to challenges.

Graduate students are vital to the outstanding education UNC-Chapel Hill provides for our undergraduate students. They are vital to service efforts that benefit our state’s communities. They pursue new knowledge with enthusiasm.

The Graduate School is continuously evolving to ensure that we are supporting our graduate students so they can receive their degrees and provide leadership within their professional fields. A graduate degree truly benefits both the recipient and our world.

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