Graduate College Strategic Plan: Innovation in Graduate Education

Virtual Reality lab used for Neuroscience research.

The Graduate College will enhance graduate experiences by fostering​ innovation in graduate education, especially in creating and supporting interdisciplinary programs, delivering online courses and programs and extending educational opportunities to nontraditional learners.

Objective 1: The Graduate College will inspire and support the creation of interdisciplinary graduate programs to provide greater opportunities for students and leverage existing research capacity.

University stakeholders expect universities to provide interdisciplinary solutions to complex, interdisciplinary problems. The Graduate College can foster interdisciplinary thinking, teaching and research by collaborating with and building connections among colleges and departments, identifying courses that can benefit multiple disciplines, being a home for interdisciplinary programs and continuously sharing the vast research and teaching capacity at UD toward complex social problems of technological change, equity and inclusion, climate crisis, equitable growth, and more.


Objective 2: The Graduate College will build and innovate new partnerships to meet the graduate-level needs of companies, organizations and research centers in the region and beyond.

Establishing active partnerships between the Graduate College and organizations helps us prepare our students for positions in the private, public and nonprofit sectors and allows organizations to send their employees to UD degree programs. The advice we gain from our alumni and advisors in other sectors helps our research, teaching and community engagement address important social issues.


Objective 3: The Graduate College will leverage new modalities for graduate education on and off campus to help students learn more deeply and efficiently.

Technological advancements and public health crises have driven changes to how we teach our graduate students. Students and their employers increasingly expect universities to offer fully online, hybrid and in-person degrees to make it more convenient for traditional and nontraditional students to benefit from research-based degrees. The Graduate College can be at the forefront of leveraging new learning modalities to make our graduate programs more accessible to students wherever they may be physically located.


Objective 4: Objective 4: The Graduate College will innovate course delivery and meeting cadences to meet the needs of graduate students with professional and personal constraints.

Graduate education is increasingly being offered in multiple formats ranging from post-baccalaureate certificates to full master’s or doctoral degrees. Giving our prospective graduate students more choice in how they learn will enhance our relevance and attract more students. Options include 4+1 degrees, stackable master’s, pathways from post-baccalaureate certificates to online or in-person master’s degrees, and certificates that complement Ph.D. programs.


Objective 5: The Graduate College will work with partners to create innovative on-ramps to graduate education from diverse populations of prospective students.

The 21st-century educational marketplace provides prospective graduate students with a wide range of education programs to select. Attracting students to UD with carefully planned recruitment events and creating on-ramp programming to graduate programs is becoming the norm in graduate education. It is no longer sufficient to launch a high-quality master’s degree and expect students to find it. The Graduate College can intentionally design and execute recruitment and retention programming to attract talented undergraduate degree-holders to UD while also launching more courses and programs that serve nontraditional and part-time graduate students so they can benefit from our research-based knowledge and succeed in our graduate degrees. 

Immediate (AY21-22)

  • Objective 1 - Create a repository of graduate research methods courses to facilitate interdisciplinary enrollment and improved program planning.  
  • Objective 1 - Share select graduate classes across related disciplines to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among our faculty and our students at an early stage of graduate studies, e.g., statistics, methods, public scholarship epistemology, etc.  
  • Objective 2 - Form a Graduate College Advisory Council composed of industry, government and nonprofit representatives.      
  • Objective 2 - Market and provide master’s and post-baccalaureate certificates to organizations to meet employee development needs, help them hire UD students and increase our graduate student count and revenue.   
  • Objective 4 - Make more Ph.D. students aware of the opportunity to earn graduate certificates while they are studying for their Ph.D. to burnish credentials and strengthen their competitiveness in the job market. (Note: This action item parallels Professional Development strategies discussed above.)
  • Objective 5 - Partner with interested departments to recruit UD undergraduates in a systematic way by providing a one-stop mechanism, such as a Graduate Program Fair for UD undergraduates and those at selected colleges in our region to learn about UD’s graduate programs. (Note: This action item parallels Recruitment and Retention strategies discussed below.)  


Mid-Term (AY21-22 through AY23-AY24)

  • Objective 1 - Provide interdisciplinary primer to faculty, students and staff about how to think along interdisciplinary lines and how to procedurally create an interdisciplinary program at UD.
  • Objective 3 - Provide consistent student services to online master’s students to better engage them with the UD community. (Will be implemented in coordination with similar Professional Development goals outlined above.)  
  • Objective 4 - Expand the number of 4+1 degree opportunities to make it more convenient for interested undergraduates to earn a master’s degree in less time.   
  • Objective 4 - Create stackable master’s degrees in the Graduate College and in other UD colleges.    
  • Objective 4 - Form permanent focus groups of faculty, students, employers and community partners to inform our curriculum and programming over time to benefit curriculum development, course delivery, career services, etc. 
  • Objective 5 - Offer credit for UD Division of Professional and Continuing Studies (UD PCS) noncredit certificates by having interested students complete additional graduate-level assignments, using prior learning assessment and other possibilities similar to 400/600 course levels example.   

Long-Term (AY21-22 through AY25-AY26)

  • Objective 1 - Create a “Design Your Own” Graduate College Ph.D. that would allow suitably motivated graduate students to matriculate in a university Ph.D. to work with an interdisciplinary team of faculty advisors to research critical societal and scientific questions. 
  • Objective 1 - Develop more professional doctorate degrees that play to UD’s research and teaching strengths and meet market demand. Possible fields include healthcare, public health, quantum engineering, data science, etc. 
  • Objective 4 - Explore new dual degree programs with other domestic or international universities.
  • Ensure adequate representation from industry, government and nonprofit sectors in Graduate College advisory council and focus groups.     
  • Grow the number of existing partnerships/contracts with organizations by 5% annually.  
  • Use market research to determine market demand for professional doctoral degrees. Match demand with UD strengths in the colleges. Invest resources to develop new degrees assuming interest among UD stakeholders.
  • Current number of Ph.D. students who earn a graduate certificate compared with past number to assess efficacy of outreach and change over time. 
  • Current number of students enrolled in a 4+1 degree and current number of 4+1 degrees at UD.  
  • Service consistency between in-person and online graduate students.
  • Track number of graduate degrees that are stackable by design.    
  • Number of focus groups formed, frequency of meetings and quality of feedback.
  • Number of graduate research methods courses and percent of courses that can serve multiple disciplines.  
  • Number of students registered in a cross-listed graduate course as a measure of interdisciplinary learning.  
  • Number of 4+1 degrees and number of UD and regional college students who enroll in 4+1 programs.
  • Number of UD graduate degrees that are stackable by design. 
  • Assess the number and viability of “design-your-own” Ph.D. programs in the U.S. 
  • Determine number and demand for existing UD dual-degree programs. 
  • Number of graduate students who register for a noncredit certificates.