Graduate College Strategic Plan: Professional Development

Graduate Student presenting their research in a poster session.

The Graduate College will enhance graduate experiences by providing opportunities for professional development.

Objective 1: The UD Graduate College, in collaboration with partners from within and outside the institution, will build data- and outcome-driven, integrated and holistic graduate professional development resources that help graduate students and postdocs thrive during their time on campus and beyond. Upon completing their training at UD, our students and postdocs will have acquired the following competencies: 

  • leadership and management
  • effective communication
  • teaching and mentoring
  • personal growth and wellbeing
  • career navigation

Objective 2: The Graduate College will inspire, educate and empower graduate students and postdocs in their career journeys.

Immediate (AY21-22)

  • Objective 1 - Develop a leadership certificate program with specific tracks for graduate students to prepare them for diverse, global working communities by collaborating with the Women’s Leadership Initiative, Blue Hen Leadership Program, Professional and Continuing Studies, cultural clubs, identity-based student organizations, and other campus units as needed.
  • Objective 1 - Offer grant-writing workshops to help increase graduate students’ pursuit of and competitiveness for internal and external funding opportunities.
  • Objective 1 - Develop training and resources to help academic departments launch graduate student peer-to-peer mentoring programs where senior graduate student mentors provide support and guidance to first-year graduate students. 
  • Objective 1 - Continue to provide graduate students and postdocs Accelerate to Industry™ (A2i) Job Search Strategies workshops as career exploration programming and an option to engage with prospective industry partners. 
  • Objective 1 - Cultivate partnerships with academic departments, UD offices and employers to create experiential learning experiences for graduate students.
  • Objective 1 - Enhance connections between doctoral students and doctoral alumni by launching and managing a pilot Grad LEAP alumni mentoring program.
  • Objective 1 - Establish postdoctoral leadership fellow positions to help build a postdoc community. The fellows will create opportunities for postdocs to connect with one another through National Postdoc Appreciation Week events, postdoc Slack channel, and community-building events throughout the year. 
  • Objective 1 - Develop and manage a tiered teaching certificate program for graduate students and postdocs that includes topics such as inclusive teaching practices, understanding and identifying implicit bias, Title IX, campus climate, and the history of racism and DEI practices at UD.
  • Objective 2 - Support career development of graduate students and postdocs by providing 1-on-1 career assistance to help them navigate the job search process and prepare effective application materials. 
  • Objective 2 - Promote employment opportunities from employer partners to focus on academic departments within UD and A2i academic partner institutions. 

Mid-Term (AY21-22 to AY23-24)

  • Objective 1 - Organize and host events and programs, such as the Three-Minute Thesis, to create opportunities for students and postdocs to translate their graduate-level skills and communicate their scholarly activities to a broad range of audiences. 
  • Objective 1 - Collaborate with UD’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Writing Center and Research Office to offer training on book and article writing to enhance students’ publishing skills. 
  • Objective 1 - Develop a visual, digital and social media communication certificate program in collaboration with Professional and Continuing Studies to help graduate students and postdocs present and promote their research and professional experiences in multimedia and multiplatform applications.
  • Objective 1 - Provide support and community to graduate students from traditionally underserved and marginalized populations through collaborative partnerships with campus units and match students with peers, faculty and staff.
  • Objective 1 - Curate online resources for graduate students and postdocs to help them navigate advisor-advisee relationships. 
  • Objective 1 - Co-develop a comprehensive personal development and wellbeing program with campus partners to provide a full year of events on topics that enhance graduate student experiences. 
  • Objective 1 - Coordinate with Professional and Continuing Studies, colleges and academic affairs units to develop credit and noncredit (transcript notation) graduate-level certificate programs to help graduate students and postdocs acquire high-demand skills.
  • Objective 2 - Continue to conduct focus groups and surveys with diverse groups of graduate students to receive feedback/perception about current services and make recommendations about future offerings. Focus on BIPOC and URM students to create career and professional development programs and resources tailored to these students.
  • Objective 2 - Develop and standardize the use of doctoral and master’s student Individual Development Plans across all graduate programs to help students define and achieve their academic and professional goals.
  • Objective 2 - Create and market a portfolio of on- and off-campus learning opportunities for high-demand skills to boost transferable skills, enrich our graduates' lives and increase their employability.

Long-Term (AY21-22 to AY25-26)

  • Objective 1 - In collaboration with the Career Center, Lerner Career Services and ISSS, further determine the needs of international students within each college concerning transitioning to U.S. culture, wellness, and professional development and career success. Co-develop responsive programs and funding opportunities within and across colleges.
  • Objective 1 - Create a framework and training for the Career Ambassadors Program to (1) help raise awareness of professional and career development opportunities offered by the Graduate College and (2) develop tailored programming that meets the needs of the specific student population.  
  • Objective 2 - Fundraise to expand graduate student professional success awards supporting training, professional development, conference participation and internship or research grants.
  • Objective 2 - Develop the syllabus and create content for the Graduate Student Career Management Course in Canvas to provide career development resources and interactive career skill-building activities and track student engagement level over the course of their graduate training.   
  • Objective 2 - Showcase graduate students and postdocs who have previously won external grants and fellowships on the Graduate College website to create a learning community of peers that can provide guidance and feedback on grant applications.

For Overall Professional Development

  • Percentage of stakeholders who utilize professional development resources or are engaged with the professional development team via program requests or participating in one of the initiatives. 
  • Percentage of stakeholders who are satisfied with professional development resources (by degree programs, disciplines and demographics).
    • Students (by degree programs, disciplines and demographics)
    • Graduate student organizations
    • Chairs and program directors
    • Graduate program coordinators

For Leadership and Management Competency

  • Leadership certificate is in place by December 2022.
  • Number of graduate students participating in leadership certificate broken down by demographic, degree program, college and discipline.

For Teaching and Mentoring Competency

  • Higher education teaching certificate is in place by September 2022.
  • Number of graduate students participating in the higher education teaching certificate program broken down by demographic, degree program, college and discipline.
  • Percentage of graduate students who strongly agree UD prepared them to be an effective teacher in a postsecondary education setting.

For Career Navigation Competency

  • Percentage of graduate students who strongly agree UD prepared them to successfully lead and manage people and projects.
  • Percentage of graduate students who are confident they will graduate with the skills and knowledge to be successful a) in the job market and b) in the workplace (measure in first year and at graduation).
  • Percentage of graduate students who strongly agree they are confident in their abilities to succeed in a global workplace and with colleagues from diverse backgrounds and ideas. 
  • Percentage of graduate students who believe their graduate programs will lead to a good job within their discipline (measure in first year and at graduation).
  • Percentage of graduate students who strongly agree they are confident about their career direction. 
  • Percentage of graduates indicating a high level of career and personal success five and 10 years after graduation as measured by their wellbeing, employment metrics and satisfaction.
  • Percentage of graduate students receiving career advice, mentorship, job shadowing experiences, and internship and job search assistance from UD graduate program alumni before graduation. 
  • Percentage of recent graduate student alumni who circle back to provide career advice, mentorship, job shadowing experiences, and internship and job search assistance to current students due to the value of support they received while in their programs.
  • Percentage of graduate students who strongly agree UD provides an expansive and relevant network of employers and alumni to engage for internship opportunities, jobs and career guidance.
  • Percentage of graduate students completing internships, field experiences, job shadowing, clinical experiences and faculty-supervised research.
  • Number of colleges and academic departments with structured alumni networks in place to support graduate students and departmental initiatives.
  • Percentage of academic departments and programs utilizing Individual Development Plans as part of their advising programs and percentage of doctoral and master’s students actively using their plans.

For Communication Competency

  • Increased success in students securing competitive internal and external funding and awards as measured by: 
    • Percent of doctoral students with year-round funding in their first five years.
    • Number of competitive awards given for travel, language courses, project supplies and other enrichment resources. 
    • Number of students applying for and winning internal and external grants and fellowships.
    • Achieve equity in students pursuing and securing internal and external funding opportunities based on race, ethnicity and other demographics. Measured by tracking the number of funding opportunities graduate students applied to and awarded and analyze the data based on various demographics.
  • Percentage of graduate students who strongly agree that they are confident in their ability to understand and articulate their skills, experiences, research and academic or professional goals in writing, online and verbally. 
  • Percentage increase in graduate students with published articles within three years of graduation. 

For Personal Growth and Wellbeing Competency

  • Number of programs, events or workshops on the topics of wellness, mental health and personal growth.
  • Percentage of graduate students who strongly agree that UD is committed to their wellness, mental health and personal growth. 
  • Number of graduate students participating in Grad LEAP broken down by demographic, degree program, college and disciplines.
  • Number of graduate alumni participating in Grad LEAP broken down by demographic, degree program, college and disciplines.
  • Number of academic departments participating in or utilizing peer-to-peer mentoring resources.