Graduate College Strategic Plan: Recruitment and Retention

Young student in a lab examining a solution.

The Graduate College will enhance graduate experiences by recruiting​ and ​retaining​ the best and brightest students.

Objective 1: Work with graduate programs to implement admissions practices that employ holistic approaches to minimize bias in the admissions process.

Objective 2: Leverage student retention data and best practices so that our students thrive intellectually and attain access to their professional aspirations.

Objective 3: Establish informed Graduate College recruitment goals for the entire University that:

  • Develop goals based on U.S. and global graduate enrollment trends, costs and projections as well as market demands.
  • Maintain a sustainable balance between master’s, terminal master’s, doctoral and certificate programs.
  • Account for existing capacity and other strategic interests at UD.
  • Incorporate a healthy strategy that includes internal recruitment where appropriate.
  • Incorporate a diverse, robust and pragmatic international strategy.
  • Build graduate cohorts that include domestic graduate demographics that are similar to those of the United States.
  • Build international graduate demographics that are similar to those worldwide.

Objective 4: Develop a robust University-wide marketing and recruitment strategy that:

  • Achieves the Graduate College recruitment goals.
  • Recruits 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.
  • Distinguishes between internal and external recruiting and includes plans for each.
  • Works harmoniously with other colleges.
  • Develops pipelines from UD summer programs.
  • Clearly articulates what distinguishes UD graduate education.  

Immediate (AY21-22)

  • Objective 1 - Hold workshops on minimizing bias in graduate admissions to educate graduate program and academic college leadership on promising practices around holistic admissions.
  • Objective 2 - Devise methods to assess the overall effectiveness of the existing graduate student and postdoctoral researcher support services provided by the Graduate College and the other UD units. Implement new retention strategies based on these assessments. 
  • Objective 2 - Continue and strengthen efforts aimed at meeting needs unique to graduate students and postdoctoral researchers from underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds. 
  • Objective 3 - Gather recruitment goals and priorities from UD president and college deans.
  • Objective 3 - Research U.S. and global graduate enrollment trends (including tuition costs) and projections for the next 1-5 years.
  • Objective 3 - Research UD capacity (housing, instructors, classroom space, lab space, etc.) for additional graduate students.
  • Objective 3 - Develop a strong plan for internal recruiting centrally and at program level.
  • Objective 3 - Identify major local and regional graduate fairs. Develop an annual plan for attending these fairs.
  • Objective 4 - Develop annual marketing and recruitment plans that includes tasks, subtasks, dates, resource assignments, and budgets and considers the recruitment of internal and external candidates.
  • Objective 4 - Gain annual budgeting approval for marketing and recruitment plans.
  • Objective 4 - Build relevant and compelling messaging that complements the marketing and recruitment goals and associated plans, campaigns and tasks.

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

  • Objective 1 - Identify and implement appropriate changes to the central graduate application and review process to provide information to all graduate programs that will facilitate holistic admissions.
  • Objective 1 - Create discussion groups/communities of practices for graduate program leaders to share successes and challenges in their implementation of holistic admission practices.
  • Objective 1 - Identify and implement policies and practices in other Graduate College initiatives that incentivize the use of holistic admissions practices (e.g., questions on admissions practices in funding nomination/application processes).
  • Objective 3 - Conduct cost and ROI studies to determine high-demand, high-return graduate programs.
  • Objective 3 - Develop a list of schools for minority recruitment, both centrally and for specific programs/disciplines, then develop relationships with those institutions that will lead to a pipeline of students from them.

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

  • Objective 2 - Research housing interests/requirements of graduate students and postdocs at various ages and life stages. Advocate for campus to build and/or procure housing that meets those needs.
  • Objective 3 - Hire or appoint a part-time or full-time Graduate College recruiter with the responsibility to recruit for UD Graduate programs. 
  • Objective 3 - Create an industry outreach position/function within the Graduate College where the primary focus is relationship-building, needs analysis and program development.
  • Objective 3 - Identify opportunities for graduate recruitment efforts to partner with designated international recruitment unit(s) for both undergrad and grad level. These efforts include, but are not limited to: 
    • Supporting faculty involvement in recruitment trips/webinars and international yield events. 
  • Streamlining international transfer or joint degree negotiating procedures. For example, when negotiating with an overseas higher education institution on joint degree operations (2+2 or 1+3), involve the Graduate College to bring up 1+1 master’s or even Ph.D. degrees on the table.
  • Graduate student degree completion rate broken out by program and demographics, relative to aspirations of incoming cohort.  
  • Postdoc satisfaction from survey responses.
  • Written statements of recruitment and retention goals and priorities.
  • Reputable reports from organizations like EAB, Hanover, etc.
  • Written statements of housing capacity from campus housing stakeholders.
  • Responses on surveys by demographic group; retention and graduation rates by demographic group.
  • Number of institutions identified, number of students from those institutions applying to UD summer and graduate programs, other measures of quality partnership (seminars at each institution, research collaborations, etc.)
  • Various action item outputs, including:
    • Documented, approved plan with tasks, resources, dates, expenses, etc. built in a project management system.
    • Written budget approval from all campus stakeholders. Note that budgets could cross colleges and units.
  • Output used in web copy, advertisements, recruitment letters/emails, etc.)