About GSA Programs
Graduate Student Affairs (GSA) provides institutional leadership in helping to improve the lives and experiences of graduate students through four central program components:
- Signature Events
- Academic & Professional Development Opportunities
- Social Activities
- Initiatives for Underrepresented Students
Major events include New Student Orientation, the Graduate Student Information Session, Professional Development Workshop Series, a reception for recipients of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring, Graduate Student Appreciation Week, periodic Family Fun Fairs, and the Ph.D. Hooding Ceremony.
GSA hosts programs that mark students’ progress throughout their graduate career. New Student Orientation aids students in their transition to Duke by providing crucial information about the academic community, policies, and resources. The Graduate Student Information Session takes place during New Student Orientation and features representatives from various University offices and Durham businesses. A Milestone Recognition Reception honors those who pass preliminary examinations each year, and during Commencement Weekend, GSA hosts the Ph.D. Hooding Ceremony and Reception, which celebrates the culmination of doctoral study. The Graduate School’s commitment to its students carries on past graduation through GSA’s program collaborations with Alumni Affairs and the Career Center.
Academic & Professional Development Opportunities
Graduate Student Affairs cooperates with other campus groups and offices to co-sponsor many events that contribute to the professional development of graduate students, such as career exploration workshops co-sponsored by the Career Center and the Office for Postdoctoral Services, presentation skills workshops, and research presentation opportunities. The Graduate School cultivates a culture of good mentoring practices essential to students’ professional development by highlighting the recipients of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring and their accomplishments at a reception held during the fall semester. Professional development events are also included as part of Graduate Student Appreciation Week. All these opportunities are posted on co-sponsors’ Web sites and announced in e-mails from GSA staff.
GSA coordinates activities designed specifically to encourage social interaction among graduate students. Several events during New Student Orientation help new students become acquainted with fellow students and Duke faculty. Graduate Student Appreciation Week recognizes graduate students’ contributions to Duke’s academic climate with a roster of enjoyable social events and practical workshops on student life issues such as funding, housing, and dissertation support. The office also co-hosts several annual events of the Graduate and Professional Student Council. To provide regular networking opportunities for graduate students with children, GSA also hosts three Family Fun Fairs each year (during New Student Orientation, as a part of Graduate Student Appreciation Week, and one during the summer months).
Initiatives for Underrepresented Students
The Graduate School has a long-standing commitment to increasing the diversity and quality of its graduate student body. Our primary goals are to increase the enrollment of students from underrepresented groups, to provide students with sufficient funding to complete their graduate studies in a timely manner, and to promote an academic and social environment where all scholars can flourish.
A key mission of the Office of Graduate Student Affairs is to coordinate, supplement, and expand the recruiting efforts of graduate departments and programs. Aggressive, targeted recruiting strategies are vital to these efforts, and the involvement of Duke’s graduate faculty is central to these strategies. Each year GSA participates in recruitment fairs across the country that enable us to meet potential graduate students and to answer any questions they might have about Duke’s graduate programs. GSA assembles a recruiting team of students, faculty, and staff to attend these fairs. Duke also collaborates with UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University to arrange regional visits (such as the Atlanta Area Schools Visit) for groups of schools that bring their most promising undergraduate student researchers from underrepresented groups. Other recruitment mechanisms the Graduate School employs include participation in national consortia designed to promote diversity in graduate education and targeted faculty recruitment visits to colleges and universities. GSA also helps to initiate and develop the external and institutional funding to support various summer research opportunities that identify potential graduate students early in their college careers.