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GSEE Recruitment and Retention

To uncover the next generation of leaders and researchers, academic departments need promising students of all races, backgrounds, statuses and cultures.

By attracting graduate students impacted by racism and its intersections*, we enhance the UW experience for all students and prepare them for understanding various racial and cultural lenses within a diverse and global society. If we provide supportive environments and ways for graduate students impacted by racism and its intersections to connect with faculty, students and resources across campus, they will be more likely to remain and thrive at the UW and beyond.

That welcoming environment and sense of belonging often begins with departmental recruitment efforts and offerings as well as campus climate.

This Recruitment and Retention guide is maintained by GSEE: Office of Graduate Student Equity & Excellence. You may contact GSEE with questions or for more information.

Recruitment and Retention

GSEE is Your Resource

The Office of Graduate Student Equity & Excellence (GSEE) provides a range of events, programs and materials to boost recruitment efforts:

  • Prospective Student Days (PSDs) – A series of events for admitted graduate students impacted by racism and its intersections to learn more about resources and supportive networks on the UW campus.
  • National Name Exchange (NNE) – UW departments have free access to this online database, hosted by the Council of Graduate Schools, of promising undergraduate students impacted by racism and its intersections from all over the country.
  • A group of “Outreaching Grads (OGs)” trained to help departmental representatives connect with prospective students and share their experiences as a graduate student impacted by racism and its intersections at the UW.
  • Recruiting Materials Toolkit – This toolkit, located in the “Toolkit” tab in this guide, contains templates and handouts to help with your recruitment efforts.

Thank you for your interest! Please contact GSEE with any questions.

The Office of Equity and Justice (OEJ)

The Office of Equity and Justice (OEJ) provides faculty and staff with helpful tools to create an inclusive community, culture and curriculum.

  • Equity in Graduate Education Summit – The Graduate School’s annual tri-campus summit, co-hosted by OEJ and GSEE, is a partnership with equity-focused, graduate student facing units across the UW.
  • Equity Office Hours – This series of events hosted by the Office of Equity and Justice (OEJ) and GSEE features current topics that impact graduate students impacted by racism and its intersections and is designed to support faculty/staff invested in their success.

The goal of outreach is to identify and establish relationships with prospective student communities; and, in return, for these communities to gain a better understanding about graduate school and what attractive programs the UW has to offer. We have gathered some of the strategies and tools that UW departments, faculty, staff and graduate students have utilized.

Outreach materials and web content

Web pages and outreach materials should be current and appealing and explicitly:

  • Reflect your department’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion via images and quotes, as well as mission and vision statements
  • Highlight departmental information regarding:
    • Courses and programs of study that focus on communities, diversity, equity and inclusion. History
    • Faculty and student research as well as teaching practices that capture the complexities of topics that address race, ethnicity and diversity. Social Work
  • Include information about diversity resources and inclusion programs with links or brief descriptions about GSEE, UW and community cultural centers, and student organizations. Mechanical Engineering

Recruitment fairs and conferences

The recruitment of students impacted by racism and its intersections to graduate is empowering and inspiring! Especially as you begin to learn about their areas of study and research interests, which may greatly influence communities, the world and generations to come.

Personal Contact & Setting a Tone

  • While a competitive funding package is a significant factor, never underestimate the value of personal contact. Establishing and maintaining regular personal contact with your prospective students sets an important and inviting tone.
  • Once your department has identified which prospective students will be admitted, begin to make multiple personal contacts that include some of the guiding principles and resources below.

Notification and Congratulations for Admitted Students

  • Notify students of their admissions as early as possible. Prospective students are more likely to say yes to an early admission offer.
  • If possible, a faculty member and a graduate student from the department should contact admitted students and personally congratulate them and answer questions they may have.

Admitted Prospective Student Visits:

  • Coordinate visits with GSEE’s Prospective Student Days events. These events are designed to enhance departmental activities and provide prospective students with a sense of community among graduate students impacted by racism and its intersections across UW departments and disciplines.
  • Set aside funding for campus visits and host prospective students. Arrange for them to meet key faculty and graduate student peers.
  • If prospective student campus visits do not coincide with GSEE’s Prospective Student Days, arrange for them to meet or contact one of GSEE’s Outreaching Grads (OGs).

Fellowships, Funding and Faculty

  • Review the following funding resources and note key deadlines on your calendar:
  • Take advantage of National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) training grants as supplemental funding.
  • Leverage multi-year packages and/or top-off awards.
  • Diversify your faculty through direct hiring or adjunct appointments. Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander faculty and their areas of research can help attract Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander students to your department.

The cultural climate of any departmental graduate program is a crucial factor for retaining incoming graduate students impacted by racism and its intersections. A sense of belonging prior to enrollment and during the overall graduate experience plays a role in retention as well as how students will engage with a department via alumni relationships and efforts. It is imperative that the departmental culture provides students with opportunities to connect with other graduate students impacted by racism and its intersections in their programs, as well as across the larger campus community.

Keys to Retention: Funding, Mentoring, Belonging

In addition to a strong financial package, guidance and a sense of inclusion help students impacted by racism and its intersections successfully complete their degrees and graduate in a timely manner.



  • Provide students with advisors who will mentor and encourage opportunities for social and intellectual engagement. Many graduate students impacted by racism and its intersections may be hesitant to seek assistance or may not easily network with their peers.
  • Suggest getting involved with student advisory boards, which may be useful for peer mentoring relationships, such as the Graduate Student Advisory Board (GSAB).
  • Guide students towards profiles of success such as sharing first generation graduate student stories and #HumansOfGSEE series.
  • Advise students to consult the Graduate School’s webpages onStudent Success, which includes our extensive searchable and filterable Student advice Knowledge Base.
  • Provide guidance regarding academic or personal concerns, such as career choices, modifying areas of study or changing advisors/graduate committee chairs.


Funding is one of the most important factors in a student’s choice regarding where to attend graduate school. We can all play a significant role in helping prospective students locate funding opportunities by encouraging them to begin searching as early as possible and guiding them in the proper direction.

Also, allowing prospective students to receive information about their funding packages as early as possible increases their ability to make informed decisions in a timely manner.

Helpful Information for Your Students

Planning the Funding Search

Students can get a decent start on the search for funding as soon as they decide to apply to graduate school.

  • Students should file a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) each year so they are prepared for funding opportunities that require a determination of need.
  • Remind students to review deadlines for eligible funding opportunities and create a calendar of due dates so they can begin to prioritize applications.
  • Prompt students to order several sets of official transcripts from their alma mater(s) at once. Many fellowship applications require official transcripts, and ordering transcripts can take time and cost money.

Searching Internally

  • The UW Graduate School’s information on funding a graduate education includes a partial list of fellowships and eligibility criteria.
  • The Graduate Funding Information Service is a funding search service provided by UW Libraries. This service is only available for currently enrolled UW students. With GFIS, students can participate in workshops, use funding databases and subscribe to a funding blog that will keep them posted on opportunities.

Searching Externally

Students should be encouraged to search the web and additional resources for graduate funding that is specific to:

Applying for Funding Do’s & Don’ts

Applying for grants or fellowships may be a new experience for prospective students, especially first generation students. Tips to share with your students and prospective students include:

  • DO meticulously read the criteria for each funding application. Answers must be complete and address the required criteria.
  • DON’T get disqualified: Follow funder’s formatting instructions carefully. Using the wrong font or margins, or exceeding the word count on an essay, can disqualify you from consideration.
  • DO discuss the funding opportunity with recommenders. If possible, provide a copy of your personal statement so they can write a more powerful letter.
  • DON’T guess and don’t assume. If you aren’t sure about something on an application, ask someone involved with the funding opportunity.
  • DO submit your application by the due date, the time, and time zone required. Deadlines matter.

A note about Tuition and Fee-Based Programs

  • Some funding opportunities are available only for students in tuition-based programs. Tuition-based programs are subsidized with state money, and students pay a majority (but not all) of the actual costs.
  • Fee-based programs support themselves, and students pay fees that cover all costs. Students in fee-based programs who receive academic student employee (ASE) positions may or may not receive funding towards their fees.  See the UW Fee-Based Degree Programs List.

If you don’t fund your students

  • Create a handout of funding possibilities for prospective students or encourage prospective students to talk with staff and current students in the program to find out how others have paid for graduate studies.
  • If possible, share or post advertisements regarding Graduate Staff Assistantships (GSA), Teaching Assistantships (TA) or Research Assistantships (RA) openings in other UW campus departments and units.
  • If a student does receive a nationally prestigious award that doesn’t cover tuition, contact the Graduate School to determine if tuition assistance might be available.

If you fund your students

  • Many incoming students benefit from supplemental or combined matching departmental funds and other diversity-specific funding opportunities.
  • Current graduate students who are receiving funding from their departments can also seek outside funding. More than one funding sources can make a student’s CV stand out and external funding can make departmental funding available for another student.
  • Remind dissertation-level students to apply for dissertation-specific funding, such as The Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship.

These templates, printable PDF fact sheets and links to resources are provided to assist you in your recruitment and retention initiatives.

Recruitment Templates

Not sure exactly what to say to a prospective student? These scripts (downloadable word docs) are a good place to start:


Diversity Planning at UW

Diversity Programs at Peer Institutions

Additional UW Campus Resources

*Intersections include sexism, homophobia, ableism, Islamaphobia, antisemitism and other forms of discrimination.