To uncover the next generation of leaders and researchers, academic departments need promising students of all races, backgrounds, statuses and cultures.
By attracting Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander* graduate students, 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 Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander graduate students 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.
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 prospective Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander graduate students 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 Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander undergraduates 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 Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander graduate student 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 Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander graduate students 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:
- 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
- Send faculty, staff and students to conferences or meetings of organizations featuring racial and ethnic affinity groups, such as
- Participate in regional and on campus outreach and recruitment events. For example
- Pacific Northwest Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation
- Doris Duke Conservation Scholars
- California Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education
Student databases and directories
- Typically in early autumn, the McNair TRIO Scholars Directory is released, providing access to McNair Scholars who have expressed an interest in pursuing graduate studies.
- The National Name Exchange is an online database maintained by the Council of Graduate Schools. More than 80 nationally-known universities share names of promising Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander undergraduates who are interested in graduate education.
- The California Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education (CDF) shares a directory (with CDF exhibitors) of diverse student scholars from the state of California who are interested in graduate school.
Research Experience & Summer Programs
- Offer Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander students in your undergraduate programs Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) opportunities. Physics Undergraduate Research Program
Partnerships and Visibility
- Partner with K-12, community college and undergraduate programs that serve Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander students, such as
- Expand your program’s visibility by communicating with colleges and universities that serve large numbers of Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander students, such as:
- Minority Serving Institutions
- Washington state’s local Heritage University.
- Encourage alumni who are faculty and staff at other colleges and universities to recommend the UW for graduate study.
- Ask faculty members to connect with Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander students when they present at colleges and universities or attend conferences.
The recruitment of Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander students 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 Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander graduate students 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:
- Diversity Fellowships describe award names and amounts as well as eligibility and deadlines for applying
- Graduate School Fellowships provides a partial list of funding opportunities mostly administered by the UW Graduate School
- Paying for Graduate School includes funding information and award application tips
- 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 Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander graduate students. 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 Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander students 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 Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander students successfully complete their degrees and graduate in a timely manner.
- Ensure that Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander students are provided continued funding and/or are connected to fellowship resources outside of your department, such as the Graduate Funding Information Service (GFIS) and Graduate Student Funding Resources.
- For more information, please refer to the “Paying for School” tab in this guide.
- Provide students with advisors who will mentor and encourage opportunities for social and intellectual engagement. Many Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander graduate students 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.
- Connect Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander students with existing research/study groups or help them initiate such groups.
- Establish or provide access to a safe and transparent process through which Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander graduate students can address discrimination at the departmental and university level, such as reporting bias incidents and the Office of the Ombud.
- Encourage prospective students to seek out Outreaching Grads (OGs), and participate in GSEE events.
- Become familiar with on-campus trainings, as well as summits hosted by Leadership Without Borders. These events demonstrate how to welcome and become allies for undocumented students.
- Help potential students see how UW graduate students and alumni are making a difference in the world through profiles on the Graduate School website.
- Suggest that incoming students view GSEE’s find a roommate and housing Facebook page.
- Share the potential benefits of students serving on Departmental Diversity Committees. Another option might be getting involved with the Graduate Professional and Student Senate (GPSS) and their Diversity Committee (DivCom), which awards GPSS Diversity Funds.
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.
- 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.
Students should be encouraged to search the web and additional resources for graduate funding that is specific to:
- Discipline & Research
AERA Research Grants
American Indian Graduate Center
- First Generation
First Generation Grants and Scholarships
- Gender and sexuality
American Association of University Women
- Military/Service Organizations
Pat Tillman Foundation
- Student with a disability/Neurodivergent
Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT)
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.
Not sure exactly what to say to a prospective student? These scripts (downloadable word docs) are a good place to start:
- Email Template — general
- Email Template — contacting a prospective student through National Name Exchange
- Phone Template — general
- GSEE Fact Sheet
- GSEE Outreaching Grads Fact Sheet
- Learn More, Earn More: Plan Now for Graduate School
- Graduate Study, Programs and Admissions at UW
Diversity Planning at UW
- GSEE: Graduate Student Equity & Excellence
- UW Diversity Portal
- The Graduate School’s First-Gen Initiative
- UW Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity
Diversity Programs at Peer Institutions
- Arizona State University Graduate College Diversity Resources
- University of California, Berkeley, Office for Graduate Diversity
- University of Michigan, Rackham Graduate School Diversity Resources
- University of Minnesota Graduate School Diversity Office
- Virginia Tech Graduate School Office of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion
- Yale Graduate School, Office for Graduate Student Development and Diversity
Additional UW Campus Resources
- Disability Resources for Students (DRS)
- Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA)
- UW Office of Student Veteran Life
- UW Women’s Center
- wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House
- Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies (CAIIS)
- Indigenous Wellness Research Institute
- Ethnic Cultural Center (ECC)
*Federally recognized underrepresented minority populations (Black/African American, American Indian/Alaska Native/Indigenous, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Latino/Hispanic). GSEE also serves Filipino and Southeast Asian student populations.