Goals and Objectives

II. Strengthening Graduate Programs

Vibrant graduate programs are essential to the pursuit of research at the highest level and to the creation of a lively intellectual climate in the humanities and sciences.

Nationally Recognized Graduate Programs

  • The Dedman College doctoral program in clinical psychology is accredited by the American Psychological Association.
  • In the last decade, Anthropology graduate students have received 30 National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grants and six NSF Graduate Fellowships.
  • In 1959, the Department of Economics became the first department at SMU to offer a Ph.D. The first doctoral degree was conferred in 1963, the first Ph.D. granted by a university in Dallas.
  • Recent graduates from Dedman College doctoral programs are working for the World Bank, ExxonMobil, the government of Turkey and leading archaeological and environmental consulting groups. Others hold positions at Dartmouth Medical School, Auburn University and Universidad de las Americas in Mexico.

Key Metric

Financial packages for incoming graduate students will be competitive with those at SMU's aspirational peer institutions.

Other Metrics

  • Benefit packages offered to graduate students.
  • Number of funded graduate students.
  • Number of graduate students supported with external grant funds.
  • Retention rate of funded graduate students.
  • Placement rate of graduate students in academic and professional positions.
  • Time to degree for doctoral students.

Strong graduate programs also feed collaborations across disciplines, build bridges to the community through research and service and enhance the productivity of faculty. Significantly, graduate students have important roles in undergraduate education, from classroom teaching to the supervision of labs to mentoring undergraduate research. Across the nation, leading private universities are distinguished by the quality of their doctoral and Master's programs in the liberal arts and sciences.

Many graduate programs in Dedman College have long histories and enviable records of educating and placing their students. Unfortunately, most of the programs in the College now struggle with insufficient funding and are unable to offer competitive financial packages to attract top students. A number of programs also have shrunk, again due to funding constraints, to a small and unsustainable number of graduate students. Meanwhile, the benefits provided to our graduate students have lagged behind what many of our peer institutions can offer.

In order for Dedman College to realize the vision of fusing the best features of the contemporary research university with the best traditions of the liberal arts college, substantial new investment in graduate education will be essential.


  • Increase support for graduate education substantially. Financial packages for graduate students should be increased to levels competitive with our peer institutions. The number of graduate students supported should be increased in most departments, but most urgently in those most actively engaged in externally funded research. Graduate students should have benefits packages comparable to those provided by our aspirational peer institutions.

  • Strengthen recruitment, retention and placement of graduate students. More coordinated efforts to recruit, retain and assist in the placement of graduate students should be undertaken.

  • Enhance graduate programs by studying, sharing and implementing best practices. Innovative approaches to graduate training, both at SMU and at other leading research universities, should be explored and implemented.

  • Identify and establish promising new Master's and graduate certificate programs. Priority should be given to creating new programs, especially those with a professional focus, that serve students and the community, generate new revenue for departments and the College and enhance the reputation of the University.