USC launches graduate student-focused diversity initiative

The Graduate Initiative for Diversity, Inclusion and Access includes $32,000 stipend “top-offs” for highly qualified, underrepresented graduate students

March 24, 2016 Gretchen Meier

A university-wide diversity initiative focusing on graduate students will launch with programs this summer and fall and stipend opportunities the following fall.

In a campus-wide memorandum, USC Vice Provost of Academic and Faculty Affairs Elizabeth Graddy and Vice Provost for Graduate Programs Sally Pratt outlined the Graduate Initiative for Diversity, Inclusion and Access (DIA). The initiative is a three-pronged approach to not only increase diversity among incoming graduate students, but also boost funding for incoming students who contribute to campus diversity, expand outreach to minority-serving Los Angeles-area colleges and broaden academic support for students.

Funding support

Beginning in the fall 2017 semester, highly qualified, underrepresented graduate students are eligible for $32,000 stipend “top-offs,” either added to a student’s existing fellowship through the Graduate School or to a full fellowship awarded to the student by their selected school or program.

Before the launch of the joint funding initiative, DIA will launch its JumpStart Program this summer. Students from Loyola Marymount University, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and California State University, Los Angeles and will have the opportunity to preview the doctoral student experience through a research-intensive summer program at USC. Students from those minority-serving institutions who complete the summer program will receive a stipend and have their application fee waived when applying to a USC PhD program.

Students starting at USC during the upcoming fall semester who are applying for Ford Pre-Doctoral, GEM, Soros, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program and other external fellowships are eligible to participate in the DIA Boot Camp this summer, a writing-intensive, 10-day workshop for incoming PhD students. Boot Camp graduates will also have access to workshops during the fall, guiding them through the process of applying for external funding and providing opportunities to develop and enhance their professional and academic skills. Those workshops will complement a wider Graduate School and university commitment to hosting seminars and networking events that help students from diverse backgrounds feel welcome and an integral part of the Trojan Family.

Group effort

The Graduate School Advisory Council, Advisory Council Diversity Task Forces, Graduate Student Government and Academic Senate, graduate students, staff and faculty helped shape the scope of the initiative.

With the launch of this initiative, Graddy and Pratt emphasized the importance of expanding opportunities for students who contribute to diversity on campus and ensuring “inclusion and access are part of the fabric of our university.”