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The Graduate School is actively working on ways to better support doctoral education and training at Vanderbilt. Below are announcements detailing some of our recent doctoral program enhancements.

Spring 2022 Messages from Dean Christie-Mizell on Enhancements to Doctoral Education 

March 17: Doctoral Program Enhancements Part 1

Dear doctoral students,

Thank you for sharing your perspectives with us during the listening sessions with Provost Raver. A theme that emerged from our meetings with student leaders and faculty was the desire for doctoral students to have greater access to research support and travel. Provost Raver and I have coordinated with the deans of your schools and colleges to provide additional funding for travel and research.

These new “Vanderbilt Awards for Doctoral Advancement” will be administered directly by your home school and are in addition to existing travel and research funds offered by your school or the Graduate School. During the next month, please look for announcements from your school or college about the disbursement of these competitive awards.

I am also pleased to share:

  • To further support your grant-funding efforts, the Graduate School and vice provost for research have partnered to offer a series of three webinars and workshops focused on effective grant writing.
  • Provost Raver and I will issue all graduating Ph.D. students a one-time $200 reimbursement to cover the cost of regalia rental or to reduce the cost to purchase regalia. To be eligible for this reimbursement, Ph.D. candidates must have noted on their Graduation Confirmation Form that they plan to attend Commencement on May 13. These funds will be dispersed in May.

Our faculty, Provost Raver, and I are deeply committed to training and mentoring you as the next generation of scholars and thought leaders.

Please look for further announcements this spring and summer.

May 9: Doctoral Program Enhancements Part 2

Dear Vanderbilt PhD Students:

As this academic year concludes, I am pleased to share a number of improvements that my team, the graduate program deans, and Provost C. Cybele Raver are implementing to support you and advance your extraordinary research and scholarship. We identified and prioritized the implementation of these enhancements as a result of conversations, suggestions and feedback with PhD students and faculty.

Financial Enhancements

  • Increased stipends
    Your academic deans increased doctoral stipends for academic year 2022-2023 by 3-5%.

  • A regalia reimbursement of $200 was issued for students with degree conferrals in Spring 2022
    If you did not receive a $200 credit via direct deposit over the last week and you are participating in graduation on May 13, please email to request the necessary paperwork to receive this financial support designed to celebrate your accomplishment.
  • New! Launching Student Success Stipend for incoming PhD students
    Beginning this July, newly enrolled PhD students will receive a one-time stipend of $2,000 to help them prepare for the upcoming academic year. The Graduate School, Provost’s Office, and the Schools and Colleges are pleased to collaborate on providing this new Launching Student Success Stipend.

  • Vanderbilt Awards for Doctoral Advancement (VADA)
    Beginning this April, schools and colleges with PhD programs received funding from the Provost and the Graduate School to support doctoral student research and travel. Together, we provided funds to assist more than 235 students to advance their research by attending conferences, visiting labs for training, or doing fieldwork.

  • New! Graduate School Honors Fellowship coming in two lump-sum payments
    The Graduate School Honors Fellowships (“Topping Awards”) will be paid out at the start of each semester to PhD students, thereby giving increased flexibility for you to use those funds when needed and in whatever way is most helpful for your training.

  • Endowed Awards for PhD Students
    In Spring 2022, 20 students across the university were recognized for their outstanding research and received over $90,000 of endowed scholarship funding.

Support, Funding, and External Grant and Workshop Opportunities

  • Grant Proposal Training
    To ensure graduate students know the best ways to apply for and win prestigious grants, PhD students can join a series of three grant writing trainings offered in partnership with the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. The series will launch in May 2022 and will continue through the summer and fall.

  • New! NCFDD Summer 2022 WriteNow Access Sponsorship
    The Graduate School is sponsoring 36 PhD students to participate in a writing boot camp this summer. Led by the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) program, this training provides 12 weeks of accountability and productivity tracking to help PhD students establish daily writing habits.

  • National Humanities Center 2022 Virtual Summer Residency
    The Graduate School, in partnership with the Center for Teaching, is sponsoring student participation in the NHC’s Virtual Summer Residency: Meaningful Teaching and Learning in the Humanities Classroom. This one-week, virtual residency will model best practices for teaching in the humanities classroom, with a focus on effective instructional strategies.

  • New! National Institute of Social Sciences (NISS) Dissertation Grants Program This spring, the Graduate School selected 3 PhD students to advance to the national competition for a NISS dissertation grant.

  • Dissertation Enhancement Grants
    We are accepting applications for Fall 2022 Dissertation Enhancement grants (activities between July 1, 2022 and January 31, 2023), awards of up to $2,000 for research expenses related to a student’s doctoral thesis. Grants are designed for PhD students with outstanding potential to accelerate progress on their research, adding depth or breadth to their dissertation. The application deadline is Sunday, May 22 at 4 p.m. 

  • SEC Emerging Scholars
    This summer, the Graduate School will select a cohort of 5 PhD students and postdocs to participate in a career development program designed to prepare scholars for tenured faculty positions in higher education within the Southeastern Conference.

Graduate Community Enhancements

  • New! Mentoring Awards
    Please join me in congratulating Bruce Compas, Kelly Oliver, and Meike Werner for being selected as the inaugural recipients of the Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Awards. This new award recognizes the vital role mentorship plays in student success and encourages faculty and doctoral students to develop strong and supportive mentoring relationships.

  • New! Department and Student Connections
    The Graduate Student Council and the Graduate School are collaborating to provide funding for departments to go toward hosting a dinner or providing refreshments for doctoral students to foster community and belonging.

Partnerships to Support Graduate Students

  • Student Care Network Supports
    A number of additional support mechanisms were implemented by the Office of the Dean of students to promote student wellbeing:
  • Enhanced Programming for Career Development
    In partnership with Vanderbilt’s Career Center, we created fall and spring colloquia focused on career development specific to doctoral students. Additionally, we co-sponsored the first Graduate Career Closet to provide interview-ready attire to students preparing for the job search. This partnership will continue to grow with the arrival of the new associate provost and senior director of the career center.

  • Tracking PhD Placements
    To track and celebrate departments’ and programs’ success in placing PhD students in academic and leadership roles requiring their doctoral degree, we invested in innovative university-wide longitudinal tracking of Vanderbilt PhD alumni using data from Academic Analytics. This investment allows us to support Schools, departments, and programs in tracking Vanderbilt PhDs in their job placements for the last 10 years and moving forward. This effort is central to our collective success in meeting our institutional objective of recruiting the best scholars and supporting their career trajectories in top positions across top-tier institutions of higher education as well as the public and private sectors.

  • Clarifying the VU/VUMC dual identity process
    We have created a new website for students connected to both Vanderbilt University and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center to outline the process of requesting dual identity and systems access.

I am honored to support your research, scholarship, and professional development in a place that actively seeks opportunities to continuously improve the experience and outcomes of all students. We continue to look for and implement improvements even as we celebrate this year of first steps toward enhanced doctoral education.

If you have ideas for future enhancements, please continue to share them with me or with your program Chair or Director of Graduate Studies.