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Philanthropic Priorities

Dream Big

From Muhammad Yunus, PhD’69, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize, to Donika Kelly, PhD’13, winner of the Cave Canem 2015 poetry award, Vanderbilt’s reputation for graduate education is strong. Our 56 programs promote the tenets of collaboration and innovation and now train more than 3,000 globally diverse students to go beyond the borders of traditional disciplines. With an acceptance rate of less than 6 percent for our doctoral programs, the Graduate School attracts the world’s most talented emerging scholars and scientists. Philanthropy helps us prepare them for careers as diverse as their backgrounds.

Photo of Chelsea Peters



Chelsea Peters is a rarity—an environmental engineering Ph.D. student and children’s book author.

In her new book, animals teach a Bengali girl to collect water only from trusted sources. It is the latest in her efforts to educate communities in better public health.

How does an engineering student successfully write, illustrate and publish a children’s book? As a Public Scholar in the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy, Chelsea was equipped with the resources needed to solve real-world problems—connecting with myriad partners to help shape and translate her vision.

Points of Pride

58 NUMBER OF NIH FELLOWSHIPS currently awarded to our graduate students
VU-EDGE ENHANCING DIVERSITY IN GRADUATE EDUCATION Program leads innovative initiatives that foster a diverse learning community for all
2 2018-19 FULBRIGHT SCHOLARS from the Graduate School

Our Priorities


While traditional programs help students advance in their field of study, they often fall short of providing the additional practical skills needed to succeed in today’s highly dynamic workplace.

The core mission of the Vanderbilt Graduate School is to best prepare tomorrow’s leaders. The new Russell G. Hamilton Graduate Leadership Institute reflects our commitment to equipping graduates to leverage their expertise for effective navigation of new applications and environments. Named for former Graduate School Dean Russell G. Hamilton, the institute offers our students professional leadership training, robust career development support and broad collaboration, punctuated by an interdisciplinary project embedded in our community. Additional funding to the Graduate School will be crucial to the establishment and continuation of our leadership development programs.


Tuition subsidies are often the deciding factor in a candidate’s acceptance.

Peer institutions with graduate endowments offer funding packages that Vanderbilt cannot currently match. Of the $50 million in annual tuition subsidies provided for our graduate students, less than 25 percent is supported through grants, gifts and endowments. By funding graduate scholarships, donors help ensure our ability to compete for the best and brightest, who will become the next generation of leaders.


Graduate students often exist in siloed environments that are not optimal for their development as future leaders and entrepreneurs working within a larger, more diverse community.

To reduce living expenses and improve quality of life for our graduate students, Vanderbilt is currently exploring plans for graduate and professional student housing. Building on the university’s vision for residential colleges—our undergraduate living-learning communities—this initiative would help graduate students take further advantage of Vanderbilt’s highly collaborative culture. Funding for new graduate facilities such as housing and common gathering spaces elevates the student experience, increasing our ability to recruit top talent.


Annual gifts work in the short term, facilitating the more immediate needs that are critical to our programs’ viability.

When you invest in the Graduate School by making an annual gift, you provide students like Whitney Lopez-Hardin with Latin American travel for pre-dissertation research in public opinion, gender and migration studies, or help English graduate student Kylie Korsnack gain crucial career skills through a graduate teaching fellowship. Annual gifts also support additional scholarships and provide flexible funding to help students during times of exceptional need.


Planned gifts, including life income gifts and bequests, help you meet your financial and charitable goals while supporting the Graduate School in its work to educate and train tomorrow’s leaders and innovators.

As we grow our efforts to equip our graduate students for career success, the promise of future funding allows us to budget for scholarships and support for crucial programs. When you plan now, you help secure our plan for tomorrow.

Financial Snapshot

Post-Graduate School Employment Statistics

Chart: Post-Graduate School Employment Statistics

We estimate a Graduate School endowment will break down as follows:

Chart: We estimate a Graduate School endowment will break down as follows:

For more information about how you can join us in strengthening the Graduate School please contact (615) 343-1185 or kathryn.carmody@Vanderbilt.Edu.